Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Top 5 Perform: Audience's Choice

Welcome back. Tonight the Top 5 will take on songs selected by America...sorta. The deal is that America tweeted in a number of selections and then the contestant's had to choose 2 songs from that list. So it's sort of America but they also get some freedom as well. We'll see how that goes. The contestant's get to have mentor Jason Mraz this week. Let's get to it:

I'dol Be The Judge's Power Rankings
After CJ's elimination we have a new bottom of our Power Rankings. I know that Jessica has been in the official Bottom 2 for 2 weeks in a row and Sam hasn't been there since he was eliminated then saved a few weeks ago, but he still isn't quite all there. He doesn't have enough emotion, and connection and vocal prowess that Jessica and the rest of the group does. Caleb had a big moment last week, and Alex faltered a little, while Jena continued her solid run through this show.

1.  Jena Irene-Same As Last Week
2. Caleb Johnson-Up 1 From Last Week
3. Alex Preston-Down 1 From Last Week

4. Jessica Meuse-Same As Last Week (Officially Bottom 2)
5. Sam Woolf-Same As Last Week

Top 5 Solo Performances #1
Alex Preston
(Sweater Weather-The Neighbourhood)
Jason Mraz likes that Alex switches things up even though Alex is kind of gun shy about doing so because he has gotten some mixed reviews from the judges. He tells Alex to project out instead of being inward. This was a pretty predictable song choice but it doesn't mean he didn't sing it really well. He adds his own little flares to it, but still keeps the original tune. It wasn't the most exciting performance, but it was solid, and just a tad safe. B
Keith=Wouldn't have minded hearing a bit more soaring. Has a good range and sometimes it gets a bit linear so wouldn't mind him going up.
Jennifer=It's an easy song for him. Wished he pushed it a little more to get it moving, especially given he is the first person.
Harry=A+ for remembering all the words. There are a lot of words. Sounds like the original singer's voice. Can hear him on the radio right now. Strong opening to the show.
Do The Judges & I Agree? We do. It was a very solid performance but it wasn't terribly exciting. I think he got a little nervous about going to far from the melody that he played it a bit safe.

Caleb Johnson
(I Don't Want To Miss A Thing-Aerosmith)
Jason Mraz thinks Caleb has an iconic voice all on his own.  Thinks he sometimes shuts down because he is so into the song, wants him to connect emotionally to the audience. The first few bars of the song were a little shaky. The way he presented this song was kind of an all or nothing, in that either the audience connects to him or they don't. The reason is because he sang it pretty straight. When Caleb hit the big note towards the end of the song he did it flawlessly, but it was all kind of one color. It didn't do much for me.  B-
Jennifer=That was a challenging song. Sang it beautifully. Took it more as a ballad and less scream and less Steven Tyler. 
Harry=Shows every week that he has a strong powerful voice. Needed to connect more to the audience in the room rather than just looking straight into the camera. Strong performance but could have been performer.
Keith=Great song for him. His voice and ability to perform is high but needs to go higher. Great range and ability but must let the feelings driving the ability not the other way around.
Do The Judges & I Agree? I Think So. He didn't connect that much and the energy was off. It strayed too far from the Aerosmith version.

Trio Perform
(Best Day of My Life-American Authors)
I thought we were done with trios and duets for a couple weeks, but that's not the case. Jena was the most comfortable and sounded the best, followed by Alex and Sam. It seemed the boys were being led by Jena.  Keith gives them a standing ovation but we don't hear from the judges this time.

Top 5 Performances #2

Jessica Meuse
(Human-Christina Perri) 
Jason Mraz toured with Christina Perri so he knows this song pretty well. He tells Jessica how to hold the guitar in different ways.  He wants her to open up when holding the microphone. I purposely listened to this song right before the show so I can get a good comparison. I think Jessica held her own. Her voice is just really beautiful and crisp and very distinctive. This song really allows her to bring the emotion easier. When she had to go for the big notes she hit them really well. This song has a lot of range and goes up and down and all around. I think she handled herself really well. B+
Harry=Could tell she was thinking about the input, favorite part was when you can see that she wants to get better . She was really focused on the meaning of the song. Really proud to see her try to improve.
Keith=Really good song. Is very country cool. Favorite part was when her voice started to break.
Jennifer=When she taps into the emotion of the song something happens. There was a natural moment when she got lost in what she was singing. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. I think the judges were a little understated, but they do that with Jessica every week. She has improved week to week. I don't know if she gained more viewers to stay out of the bottom, but she should.

