American Idol told us this weeks theme was “home” and songs would be about their home town or their roots, but the top-12 interpreted it as “songs we like.” While it was pretty vaguely defined, these singers stretched the definition pretty far, while not stretching much of their vocal chords in the process. It’s like if I sang Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” because I may have once played it while vacuuming or something. I wouldn’t be true to the theme.
The theme I saw all night was “safe.” Nobody is willing to take any risks – except Malaya.
Like, let’s start with Jena, who sang “Suddenly I See” because she says it reminds her of road trips or something. What we have here is a catchy “tune” but not a vocal showcase, which could hurt her. But maybe her stage presence and personality will carry her, as will her grungy “kid on the playground” ensemble, with the sweatshirt tied around the waist. Harry Connick wasted no time going music nerd on us saying she should’ve been singing on the 2 and 4 and not the 1 and 3, and I”m not really sure that’s what he said or what it means, but she was OK and could be and should be much better. Her hometown story and her look, along with past performances, will be enough, I think.
“I Don’t Wanna Be” was Alex Preston’s choice because Gavin DeGraw is from his hometown. OK. I’ll allow it. Alex went Pee Wee Herman with his wardrobe and sleepy hollow with his performance, which is tough to do when you come on stage with an amp and and axe (it’s what we music nerds call a guitar). The judges didn’t like the vocals and I get it. Gavin’s original is basically him shouting at us. Alex was just having a nice, friendly conversation with us about liking himself. Harry admired he tried to do something different and I could sense Harry hopes Alex quickly develops his persona and soon. Keith noticed he gets out of breath, or if he’s faking it …stop it.
Jessica Muese sang Dido’s “White Flag” and how did it remind her of home? Because it came out when she was an awkward teen. Ahem… seriously, why have themes? All during her performance I thought only one thing… the judges better CRUSH her because she was nasally and I heard sour note after sour note and I wanted to fast forward through it. Harry did pan her, saying she was sharp the entire time and was off and that’s why nobody applauded, and he noted that she seemed disinterested and off, and even the always nice Keith and Jlo said she lacked believability. I’d be happy to see her sent home.
Fayette, Alabama’s own, Dexter Roberts sang “Lucky Man”, and leave it to the Country boy to truly understand how to tie the theme to his performance. What a great song I’ve never heard before. Keith also loved it, staring at Dexter with bedroom eyes. I’ll have lots of future shows to talk about Dexter, but this guy “gets it.” He’s easily going to be in the top-5.
Emily Piriz’s boyfriend is a Marine, she’s Cuban, she’s from Miami, and she sang Jlo’s “Let’s Get Loud” which is one of Jlo’s worst songs (yes, I’m implying Jlo has “good songs”, and yes – she does) but Emily did pretty well with song choice.Because she’s so green on stage, Harry pointed out she didn’t have the power to deliver a powerful show stopper like that.
Caleb “Meatloaf” Johnson sang “Workin’ Man” who sang it for his Dad (aka his best friend …kids these days …”best friends” with their parents …whatever), and this guy will be great someday in a wedding band playing for free drinks. Harry called him consistent, but also predictable, and asked what can he bring to it and bring rock forward. In fairness, is Idol really the pulpit to revolutionize music? That’s born in garages and smoky clubs when very few people “get it” and when a band’s time, or artist or “sound” …when it’s time finally comes, it explodes. This is an exercise in pop-culture and he’s just a copy cat. A good copy cat, but a copy cat.
Ryan took a moment to check voting trends halfway through the show, which was pretty cool, except that Jessica was #2 out of six. WTF?
I’ve been pretty negative so far. But that’s about to change.
I’m changing my tune on MK (aka “The Pretty Justin Beiber”) after yet another great vocal performance, nailing “Drops of Jupiter” and MK is a great singer. But will America accept her two Moms and their girlfriends? Twitter was split. One third applauded her for bravery, one third just made fun of her for juvenile reasons, and another third of Tweeters said stuff like, “if she wins I’ll never watch again.” Harry made me spit out my beverage when he said she performs like she doesn’t want to be here. Oh no he didn’t. Dude. She’s here. She wants to be here, for the statement she’s making or because she really wants to win. Idol is pretty well known, Harry …these kids make a conscious decision to be here and they come with an agenda.
We all know I have a man-crush on C.J. Harris, so it broke my heart when he went with the very cliche “Waiting on the World to Change”. Come on, man! Take a song we all know as an R&B ballad or a vapid pop-song, and turn it into a badass acoustic guitar thingy – like singing something by Britney Spears, but really interpret the lyrics in a cool way. Keith agreed with me. Thanks, Keith. My fear is that C.J. might’ve spent too much of his life hating on pop music and doesn’t understand how to make his art in the context of Idol. I voted for him. That’s one vote. You?
“Just One” was an interesting song choice for Sam Woolf, and it worked in a big way because it’s not a common and popular song. So for an old guy like me who’s music listening is usually whatever my pre-teens have on Radio Disney, this was like hearing a new single for the first time. Harry wants him to bring emotion to his performance and he has only one emotion …well, Sam is from the “whatever” generation. Keith and Jlo both think he’ll be here next week, and he will because he’s cute and Caucasian, and Keith even said he’d buy Sam’s CD if he released one tomorrow – I could see listening to that while going cross country on tour.
Then came Malaya… my Malaya, who sang “Take Me to the King” and she might’ve brought a tear to my eye. If I haven’t said it, it doesn’t matter if Malaya wins or not – she’s the next Jennifer Hudson and she doesn’t even know what to do with that gift she has. Jlo cried, Keith fell in love with the song, and even Harry couldn’t poke too many holes in it.
Ben Briley, another Country boy, sang a song that perfectly matched the theme of the night. He sang “Turning Home” which literally made him homesick all week while rehearsing his performance. Seriously, how many Country songs mention main street, bleachers, and dusty roads? Harry just wanted to be blown away, and Keith lost the story of the song because Ben was focused too much on the “technicality.” And then there were deviled eggs and Jlo actually ate one. Never would’ve believed that would happen.
And finally, came Majesty, who basically won American Idol. And I don’t mean “won the night” or even “won the season” … I mean became one of my favorites ever when she effortlessly blew me away with Coldplay’s “Fix You.” Screw you Harry for criticizing her ending to that song, which Majesty took soaring and big. Did we really want subtle and quiet the whole time? Her performance seemed even better when it was immediately followed by the ho-hum recap of the performances from earlier in the night.
So, I think Jessica or C.J. are probably going home – mainly because I just don’t want to believe Malays doesn’t have thousands of fans who just forgot to vote last week.
Who’s your top-3? I like Majesty, Dexter, and Malaya. You can argue Malaya with me, but Majesty and Dexter are obviously the two best at the moment, right?
See you tomorrow. Thanks for reading.