American Idol 2014, Top 12 Recap – Home must be a boring place

The top 12 performed on Fox last night - many went to sleep early, involuntarily.

The top 12 performed on Fox last night – many went to sleep early, involuntarily.

I’m not going to lie to you – last night’s show was a little tough to get through.  The two-hour show felt like a sludgy hike through molasses.  Not that everyone was bad (though some were), but nobody (save for maybe one) was great!  I kept waiting for someone to grab my attention by the throat and take notice, like Alex and Emily and Caleb and even Majesty did last week, but it never happened.  Even some of the bad performances last week had entertainment value (remember how fun it was to watch Malaya sing so poorly!) as opposed to this week’s snooze fest.  And what made it even more frustrating was that several of contestants were so close to creating something memorable, but pulled up short – kind of like a figure skater who, at the last second, decides to do a double rather than go for the triple.  Okay, I’m not even sure I know what I’m talking about with that metaphor, but I think you get me.  Before we go deeper into this week’s performances, however, let’s take care of some unfinished business from last week.

Last Thursday, we said goodbye to Kristen O’Conner.  No tears were shed.  Well, not by me anyway.  I never thought she deserved the wild card spot into the top 13 to begin with, and she was clearly the low point of last week.  The most shocking part of her exit is that, I think, J-Lo actually wanted to use the judges save on her.  Huh?!  Thankfully, Harry and Keith had a better idea and cut her loose.

Now, with that out-of-the-way, and before we get to the elimination show tonight, it’s time to talk about this week’s performances.  I’ll try to make it more entertaining than the actual show we saw last night.  The theme was “Pick A Song That Reminds You Of Home In Any Kind Of Way That You Choose To Define That Idea Of What Home Is To You”or some kind of thing like that. Now Here’s how that worked out, in order of their performances…

JENA IRENE  “Suddenly I see” by KT Tunstall – I thought this was a strong song choice.  Unfortunately, I got dizzy and passed out from watching the spinning background.  I probably liked this underwhelming performance more than I should have because the song was so good.  But I probably liked it less because the audience was once again incapable of clapping on the two and four beats.  Harry actually pointed this out (Harry and I were pretty much in lockstep this week).  Seriously, Idol audience…what happened to you?  I don’t ever remember this being a problem in previous seasons.  Stop clapping on the one and three!!!!

ALEX PRESTON “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin DeGraw – The was the first of oh-what-could-have-been performances.  Alex was wearing Capris again, which I guess is actually just him pegging his pants.  All of my 1985 friends love the look.  When I heard this was his song choice I was excited to seen Alex kind of rock it out.  Instead, he brought the mood down – which still could have worked had he brought it waaaaaay down kind of turned it into an introspective ballad.  That could have actually been really powerful and put Alex back on top of my rankings.  Instead, he did a kind of pseudo-reggae thing with it that turned out to be only pseudo-good.  But his Grandma really loves him, so that’s gotta count for something.

JESSICA MEUSE “White Flag” by Dido – Oh, Jessica.  This was so frustrating to watch because I kept thinking that it could have been so GREAT, but wow, it really wasn’t.  The vocals were sharp and passionless, the band arrangement felt weird, disjointed, and unsure of itself.  A quieter arrangement paired with a more confident vocal could have dominated the night.  Too bad, because I want to like Jessica.  The judges nailed this critique, with the “sharp vs. passionate” conversation.

DEXTER ROBERTS “Lucky Man” by Montgomery Gentry – The fact that this performance by Dexter the Dud was heralded as the best of the night so far speaks volumes to how bad things have been going.  I thought it was good, but nowhere near great.  I also thought it was about as good as Dexter the Dud can get, which is why he was the one guy I would have swapped out of the top 13.  He benefited this week by everyone else being weak, not by rising to greatness himself.

EMILY PIRIZ “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez – It’s always a little gutsy doing one of the judges own songs.  And while I don’t rank J-Lo anywhere near my favorite singers, this performance illustrated how important seasoned confidence can be.  There were moments of this that were peppy, energetic, and fun, but it was vocally sub par (which is too bad following last week’s killer vocal by Emily) and it made me think how much better J-Lo would have owned the stage if she were performing it.  In fact, J-Lo’s comment about Emily needing to drive the freight train rather than simply be a passenger was spot-on.

CALEB JOHNSON “Working Man” by Rush – Nothing says Ashville, North Carolina, quite like the Canadian prog-rockers Rush.  This was easily the strongest vocal of the night, but it still wasn’t a WOW performance.  Harry was right (again) – Caleb is consistent but predictable.  I’m starting to get a little tired of it.  And for god’s sake, can we please get a clapping machine for the audience?!  It is so annoying!  I could barely listen to Meatloaf , er, Caleb!

