Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Top 10 Perform: Songs From 2010-Now

Welcome back. Hope you had a great week. This week the American Idol Top 10 are tackling Songs from 2010-Now, so very current songs. It'll be interesting to hear how some of these contestants do with more modern tracks. It's not a real groundbreaking theme given that all of these contestants have at least one point sung a current song this season, but the Idol producers had a goal of widening the theme weeks this year, and not being so narrow, and that's definitely what they are doing. So let's see how it goes:

I'dol Be The Judge's Weekly Rankings
This week provided a ton of movement on the rankings. Our Top 2 from last week, Sam and Majesty, were both part of the official Bottom 3, and Majesty just barely got to safety. So both of them have the most significant drops, while Jena shoots up the leader board with her best performance to date last week. CJ and MK had a solid week last week, but they still have a lot to prove and need to follow up with a good performance this week to establish some consistency.

1. Caleb Johnson-Up 2 From Last Week
2. Alex Preston-Up 3 From Last Week
3. Jessica Meuse-Up 1 From Last Week
4. Sam Woolf-Down 2 From Last Week (Officially Bottom 3)
5. Jena Irene-Up 3 From Last Week
6. Dexter Roberts-Same As Last Week
7. Majesty Rose-Down 6 Spots From Last Week (Officially Bottom 2)
8. Malaya Watson-Up 1 From Last Week
9. CJ Harris-Up 1 From Last Week
10. MK Nobilette-Up 1 From Last Week

Top 10 Perform

MK Nobilette 
(F*kin Perfect-Pink)
I love this song, one of my favorites, and MK does a pretty nice job to a point. She seems more loose on stage, she plays with the staging  and the audience a bit. Then there was one point when she loses touch with the band, and tries to catch up and never fully does. I love when she went for some of the higher notes, she really pushed herself, and I like seeing and hearing her do that. But because of the mess up it really wrecked the good job she had done with the first part of the song. C
Keith=In the middle of the song you didn't come back with the band, but she regained herself, and she still needs to loosen up and owning and take control of the stage.
Jennifer=When first started she had much more feeling and emotion, doing it throughout will really help. She got thrown and she didn't regain herself.
Harry=Not one of her stronger performances. Didn't see the feeling convey. Has a beautiful voice, she can make a good record, but doesn't know what kind of show she can put on without sounding like the original and straying too far?
Do The Judges & I Agree? Kinda. I think she pushed herself to some higher places, but unfortunately she did mess up and it kinda crumbled after that.

Dexter Roberts
(Cruise-Florida Georgia Line)
I am not too familiar with this song, so I don't know if Dexter is singing the straight version or tried to change things up. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt and I think he changed it up a little, at least earlier on. He definitely seems like he owned the song more. But as soon as he got to the chorus the energy and originality was thrown out the window. He still hasn't completely found his way. This was good, but not great. C 
Jennifer=That was good, really good. Keep the crowd with him so the energy goes up and his energy and performance goes up.
Harry=Don't think that was a good performance. Took a popular song and didn't change it up at all. He looks like generic. Seemed like he was meandering.
Keith=Think it was a good song choice, he is being consistent. Loved the beginning when he changed things up. Talented, but lost some artistry by the end.  
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. This was an okay performance, especially the beginning, but Dexter just keeps going back to the generic side of things. He hasn't fully shown he can be a complete artist yet.

Jena Irene
Jena loves electronic and wants to bring it to Idol. On the personal grooming side, I hate Jena's hair tonight, and her bangs, I like her flowy hair. On the musical side her voice is just ridiculous. It cuts through the band getting loud and the crowd going crazy. Her voice can do anything she wants it to. She doesn't sing a straight karaoke, she changes it up, puts some runs in there and is really into this performance. All she needs to do is fix her hair and I would have loved the whole thing. B+
Harry=It's such a popular tune, and can really see her being in the wheelhouse of melody and electronica. Really strong singer, not a whole lot to the tune and she made it exciting.
Keith=Love that tune. Best performance of the night, easily. She came out looking comfortable, never looked desperate. Changed the melody at times, and she has such a strong signature sound.
Jennifer=Sounded so great. Perfect. Needs to hold the middle of the stage, if she is sideways then sometimes she looks unsure. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. She did a really great job. She is really getting good and has a lot of momentum going.

 Alex Preston
(Story Of My Life-One Direction)
He changed this song from the original pop version to more acoustic, just him and the guitar. No matter what you think of One Direction this is a pretty good song and Alex made a good song really great. He makes the song more folksy and subtle. I can see Alex playing this song at his concert. He took a lot of chances on some of the notes and did a few different vocal tricks to change it up and make it his own. A-
Keith= Makes the most out of theme song. Merged American Authors with One Direction. Really good at making it his own.
Jennifer=In the song the entire time. Owned the stage. Was very comfortable. Reminds her of Buddy Holly, evoke greatness.
Harry=Hit the bulls-eye on the artistry target. So consistent with his artistic choices, really leading the pack in that. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? Definitely. Best of the night so far. He is getting better and better.

