The “American Idol” theme for the Top 12 is “Home.” They should have to sing songs with their home state or city in the title — “Sweet Home Alabama” would get a lot of play.
1. Jena Irene, “Suddenly I See,” KT Tunstall
Nice choice for her tone of voice and the peppiness is fun, though the background is giving us a seizure. Also, we’re disappointed that on “you can see she’s a beautiful girl, she’s a beautiful girl” that Jena didn’t do the little minor run down on the second “girl.” But it was a good start. No real missteps, but also not something that blew the roof off. A little blah. She could’ve done more with it, which is then exactly what Harry Connick Jr. says. For sure.
2. Alex Preston, “I Don’t Wanna Be,” Gavin DeGraw
This is good, we like Alex’s voice. However, he really needs to work on his breathing and supporting his singing. He kept taking very obvious, big breaths in the middle of phrases and you could tell it wasn’t because he was making a phrasing choice — he was gasping for breath. So it sounded like the song was getting away from him. But he really needs to work on that because sounding out of breath when you’re not doing a dance routine is not what a singer wants.
3. Jessica Meuse, “White Flag,” Dido
Wonderful song choice for her voice. Gosh, she’s so throwback. There are tiny moments where you’d swear it’s Stevie Nicks. There’s just something about her voice that sounds like her at times — really a fan of her voice. However, she needs to work on her emotional connection. This song is sad. This song is about a woman who is never giving up on the man she loves. She’s going to go down on the sinking ship of their relationship. And Jessica is not conveying that at all. She’s kind of a singing robot. Harry Connick Jr. calls her “blasé,” which is a good word to use. He also says she wasn’t “present in the performance.” Yeah.
4. Dexter Roberts, “Lucky Man,” Montgomery Gentry
This is the best Dexter has done so far. It’s intimate and he’s showing off some guitar skills, plus the song really suits his voice. It’s actually letting him be a vocalist, instead of a guitar player who can kind of sing. Well done, Dexter.
5. Emily Piriz, “Let’s Get Loud,” Jennifer Lopez
Always a risk to pick one of the judges’ songs. If I were Emily, I would have picked a different J-Lo song. She’s not dynamic enough of a stage performer to pull this off. Emily is mostly just standing there and kind of shimmying. This also isn’t a vocalist’s song. It’s a dance song with some vocals. So she’s not showing off her vocals and she’s not showing off her dancing or stage presence. Sorry, Emily. Good try, but that’s probably going to land you in the bottom.
6. Caleb Johnson, “Working Man,” Rush
This is the first time Caleb’s performance hasn’t grabbed us. He’s on key and doing his rocker guy stuff, but this kind of a boring, plodding song. However, between the one big note and the guitarist and drummer in the back-up band getting to let it rip, he’s going to be totally safe. And he should be, Caleb’s great. Also, what the hell did he do at the end? The camera clearly was purposely showing the other Idols and the judges, was it something they had to censor? Hmm.
7. MK Nobilette, “Drops of Jupiter,” Train
Oof, not her best. First off, this song is a bit repetitive. Secondly, the arrangement was really weird because of the truncation of having only 90 seconds to perform. Finally, it just didn’t show off her voice plus she didn’t seem to be enjoying herself at all. MK needs to have a moment before she gets sent home — like of those ballad, quiet, gorgeous moments. She can do it, she has that kind of voice. Hmmm. It might be too late.
8. C.J. Harris, “Waiting For the World to Change,” John Mayer
He’s horribly sharp throughout the entire thing. We’re honestly starting to wonder if “Idol” needs to check its sound system because these people seem to have some serious pitch issues every week. Sorry, C.J., but this is pretty bad. Not only are you sharp, but this is totally lackluster. The song goes nowhere. So boring. You can be out of tune and you can be boring, but you can’t be both. That performance might just have saved MK and Emily from going home.
9. Sam Woolf, “Just One,” Blind Pilot
He’s down in the audience. Better be careful, Sam. Those girls in the mosh pit will try to grab you. Anyway, this is not a song I’m familiar with, but he does a nice job. He actually shows off a smidge of personality this week and his voice sounds very nice. He’s just … pleasant. Just a pleasant guy. Oh my god then Harry Connick Jr. calls him “pleasant.” We are SO IN SYNC, HCJ!
10. Malaya Watson, “Take Me to the King,” Tamela Mann
Wow, this is 1000 times better than she did last week. It’s like the night finally started. Somebody finally came out and blew it out. Completely gorgeous, wonderful emotional connection, goosebumps when she stood up from the piano. Well done, little girl.
11. Ben Briley, “Turning Home,” David Nail
Another good country choice, Dexter and Ben really nailed it this week. However, Ben gets to the chorus and it gets away from him a little. He sounds shout-y, it’s a shame they didn’t lower the key just a step or a half-step to keep him in a slightly more comfortable spot in his range. It really sounded strained on the chorus. But hey, he was emotionally invested and that’s a big thing tonight. And then HCJ says “shouted.” Seriously, HCJ is my guy. We should get married.
12. Majesty Rose, “Fix You,” Coldplay
Well, there’s a reason she got the pimp spot. This is easily the best performance on the night. Captivating. Her first “I will try-y-y to fix you” brought tears to my eyes. However — she didn’t need to crank the performance up to 11 there for a minute. That was actually not the right choice. If she had stayed quiet, that would have been a home run. As it was, still the best on the night.
HCJ agrees with me, naturally. Mindmeld.
So, who’s in trouble? MK Nobilette, C.J. Harris and Emily Piriz are in trouble. If we had to guess, it’ll be MK and C.J. in the bottom and then M.K. going home because she was in the bottom last week. We hope not — we think she’s a stronger singer than C.J. But that’s our prediction.
The Top 3 were definitely Majesty Rose, Malaya Watson and Dexter Roberts, in that order.
What do you think, “Idol” fans?