Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Top 9 Perform-I'm With The Band Week

Welcome Back. Tonight's theme is "I'm With The Band", where the contestants are playing with the band on the stage. It's another weak theme, very wide open for a variety of songs to be chosen. I do hope that this week we have contestants that take more chances and play it a little less safe. Those who come out of their shell and dare to do something different could be rewarded well, while those playing it safe might pay the price. We'll see.

Last week's episodes of American Idol were some of it's lowest rated episodes ever, I'm not sure if that's just the trend, the contestants, the judges, the show's format or a combination of any of those. This show is still one of FOX's most watched programs so I have no fear that it will be back next season, but its long term future might be a lot less optimistic. Anyways, let's get to tonight's show:

I'dol Be The Judge's Weekly Rankings
This week didn't provide as much movement from last week, but it shifted our number one position and with MK's elimination it bumped Dexter into the weakest spot of all the contestants. Jena has really made her way up the ladder since Top 13 began when she was picked as a Wildcard. We'll see if Majesty continues to tumble or takes back control of her early front-running position. 

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

Top 9 Group Performance
Before any of the singers individually take the stage the Top 9 sings altogether Coldplay's "Clocks".  It's weird to see group performances so early on. Then we see them sing Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction". Then another 3 singers sing Fallout Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark". Most of these performances were a mess. Jena, Caleb, even CJ did well. Malaya, Majesty and Sam seemed lost out there. Then

Top 9 Individual Performances

Alex Preston
(Don't Speak-No Doubt)
He starts it off just him and his guitar and then band gently comes in. He switches up the classic song to make it his own.  He keeps the song pretty melllow and not as loud as the original can be at points. I really enjoy the way he decided to change the song up. It keeps it really cool and current. Every week he seems more comfortable on stage. The last note when he did a little run was unexpected and nice to the ears. He is very consistent, doesn't change from week to week, but his songs do. B
Keith=Love that he makes every song him. Wants him to keep giving a little more edge. He did the chill version, but if he makes it more edgy it will grab the attention more.
Jennifer=That was the soft version of the song. It sucked the energy out of the song. Voice was undeniable and the beautiful part of the performance.
Harry=Can see he is designing the playbook of his life. Admires that he has his feet firmly planted in the competition. Would love to see him physically move around. Is such a center stage guy that putting so many center stage performances in a row loses something. Being unpredictable can be a good thing. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? Sorta. I admire Alex for switching things up, but I can see where the judges are coming from in that as unpredictable his songs are, he is as predictable with his performances. He is so good at one thing, it might be time to take a few more risks performance wise.

Majesty Rose
(Shake It Out-Florence + The Machine)
This was a great song choice for Majesty. Her voice always kind of reminded me of Florence Welch. Majesty looks great and is also playing the tambourine at the same, a multi-tasker. I think this performance was very reminiscent of Majesty of the first couple weeks of the competition, she was very confident and into the performance. She pushed when she had to and pulled back when she wanted to. She changed the song a bit to make it her own. All around one of her best performances in awhile. B
Jennifer=That's the Majesty we all love and missed. Looked so comfortable. Vocally it was all over, but performance wise it was a 10. In control of the whole stage, audience and band. Felt so good.
Harry=So talented. Waiting for her to connect, she is so close to breaking through in this competition. Stylistically she is so diverse so there is nothing anyone can latch onto. Fantastic singer. Dug the arrangement. So close to owning the stage.
Keith=That was a great song choice. Has an incredible range. Has everything she needs, but sometimes the adrenaline gets dispersed and gets a bit out of control. She needs to center herself and just bring us in. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? We do. This is her best performance in awhile, she is still a bit all over the place, but this was very good.

