‘American Idol XIII’ review: Did Alex Preston, Sam Woolf, and Jessica Meuse rule top 13?

Top 13 -The top 13 of “American Idol” performed tonight, and they had an opportunity to let us know a little more about themselves in the process. At least, they did this when Randy Jackson was hogging the spotlight. Seriously, who gave the Dawg permission to take up almost all of the show with his rambling about this thing or that thing? We don’t really need a guy out there to take away the experience of watching the contestants walk on stage, and prepare to start performing.

Now, we’re going to pretend like Randy is not there for the rest of the show, and proceed to give you our full impressions of how everybody did. As per always, we’re ranking in terms of the weakest to the strongest performance.

13. Dexter Roberts, “Aw Naw” – Oh no is actually what we felt when we heard this full performance. It was just way too much down the cheesy country music route, and he was drowned out by the band for a pretty good chunk of it. We appreciate a modern country music coice, but you do have to do something in the process to make it stand out from the millions of country guys out there who can do this.

12. Kristen O’Connor, “Beautiful Disaster” – The way that we feel about many of the singers on the show tonight is that they are good, but not quite ready for primetime yet. Definitely not that much of an endorsement as to the idea of there still being a ton of talent out there. Kristen sang this OK … really, just OK. There were some good moments, some bad ones, but none of the passion that Kelly Clarkson has.

11. Malaya Watson, “Runaway Baby” – The truth with Malaya is that she is in an incredibly tricky situation, mostly in that her talent is often overshadowed by that humor and style and big personality. Take all that away, and she’s average as a vocalist. The energy in this performance was there, but the enunciation of the worlds was off and there really wasn’t enough vocal firepower in here. Bruno Mars is touch to do right out the gate, though, so an A+ from the standpoint of bravery.

10. Majesty Rose, “Tightrope” – We love Majesty, and for weeks she has been firmly at the top of our list of favorite women on the season. Unfortunately, we had a big problem with her performance tonight … five minutes after it happened, we had a really hard time remembering what she sang, or that she had already performed at all. It was very good and very professional, but where was that style and artistry that was in “Violet Hill”? It was just too much of a straight cover of the original.

9. CJ Harris, “Radio” – The thing with CJ is that we have seen some great moments from him throughout this season, but given the amount of support handed down by America so far, he needed a home run. We don’t think that he is in danger this week (that goes instead to Kristen), but he needs to really step it up and get us feeling again if he really wants some votes to start coming in.

8. Jena Irene, “The Scientist” – First of all, way to throw her under the bus, Ryan Seacrest! What in the world did she say about her eyes that he couldn’t repeat on the air? Also, why didn’t she sing this song from the beginning? That is what makes this song so powerful. Easily one of the best vocals of the night, but Katelyn Epperly still owns this Coldplay classic on the show as far as we’re concerned. Just needed more emotional connection.

7. Emily Piriz, “Glitter in the Air” – There wasn’t anything that was necessarily that wrong with this performance, but we have to be honest when we say that we still could not find that much in it that really had us cheering from the rafters. It was instead the perfect late-in-the-show performance that is going to satisfy your fan base and keep you around, even if it doesn’t get you any new fans in the process.

6. Sam Woolf, “Unwell” – Sam and Emily’s performances mirror each other in many ways, with the major difference being that Sam is never going to be able to walk down the street again without getting accosted by at least two teenage girls. This was a nice performance of a very good song … it just, as Keith Urban said, needed a little bit of a tempo pickup. At least we felt a little bit more connected than we did with Emily.

5. Caleb Johnson, “Pressure in Time” – Caleb is one of the best singers in the competition. What was with the random Taylor Hicks sighting? Anyway, it was nice to see him do a modern song out there, and give us something that he could do in the modern world. But, you gotta wonder eventually were the soft, more heartfelt side of this guy is.

4. Ben Briley, “Folsom Prison Blues” – We’re not going to sit here and say that Ben did a ton that was original with the song, but it did at least accomplish a pair of other important things: We had fun watching it, and Ben also sang it very well. The most impressive part here to us was the arrangement. Usually, the singer of this song leaves the little solo in here, but Ben didn’t do that. He went all the way through rapid-fire. That’s a tough thing to do without panting and losing your breath.

3. MK Nobilette, “Satisfaction” – The thing about MK is that we know she’s not going to be beat anyone when it comes to hitting the highest note, or having the biggest personality. She has to win with style, substance, and emotional connection. This performance of the Allen Stone song (not the Rolling Stones song) had all of that, thanks to this cool, raspy vibe that she brought to it. MK is emerging from a wildcard to a serious darkhorse contender to win the whole thing.

2. Jessica Meuse, “The Crow and the Butterfly” – We’re not going to lie and act like we had any clue what this song was prior to tonight, mostly because that would be an enormous lie. We didn’t really know anything about this song at all, but Jessica did a great job with it. It wasn’t any one genre of music, there was a unique, gravely style to it, and Jessica doesn’t feel like she’s trying to emulate anyone else. Is this her best vocal since her audition? You better believe it.

1. Alex Preston, “A Beautiful Mess” – Usually we agree with Harry Connick Jr., but not this time at all. We love this song, and the subtle emotion that Alex brought to it. By far, a standout of this show. It was well-orchestrated, and there were enough little changes in it that did not make it feel just like we were hearing Jason Mraz all over again. Episode Grade: B-.

Who was your favorite on “American Idol” tonight, and could you be happy with a little less Randy Jackson? Share your thoughts below, and head over to the link here if you want to see where we ranked the contestants going into this. Also, be sure to sign up now to get some more news and updates from our CarterMatt Newsletter.

Photo: Fox



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