Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Top 11 Improve Greatly From Last Week – American Idol XXI – Recap

After the many not-so-great reviews from the judges and the surprising vote that sent Emily Piriz home, the remaining eleven contestants stepped up their 'game' quite well.

This week's theme was “Songs From The Cinema,” and most of the artists picked perfect songs to showcase their talents.

Between each act, the Top 11 gave their 'audition' for the artist about to take the stage. While it was amusing to some level, I kind of feel it was an inappropriate message to be sending, especially to the younger viewers. For me, it sent the message that it is okay to make fun of or mock other people. Granted, it was all in fun and harmless, but will the younger, more impressionable viewer understand the difference between 'having fun with' and 'making fun of.'
Sam was first up and chose to do “Come Together” from Across The Universe. He wanted to show another side of him and felt a more upbeat song could do that. I, however, did not see a “more upbeat” version of Sam. He did a fine job of singing the song, but I still saw no 'performance' from him. His vocals were there, but he still needs to loosen up more and put more into his stage presence. I do have to say, though, it was better than last week.

Jessica - Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
With a very new look, Jessica picked “The Sound Of Silence” from The Graduate. First off, she looked great, and I think she performed really well last night. It was a “deep and introspective” song, and she delivered it nicely. Her voice is one of my favorites on the show, and last night, she showed why she is there. She showed feeling, and I loved the way she would slowly work the notes up to their peak. I found her performance very solid and well executed.

C.J. really impressed me last night. Singing “Can't You See” from Blow, he showed more of his true self. The song was a perfect fit for him, and I finally saw what the judges saw in him from the beginning. His bluesy sound was filled with the right amount of grit, and he gave an amazing performance.

Performing “Sweet Home Alabama” from Forrest Gump, Dexter also gave a great vocal performance. There was some minor audio issues, but he never missed a step. It was a good song choice for him, and he had fun with it. My only issue is that he never really took the song and made it his. It was a good performance, but it was a familiar performance... there just didn't seem to be any 'Dexter' in it.

Ben came on with “Bennie And The Jets” from the movie 27 Dresses. He began at the piano and just sang. Granted, it was vocally solid, but very plain. A bit into the song, he got up from the piano and tried to work the stage. While he is a talented singer, he does still need to work on his performance. Last night, it seemed a little too much like an amateur musical theatre  Aside from the stage presence, I thought maybe it would have sounded a tad better if he sang it in a lower key. The notes seemed too high and took the focus away from him too much.

Majesty - Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
Choosing the very popular song “Let It Go” from Frozen, Majesty made it her own and really nailed it. I'm a huge fan of the song (especially Demi Lovato's version), and I think Majesty did it justice. It was a great song choice for her, and she pretty much became the song. The power and the feeling she put out was incredible. There was a small bit near the end where I think she was overtaken by the song's power, but overall, one of my top three for the night.

Caleb - Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
Caleb reigned in his rocker-power somewhat as he performed “Skyfall” from the also titled movie. He slowed down, but I could still feel his very strong and intense presence in the song. His crescendo note was outstanding, and he just has an amazing sound in whatever type of song he performs. I did feel like it would have been even better if he sang it in a higher key, but that's a personal preference, I think. Still, it was a great performance and ranks right up there as one of my top three.

MK - Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
From the movie Hope Floats, MK chose “To Make You Feel My Love.” She looked great last night and gave a great vocal performance. She's definitely grown as a performer each week, and showed much more feeling and connection than last week. There are still times (though not many now) where her voice seems to stiffen. I'm not sure how to explain it, and it's not necessarily a bad thing... it's just unique. It was a great performance, and like I've said of a few others last night, when she moved into the higher register, she sounded amazing. So many of the artists are choosing to move lower down, and I've just never been a fan of that.

Alex came on with his guitar and gave us his rendition of “Falling Slowly” from Once. It was a slow and almost spoken performance, which I really didn't care for. It was very well controlled and beautifully sung, but I just didn't connect to him or his song choice last night. The judges thought it was very well done, but it was lost on me.

Jena - Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
Going back to what she does best, Jena took to the piano and sang “Decode” from Twilight. The first few seconds of her performance was shaky, but she soon found her groove and owned the song. She was great on the piano. She was amazing vocally... and the passion and the energy coming from her was stunning. She drew us into her world. This was the Jena we were missing the last couple of weeks, and I glad she's back. By far, this was my favorite (and best) performance of the night.

Malaya picked “I Am Changing” from Dreamgirls. Malaya has a very powerful voice and more energy than I think she knows what to do with. While she has a great voice, I found her energetic personality distracts from her vocals. I could she her struggle to keep the energy in check last night, but again it overtook her and overshadowed the song. I admit, I was surprised by how much the judges loved her performance. Even Harry said that it was “a pleasure to watch.” Keith loved it, but he did note that there were some places she needed to reign in a little. Personally, I thought there were many places she needed to reign in.

After last night's performances, it is tough to predict the Bottom 3. All did well, and it's hard to know who America connected with. I'm guessing, with a high amount of certainty, that Majesty, Caleb, and Jena are safe. I'm also going to say with a fair amount of certainty that Jessica, Sam, and C.J. are safe. I think Dexter and MK are strong enough vocally and are the ones showing continuous growth that they should both be safe as well.

So, my Bottom 3 predictions, based on last night's show, are Ben, Alex, and Malaya. Alex will be called safe, so it will either be Ben or Malaya to be sent home... I think it will be Malaya, but have a feeling the judges will use (not wisely, in my opinion) their only save on her.

Tune in tonight 9/8c on FOX to see who gets sent home.

What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments below.

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