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'American Idol''s Top 12 Agree: The Judges Are 'Harsh to Everybody'

Wednesday's "Home" theme was a tough one for the season 13 finalists.

American Idol season 13 top 12 L
Michael Becker / Fox

Tough night on American Idol. The judges dished out more criticism than usual, most of it coming from Harry Connick, Jr., whose comments were often greeted with boos from the studio audience. A few minutes after Wednesday’s top 12 performance show ended, Sam Woolf summed up for The Hollywood Reporter what all of the contestants were thinking about the judges’ critiques. “It was a little harsh for everyone tonight.” Majesty Rose agreed: “They were harsh to everybody tonight. I don’t know what was going on.”

Jena Irene felt the same way but said she understood the reason behind the criticism. “It was needed because we’re two weeks into the competition. They expect more from us. We have to bring it. I respected everything they said to me about giving it more energy.” Ben Briley had a different reaction: “At first I was aggravated because I felt like they weren’t listening. I put a lot of emotion into my song because it means so much to me. But later I thought, they’ve been critical of everyone and they had some really interesting things to say.”

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Caleb Johnson was happy that Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban gave him standing ovations. “Harry made the comment about wanting me to change it up. I didn’t have a chance to say that I understood where he was coming from but I’m treating this like it was my live concert. I’m not going to do a ballad the third song into the set. It’s gonna be all killer no filler ’til like the fourth or fifth song. If I make it through to next week I’ll do a ballad but I love rock and roll music and I want to bring those good-time, heavy soulful, powerhouse performances as much as possible.”

MK Nobilette also disagreed with Connick’s assessment but learned something from the Idol judge. “When Harry said he thought it looked like I didn’t want to be there, I see where he’s coming from,” she told THR. “It was a little harsh but I get it. Of course I want to be here. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. I understand why he said that because I know I have trouble connecting. I’m not sure how to fix that but I know it just comes with practice. Hopefully this week I will spend more time working on that. That’s going to be my main focus.”

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Whether they liked the judges’ evaluations or not, the finalists agreed on their right to criticize. “They’ve been in this business so they know what they’re talking about,” offered Dexter Roberts. Jessica Meuse echoed that thought: “They’re way more accomplished musicians than I am and I have a tremendous amount of respect for all three of them so I have to pay attention to what they’re saying and how they’re talking to me. They were being harder than usual tonight. This is a reality show and this is what we signed up for. You have to know how to take it. Yes, it hurts your feelings. They didn’t give me the most positive feedback I could have received. I’m going to rewatch my performance and observe it from an outside perspective and try to understand it.”

The season 13 competitors agreed on two other points. “Everything they say, I soak it in,” C.J. Harris told THR. And Alex Preston candidly said, “I just want to make them happy. That’s what everyone wants to do.”

Twitter: @Idol_Worship