Sam Woolf 
(Sing-Ed Sheeran) 
Jason Mraz thinks that he looks the same way all the way through the whole performance and doesn't change it. He wants Sam to groove a little more, but not focus on the guitar and just let go. This is a relatively new song. There is a point in the song that Ed Sheeran goes falsetto, Sam does not go that way, he just sings the same as he always does. He tries to release the guitar like Jason Mraz told him to, but it came off a little awkward. It was a little boring. He changed the song in the wrong way and made it standard. C+
Keith=That's a tough song. He didn't do the falsetto hook. Tough song.
Jennifer=Liked seeing him relaxed and comfortable on stage.
Harry=He did something different than what he usually does. He needs rhythm. He laid way too late on the vocals. Needs to be in the groove. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? Kinda. They didn't love the performance but didn't really blast it.

Jena Irene
(My Body-Young The Giant)
Jason wants her to not compromise her vocals for the big moments and moving around too much.  He just wants her to be comfortable. This is a big song, it's just all up. Jena moves around the stage and utilizes the whole place. She isn't jumping around, just walking around and getting the audience going. She makes the whole performance seem so easy, but that is one challenging song. Her voice was completely on point and made you think she was putting on a concert. Very well done. Keith gives her a standing ovation. A-
Jennifer=Sounded really good. Makes it her own. Likes that she is getting a signature style. 
Harry=Might be surprised about how the little things help her in the long room. Move more than anyone else in the competition and that's a huge thing. Moves to the beat, looks like she is having fun. 
Keith=Lean in performer and can play piano and can write songs. Is just killer.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. She makes every performance seem as if we are at her concert and that she is the only one left in the competition..

Duet Performance
Caleb and Jessica
(Beast of Burden-The Rolling Stones)
I love that they are performing with each other and not just two solo people on the stage who happened to be standing next to one another. They sounded well together and really brought out the best in each other.

Top 5 Performances #3

Alex Preston
(Say Something-A Great Big World)
He sings it pretty standard but I don't mind because this song is so beautiful. It has a ton of emotion and it allows him to tap into that. He really nails it and stays in tune and just sings really well. One of my favorite performances of his in a really long time. Plus I really liked when the backup singer joined in with him, it added to the whole thing. Very nice job. A-
Harry= Fought the emotion of the song and didn't give into it. Performance of the night.
Keith=Perfect marriage of song and artist. Absolutely beautiful.
Jennifer=Looked amazing, the whole vibe and the whole performance was amazing.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yep. He just tapped right into the lyrics and the whole performance. The audience set Alex's song choice up on a tee and he hit a home run with it. 

Jena Irene
(Valerie-Amy Winehouse) 
Jena decides to make the song into a more funky version of the song.  It's not at all in the same rhythm or tone as the original and that's okay, but not great. I love the Amy Winehouse version but this was cool. There were a few moments that I wish she kind of took the song to a crazy place, but she maintained a ton of composure and delivered a solid performance. I was a little underwhelmed because I wish it picked up a little at one point, but it was still really good. B
Keith=Love that song, and loved the original version, but her vocals are killer and that kind of song is suited for her.
Jennifer=Not her best song. The tempo and arrangement wasn't entirely her. The song was a good choice, but expected more tempo from her.
Harry=Not her best or worst. Nice job by her. He was more interested in what her professional name will be after the show is over.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yea. I didn't dig the arrangement. Not saying she had to sing the song as the original, but her energy is bigger than the style allowed her. 

Sam Woolf
(How To Save A Life-The Fray)
Sam decides to sing this song as close to the original as one can go. He went off pitch a couple times when he tried to go off of the original. I have heard this song a lot in the past number of years so his version was not creative and it had some issues. Just like the other performance this was also a bit boring. C 
Jennifer=Shaky in the beginning, but then all of a sudden it got perfect for him. 
Harry=Perfect song choice. Some pitch issues, there is still a dynamic issue. All seems one volume. The last line of the song had a little bit of a cry and break to it. Wished the whole thing was like that.
Keith=The beginning was tough and then as song opened up he opened up and hit a new place.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Sorta. Again, the judges were a little muted with their criticisms. Them telling him that he sounded good at the end is absurd. You can't sound good at the end of a song and that makes up for it. The ends do not justify the means in this case.

Jessica Meuse
(Summertime Sadness-Lana Del Rey)
Jessica goes without her guitar, without the band, she is just out there all out on her own in a dress with her leg showing and her leg tattoo, it is a side of her we haven't seen of her. Really nice to see something different. She drags the microphone around the stage with her. Her voice hits some really beautiful notes, but it does get a little draggy at a couple points as well. The song isn't that great, but she did what she could with it. B
Harry=That is such a perfect song for her. Natural fit. Has an incredible voice. Stood there and sang. Was a perfect marriage of voice and song.
Keith=Good song choice. Has a deep part of her register that was brought out from the song. Wishes she could emotionally and dramatically lean into the song a bit more. 
Jennifer=Wanted her to dig in more. It all seemed to go somewhere but it didn't connect all the way, performance wise.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. I loved the dramatics of the performance and how it all looked but there were a couple points that didn't do much for me. It wasn't a complete performance.

