- Jena Irene - "I Love Rock N' Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhawks - Major kudos for the crazy arrangement. I couldn't hear the first half of the song though. It was a little too low, which the judges all commented on. I think she's cemented herself pretty well on this show for now though, so she'll be okay. Plus, the duet with Caleb won't hurt.
- Dexter Roberts - "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by Georgia Satellites - I actually found myself enjoying Dexter's performance more than usual. Maybe it was the Cook coaching and the added expressions and enunciation. But, at the end of the day, I still think he's an amateur singer. Sure, they all are, but he just doesn't fit the bill. And, after all of the performances I found myself forgetting his the most.
- Malaya Watson - "Through the Fire" by Chaka Khan - This probably was the worst performance of the night (outside of the duet featuring Malaya as well). Yes, by the end of the song she was hitting some powerful and impressive notes. But the whole beginning and middle of the song was a mess. We can blame David Cook, maybe, for telling her to lay back and build to the big end but I don't think his point was what Malaya delivered. In holding back, she pretty much forgot to sing!
- Jessica Meuse - "Call Me" by Blondie - Carrie Underwood used to be called a fembot during her season 4 campaign. She didn't emote too much and was pretty stiff on stage. But boy could she sing! Jessica may be suffering from a similar disease, and she definitely suffers worse from it. The performance definitely felt choreographed. She smiled through the whole thing and walked like a stiff board from point A to point B, forced a hip shake on Keith's chair here and touched a fan's hand there. The song was technically sung well, but I couldn't help but focus on everything she was clearly focusing on. This is where Keith's general commentary to these contestants come in. Let loose and enjoy the moment! I'm sure it's easier said than done, but come on. This was a Blondie rock anthem! Work the crowd! I keep saying this thing is a 3 way race between Caleb, Jena and Jessica. This was not a good night for Jessica and I'm afraid she might get a scare.
- Sam Woolf - "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper - Let me be clear up front. Sam still has a lot of work to do, but man this guy was a totally different performer up there tonight. Sure, he didn't personally connect with the creepy smiling girls right in front of him, but he certainly was taking more risks with his performance. I'm sure playing it acoustically allowed him to slow down, speed up and ad-lib more than he usually does but it showed a side of him that I could appreciate better. I always thought he had a really good voice, but this shows there is a performer hiding in him. He'll get there. I don't think he will win this show, but getting the save and having a decent night will make him safe this week too.
- Alex Preston - "Every Breath You Take" by The Police - I thought there was true artistry in what Alex did to the classic Police tune. Yes, he did mix up the melody a lot to the point where it was tough to even hear the original tune in there, but I think there was enough of it there to draw the comparison and feel him paying tribute. But, his guitar playing and his melody and tempo choices were just really beautiful. I don't think he'll be standing there as the Idol winner at the end, but I still have really enjoyed his performances. I like the fact that he sent his version to Jason Mraz, as I compared one of his performances to Mraz a couple weeks back!
- C.J. Harris - "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty - Ahh, I don't know what to say about CJ anymore. You either hate that he can't sing in tune or you just flat out love the guy's ambition. This week, I'm leaning towards the latter again. Again, maybe this was Cook's influence, but I LOVED the rendition of "Free Fallin'" that CJ, the band and the background singers (Still featuring Allison Iraheta) did. Maybe, I'm just getting older and don't mind the coffee house vibe that a lot of our "artists" are bringing to the stage this season. But, CJ brings that raw emotion with him every time and I felt it more than usual in this performance. It's not a winning performance but it sure was entertaining.
- Caleb Johnson - "Faithfully" by Journey - Well, he finally did a ballad! And what a perfect ballad for him to choose. There's not much to say besides he sang it subtly where it needed to be subtle and powerfully where it needed to be powerful. And he captured the crowd's attention with every note he sung. The dude is good. I don't know how successful he will be POST Idol, but the man has a gift in that voice box of his, even in his very presence on the stage. He's still a tough one to beat.
- Sam and Alex - "The Girl is Mine" by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney - Nice harmonies, nice guitar, just nice.
- Jena and Caleb - "It's Only Love" by Bryan Adams and Tina Turner - Probably the best of the duets. Of course, it's probably the best singers too. I agree with J Lo, these duets are helping the kids come out of their shells a little more. (Not that Caleb needs any help there)
- Malaya and C.J. - "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" by Aretha Franklin and George Michael - Pretty Painful. Mix in Malaya's unpleasant singing with CJ's tone deafness (Hey, I liked his other performance, but for stuff like this? Nope, doesn't work well!) and you have a train wreck. I have to borrow from tvline.com's Michael Slezak. Anyone remember when Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez sang this 2 seasons ago? It kind of puts in perspective our timid performers we have this year.
- Jessica and Dexter - "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton - I honestly don't remember much from this besides the fact that Harry and Keith were causing a ruckus in the crowd. Speaking of which, the judges were an all-time level of crazy tonight. It certainly was entertaining, if not a little distracting at times!
Okay, nothing left to do but pick. Let's sum up.
Great and memorable performances: Caleb, Alex
Emotionally resonant performances: CJ
Not her best, but probably still safe: Jena
Most Improved: Sam
Who is left? Dexter, Malaya, Jessica
Bottom 3: Dexter, Malaya Jessica Wildcard: Sam
Elimination Pick: Malaya Watson - I tossed a coin between her and Dexter. But, it all boils down to the fact that she did have the worst performance of the night. And, she's had some rough ones in the past too. It's probably time to hit the road!
That's all I have for tonight. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and I'll see you next week!