American Idol 13- Top 9 Performance Week

Tonight the theme is “I’m With The Band”, a helpfully vague theme that just meant you had to choose a song originally performed by a band, and not just a lead singer. Yet, somehow, Malaya seemed completely out of her game in the opening group number.

This theme should be a slam dunk for the more “rocker types” like Caleb, Jena, and Jess.

1) Alex Preston- Don’t Speak- No Doubt

There’s something about how Alex reworks a song that makes it sound like an “island jam”, a little bit of reggae just hidden in the background. He changes up the song rhythmically just enough to throw it into the reggae pocket. I see what Keith is saying about Alex needed just a little bit more edge. I think Alex has done better on the show, but I appreciate what he tried to do with the song (really, I appreciate that he tried to do something different) Really great feedback from the judges though.

GRADE: B

2) Majesty Rose- Shake It Out by Florence + The Machine

Majesty ditches the guitar this week for a tambourine. I miss the days when Majesty was a frontrunner. The first part was good, then it got pitchy and shouty. I really wanted to love it, but it was just alright. It’s the type of song she could record, but the vocals weren’t solid the whole way through. I agree with J.Lo that the performance was a 10. I think Majesty really felt comfortable and confident performing that song. I hope Majesty sticks around, because she’s on the cusp of getting her groove back.

GRADE: C+

3) Dexter Roberts- Boondocks by Little Big Town

Dexter is a firefighter, ya’ll. That should pull him out of the bottom 3 alone. I honestly had been hoping Ben would be doing this song at some point, so it’s interesting that Dexter is covering it. It’s a bit more country with Dexter on it. It’s a big country anthem, and I think Dexter is doing a good job of reminding country fans (and label execs) that he could really do this for a living. He’s so much a “good ole boy” that country fans who aren’t watching Idol will embrace him. It’s a solid Dexter performance, and definitely much better than last week.

GRADE: B+

4) Malaya Watson- The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles

She was so strong last week. I don’t know why Malaya couldn’t find a better song. This sounds so old. The vocal was alright, but it was hard to love it because it was so sleepy. She’s buried in the middle of the pack. I think Malaya is in trouble this week. I can’t imagine she inspired many votes. Plus, her opening group vocal was shaky.  The judges liked it, so America won’t know to powervote and save her.

GRADE: C

5) Sam Woolf- Hey There Delilah by The Plain White T’s

He slowed it down. Just enough for me to notice. He did the same thing with Unwell, but that was much worse. When he slows a song down just a hair, it seems like a sleepier performance than it needed to be. I would have liked that so much more if he just picked it up by just a few beats per measure. He also zoned out during the song, and had no personality. Vocally? It was strong, but he’s not connecting to the songs he sings.

GRADE: B-

6) Jess Meuse- Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac

She looks like a lead singer for a rock band. Ever since she did the Shinedown number, she’s been singing subdued songs that are really in the same tempo range, and vocal range. I need her to kick ass again. This was alright, but a little sleepy. You can look great, but you really need to be great. Jess was just OK tonight.

GRADE: B-

7) CJ Harris- If It Hadn’t Been For Love by The Steel Drivers

Wasn’t familiar with this song before CJ did it, so I have no idea if he reworked it. It’s a really cool jam, especially for CJ. His pitch is better this week. I think this song was more in his wheel house than the Hunter Hayes song. When he goes up high, he overshoots it and goes sharp. I think CJ needed this performance.

GRADE: B+

8) Caleb Johnson- Dazed and Confused by Led Zepplin

Caleb is back to his classic rock roots. I’m not sure that performances like this help him win the competition, so much as they help him stay in it. People still want a relevant singer to win, someone who might be able to be on the radio today (if given a decent label push), and Caleb is struggling to prove that. He’s a good tribute singer though. Definitely one of the stronger performances of the night, and his stage presence is definitely to be commended.

GRADE: A-

9) Jena Irene- Bring Me To Live by Evanescence

That deserved a standing O. Fantastic. Best performance of the night. One of the best of the season. Jena delivered this week. She had a “moment” tonight.

GRADE: A

SHOULD BE BOTTOM 3: Malaya, Majesty, and Jsss or Sam

WILL BE BOTTOM 3: Malaya, Majesty, and… ?

GOING HOME: Malaya

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