Caleb Johnson
(Still Of The Night-Whitesnake) 
Caleb just rocked out on this song. This song was predictable and he didn't do anything different than what he usually does, but he knows exactly what to do with this kind of head banging crazy song. He screams and goes nuts, but then has some tender moments. No one does that kind of song better than him, they don't even try. Jennifer and Keith mid way through the song give him a standing ovation. I think I liked a couple of his performances a bit more than I did tonight, but this was still outstanding. A-
Keith=That was killer. Loves when he does those "tender ballads".
Jennifer=Brought down the house. Loves the band when they rock with him.
Harry=Can't sing that song any better than that. Fantastic. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? 100%. He really killed that song. He knows exactly how to bring the energy and intensity to a crazy level.

Bottom 2/Going Home Predictions
Bottom 2
1. Sam Woolf
2. Jessica Meuse

Going Home
Sam Woolf. He had 2 pretty boring performances and got some shaky critiques by the judges. I think the judges were a little more lenient on him than they were on Jessica and that gets me worried for her, but based on his performances alone he should be the one leaving the competition tomorrow night.

Final Thoughts

*Tonight was a good mix of some outstanding performances and some pretty good performances. I think Sam had the worst night of them all, but I think Alex, Caleb, Jessica and Jena each had at least one performance that was outstanding. They deserve to be Season 13's Top 4.

*Austin Mahone and Ryan Seacrest did an Idol Selfie. What? Who cares? Ariana Grande came out and gave Sam his microphone and gave him a hug, right before he sung? What? I don't see anyone hugging Jessica Meuse. This show's attempts at attracting younger viewers is silly. The ratings and demographics are what they are. Bringing in these "performers" to drop in and waste time are making the show look older than it is.It's one thing to be older and embrace being on the air for 13 years, it's another thing to try to look younger and stay hip. Being on the air for 13 years is a huge accomplishment. Sure the ratings are down but it is still FOX's biggest shows and bringing in Austin Mahone and Ariana Grande this week and Demi Lovato last week is unneeded.

*I wish we got to see what songs were on the contestant's list before they chose the songs they performed tonight. It would be interesting to see what their other options were and see if we agree or disagree with their choices.

That's it. Tomorrow we will find out which contestants will make the Top 4. It should be interesting to see who goes home and who lands in the bottom. So come on back here after tomorrow's show and until then, see ya!


  1. I missed the cat this week. I vote to scrap the cameo appearances they are bringing to the show for NO purpose. I agree with your reviews and ranking on the most part. I think Sam should go home but think Jessica might primarily because of the demographics with the fan base. I think Caleb and Jena will make the Top 2 and that Jessica and Alex are a toss-up for #3. The voting probably won't agree though. I think someone needs to temper down Keith's over-enthusiasm with jumping out of his chair (especially with his bias on Jena - the guy obviously thinks Jena is perfect). The judges continue to be extra critical with Jessica and don't seem to ever let her pass along with great performance comments without being critical about abstract stuff. Each artist has their style and the judges sometimes want to change them into something different. I can understand pushing the performers but not over the cliff. Finally, the same comment as last week, scrap the clips on the performers getting their make-up touch-ups before they perform. Oh wait - one more thing - if they have to take a commercial break before the judges critique the performer (which makes no sense), don't show another clip of the performance after the commercial break which gives the performer an edge over the others. Just my 3 cents worth.

  2. I agree about the commercial break before the judge's critique in that they have to go. But I feel the contestants are at a disadvantage, because sometimes the best reviews come immediately after a performance and with the commercial break it mutes the comments. I mean can you imagine if they had done a break between Caleb's last performance? It would have lost a ton of the luster from the judges. So I think it makes sense they show another clip of the performance because it at least connects back after a few minutes away. I understand with only so many contestants left and so much time they have to extend things and stretch them out, but I hate that they do it, it takes so much energy away from the performance we just saw.

    1. Your viewpoint does have validity, too. I guess the show is either guilty of (1) trying too hard to throw different angles into the routine or (2) bad time management. It's nice to get a reply. Thank you.

  3. If I was them, I would prefer to have a Carrie Underwood success, rather then
    "the guys and gals trying their darndest to achieve Kelly Clarkson success"
    not sure who she is, but think one of the earlier winners?