Dexter Roberts
(Boondocks-Little Big Town)
I wish that with one day Dexter would take an unpredictable song and just switch it up. I think Dexter sounded really solid, like he always does. I think he seemed really confident on stage, but he didn't do anything amazing with the song, just sang it really well. Solid, but memorable? Not sure. C+
Harry=Picks anthem like songs and needs to be better than the original to make it great . He sounds generic. He has to find a way to make these songs his own. Every time he picks an anthem song he needs to be so big to pull it off, and didn't hear it tonight.
Keith=It's hard for him to show who he is. Did a real nice job with the song. Hopes to see another side of himself. We've seen this.
Jennifer=Resident modern country guy. Can do something else that makes us take a second listen. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yea. He sang well again, but has still yet to make his song his own. Ryan asked Dexter if he can change it up and Dexter responded "I Can". Well if you can then do it.

Malaya Watson
(The Long & Winding Road-The Beatles)
I respect a 16-year old singing a Beatles song that's not as overplayed as many Beatles songs are done on this show. Given that she is playing with the band it's a little curious that she chose this song, there are a ton of Beatles songs that involve the band more.  I still love the control that Malaya is bringing these past weeks, but I think she played it a bit safe with this song. She innately makes the song different because she doesn't sound like The Beatles, but other than a few spots I wasn't a huge fan of the song choice. B-
Keith=Beautiful. Really chose a song that showed her voice. When she hits that right place her personality really comes out. That performance showed her spirit.
Jennifer= Has so much control that her voice really stands out. Hears hints of a young Michael Jackson. 
Harry=The award for the most consistently improving goes to her. Listened to the critiques and has grown week after week.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Sorta. I think that she did a nice job with the song, but I feel like she has gone from off the rails to safe, and with her voice if she finds a happy medium she'll be in good shape.

Sam Woolf
(Hey There Delilah-Plain White T's)
This song is already kind of folksy and hip, but he made it even more folksy and mellow. This song doesn't allow Sam to go crazy with the vocals, he stays in the pocket the whole time. It makes it consistent, but also a little boring and sleepy at times. It was sweet, it was something a bit different, but overall I've seen Sam do better. B-
Jennifer=That song was perfectly suited for him. Needs to connect a little more to take the performance to the next level.
Harry=Liked the stripped down performance. He is a sweet, shy nice guy. Sees him as a bare bones, stripped down performance. Didn't feel a whole lot of connection to the lyrics.
Keith=Loves the tone of his voice. Needs to soften the edges a bit more. Needs to be looser and more confident with his voice.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. This is probably the kind of song and performance that represents what Sam wants to do in the future, but he still has some work to do to make a better connection.

Jessica Meuse
(Rhiannon-Fleetwood Mac)
Everyone has been comparing Jessica to Stevie Nicks since we first heard her, and she has finally given the audience what they wanted to hear, a Fleetwood Mac song. I love how Jessica is without her comfort blanket a.k.a her guitar. Jessica seemed really at ease on stage, much more comfortable than the past several weeks. I really dig her voice, and I think this song really suited her voice in so many ways.  A really enjoyable, easy performance. I think she can do more, and that's exciting because she is so good already at this point, plus she seems pretty cool. B
Harry=Most get annoyed by the Stevie Nicks comparison, it's tough with this song, because she is so identifiable and big . Felt like we saw a different side of her. It was very focused. Proud of her.
Keith=Looks great. She needs to be as comfortable without her instrument as she is with it. It's not a performance song. She needs to move around, or keep that in mind when choosing songs.
Jennifer=Confidence is growing. Can see her connecting with the audience, a relaxed quality to what she was doing. Because Stevie Nicks is a big personality, if being compared she needs to do more than just the voice to make everyone feel something. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. Taking on a Stevie Nicks song means that comparisons will be drawn immediately, given that their voices are similar in a lot of ways. So Jessica did a really great job, but she can do more, and can give more to the performance.

