Thursday, February 27, 2014

American Idol Season 13 - Top 13 Perform

Hello friends and welcome back to the American Idol recap that just will not go away!  On nights like this, I have to take a long look in the mirror and question the meaning of it all.  What is the point of writing tirelessly, year after year, about all of these amateur singers?  Is it the joy I get out of ridiculing the disastrous performances that grace our screen every week?  Is it those rare moments of brilliance that can transcend the show?  Is it just the fact that when I start something I have no ability to stop until it gets cancelled?  Probably mostly the latter, but I'm sure it's a combination of all of it.  But, there's no question.  This Top 13 was a strange strange night, and so far it's a strange strange crop of kids.  I'll admit it, I think I coasted through the first hour barely paying attention to the performances.  But, everything surrounding the performances?  Pretty impressive.  The production quality of this season is through the roof, though I could do with less shots of the families during the performances and Taylor Hicks (what was THAT??).  There were a couple of standout performances, but you'd never be able to tell it from J-Lo.  She just loved everyone!  Anyway, I have a pretty good idea who has a strong chance of going home on Thursday, but with this new voting system, it's going to get interesting.   Let's dive in and see what we have.

  1. Dexter Roberts: Chris Young's "Aw Naw" - I think Dexter is way better than this.  He is totally redneck, and the song definitely fits that bill.  But, he totally mailed in that performance.  No energy, definite pitch problems.  But, I agree with Harry that I'm sure all the contestants have to adjust to the acoustics of the live stage so that didn't bother me too much.  But, this performance was just bland and got a shrug from me. 
  2. Malaya Watson: Bruno Bars' "Runaway Baby" - Painful.  That song, when done right, is a very powerful tune.  It's tough to top Bruno's energy when he performs it live, but Joshua Ledet had a crazy good performance a couple seasons ago with it.  All you have to do is watch that YouTube clip I linked to and then try to remember Malaya's performance to see where she absolutely went wrong.  I'm not a fan of this girl, but the show insisted in shoving her crazy weird self down our throats. So, we're stuck with her until America comes to their senses! 
  3. Kristin O'Connor: Kelly Clarkson's "Beautiful Disaster" - Always a bad idea to sing a song that has "disaster" in the title.  But, you readers know me.  If you pick a Kelly Clarkson song and you haven't proven yourself on this show yet, you're done in my eyes.  And I think this girl is probably done in America's eyes too.  I have no idea why the judges gave her a wildcard shot in the first place.  She's just so bland and there is nothing interesting about her.  And then she tries to pull off the legendary inaugural idol winner's tune this early in the show?  Has she never watched American Idol before?  If you need to wash Krisin's performance out of your memory, here's Kelly singing her great acoustic rendition of it.  
  4. Ben Briley: Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" - I have mixed feelings about this one.  First of all, there is a tone to his voice that had me cringing during most energetic part of the song.  He was certainly singing the notes and had a good rocking country presence on the stage.  It was original, the shadowy band players may have been a bit distracting too.  I think he can probably do better, but I also don't think he's in the running to win it all. 
  5. C.J. Harris: Darius Rucker's "Radio" - Let's be honest, we all love this guy!  He's got heart.  But, man he needs to start picking better songs.  I like Darius Rucker (Hootie - he hates when people call him that) as much as the next person, but there isn't much to that song to sell on the Idol stage.  Harry wants to hear the "cry" in his voice.  I get it, and think I want to hear the same.  He has a pain and emotion that he can bring to his performances and he needs to pick songs where he can show that off.  He didn't really do that here. 
  6. M.K. Nobilette: Allen Stone's "Satisfaction" - I think my wife and I could've sworn she was going to perform the "Rolling Stones' Satisfaction" not "Allen Stone's Satisfaction".  What are the odds on that name, right?  Never heard that song, not sure I enjoyed it particularly very much either.  But, M.K. gave a decent performance.  It won't go down as one of Idol's best, but with her popularity and Idol's political aspirations for her, she'll be fine this week.  
  7. Majesty Rose: Jannelle Monae's "Tightrope" - This performance had its moments.  Majesty is a good singer, but I'm still not seeing her full potential on that live stage yet.  The issue may have been the song for me.  I wasn't familiar with it, and she was doing some whisper singing on those low notes.  I could've sworn she was able to hit those low notes in her audition, but maybe they're easier to hear in a quiet room vs. a screaming Idol crowd.  I think she'll be fine this week, but hope she picks a decent song next week. 
  8. Jena Irene: Coldplay's "The Scientist"- Jena got off on the wrong foot, or I should say beat but she eventually bounced back.  It was awkward listening to the piano player try to figure out how to get on the right note with Jena.  She was nervous, she probably just started singing too early.  It happens, I guess.  She definitely has a unique voice.  I'm not sure if it's a voice I'd like listening to every day but maybe with the right song it could work well!  There's no doubt that she can sing though, so she should be safe this week. 
  9. Alex Preston: Jason Mraz's "A Beautiful Mess"- I called it pretty early that this was a guy to watch out for this season.  He had one of the best performances of the night.  I'm not sure what Harry was listening to.  I think he may need to adjust to the live judging as well as the contestants needing to adjust to the live singing.  But, it was such a contrast from the other performances.  You could hear the nuance in every note he sang and his beautiful guitar playing complimented it so well.  It was the first performance where I got the chills and I said out loud, "This guy is the real deal."  
  10. Jessica Meuse: Shinedown's "The Crow and the Butterfly" - I actually was pretty surprised after her performances last week how strong this one was.  She's a rocker chick and she brought it tonight.  Powerful vocal performance and proved she may have some staying power!  
  11. Emily Piriz: Pink's "Glitter in the Air"- I had the exact same thoughts as the judges on this one.  It was a carbon copy of P!nk's song, but it's such a beautiful song and she sang it so beautifully that on a night of mediocre performances it was actually pretty refreshing!  She's another girl that I don't see having long staying power.  She may end up by default sticking around for awhile.  But, there's no doubt she had one of the better performances this week. 
  12. Sam Woolf: Matchbox 20's "Unwell"- Matchbox Twenty is tough to pull off on the Idol stage.  Rob Thomas is a pretty energetic performer so he can make these songs really come to life on stage.  Phillip Phillips did it with "Disease" a couple years back.  But, if you come out there and just sing the melody and play the chords with no flair, it's going to just come off as background music.  Sam is a 17 year old very talented kid.  But, he has a very wholesome image and his performances don't do much to break him out of that shell.  The ladies love him so he'll be around for a bit, but he's going to have to get a little rough around the edges.  Though, seeing this happen over the weeks may prove to just be too much unintentional comedy for me to take!
  13. Caleb Johnson: Rival Sons' "Pressure and Time"- Well, at least Alex Preston has some competition!  Where Alex has that talent that just draws you in, Caleb has the power vocals that can blow you away!  This was a great performance to close the show with.  This guy is a bona fide rocker and lives up to the image that he is trying to hard to pull off.  But, can turning it up to 1000 every week be too much for people to take?  He'll probably need to mix things up a bit, but he's darn good.  We shall see!
Elimination Pick
So, the whole voting process will be interesting this year.  I think these numbers will be their numbers for the remainder of the show?  So, people can just start voting for their favorite contestant at the start of the show until they hit 50 on each method.  I think the fact that there is a limit on each method is where this format will win over the previous unlimited way.  Not EVERYONE is just going to vote every week for their favorite. So, in the end it will get decided by a combination of who is the most popular plus the extra votes that a really great performance will earn.

