Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Top 12 Perform: Home Week

Welcome back. It is Top 12 Week. The theme of this evening is "Home".It's a little ironic given that the goal of this show is not to be sent home early, but there it is. Last week there were a few technical problems, a contestant issues and a couple very nice performances. Hopefully the show we'll learn towards the good and elimiante some of the bad. So let's get to it:

As we always do we will post our Weekly Rankings. This is based on their performance last week, how they fared with the judges, the audience and our opinion on their future in this competition. This doesn't impact how we judge them, or how they might end up doing, but it's interesting to see how 1 week can change things for the good or the bad.

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

Top 12 Performances
Jena Irene
(Suddenly I See-K.T Tunstall)
She chose this song because it represents when she and her family did road trips she heard this song with them. American Idol got rid of the little Randy Jackson snippet before the contestant  sings. I agree with this decision. She starts off a little low, the song overpowers her, but her voice is still so good and different. It's an upbeat song, but I bet she could have taken this song anywhere she wanted to, if she wanted to do piano with it, or even guitar, but she goes straight vocals. I like it, not my favorite, because the band over-powered her a bit. B
Keith-Like her stage presence. Love seeing a different side of her. Not mad about the song, but thinks she can even loosen up more.
Jennifer-On the precipice of being great on stage. The uniqueness of her voice helps her show a different side of her and makes every song her own.
Keith-Made some different choices in the melody. Wanted her really bust out, and climb all over. But wanted to see more.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. Her vocals are great, but she needs to add a little more to the performance and whole persona.

Alex Preston
(I Don't Wanna Be-Gavin DeGraw)
He chose this song because Gavin DeGraw is a big inspiration to him.  He starts off the song just playing electric guitar on his own, the band kicks in, but it's subtle enough that it doesn't overpower him. He really gets into a cool groove. During the main chorus of the song he tries to get into the song even more, which I appreciate, but then he loses himself a little. I really like that he tried to open up a bit more, and be a little more loose on stage. It doesn't come naturally to him, so it's nice that he is really trying. B-
Jennifer-Wasn't his best vocal performance. Arrangement didn't quite suit the song and it overtook his vocal. It's nice to make things your own, but he needs to still give his best vocal.
Harry-Really good at being introspective, it's nice that he tried to step out of his shell a little. Sounded a bit overpowered. Liked that it was his decision on the arrangement, but wasn't the best this time around.
Keith-Instability came to him. He seemed unsure of his stage prescience, and his vocal. Seemed like the song was around him. He didn't seem confident in himself and that might be due to his arrangement. And he lost some of his voice on some phrases.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Kinda. They really disliked his arrangement. I liked that he owned the song. But he definitely lost his vocal in the process.

Jessica Meuse
(White Flag-Dido)
She chose this song because it's a song she has played a ton over the years, especially when she was younger and chose how she was gonna live her life.  She decides to go acoustic with this version. It reminds me of how we heard her earlier in the competition, kinda like Stevie Nicks. Her voice is really unique, it has a little trembly/wavy  aspect to it. Her eye contact is a little over the place and she seems a little nervous or not as focused as she has been in the past. I think her vocal was stronger last week than this week and she's had better performances in the past. She could be in some trouble. C
Harry-She seemed a little understated and blase. Usually she has emotion and not sharp, but she is this time. Was so off that the audience couldn't connect. She seemed really off in her performance. 
Keith-Loves how she sings and her musicality, but she needs to believe what she sings so people get into it, no matter how she sounds.
Jennifer-Looks better and better every week. She seems comfortable but it is not coming off this way. It was sharp throughout the whole time and needed more conviction to overpower the vocal problems.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yep, unfortunately. Jessica had such a great week last week that's it really is sad that she was so off this week. She is in some trouble, depending on how everyone else does tonight.

Dexter Roberts
(Lucky Man-Montgomery Gentry)
He chose this song because he is a lucky man to live where he lives, which is Alabama. I like that Dexter slowed down the song and really focused on his vocals. In the past few weeks he was going too fast and lost some of the phrases and words in the process. I definitely heard every word he said. It was definitely a step up for him this week. B
Keith-Perfect song. Has the perfect voice for it. Took some little liberties with the phrasing to make it his own. Saw that he went off for a second and it allowed him to step inside himself and showed his vulnerable side.
Jennifer-He did a nice job with being who is and surprising everyone in the process.
Harry-Unquestionably best performance of the night. Great performance.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. Best performance of the night so far. I still want him to really surprise us and do something really different. Not saying he has to lose the country, but maybe take a song that's not necessarily country and make it his own. That would be more surprising then tonight like Jennifer Lopez thought.

