Thursday, March 20, 2014

American Idol 13: Top 10

Hey, are you aware that music still exists after the year 2000? Haha. If you had been watching American Idol for the past few years then you may not have been. We’ve been given theme night after theme night focused squarely on older music, and tonight, we were actually treated with an array of interesting current song choices. Yes, the performances as a whole weren't as strong as last week, but I saw a couple of shining moments. Oh, and do I see a new darkhorse in the competition?

Also, the judging panel this year has been pretty outstanding. I may not agree with some of their critiques, but at least, they have their own opinions about each performance. It's pretty entertaining to watch and I love how they disagree on things. Oddly, that was a thing of beauty. Ha.

On to the rankings!

10. CJ Harris
This was seriously tricky. On one hand, I thought CJ encapsulated with his passionate delivery what the song was about and he was actually giving off some pretty authentic vibe, but somehow, his vocals were such a mess. The verses were riddled with flat moments, his pitch was all over the place, and it was all too distracting. I know that he's trying to be current with the song choice, but it's not working for him. Stay in your country blues lane, CJ! 4

09. MK Nobilette
I’ll be honest: MK sang Perfect pretty decently with a couple of timing issues, but here's the thing: we are now left with ten contestants, and I know what kind of artists most of them will be. MK Nobilette is a good enough singer with good musical insticts, but she’s not an artist. The judges are being tough on her, because they recognize that fact. There's just no star power. My only hope is that she recognizes that and comes to terms with the path she is on. 4.5

08. Dexter Roberts
Dexter sang Cruise and turned in a lazy, cheesy, throwaway performance. It's annoyingly obvious that he's still skating by, using very little energy, as long as he can and I don't want to sit through all of it and watch him be too complacent. He might have one or two more weeks like this, but then he’ll be forced to step it up or go home. It’s great to lay low, but once you’re spotted, you better fight like hell because you’re done hiding. 5

07. Jena Irene
Hmm. Clarity was a song that should have been done much earlier in the competition, and to do it after her stellar performance last week somehow killed her momentum. This was a stable, uptempo choice, but I did notice some diction and modulation issues when she hit the verses, and while the power was there, some of her affectations made her voice sound uneven. I can only hope that the recent fans she has picked up from last week will not leave her hanging tomorrow night because I honestly would love to see her continue through the following weeks. 6

06. Caleb Johnson
The Edge of Glory
Was it just me or this felt a little underwhelming for a Caleb performance? Sure, he did try to change it up a bit with the tempo and the overall groove of the performance and his typical natural swagger was this there, but something was missing and it really left me wanting more.  I don't know. It was almost like he was doing a benefit concert and spent not one iota of time getting into the actual story of the song. Oh, and this was the first time I heard some weakness in his voice. His voice somehow succumbed to some poor breath control for a moment in the first verse. 6

05. Jessica Meuse
Pumped Up Kicks
Despite the song being a relatively current, this had such a wonderful throwback vibe - maybe due to Jessica's voice and delivery. Sure, if you're not a fan of her voice, you aren't going to care how well she does because you hate the tone of her voice, but there's a good edge and character to her voice that slightly made this thing work. Unfortunately, there was little to no emotional connection and she's got these dead eyes. She needs to work on that. Quick! 7

04. Majesty Rose
Wake Me Up
Majesty I thought picked a strong song choice, and she sang it very well for the most part, but I'm starting to wonder if her train has slowed to a stop. The vocals were beautiful, especially during the verses, but she seemed a little unsure of herself and there was an apparent frustration in her performance that was absent in previous weeks. Plus, this version lacked the urgency that made the song awesome to begin with. 7

03. Sam Woolf
We Are Young
He sang a terrific version of Fun.'s We Are Young, delivering an almost pitch perfect vocals with great clarity and tone that would make many people rush out to buy his record. So, why is he only ranked third in my rankings? Sam Woolf has put up an emotional wall during his performances and it's now beginning to bother me. Sam is a contestant who can at times have the vocal prowess of some of the greats on this show, but then he can turn around and have the vacancy of a space alien trying to understand human customs. So yes, while his vocals were fantastic and the arrangement actually got me excited, I saw an empty stare that didn’t really register what the song was about. 7

02. Alex Preston
Story Of My Life
I admit, I was ready to hate on this, but this was an absolute perfect, if not safe, song choice for Alex. His vocals were mostly spot on, his tone worked well with the song, and the arrangement actually sounded legit. I'm impressed at how he confidently put his own stamp on the song, and yet the melody remained intact. There's an innate musicality in him that's very admirable. The only problem I have with him? He's too chill! I'm almost worried that this was as good as he gets. I hope I'm wrong. 7.5

01. Malaya Watson
When I Was Your Man
This song choice was apparently a risk because, one, she already tackled a Bruno Mars' song with Runaway Baby a couple of weeks ago and it landed her in the Bottom 3, and two, mostly because of the gender roles in the song. But quite honestly, I didn’t care. I doubt many did. She sang it so well with impeccable dynamics and control that I wasn’t even paying attention to the lyrics. Malaya just brought the soul out of the song and it soared. It was such an effortless showing and she looked incredibly comfortable the entire time. The emotional connection, the phrasing, the vocals, the dynamics, the ability to connect to her material; all of it blew me away. 8.5


Who should go? 
CJ Harris

Who will go?
MK Nobilette


Anonymous said...

i just noticed that every week there is at least 2 people that use guitars in there performances. what is with the sudden surge in guitars in performances.

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