Let's see how well I can gauge this new voting system! 

Best performances of the night? Caleb, Alex, Emily
Worst of the night? Kristen, Malaya, Dexter
Decent? Jessica, Jena, Majesty, M.K., Sam
Eh? Ben, C.J.

Bottom 3: Kristen, Ben, C.J. Wildcard Pick: Malaya

Elimination Pick: Kristen O'Connor - The judges gave you another shot. Sorry, America won't!  

The bottom 3 is tough.  It seems like Kristen is the obvious choice for the elimination.  But with Malaya and Dexter having had a lot of on screen time in the pre-taped rounds they've probably grown some nice support bases whereas C.J. didn't get voted in last week and Ben has just been average so far.  I could see any of those 4 accompanying Kristen.  But I'll be shocked if anyone other than Kristen goes home. 

We shall see.  I look forward to discussing the show with anyone brave enough to step up and speak in the comments!  Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and I'll see you next week! 


Ian said...

Hey Mike! I haven't watched American Idol since Season 10, but I still subscribe to your blog! Your recaps are entertaining, even if I don't know any of the contestants! Keep up the good work!

Mike V. said...

lol that's hysterical that you're still reading them Ian. I wish I had more willpower to not watch the show like you, but I'm a glutton for punishment! :)

Thanks for the props, and good to hear from you!

Leslie said...

Yeah, I keep watching, too, and agree with your reviews. As usual, they all have some growing to do and getting used to the stage and ear monitors. Not a fan of Malaya either. Agree that Kristin should go this week. I think Majesty is one of the best girls. Alex is definitely unique. I wasn’t too fond of Jessica before, but she did pretty good last night. Does anyone else think Caleb is Meatloaf’s son? lol

BTW, sorry you've been having a rough week at home. Hope it all smooths out for you.

Mike V. said...

lol on Caleb being Meatloaf's son. I kinda see that. I have a friend from college that Caleb reminds me of so it's hard for me to picture anything else. I think if Caleb had a shaved head, they could pass as twins!

Thanks on the homefront comments. I think we're all feeling better now! :)

Leslie said...

You got it right and so did America!

Mike V. said...

Indeed they did! :)