 CJ Harris
(If It Hadn't Been For Love-The SteelDrivers)
I have never heard the song, nor the artist before they announced CJ was singing it. CJ seemed really at ease and cool with this song. It's a pretty simple melody. There were still times when I think that CJ was shouting lines instead of just being louder and bringing energy. I love the bluesiness of his voice. It distinguishes himself from all others, but he still goes off a little and it wasn't perfect.C+
Keith=Clever song choice. Allowed him to tap into the soul side of things. Doesn't want him to confuse the sound of expressing with the feeling of expressing. It's easy to make our voice like it is something, but if you feel it then it makes a big difference.
Jennifer= Good song choice. Never get tired of hearing his voice. Sounded good in the beginning, but in the middle it was so off and then by the end it was back. He needs to be more consistent. 
Harry=Needs to keep the connection, lyrics and song form all in the air like a juggler. Has to do a lot of things seamlessly. Can hear that his pitch is off again. He has the ability to change it. Was a good performance but can do better next week.
Do The Judegs & I Agree? We do. They like him, and his voice, but sometimes he just shouts to shout, and doesn't fully feel the lyrics and portray them 100%.

Caleb Johnson
(Dazed & Confused-Led Zeppelin)
This week's theme really was right in Caleb's wheelhouse. He was in a rock band in the past, he wants to be the lead singer of a rock band in the future, and he has all the talents to do that. The band really got rocking with this song and so did Caleb. This was a perfect song choice for Caleb. Keith and Jennifer give Caleb a standing ovation. Caleb owned this song and performance. A
Jennifer=That was a sexy performance. He has the ability to be sexy as a lead singer of a rock band. Was the front man all the way.
Harry=Took such a lofty song and couldn't have sung it better.
Keith=Such a good performance and he is such a great leading man. The whole performance was like an air bag deploying in slow motion.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. He killed that and proved why he will be a great lead singer for a rock band.

Jena Irene
(Bring Me To Life-Evanescene)
I'm a little disappointed that the bangs are still in full force for Jena, but given that she is so good I'll forgive her. As soon as I heard this song choice I thought it was perfect. Her voice is just as identifiable as Evanescene's Amy Lee's. I loved how cool Jena was during this performance. Her voice just does whatever she wants it to. It can be really soft and beautiful and then rock heavy or electronica. Then she does these crazy runs that are amazing. Jena picked a perfect song for her voice and everything else good followed. A-
Harry- She just followed a great performance with another great performance. Her voice can be heard on the radio. Really really strong.
Keith=Delivers every performance. Looked, sounded great. No one is doing what she is doing.
Jennifer=Sound phenomenal. The minute we hear her voice it's soothing. Wanted her to be more messy, wants her to not think about her hair or anything. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. Her voice is so good, it's so identifiable and can fit any kind of genre naturally. So good.

Bottom 3 Predictions
1. Dexter Roberts
2. CJ Harris
3. Sam Woolf

Going Home Predictions (If Not Saved By The Judges)
Dexter. He does the same thing week after week. After being Bottom 2 last week I don't think he did enough this week to save himself from going home.

Final Thoughts

*I think a few people stepped up tonight, and some continued to stay the same or worse. Obviously Caleb was in his element and killed it, but Jena was amazing as well, she just does whatever she wants to with her voice and does it naturally. Jessica and Majesty also did a really nice job. Dexter and CJ continued to distance themselves from the others. Week after week the judges tell Dexter to change things up and tell CJ to stay in tune but neither do, although both say they can. I don't get it. Malaya, Sam and Alex were decent enough, but nothing too outstanding.

*Loved the judges tonight. Jennifer, Keith and Harry were really on point. They gave focused, real honest critiques. They are really fair with all the contestants and don't apparently favor one over the other. They just tell it how it is. I love that a lot.  Keith gave some outstanding advice to CJ, Jennifer gave great feedback to Malaya and Harry sprinkled in great tidbits to a lot of these contestants.

*Unless Dexter is the one with the lowest votes I think the Save is being used this week. I think the judges are antsy about the Save and were close to using it last week on MK, I think almost all the contestants left can have the Save be used on them, even if Dexter got it I wouldn't be shocked.

That's it. Not a bad night. I think there were some solid performances, and then there were a few clunkers, overall not too bad. Come back on here tomorrow to see who the next person to go home is, or if the judge's save will be used. So until then, see ya!

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