Emily Piriz
(Let's Get Loud-Jennifer Lopez)
She is from Florida and chose this because it has a latin feel to it, and she is Cuban so it fits really well. I love that Emily decided to do a Jennifer Lopez song. It was time she take a couple risks and jump out of the box . She really plays with the band and gets going with it. This really isn't a great song for vocal, but it gets everyone pumped and it shows her stage presence. It was a really fun performance but I liked her vocal more last week, so with that I'm kinda disappointed. This song doesn't need a ton to get people going, so if she put her own flair in it then it would have made it even better. C+ 
Jennifer-So happy to hear that this song influenced her at all. Did a really good job with the song.
Harry-Took a lot of courage to sing that song. It's a big locomotive song on the tracks, she needs to match the locomotive train because right now she's a passenger on the train and she needs to drive the train. The performance was too big for her.
Keith-Loved it. Guarantees she will be here next week. Needs to be more confident.
Do The Judge's and I Agree? Sorta. I completely agree with Harry. That song got everyone moving and happy before she sang a word, and the song was bigger than her. She didn't fully match the intensity of the song, especially with her vocal.

Caleb Johnson
(Working Man-Rush)
This song was chosen because he heard this song and band for his entire life growing up. I love that Caleb is just true to himself. He just goes big and strong for every performance. Tonight is no different. He definitely didn't disappoint. He always goes for it, and hits that big note at the end and then some. Really strong. He put it all out there and I can't take anything away from it. B+
Harry-Unquestionably the most consistent performer on the show. Big difference between being consistent and predictable. He needs to try to change it up, and wants to see what he brings to rock and roll. So he isn't predictable.
Keith-Seriously one of the best singers. Has an amazing gift. Needs to figure out how to be big and bad without the band and just be himself.
Jennifer-Knows what he can do, and knows he is gonna change things up as the season continues on.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yes. He does what he does. Sure he can switch it up down the line, but it's really only week 2 or 3 that the audience can vote, he is trying to establish himself. I get that.

MK Nobilette
(Drops of Jupiter-Train)
She grew up with this song. First song she learned on the piano.  MK decides to go very acoustic with her guitar this week. She decides to play on her own with only some band accompaniment. It's an interesting choice given that last week she was told that her stage presence was lacking. This week she had the guitar in front of her so she couldn't really move around, it was all focused on her vocal, which was consistent and good as always. I think this was a predictable song choice and version. It was a pretty version of the song, but one that she could have done something different with. I'm not upset at her vocal but more that she didn't take a chance. C
Keith-Good song choice. Vocals are fine. She needs to keep connecting with how she looks and how she sings. Needs to move the guitar away if she isn't playing it.
Jennifer-Wasn't a breakout performance. Did see her pushing, and happy she is trying to belt it out.
Harry-Still looks like she doesn't want to be here. Needs to practice things that her make her uncomfortable, she needs to work on the hard things. She needs to look in the mirror, watch herself back and make herself better.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Absolutely. She didn't take a chance, played it safe, and it might have cost her.

CJ Harris
(Waiting On The World To Change-John Mayer)
He chose this song because he wants the world to be just like his own home town which is accepting of every race, and gender. CJ didn't do anything different with the song, but he sang it really well and showed a lot of passion. He did a few things with his vocal to make it his own, but it was a pretty standard version. Still very good, and solid but not great. C+
Jennifer-Loves the message behind that song. Love that performance.
Harry-Sang consistently sharp but still felt something. It was alright.
Keith-All that's missing is him making the song his own. He needs to not just do a straight cover. Wants to know his artistic side.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yup. Keith and I thought the same thing. The performance was decent but he needs to start changing things up and making the song his own.

Sam Woolf
(Just One-Blind Pilot)
Heard this song when he was home and just reminds him of home.I think it was very smart of the producers to place Sam sitting with audience, sitting on the stage, with girls surrounding him. We get it, he's a cute teenage guy and girls like him. Got it. I never heard of this song nor the band before so it was tough to fully connect with it. Sam chose this song because it reminds him of home not because he necessarily connected with it emotionally, so it's not a surprise I didn't either. A much more solid vocal, and one that should send him easily into next week without any problems. B
Harry-Really liked the lyrics of the song. Was a pleasant performance. Needs to have emotional dynamics, growth, change the push. Only has one beat emotionally and he needs to switch it up.
Keith-The tone of his voice is like butter, but he understands what Harry is saying.
Jennifer-He needs to keep pushing outside his comfort zone because everyone knows he can do it.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. It was pretty, but emotionally nothing was really there. It left something more to be desired.