M.K. NOBILETTE “Drops of Jupiter” by Train – Hey, Train is from San Francisco, and MK is also from San Francisco!  That makes sense!  But this performance didn’t.  The background image of The Haight was better than MK tonight.  This was a passionless yawner that showed no confidence on MK’s part.  Harry, my man, nailed it – there was no joy.

C.J. HARRIS “Waiting On The World To Change” by John Mayer – Much better than last week, but still not the C.J. I got to love during rehearsals and Hollywood.  I actually thought he brought more energy to this performance than the band did, which hurt him.  I’m not going to blame him for that, though.  Harry and I pointed out that this was an example of passion overcoming vocal sharpness.  So, overall it was good!  But not great.  We’re two-thirds through the show and we haven’t approached great yet.

SAM WOOLF “Just One” by Blind Pilot – Maybe my desperation to feel entertained was starting to get the best of me, but I actually really liked this.  It was a great song choice that worked well for Sam, singing at the edge of the stage against the teen-age, goo-goo eyed girls.   It was vocally strong, he plays guitar well, and the song was really interesting.  It’s just to bad Sam left his ability to show emotion back stage.  Had he brought them out with him, this would have been a WOW.

MALAYA WATSON “Take Me To The King” by Tamela Mann – Wait a minute…is this…did I just hear…was this a WOW moment?  I’m not sure!  I think so!  But I can’t tell if I’m just so starved for greatness tonight that I’m willing to stamp “WOW” on the first thing that sounds like it might be great!  For Malaya, this was a total turnaround from last week, which she needed.  I thought it was easily the best performance of the night.  The song was beautiful and took me right to church.  After the first nine performers, I’m not sure I can tell what great is anymore, but I think this was it.

BEN BRILEY “Turning Home” by  David Nail – This was easily likeable.  Still not great, but an enjoyable, solid performance.  Reminded me again how much better he is than Dexter the Dud in the contemporary country music portion of this year’s competition.  Personally, I like my Ben Briley better when he has his guitar.  But he should be easily safe for next week.

MAJESTY ROSE “Fix You” by Coldplay – And we end with yet another could-have-been-great performance.  First, I have something to say to Idol audience – STOP CLAPPING!!!  Look, I’ll give you credit for being able to figure out the two-four beats on the slow songs, but you shouldn’t even be clapping on the slow songs!  Just stop, already!!!  You ruined this performance for me!!!  Okay, back to Majesty – this started really strong then lost its place.  It tried to go big at the bridge but should have stayed in its quiet place.  In fact, it should have been even quieter.  Majesty should be safe, though.

And now, back to my problems with the audience.  Seriously, I don’t ever remember being this annoyed with the American Idol audience while watching the show.  Memo to the directors and producers; train your audience before the show starts.  Teach them how to clap on the two and four.  Put up a sign that says “No Clapping” during slow songs that require their attention.  I’m not kidding about this.  It’s really frustrating as a viewer, I can only imagine how hard it is for the contestants when they are trying to perform through audience distraction.  You even had a judge point that out tonight during the show (God bless you, Harry).  Make it happen!  Tut sweet!!

Okay, so, as best as I can make sense of tonight’s show, here is how I rank the 12 performances:

  1. MALAYA WATSON
  2. CALEB JOHNSON
  3. BEN BRILEY
  4. SAM WOOLF
  5. C.J. HARRIS
  6. MAJESTY ROSE
  7. EMILY PIRIZ
  8. DEXTER ROBERTS
  9. JENA IRENE
  10. ALEX PRESTON
  11. JESSICA MEUSE
  12. M.K. NOBILETTE

Honestly, other than the top two and the bottom two, I don’t feel confident about this ranking.  Everyone was just so meh.  But this is what I’m going with.  As for elimination tonight, M.K. was in the audiences bottom three last week and I have her ranked last this week.  And if I were to power rank this top twelve based on overall performances, I would have her at number twelve.  So, it’s time to say goodbye to my local contestant.

Your thoughts?

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~ by themattmorrisshow on March 6, 2014.

One Response to “American Idol 2014, Top 12 Recap – Home must be a boring place”

  1. You need to work on your French, monsieur. “Tut sweet?” Really? LOL Oh, you’re adorable anyway. 🙂

    Sadly, I agree with you on all of this – although I wouldn’t have ranked Caleb quite so high on principle since he sang a Rush song. That, I cannot support, regardless of how “Meatloaf-y” his voice is.

    Is it weird that I love the judges way more than I love the singing this year?

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