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American Idol: Top 13, Season 13, 2/26/14

February 28th, 2014 · No Comments

American Idol is featuring a host of new voting procedures this season–some of which are the same as The X Factor last fall.  It’s a case of fixing what isn’t broken.  Formerly  contestants’ numbers were the same as the order of their performances–so voters had some guidance in matching singers with numbers.  This season the contestant has a permanent number (Contestant #1, etc, as in very bureaucratic) and we’re encouraged to write them down or punch them into our phones.  Hate to break it to the Idol franchise, but pieces of paper get lost and many people lack the equipment or the know-how to punch numbers into phones.   Not only that, Ryan Seacrest is telling us we can now vote anytime from the beginning of the show.  Then why bother to even watch, if we have the pre-assigned number and can vote whenever?  Is this the first step to not having a TV show at all–to Webcast only?

As for the music, J-Lo says something in the intro about the cream gradually rises to the top.  So these thirteen singers tonight are J-Lo’s idea of cream. Randy Jackson is assuming mentoring/coaching duties this season.  What’s tonight’s theme?  I finally hear Seacrest say it at 9:10, “This is me.”

1.  Dexter Roberts plays electric guitar and sings some song about “Fun” or “Unfun” or “Not Fun.”  Judge Keith Urban tells him, “Figure out how to give a Dexter Roberts performance.”  Harry complains Roberts is out of tune, a complaint he voices frequently tonight.  Honestly, Idol, you spend months picking thirteen singers from a field of thousands.  These issues were supposed to be addressed in the audition rounds.  It’s a little late to be complaining that your contestants can’t perform and can’t sing in tune.

2.  Malaya Watson sings an uptempo song, Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby.”  In past episodes I’ve singled her out but tonight her geeky, gawky charm is absent.  J-Lo comments afterwards, “We know you can blow!” and she says it seriously, with a straight face.  What would Adam and Blake (on that other singing contest) say to J-Lo about that?  Not only that, Harry wants to know when Watson’s going to play tuba on.  (I know what Adam and Blake would say–“How the H*ll’s she supposed to sing then, Harry?”)   Idol is letting its freak flag fly tonight.

3.  Kirsten O’Connor sings beautifully  a Kelly Clarkson song, “Beautiful Disaster,” even if Harry complains she’s out of tune.  J-Lo tells her to “stop thinking.”  (See “freak flag” and “Adam and Blake” comments above.)  As Seacrest says afterwards, “Start thinking about not thinking.”

4.  Ben Briley says he opens his shows with “Folsom Prison Blues,” so he performs it here, and he’s the most fun of the night so far.  He’s like a singing Jeff Foxworthy.  He looks like the headliner–the first three people were just the warm-up acts.  Harry proclaims him the best performance of the night so far and says nothing about being in or out of tune.

5.  CJ Harris plays guitar and sings, “Radio,” a Darius Rucker song.  (Rucker is the former lead vocalist of Hootie and the Blowfish.)  Between Harris and Briley, it’s like the party finally started.  Harry and Keith disagree on the song choice:  Keith likes it, Harry doesn’t.

6.  MK Noblette is one of several contestants with an obscure song choice.  It’s “Satisfaction” but not the Stones’ song.  It’s a bluesy, jazzy number in the style of Aretha Franklin or Billie Holiday.  It’s a “diva” song and Noblette’s not a “diva” singer, even if she does sing it impressively.

7.  Majesty Rose York also does a bluesy, jazzy song, “Tightrope.”

8.  Jena Irene tells Seacrest before she goes onstage she used to play Coldplay’s “The Scientist” on keyboards.  However, tonight she doesn’t play keyboards, she just sings the song.  Afterwards Harry asks what the song’s about and, as usual, Jena doesn’t know.  Neither does anybody else.  Seacrest googles it on his iPhone and explains it.

9.  Alex Preston has such a soft pretty voice that even Jason Mraz’ “Beautiful Mess” is too big for it.  He may have been better off with that other song about a “Beautiful Mess,” the one by Diamond Rio.  Harry complains Preston’s out of tune, the first time he’s said that in five acts.  Connick, Jackson, and others are blaming the acoustics and the ear buds, but it’s peculiar that some people don’t have any problem at all.

10.  Jessica Meuse plays guitar and does a song titled, “The Crow and the Butterfly,” whatever that is.  The stage projections behind her look more like bats than crows or butterflies.  She successfully brought out a country identity in the semi-finals, now she’s turning deep into a dark gloomy goth style.  However, the judges love it.  J-Lo gushes it’s her favorite of the night.  Keith likes the dark haunting side and singles out Meuse’s “rasp, that’s appealing.”

11.  Emily Piriz sings a ballad by Pink.  I think she should either do a ballad or do Pink, but it’s a much better performance than her “Ooh La La” act in earlier rounds.  The judges all love it.

12.  Sam Woolf, this season’s teen heartthrob, sings Matchbox 20’s “Unwell” as plenty of girls scream.  Musical mentor Jackson comments it’s a perfect fit for his voice.

13.  Caleb Johnson digs up “Pressure and Time” by Long Beach band Rival Sons.  He blues-shouts it the way Joe Cocker or Rod Stewart might.  Maybe he saw that bad Twitter poll two weeks ago because since then he’s been singing all-out.  He gets J-Lo babbling nonsense about rockstars and party buses. Keith gushes, too, with, “You’re so retro!”

Warning:  you’d better write down voting information as you see it this season because it’s not given out during the final recap.  There’s footage of contestants waving their assigned numbers around like football fans cheering team faves, but no actual voting info.  I voted for CJ, Ben, Sam, and Majesty.  As for who’s going home, nobody bombed, but my guess is, Jessica Meuse’s bats-in-the-belfry act cost her some of her hard-earned country fans.

Tags: American Idol