It's Top 12 Week on American Idol,
and the contestants are singing about home. Yes, "Home" is the generic
theme of the week, and I just hope that doesn't mean three different
renditions of "Sweet Home Alabama" by Jessica Meuse, C.J. Harris and
Before we get to tonight's performances, I'd like to thank Bill King for filling in for me last week. The joke was on him, since he had to endure a pretty awful start to the performances plus a results show so predictable that I predicted it seven days before it even happened.
Now let's hope the nerves have worn off, the contestants have learned from their mistakes and they start to deliver some great performances.
THIS...is American Idol!
A quick montage of the Top 12's hometowns reminds us how very, very southern this show is, with Michigan, New Hampshire and California as the only non-southern states.
Jena Irene: "Suddenly I See" by K.T. Tunstall
She's from Farmington Hills, Michigan, and this song reminds her of road trips with her mom and brother. It's an odd choice because her voice has a nice raspy edge to it, but this song is all sunshine and lollipops. The judges like her growing stage presence, but they don't love the song choice. Harry Connick, Jr. gets technical again and I'm pretty sure he just called out the audience for clapping incorrectly.
Alex Preston: "I Don't Want to Be" by Gavin DeGraw
He's from Mount Vernon, New Hampshire, a small town an hour outside of Boston. His grandma is adorable. I never support someone singing the theme song from One Tree Hill, because I love that show and nothing will ever come close to the original. It's another extremely contained performance where he doesn't move at all. Also, he bobs his head side-to-side very aggressively the whole time. Jennifer Lopez thinks the arrangement was bad and it hurt his vocals, and the other judges agree that it wasn't very successful.
Jessica Meuse: "White Flag" by Dido
She's from Slapout, Alabama, the best name for a hometown ever. She loves cows and this song reminds her of being a teenager and learning to be herself. She's really coming into her own with this dark and edgy country sound. Unfortunately it's really, REALLY off, and Harry gets booed for correctly calling it sharp the whole time. Hilariously, the audience cheers Keith Urban when he says that he doesn't care about pitch. To her credit, Jessica says she'll watch the performance back, but she believes the judges when they say she was sharp. Wow, someone who actually listens to and respects the judges!
Dexter Roberts: "Lucky Man" by Montgomery Gentry
Another Alabaman, he's from Fayette and misses his dogs, especially because one just had puppies. He slows it down and I like the general feel and tone of it. But I still have no idea what he's saying. I think, at one point, he sang "two daughters in a coffee can." It's good, better than what he usually does, but he's still not all that special.
Emily Piriz: "Let's Get Loud" by Jennifer Lopez
She's dating a U.S. Marine and there's even a video of hm overseas to support her. Holy crap, that just ensured her safety this week, even if she literally takes a dump on the stage. She's from Orlando, Florida and is celebrating her Cuban family with J. Lo. It's kind of like she's J. Lo's kid sister, which isn't a particularly great thing. It's fine and this kind of sexiness seems more appropriate than "Paris (Ooh La La)." Harry says she was merely a passenger on the locomotive of the song.
Caleb Johnson: "Working Man" by Rush
He's from Asheville, North Carolina, which has a burgeoning music scene. Rush is his favorite band and he works the stage and rocks out with his giant voice. It's another solid, thoroughly enjoyable performance, but I'm worried he's just going to be the same kind of awesome every week. Harry agrees, warning him about the thin line between consistency and predictability.
Ryan Seacrest lets us know the online live results so far. Dexter is in the lead, followed by Jessica and Caleb. Emily is at the bottom. I don't know if I should take this seriously or not.
M.K. Nobilette: "Drops of Jupiter" by Train
She's from San Francisco and has two moms who then got divorced, so now she has two moms and two stepmoms and it's as diverse a family as you can imagine. It's a big improvement from last week, more intimate and emotional. Her voice still isn't particularly strong and I don't like her insane wardrobe choices. The judges agree that it was good but not great, and Harry thinks M.K. looks like she doesn't want to be there.
C.J. Harris: "Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer
The third Alabaman of the season, he's from Jasper. He loves the town, but he still thinks there's a problem in the South with racism and this song is about that. I like the message, but couldn't he have just sung "A Change Is Gonna Come" instead? I'm becoming more and more confused about who he is, vocally. In the auditions he had tons of soul, then he did pop country with Darius Rucker and now he's getting political with John Mayer? Harry points out that, like Jessica, he was sharp the whole time, but it worked because he felt the lyrics. Still, it was indicative of this entire season, just OK.
Sam Woolf: "Just One" by Blind Pilot
He lives in Bradenton, Florida, but he's originally from Michigan and this song reminds him of those times. He sits on the end of the stage amongst the audience, and I don't know if it's that, the cool indie song or his hat, but I feel like this is the best he's been on the live shows. He's getting a little better at expressing with his eyes, but Harry calls him out on being emotionally flat.
Malaya Watson: "Take Me to the King" by Tamela Mann
She's from Southfield, Michigan and is singing the first gospel song she ever learned. She starts out playing the piano then gets all gospel on it. It's loud and powerful, a great choice for her. I still don't fully understand the conundrum, because her voice is so rich and full, but her personality seems so silly and goofy. Regardless, it's a good vocal performance, especially on a night full of mediocrity.
Ben Briley: "Turning Home" by David Nail
He's from Gallatin, Tennessee and comes from a giant family, with more than 100 members from his grandparents down. Sadly, none of them showed up and he has no one in the audience. Bur the camera showing two empty chairs is kind of funny. He's NOT playing his guitar, which is the biggest shock of the night. He tries to do a whole lot to it, but Harsh Harry thinks it lacked emotion and was shouted. Even Keith, who has been overly nice all night, didn't like it. I can't decide if Harry is just being mean or if this is just a bad night. I think it's a little bit of both.
Majesty Rose: "Fix You" by Coldplay
She's from Goldsboro, North Carolina and she misses the kids in her preschool class. I'm not wild about this song choice, it's too emotionally manipulative. She tries to do a whole lot with it, which I think is the wrong approach. Even the judges thought it went too big and the smaller, emotional stuff worked. Man, so there wasn't a single performance I really loved start to finish all night.
At the end we see the second half SuperVote live results, with C.J. and Sam at the top and the girls at the bottom. This was certainly a week night, with seven guitars and one piano. As for results, I have no idea. I suspect we'll lose another girl, and I'll go with Jena.
(Image courtesy of FOX)