American Idol 13: Top 9 - March 26, 2014

Top 9 - "I'm With The Band" - March 26, 2014

1. Alex Preston - "Don't Speak" A-

This was a pretty polarizing performance by Alex, but I loved it. Alex is showing actual potential to be an American Idol winner - he consistently reinvents songs and has a definitive, recognizable style. I loved the jazzy, sort of reggae twists he put on this No Doubt song. I loved that the song choice was unexpected and light years away from his performance of One Direction's "Story Of My Life" last week.

2. Majesty Rose - "Shake It Out" B-

I loved the physicality Majesty put into her performance. So often Idol, the contestants forget that it's not just a singing competition. The entertainment industry is, by nature, a visual one and a true performer incorporates visual, emotional, and technical aspects. Unfortunately, Majesty doesn't have the big voice needed for some of the songs she's been tackling lately and it showed on the big, belting notes. She was really fun to watch, but just listening to it on its own, the vocal performance doesn't hold up.

3. Dexter Roberts - "Boondocks" B-

Dexter has not had a performance on the Idol stage that I truly liked since "Simple Man" - maybe his lane is anthemic, bro-country songs but it's a lane I don't necessarily want to go down. It's consistently forgettable. And the way he ended the song felt lazy and uninteresting to me. I can't really fault his vocal delivery, I guess, it's not like he sang badly or out of key, but I would hate to have an Idol winner be so generic.

4. Malaya Watson - "The Long & Winding Road" A-/B+

Malaya has really come a long way from her first disastrous performance of "Runaway Baby" - she is learning to demonstrate control with her voice. I must say watching the show live, I liked this performance a lot better than when I've listened to it back after the fact, but maybe it was just the fact that it was a breath of fresh, different air after the previous 2 performances. She has such an interesting way of delivering her songs that I've sat here listening to her song about 3 or 4 times as I write this.

5. Sam Woolf - "Hey There Delilah" C

OF COURSE. Of course Sam would play "Hey There Delilah". It's a bland, inoffensive song that even your grandmother would like. Hey, kind of like Sam himself. The equivalent of eating crackers or white bread or chicken broth. Love or hate Malaya, you can't say she is ever boring or bland. Sam has no emotion in his voice, no sign of life behind his voice - it's so wooden I can't stand it. Moving on...

6. Jessica Meuse - "Rihannon" A-

I hear a hint of subversiveness in this performance and I absolutely love it. Her performances have been a little bit generic, a little bit Stevie Nicks-lite and I am glad to hear her gain some of her intensity back. Interesting that she does so on such a whispy song.

7. C.J. Harris - "If It Hadn't Been For Love" C+

A lot of grit in C.J.'s voice - and just a bit too much to be appealing. I like hearing songs on Idol that I haven't heard before, but the affect in his voice is distracting and prevents me from enjoying this performance like I wanted to. On repeat listens, much like Majesty's performance, it doesn't quite hold up.

8. Caleb Johnson - "Dazed & Confused" A+

Caleb is an absolute tour-de-force. There is no other way to describe him. In a season where a lot of the contestants seem to be sleepwalking through their performances (C.J., Sam, Dexter, even Jessica), Caleb "brings it" every time. I love the way he interacted with the band, I love his stage presence, his persona, that rock star, Grade A Caliber quality he brings to the show.

9. Jena Irene - "Bring Me To Life" A

Jena is the only one who could have followed Caleb after his amazing performance. I love the physicality of her performance, how she commits herself 100%. I love how mature she is beyond her years, her amazing songwriter ability, and her extremely unique and identifiable voice. She played off the band as well, embracing the theme of the week. There was such a beautiful, unexpected, brief moment in the middle of the song where she slowed the song down with only a piano for accompaniment. She is truly one to watch.

Best of the night: Caleb
Worst of the night:  CJ