 Malaya Watson
(When I Was Your Man-Bruno Mars)
I love the subtlety and sweetness of her voice during this performance. I know she can go big, and she does often, but the sweetness and softness to her voice really brings you in this time. The band kicks in at one point in the song, but she still is able to maintain her control. In the past she loses herself too much but she really was able to stay with the song throughout the whole thing. One of my favorite songs of hers, no question.  B+
Jennifer=Liked that she didn't change the pronoun. Had so much feeling, love and emotion. 
Harry=Completely present in every single word. Needs to work with the music people to change the cord while doing runs, because sometimes she doesn't quite catch up to it.
Keith= Well done for keeping the song as it is. Heard more control, in the past she would have gone one way, but tonight she really held it together.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yep.She had restraint and power. In the past she sometimes went way too much and full throttle and beyond, tonight she held it together and stayed the course. Really good job.

Caleb Johnson
(Edge of Glory)
I love that Caleb decided to go with performing another female singer's song. Singing a song from someone of the opposite gender automatically makes you sound different from the original. I love how the song started with the piano and then the drums start coming in quietly and then all of a sudden they are just going. This was a really creative way to present this song. He completely made this song his own. Not saying it was his best, but still very good.  B+
Harry=Loved that he chose Lady Gaga. He put his own spin on it. Saw him do better performances, but give him an A, A+ for originality.
Keith= Has a killer tone and sound. Delivers every week on that. An interesting song choice, not a big fan of it. Didn't dig the half-time sound to it, felt like it was lumbering. His voice is too big for the sound of the song.
Jennifer=Sound great, liked the half-time of it, but lacked some of the feeling. Didn't believe the performance. Just seemed like he was showing off.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Not completely. I liked it a bit more than they did. They weren't feeling his emotion as much.

CJ Harris
(Invisible-Hunter Hayes)
This was a more elaborate performance by CJ. He had strings, he wasn't wearing a hat, it was a big deal. I never heard this song before, not gonna lie, but I believed every word that CJ was singing at me. You can feel his emotion. It wasn't a flawless performance, he still yells a bit too much rather than just singing louder, it fell flat a bit at times, his voice cracked a little, but as a whole the performance felt real. Definitely a mix of good and not so great. C+
Keith= Rooting for him. Nailed the song in rehearsal but he didn't stay in tune and was shaky. Has believability but needs to work harder on staying in control of his pitch.
Jennifer=He is a quiet killer. His heart is in it. This wasn't what it should have been. Hopes that his tone and heart reached through to America so he is here next week.
Harry= Felt the lyrics. But was out of tune. Knows he can hear it, but he has a tendency to sing sharp. He can fix his flaws, but needs to get the pitch in check.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yup. You could really feel CJ's emotion, and you can tell he really wants to do well, but the singing fell by the wayside at times, and given this is a singing show you really need to get a hold of that.

Jessica Meuse
(Pumped Up Kicks-Foster The People)
Jessica really stripped this song down to it's bones. She goes with her guitar being the lead sound, with very limited and softer band accompaniment. The band is definitely a presence but her voice pierces through. She seemed way more comfortable tonight,  there was a moment at the song that the band dropped out and she just did this cool run, her voice sounded so great. After last week's tough outing with the band, she and the band did a great job to rebound. B+
Jennifer= Really happy with that performance. This week was right in her wheelhouse. Felt really good.
Harry=Had a complacent smile on her face. Wasn't sure how she interpreted the lyrics. Doesn't know where the cry is, where the laugh is, where the joy is, where the pain is. Sometimes she has a one-dimensional kind of performance. Can't wait til she gets out of the box and emotes. 
Keith= Thought it was good. Took it and made it her own. Had a weird 60s country pop feel to it. Very trippy.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Not really, at least not with Harry. I agreed with Jennifer this time. I got what Jessica was putting out there, I understand that the lyrics are actually kind of crazy and creepy and maybe Jessica shouldn't have smiled, but it's not like she mosh pitting and jumping all around the stage, she kept it restrained and in her wheelhouse.

