Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Top 13 Perform: This Is Me Week

Welcome back. We are finally at the Top 13. It seems like it took forever to get here, but here we are. It's an interesting group. We have a few country singers, a few powerhouse singers, a number of singer/songwriters and a whole bunch of people that play guitar. It's an interesting mix for sure. Tonight will be the first time we get to see how the guys and girls perform at the same time, it'll be a good barometer of how the rest of the season will unfold.

Tonight's theme is "This Is Me", it's supposed to tell us who they are as a performer, as a person and maybe the direction they are trying to go. So without further ado let's get to it:

Top 13 Weekly Rankings
This is a segment we added last year to the Top 10 and will continue this week with this season's Top 13. Each week before the contestants perform we will post our rankings of the contestants. The criteria is based on their success on the show, personality, judges & audience response and belief that they could win. Each week we will do a new weekly ranking and let you know if they have risen, fallen or stayed flat in the rankings. 

This week is based on last week's performances and previous reactions and performances. So with that:

 1. Sam Woolf               2. Majesty Rose       3. MK Nobilette     4. Caleb Johnson      5. Dexter Roberts       6. Malaya Watson             
 7. Alex Preston       8. Jena Irene   9. Ben Briley    10. Jessica Meuse  11. CJ Harris  12. Emily Piriz    13. Kristen O'Connor

Top 13 Performances

 Dexter Roberts
(Aw Naw-Chris Young)
He says that he is fun and this song is fun. He decides to sing a more up-tempo song and decides to play electric guitar. It's not bad. I like that he seems to have a great personality, and wants to stand out, like the judges told him last week. I guess I didn't really connect to his performance that much. It was good, but not outstanding. But not a bad way to start off the show. C+
Keith-Such a likeable guy. He needs to figure out how to make the performance less cover and more him.
Jennifer-The song . He needs to make every song his. So we know he is. Didn't hit the sweet spot of his voice.
Harry-The fact that he sang out of tune may contribute to the ear monitors he use. He needs to use his personality more and have a good time. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. He did a nice job, but he didn't make it his own.

 Malaya Watson
(Runaway Baby-Bruno Mars)
This is a very fast paced, fun song. It doesn't put a ton of focus on her voice, but more on her personality and performance skills. I love that aspect, but because the song is super fast, it's tough to get a good feel of her voice. At times it was a little sloppy and went out of tune. She got through it, and if it was a marathon she definitely crossed the line, but didn't come close to first. C+
Jennifer-Performance is A+. This song has a lot of soul, but not her best vocal performance. At the end went off the rails. She is still a contender.
Harry-A contender. She reminds him of a passionate performer. She needs to sing in tune more. She seemed more nervous.
Keith-Her energy is so contagious, but now she needs to be more on top of the song, rather than around it.
Do The Judges & I Agree? We do. She is a fun performer, but her vocals got away from her.

 Kristen O'Connor
(Beautiful Disaster-Kelly Clarkson)
I didn't really like this song choice as soon as she said it. I love a ton of Kelly Clarkson songs, but not really this one. If this song is what she wants to be in the future she is gonna be in trouble. There were a few notes that hit, but a lot of it was all over the place. She never seemed completely in control. C-
Harry-A really strong pop singer. Not sure she felt or really took on the song in the proper way. Sang out of tune.
Keith-Good song choice because she has a great range and showed that range and also showed control and dynamics.
Jennifer-Needs to stop thinking so much. Needs to stop thinking about what might happen and needs to just show that she knows and belongs here.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Kinda. Harry and I agree more than the other 2. She could be a good pop singer but she sang kind of out of tune the whole way.Not a good showcase for her, especially since she wasn't initially picked by America and got here by being a wildcard.

 Ben Briley
(Folsom Prison Blues-Johnny Cash)
I think this is a really good song choice. Ben seems like a fun guy, and this song being so fast really seems to suit him well. Opposed to Dexter, Ben really made this song fit his personality rather than have his personality adhere to the song. He made it his own. I love the fact that he showed passion and sang in tune the whole time. Best performance of the night so far. B
Keith-Loved that he chose a Johnny Cash song. The tempo was a little quick. He has such a good voice that he hopes that he doesn't sacrifice the performance for entertainment value.
Jennifer-Loved the tempo. Made the song his own. Enjoyed the performance. 
Harry-Didn't think it was kitsch at all. Best performance of the night so far. Admired that he picked a song that harkens back to the olden days. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. Best performance thus far and made the song his own. A real nice job.

