American Idol 13: March 19, 2014 - Top 10

Top 10 - "Top 10 Songs from 2011-2014" - March 19, 2014

FINALLY! Some current songs.

1. MK Nobilette - "Perfect" C-

I had such hope for MK this week after her beautiful performance of "To Make You Feel My Love" last week. Her message in the pre-performance package also got me ready to be blown away. However, she took a misstep with this one. It started off strong when she was looking at the mirror but as soon as she stepped away, I felt the energy deflate. It seems like MK might have skipped a lyric or a beat which threw her off a bit. Keith is right that she needs to "own the stage" more and seem more confident; whatever her intent may be, it reads as unsure on the stage and distracts me from her vocal.

2. Dexter Roberts - "Cruise" C+

Fun and competent, but nothing I will remember by tomorrow. He did a few stylized notes on the song that made it slightly different from the original. Dexter hasn't stood out for me to week-to-week at all and I wonder how long his strong country fan base will keep him in this race. I can't even come up with anything else to say about this performance.

3. Jena Irena - "Clarity" A

Idol consistently encourages its young contestants to be "current", yet at the same time the current landscape of music isn't always exactly G-rated. This puts most of the contestants (particularly female ones) in a bit of a dilemma as they try to navigate the balance between "current" and "appropriate" (whatever that means, as its largely in the eye of the beholder). That said, Jena did a masterful job tonight of balancing edgy with age-appropriate, fun with emotion, and energy with vocal talent. This is probably the most energetic I've ever seen the audience react to an idol contestant as well!

4. Alex Preston - "Story Of My Life" A

I like how he sped it up a bit and gave it a different arrangement and overall feel. I could really believe that this was his song; it didn't sound like a cover at all. I just absolutely loved it. His performances are small and intimate,  but unlike MK, he knows how to draw you in instantly.  He has a phenomenal voice and is such an individual; I feel that you could instantly recognize his voice if  you heard it on the radio. I would love to see him in a small concert venue or buy his CD.

5. Malaya Watson - "When I Was Your Man" A-

I actually absolutely LOVED this. I will preface this review by saying Candice Glover's performance of this song last season made me cry because you could feel each note of that song from her. While not quite comparable to Candice, Malaya's version was beautiful and unexpectedly so. I still think Malaya needs to work on the control of her voice as she often goes off the rails. In this performance, that was pretty minimal however. There was a ton of emotion in her voice and I was glad she prefaced the performance by explaining it was about two members of her family that inspired her to choose this song.

6. Caleb Johnson - "The Edge Of Glory" B+

At first listen, I was only focusing on Caleb's glorious voice, which would warrant at least an A- for this performance. But the more I listen to it, the more the arrangement bothers me. I agree with the judges that the arrangement lacked the upbeat urgency of Clarence Clemons's saxaphone in Lady Gaga's original. It is plodding and never really quite goes anywhere. I would love to see Caleb stay out of the midtempo lane next week and either pick something very rock-driven or something very quiet and intimate.

7. CJ Harris - "Invisible" C+

His emotion was clear in this song, but he started off pretty shaky. CJ has not done one thing to distinguish himself in this competition. In this kind of show, it's more dangerous to be completely middle of the road than it is to be terrible (see: Lazaro). The chorus sounded a bit sharp and like he was straining his voice in many places.

8. Jessica Meuse - "Pumped Up Kicks" B+

Jessica finally looked like she was having a little fun with this song, choosing to interpret it with a wink in a tongue-in-cheek way. She did choose stay in the lane a bit with the song and deliver it the way it was written - still, I think it worked for her. I was glad when the band came in, it didn't overpower her voice. I would love for her to try something even more unexpected next week since this was a little sleepy for me.

9. Majesty Rose - "Wake Me Up" B

A better song choice for Majesty by a million miles this week! This is the kind of song she should be covering and I really liked the Americana folk style of the song. Lyrically, it was the perfect song for her, but I couldn't really settle into it.

10. Sam Woolf - "We Are Young" C

Sam has failed to captivate me, at all, on the Idol stage. He is so one-dimensional I can't be drawn in by any lyric he sings; he fails to sing in a way that interprets the lyrics or gives me any amount of feeling. You don't have to be a great singer to be captivating; singers like Rihanna and Katy Perry have proved charming and charismatic without possessing Mariah Carey levels of vocal talent. Sam has been a very capable, competent singer who has a beautiful tone, but it's ultimately a flat one without meaning or nuance.

Best of the night: Alex
Worst of the night: MK

And just because it's so amazing, Jena Irene's original song "Unbreakable Me":