Malaya Watson
(Take Me To The King-Tamela Mann)
She chose this song because it was the first song she ever learned that was gospel and makes her think of home.  She decides to the exact opposite of last week in her performance. Last week she played a super fast song that was upbeat and all over the place, tonight she went with subdued and playing the piano softly. Because she sang so crazy last week it is almost a shock to the system to see her do this version. It's like going from 100% to about 25% energy wise. By the middle-end of the song she stepped it up a bit more, she got out of her seat and the crowd went wild. I definetly like this side of Malaya better. Keith gives her a standing ovation. She needs to figure out what she wants to be more consistently, because tonight was strong. B+
Keith-A beautiful song. Loved that she started at piano. Had vulnerability and power toward the end.
Jennifer-Was right there the whole time. Tears in the eyes. So proud.
Harry-In danger of running off tracks in the past, but tonight she was found it. The message was delivered tonight. She stayed on the rails tonight and stayed right on through.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. Tonight was the first time I have seen her that I was completely happy with the whole thing. By far, the best of the night so far.

Ben Briley
(Turning Home-David Nail)
He chose this song because it reminds him of being a simple guy, coming from a simple town. Last week he decided to go full throttle with his performance, tonight he is sans guitar and is all about the vocals. I think he sounded great. There were a couple points that his voice drifted and I couldn't understand what he was saying, but for the most part he was really committed and right there. B
Jennifer-Wasn't in sync in the beginning, but by the end he was all right there.
Harry-Didn't connect. Felt very shouted at. He is talented but is waiting for a knockout performance. Wasn't great.
Keith-An incredible voice and ability to be in charge of it, but sometimes where he goes with it doesn't connect. Lost the story and emotion because it was way too technical.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Not really. I liked that he went without a guitar and just stood there and sang. I get what Keith and Harry are saying with how technical it was, but I still liked this performance.

Majesty Rose
(Fix You-Coldplay)
This is a song that she listened to when she was a struggling teenager and it gave her hope. I love how simple the start of the performance was, it was just her and the guitar. It eventually picked up with the band and backup singers and it became a bigger performance. I love how it kind of took you to different places. I think her vocals were a little under where she wanted them to be. I think she went for the big note but it came up a bit flat. B
Harry-Belongs on the stage. Wishes she stayed in the quiet zone.
Jennifer-Sometimes the small things are better. This song would have been better for that.
Keith-Gonna see her next week.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Absolutely. I wish she stayed small, and stuck with just her and the guitar and her vocals. Once the band and the lights got going she lost her vocals and her way.

Bottom 3 & Going Home Predictions

Bottom 3
1. Jessica Meuse
2. MK Nobilette
3.Emily Piriz

Going Home
MK Nobilette. The fact that she was Bottom 3 last week, and was worse this week gives me the sneaking suspicion she is in trouble this week. It's unfortunate because just last week we ranked her in our Top 3, but she has tumbled quickly the past couple performances.

Final Thoughts

*Underwhelmed. That's the word for the night. No performance really got me thinking "This is was Amazing...This person can be the next American Idol". Even standouts like Majesty, Alex and Caleb were not where they should be. Jessica and Emily tumbled from last week's great week. MK and CJ didn't really recover too well from last week, and MK is definitely in trouble.  Ben and Jena stayed about the same as they have been. The only ones that did slightly better this week were Malaya, Dexter and Jena.

* Real Live Voting Results. During the middle of the episode we got told how the "Super Vote" from Facebook was ranking the first 6 contestants, and then at the end we got the results from the last 6 contestants. It's absurd. I know that this season people can vote for their favorites from the beginning of the show and don't have to wait until the end. But most people do. It's just not an accurate depiction of the real results. All it is is another way to highlight Facebook or some other company. Majesty had finished her performance and literally a minute later Ryan told us at this point she is in last place. C'mon. That's just silly. Also, the west coast hasn't even seen the episode yet, it's an unnecessary feature. If they want to tell us the full rankings tomorrow go ahead, but during the show is nonsense.

*I was happy that we didn't have the little feedback from Randy this week and we can see it tomorrow. But it would be nice to see a little more behind the scenes stuff, Randy or no Randy. I know that American Idol wants us to connect with these contestants, and that's why the little package before they perform was about their home life, but I think it would be a nice thing to see how the contestants pick their song, and figure out how they want to perform it. A lot of the contestants tonight had a tough time with stage presence, I want to know how Randy and the other producers are trying to help these contestants out, because right now it's not working.

That's it. Not a great night of performances. There were a couple of decent moments, but overall it was a rough one. The favorites didn't deliver and the people that needed to improve didn't. We'll see what happens tomorrow after the results. So come on back here after the show, until then, see ya!

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