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In the movies, nobody wants their scenes left on the cutting room floor, and the same held true for the top 11 on Wednesday night’s American Idol. Getting cut this week means someone is not only out of the Idol picture, but off the famed Idol summer tour.
So on a night that featured the “Music of the Movies,” the elimination of baseball hats, and songs previously performed by Kris Allen, who survived the director’s cut, and who is ready for their close up?
Florida teen Sam Woolf kicked things off with The Beatles’ “Come Together,” from the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band movie soundtrack. Of course, it was the Aerosmith version, previously covered by Season 8’s Allen. Woolf ditched his guitar and utilized more of the stage, but it was a safe performance on a song that needed groove and a dash of sex appeal. Keith Urban was glad to see Woolf loosening up, Jennifer Lopez called him a “baby rock star” and tried to prod Woolf into going bigger in performance. Harry Connick Jr. called it an “average performance.”
Jess Meuse strapped on the guitar once again in an attempt to bring some introspection into the competition with “The Sounds of Silence” from The Graduate soundtrack. Meuse has a lovely timbre in her vocals, and pulled off a very nice performance despite the band epically failing her, according to Connick. Urban, whose judging is getting better every week, gave her good advice about singing up on the microphone.
C.J. Harris made the perfect pick with The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See.” The song was perfectly in his wheelhouse, and for the first time all season his vocals matched the promise from his auditions. After a well earned standing ovation, Urban said it was “killer” while Lopez called him a “front runner.”
Dexter Roberts sported a new haircut in an attempt to get hunkier for the cameras, and his selection of “Sweet Home Alabama” from Forest Gump gave him an opportunity to rock out with an electric guitar and entertain the audience. While this was a definite crowd pleaser, Urban still felt that Roberts needs to find his own voice and avoid “karaoke” versions of songs, while Connick said he needed to be “bigger than the song.”
Ben Briley ditched his baseball hat and went for a classier look and a seat behind the piano for Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” from 27 Dresses. Didn’t Katherine Heigl just sing a karaoke version of that in a bar in the film? It was nice to see Briley step out of his country comfort zone, but his falsetto didn’t work. The ending didn’t even match Haley Reinhart’s take on the same song in Season 10. Lopez felt Briley was having an identity crisis, while Connick didn’t think he attacked the piano quite the way it needed to be done, and questioned who the “real” Ben is.
Majesty Rose took on the songbook of Adele Dazim (oh, John Travolta we are still going with that joke) and picked “Let it Go” from the Frozen soundtrack. This was a big choice, what with the song winning an Oscar and being the favorite anthem of every little girl in America. While she missed a few notes, Rose was amazingly self assured. Connick warned the teen that her eclectic choices is confusing him as to who she is an artist. Lopez said “you can be an actress, a musical theater star… or Majesty Rose, the rock star!”
Speaking of rock star, Caleb Johnson sort of faked us out last night by bypassing the soundtrack to Rock of Ages and picking Skyfall by Adele. Johnson brought bombast and drama to the James Bond hit, and quite gave not only one of the strongest performances of the night, but the whole season. Connick called the whole thing “fantastic” while Lopez said she was waiting all night for exactly what Johnson delivered.
MK Nobilette’s choice of “To Make You Feel My Love” from Hope Floats (another Kris Allen classic cover) was a savvy move, as the song plays to her coffee-house smooth vocals. She also did away with the hat, revealing a spiky blonde cut. While Nobilette still needs to learn how to perform, her vocals put Lopez in a “romantic mood” as she immediately compared her to K.D. Lang. Connick said she has “star quality” but needs to work on correctly singing vocal runs, while Urban said she needs to continue working on connecting with the audience.
Alex Preston took on the third Kris Allen song of the evening with “Falling Slowly” by The Swell from the film, Once. The Jon Cryer lookalike tinkered with the melody ever so slightly, but it worked in his favor as it showed off his musicianship and the clarity in his vocals. “I love your artistry,” said Urban, while Connick said he was “really proud” of him.
Jena Irene went back to her sweet spot-the piano-for a dark and twisty performance of “Decode” by Paramore from Twilight. Irene brought drama and what Urban called “ferocity” to the song.” It was a smart, well done choice, and Lopez urged America to “get on board” and keep Irene in the competition and out of the bottom three.
Malaya Watson rebounded in a big way with a huge song from Dreamgirls, the show stopping “I Am Changing.” The song played to her strengths as a belter, prompting Lopez to exclaim, “Good girl, Malaya!” and Urban warning her not to cave into adrenaline.
So who is going home? Early voting favors Harris, Meuse, Roberts, and Nobilette. Will Irene be in the bottom again? Hit us up in the comments!
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