American Idol XIII
American Idol headed to Tinseltown in Week 3, with the Top 11 choosing their favorite songs from movie soundtracks to perform.
This week is important because only the Top 10 finalists will be included on the Idol summer tour, meaning that whoever gets eliminated Thursday will be left in the dust. Before the singing starts, however, Jennifer Lopez blinds us all with her matching hot pink shirt and pants set, and Harry Connick, Jr. threatens to adopt the Randy Jackson-patented "in it to win it" as his catch phrase. (Ed. Note: Please, no.)
For each contestant's intro package, the other 10 do their best impersonations of him or her. Unfortunately, the majority of these come off as odd and sometimes mean-spirited, rather than funny and entertaining. It also seems like they maybe don't know each other that well? In any case, it's uncomfortable — and makes us wonder how the contestants feel seeing the often-snarky comments right before they take the stage.
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To the performances!
Song: "Come Together" by The Beatles
The performance: We can't help but wonder why Sam opts to sit down for the first portion of the song rather than injecting a little life into it from the get-go. Ah, there's the answer: Sam couldn't look more uncomfortable trying to break out of his comfort zone and into rock territory. He has no inner rock star to channel, as evidenced by his awkward strutting. But, his voice is still great though, and he gets points for trying!
What the judges say: Keith Urban compliments Sam on going for something new, but encourages him to loosen up even more. J.Lo asks for more personality and says Sam is at "baby rock star" level right now.
Song: "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel
The performance: The first part of the performance is solid, but something gets screwed up with the timing once the drums come in, and it seems to throw Jessica for the remainder of the song. Her vocals on the second verse seem a little strained at times as well.
What the judges say: Jennifer says it felt like Jessica never got into a groove with the song, but adds that she believes The Pink-Haired One could win the competition. Harry calls out the band for being off and praises Jessica for keeping her cool during the mishap. Keith encourages her to project more.
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Song: "Can't You See" by The Marshall Tucker Band
The performance: This is a great choice for C.J., who gives what is probably his strongest performance to date. There's plenty of big moments throughout, but he maintains control when dipping back into the softer lines as well.
What the judges say: Harry says C.J. "sang [his] way back to the forefront of the competition." Keith agrees that C.J. "completely nailed it," and Jennifer practically leaps out of her chair at the end of the tune.
Song: "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
The performance: Aside from this song choice being completely boring and predictable, it does nothing to highlight Dexter's vocals or range. Unfortunately, this rendition doesn't set itself apart from any mediocre bar cover band version — let alone champ RubenStuddard's from Idol.
What the judges say: Keith and Jen stick to critiquing Dexter's overall journey and persona. Harry compliments the performance as "solid," but tells Dexter he needs to be "bigger than the song" if he's going to pick such a crowd-pleaser.
Song: "Bennie and the Jets" by Elton John
The performance: Ben changes things up a little bit, sitting at the piano for the first part of the song before getting up to work the stage. The performance is a little too straightforward and snoozy for our liking (and pales compared to Haley Reinhart's version) but we can't fault Ben's vocals — and he demonstrates nice control on those high notes. It's a little too outside the box for the judges, though. Also ... 27 Dresses? Really?
What the judges say: All three panelists say the performance was lacking, with Harry noting that it felt "lackadaisical" and "pointless" (ouch!). Keith and J.Lo say they're confused about who Ben is as an artist. Side note: Harry fiddling around on the piano for 10 seconds before the commercial break is the most interesting performance we've seen all season. And guess what? We'll see him perform full-out tomorrow night.
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Song: "Let It Go" by Idina Menzel
The performance: She's no Adele Dazeem, but Majesty tackles the Oscar-winning song from Frozen with an enthusiasm that unfortunately doesn't translate into technical proficiency. She misses quite a few notes and, after her "Fix You" debacle last week, definitely needs to find her range and comfort zone stat.
What the judges say: Harry says Majesty may be spreading herself too thin, stylistically — and says if she's going to do so, she needs to be "superb." Keith mostly talks about how much Nicole Kidman and their daughters like the movie, and J.Lo rambles on about her array of talents.
Song: "Skyfall" by Adele
The performance: We have to admit, we didn't have high expectations for "Skyfall," so props to Caleb for blowing those out of the water! The song is still yawn-worthy, but Caleb proves that he can handle a good ol' fashioned monster ballad just as well as a boot-stomping rocker.
What the judges say: Keith is thrilled at the "great, restrained" effort, and Jennifer says this is the type of performance she's been waiting for. Even Harry says it's "fantastic."
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Song: "Make You Feel My Love" by Garth Brooks
The performance: MK finally — finally! — starts to look like she's feeling comfortable on the stage, and even walks right up to the judges' table during this ballad. The price she pays (probably from nerves) is that some of the notes in the song are a little shaky (and also that horrible ensemble/makeover). But MK's biggest problem so far has been her demeanor, so we're confident the vocals will catch up.
What the judges say: Jennifer loves the connection she was going for, while Harry tells her she needs to nail runs if she's going to attempt them. Keith says the performance offers "glimpses" of who she can be as an artist.
Song: "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
The performance: This is a great choice for Alex — we can wait another week for him to break free from his singer/songwriter shtick. He puts his own spin on the ballad, but brings it back home for the chorus. And the last note gets two thumbs up.
What the judges say: Harry calls the performance simple yet elegant, and an emotional Keith compliments Alex's "raw fragility." Jennifer says he sang it "perfectly."
Song: "Decode" by Paramore
The performance: This song is kind of a mess, but that has less to do with Jena's singing and more with what we assume is really poor sound mixing with the backing band. Jena turns in a worthy Hayley Williams imitation, and never veers off the rails though the vocals test her mettle. Also, the weekly reminder that Jena is just 17 is shocking every time.
What the judges say: Keith loves Jena's "ferocity," and Jennifer (who calls it the best performance of the night) says Jena was completely out of place in last week's bottom three.
Song: "I Am Changing" by Jennifer Hudson
The performance: Malaya wisely opted not to do "And I Am Telling You," instead going with this lesser-known song from Idol alum Hudson from Dreamgirls. It's a better performance than we're accustomed to from Malaya, with a few missteps here and there. We hate to think what would have happened to those big notes in less capable hands.
What the judges say: She gets a standing ovation from Keith and Jennifer, and Harry tells Malaya that she may have cemented herself as the "big belter" of the group.
What did you think of "Music from the Movies" night? Which were your favorite performances? Who will be in the bottom three? And Harry should definitely retire "In it to win it," right? Sound off in the comments!