Majesty Rose
(Wake Me Up-Avicii)
After last week's almost ouster, Majesty decides to go back to her roots of performing with the guitar and low key/cool vibe. I kind of figured she was gonna scale it back significantly after last week's train wreck. Her voice is just so good that it doesn't need huge theatrics. She changes the song to fit her personality and style and I am happy that it worked out for awhile. I think there is a certain middle ground between last week's craziness and this week's coffee house version, and hopefully Majesty will have more weeks to figure that out. Not saying this wasn't good, but at times it was a little sleepy. There were points that really got it going, but it wasn't her best, but a huge step up from last week. B
Harry=She had a featured vocal. Very smart and complex. She challenges the audience with a new interpretation of the song. 
Keith= Like the way she sings, the sound of her voice. Keeping it in a strict folk place makes it just not work, because it keeps it one place.
Jennifer=Had a little fear in the beginning, thinks last week really affected her.Half way through she sounded herself, but doesn't want to see the fear part ever again.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yep. It was a much better performance than last week, but she almost went too extreme to something different. There is a middle ground that Majesty needs to find, and gain some confidence at the same time.

Sam Woolf
(We Are Young-Fun.)
After picking the wrong song and doing the wrong thing last week Sam decides to perform with his guitar.  His eyes looked very unsure at times, like he felt lost. I like that he changed some of the melody but still stayed pretty true to the original. I really felt like I heard his voice, crystal clear. B-
Keith=Good feeling that he'll be back next week.
Jennifer=Loved it, thought it was so much better than last week. Sounded really beautifully.
Harry=Has to own it, still is timid. He needs to come out and be aggressive.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much, I think. The show ran out of time and the judges couldn't get a ton of comments into Sam. He might have gotten a bit more critical feedback from Keith and Harry if they had more time.

Bottom 3
1. Dexter Roberts
2. MK Nobilette
3.CJ Harris

Going Home
MK Nobilette. I predicted her going home the last few weeks, but I think the shaky performance, coupled with the fact that she was the first performer, and she still was Bottom 3 and Bottom 2 only a couple weeks ago will send MK home.

Final Thoughts

*The pack is starting to divide into the contenders and pretenders. MK, Dexter and CJ are doing what they think will get them votes and doing what they think they should do, while people like Jena, Alex, Jessica and Caleb are just being themselves and reaping the rewards of being so good. Those who don't need to try so hard deliver more and sound so much better than those that look like they are being forced into being a certain way or acting a certain way. It's natural or it's not. Malaya, Majesty and Sam teeter back and forth between the two worlds of contenders and pretenders. I don't know where to fully classify them.

*I really love that the producers decided to show us a few seconds on why the contestants chose the song, instead of doing a silly little video package before they perform. It helps give context to what we are gonna hear, and insight into why we are hearing it.  It was a necessary video package, opposed to 80% of the silly stuff they usually make us watch.

* I hate that Keith and Jennifer watch rehearsals. I know they go there so they are fully prepared and can get a jump start on their comments, but like with CJ, Caleb and a few others, their rehearsals were better than their actual performance so it makes their real performance look bad in comparison. Harry does not go to rehearsals and as he said "he doesn't care what [they] do before". I completely agree. It's like reading the last page of a book. If you know how it's gonna end then you can't fully enjoy the whole thing. If you know how they are gonna walk around the stage, and sound and look then it's tough to be organic and be fully excited. I like when the judges give their true and first reactions, not reactions that have had time to develop and change. Usually your first thought and your first impulse is the right one.

That's It. Not a bad week at all. I think there was some really great performances, a few decent ones and then some head scratchers. Tomorrow is the results and we'll see which contestant's journey ends. So until tomorrow, see ya!


  1. Last night helped separate the contenders from the pretenders. I still mostly agree with Harry's comments and think Keith and Jennifer are getting a little bolder but still always serve sweet syrup in their comments, as well. Another thing that I noticed that I thought was kinda funny at first but is now getting on my nerves is how the judges (mostly Jennifer) keep looking at their TV monitor live feed in the table where they sit to see if they are on camera. Look back at Dexter's performance and see how Jennifer not once but twice looks down to check and quickly reset her facial expression for the camera. My final comment is how interesting it is to think that a show that is solely perceived as a means to pick the best singer/performer only shows maybe 20 minutes of actual singing (give or take with this week having 10 performers) in a 120 minute broadcast. That leaves 100 minutes of other "stuff".

  2. With the fact that Jennifer and Keith both watch the rehearsals, coupled with the fact that Jennifer keeps looking at the TV monitors to check herself out, it loses some of the authenticity of the comments and personality of the show. I'm not saying that some of what Jennifer said last night, and what Keith and Harry have continued to say wasn't good, but if they are fully preparing their comments before the live show even starts then you lose some of the excitement.
    I think without commercials there is about 55-60 minutes of other stuff. I'd say there is a good 25 minutes per hour devoted to commercials. Then with the judges comments and the video package there ya go. My favorite part of the season is when the contestants get to sing twice in an episode. That's usually when there is about 6 people left. Hearing them sing once a week is what we have to deal with, but it's true that of the whole show we probably only get 20-25 minutes of actual singing.