 CJ Harris
(Radio-Darius Rucker)
Right off the bat you got to see CJ smile, and we haven't seen that in awhile. He always seemed too intense and focused to enjoy himself, tonight he seemed to enjoy himself. I really liked the song choice. He showed a ton of personality and sang in tune, and made sure we knew that he wasn't just a wildcard pick. B
Jennifer-A lot of fun. Really concentrated on his performance. Felt his energy.
Harry-Wished he sang something that pushed his voice even more. OK song choice, would like to hear something different.
Keith-Thought it was a good song choice.  There's a side to him we never saw and we saw it tonight and hopefully in the future.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Definitely. He showed his personality and he did a fine job.

MK Nobilette
(Satisfaction-Allen Stone)
She wanted to change it up and not just do another ballad, and I really agree, this was a great choice. This was more of a groovy, soft-rock, soul, cool performance. She has such a lovely tone when she goes for the falsetto. The song really was something different for her, but not by a ton. It was still in her lane, and she chose a really great song for. She showed a bit more personality and is opening up more. B+
Harry-Loves watching her grow week to week. Wants her to get more into the performance, and that will come as she gets more comfortable.
Keith-Loved her whole look. Loves watching her growth from audition to now is amazing. It's not all there, but her voice never fails her.
Jennifer-Didn't know that song and loves it, and loves how she delivered it. Showed another side of her. Really can start playing up there because her voice is so good.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. Her voice is really great and the performance side will come with time. The voice is the hard part, as long as she has that she can learn the rest.

Majesty Rose
(Tightrope-Janelle Monae)
I loved the song choice from her first line. It's a ton of words, really quickly, and she nails it. Her personality is great, her voice is incredibly dynamic and she works the stage with the audience. I think she has the whole package and delivered it tonight. A-
Keith-That was a killer song choice.  Perfect for her vocal range and personality. 
Jennifer-Love her own style, her own individuality, there's no one like her. That was a perfect performance and how she moves. Has a natural ability to work the stage.
Harry-Favorite thing about her is that she is mysterious in that she can sing anything and go anywhere with her voice.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Absolutely. I love her personality, she has chosen great songs, and she makes everything so effortless.

Jena Irene
(The Scientist-Coldplay)
She learned this song on the piano when she was 9.  The band and her just don't match from the get go. It was off for a while. She was trying to catch up to the song, and make it her own. When she was able to get comfortable she sounded amazingly. It just took a little bit, and was a little jarring to the ear at first. She really has a huge voice and showed it off. It was messy, but she tried to get control of it but I don't think she fully got there. B-
Jennifer-Such a unique voice and she uses it so well. That was a tough song, but she pulled it out. Worried at the beginning but get better as it went along.
Harry-Felt every word that hse says. She makes interesting choices on preexisting melodies. She makes great choices as a singer. 
Keith-Pitchy in the beginning but really took charge of it. She owned the song by leaning into it.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Absoluetly. It was a tough start but she battled and got through it pretty well.

 Alex Preston 
(A Beautiful Mess-Jason Mraz)
I think some of his friends in the 'friends' section were Alex and Sierra, the most recent winners of X Factor. Just saying. Anyways, I thought this song choice was a good one for him. We've only heard Alex a couple of times and this seems like a really good fit for him. B
Harry-Brave to do a softer sounding song. Needs to make sure he sings in tune. Felt it was so inward that didn't feel the connection.
Keith-The performance pulled the audience in. Got interested because the performance was inward.
Jennifer-Very caught up in the mood. Caught up in emotion. Nice change from what everyone else is doing.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Mostly. Keith and Jennifer got his vibe a little more than Harry did. I felt what they said and didn't feel like Alex was pushing away his audience.

Jessica Meuse
(The Crow & The Butterfly-Shinedown)
Her voice tonight kinda reminded me of Carly Smithson from American Idol Season 7 . I loved the song choice. It was a little rock, it was a little country, it was like the Osmonds. But for real, it was a good song and perfect for her voice. I loved the grit in her voice, and the tenderness at the same time. A-
Keith-Very bold but cool song choice. Haven't seen that side of her in awhile. Has an edge and rasp in her voice that is appealing.
Jennifer-The sound and power of her voice gives goosebumps. Best vocal of the night. Would love her to relax a little more so the ease of her voice match.
Harry-Great to hear her sing in this kind of way. Love that she can sound and go in different directions with her voice.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. They loved the song choice, and love how at ease her voice sounded.

Emily Piriz
(Glitter In The Air-Pink)
I love how simple this performance was and her voice was. It just was easy and pure and good. No big frills, the audience was pretty much quiet and focused on her, until she hit the big note towards the end. The last line was kind of a mess, but the rest was pretty good. B+
Jennifer-A tough song to take on, but she did it beautifully. The pitch was beautiful. Gushing with how good it was.
Harry-It was really great. That's a great tune. Not an easy song but she sang the melody and emotion well. Proud of her.
Keith-Beautiful vocal performance, top to bottom. Beautiful song, and all hopes is she needs to connect and give a little more edge and balance.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. That was a surprisingly lovely performance. I wasn't expecting a ton from Emily and she really delivered.

Sam Woolf
(Unwell-Matchbox 20)
I know Sam is getting a big following from teen females because he is a cute guy, can play guitar and blushes. But, he actually can sing, and tonight he proved that. He did seem a little unsure and nervous. He was a bit off at times throughout the performance. He held his own, but not his best performance I have seen of his. B- 
Harry-Wished his vocal matched the sentiment of the tune. Just thought it was nice.
Keith-Thought the tempo was too slow, wanted more energy. Is a captivating performer.
Jennifer-Adorable, and his voice is amazing, but he needs to get loose and have fun up there.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. He seemed a little lost at points, but his vocal is right there.

Caleb Johnson
(Pressure In Time-Rival Suns)
This song is from a new kind of band that Caleb wants to emulate. I love that Caleb is true rock. It's old school but he makes it current. He can really sing. In the audience during this performance was Season 5 Idol champ Taylor Hicks. Hicks had a soul voice, and Caleb has soul but it's much more if Daughtry and Hicks had a baby, then you'd have Caleb. Tonight's performance was pretty amazing. He put it all out there. Jennifer and Keith give him a standing ovation. Not sure if it was standing ovation worthy, but it was still really really good. A-
Keith-Great song, he has some serious pipes. Needs to put a twist on being retro. 
Jennifer-Ready for the rock star life. He has the goods to back it up. 
Harry-Great to hear rock and roll on Idol. He killed it.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. He can really sing, like really really.

Bottom 3/Who's Going Home Predictions
1. Kristen O'Connor
2.  Malaya Watson
3. Jena Irene

Going Home?
Kristen O'Connor. The song she sang was called "Beautiful Disaster" and I think that's what happened to her tonight. Sure it wasn't a complete disaster, but compared to the rest of the contestants, and given she wasn't even initally selected by America to move on, I think Kristen's days are numbered, in fact I think her number is up tomorrow on this show.

Final Thoughts
-I think that there were some amazing performances, but then there were a few clunkers. I thought MK, Caleb, Majesty, Jessica and surprisingly Emily were fantastic. But there were a lot of middle of the road kind of performances from people like Ben, Malaya, Sam and CJ. I think Kristen is going based on last week and this week, but Jena had a rough start and so did Ben. I didn't like Ben's performance at all. It'll be interesting how the voting goes.

-Speaking of voting, there are a ton of ways to vote this year. You can vote by calling, by texting, going on Facebook, by going to Google Search and searching American Idol or even by ordering Dominos online. Well, not really the last one but the others.  I don't know if this will spread out the votes too thinly, or focus it in more.Guess we will see tomorrow.

-The little talk that Ryan has with the contestants right before they perform is great, it gives us insight into why they are gonna sing what they are gonna sing. But, the little blurb from Randy is ridiculous. First off his volume is way too low, with the audience screaming and Ryan finishing his introduction of the contestant you don't even know what Randy is saying. If they want a comment from him then it should be louder or away from the live audience, because right now it's worthless. What he is saying probably won't change the world, but if you're gonna have him sitting there all night ya might as well utilize him properly.

That's it. What did you think of this Top 13? Not too bad. No one was brutal, no one was embarrassing but it was a mix of everything. Come back tomorrow for the results show and see if our predictions were on the money or way off base. So until tomorrow, see ya!

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