Wednesday, February 19, 2014

American Idol XIII – Rush Week – The Girls (Recap & Review)

Wed & Thu 8/7c on FOX
Credit: FOX
The first live show of this season brought a new element: Rush Week. I'm not sure how much I agree with this concept, as I find it a little cruel and contributing to much higher stress levels for the artists.
The Top 15 girls and Top 15 guys (Girls performed last night and the Guys perform tonight) are in the house, but only ten will be asked to perform. This leaves all of them waiting and hoping their names are called. In the end, five of them will not get to the stage and are sent home. It kind of reminded me of picking teams in gym class, but instead of worrying (and stressing) about being the last one picked... you just don't get picked at all. I can not imagine the emotions that were in that room.

Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
The judges for Season 13 are Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban. Unlike some previous seasons, these three have great chemistry together, and I think will make for a very entertaining and enjoyable season.
Randy Jackson is back but only as a mentor. He's set up a workshop for the competing artists to aid them in their Idol journey. He's included Vocal Coaches, Musical Directors, Stylists, and even Spiritual Advisors. Last night, the contestants were also helped and guided by Adam Lambert and Daughtry. I like this workshop idea.

So, as each girl's name was called, she took the stage and performed live for your votes. Like I said earlier, the way this was done this year added greatly to the stress and nerves of the artists... some more than others, but still, it was a night that really showed their talent. How did each do? Here's the breakdown, in the order they were called to the stage:

Majesty Rose – Song Choice: “Happy”
She grew up singing in church but knew Gospel singing just wasn't what she wanted. Being the first to perform last night, she did a remarkable job at keeping her nerves in check. It was very soulful, and you could still hear a Gospel element in her vocals. She seemed to incorporate a '60s feel, but it was still a good song choice for her. Her personality was inviting, and she showed her confidence and strength. My only criticism would be that I think she would have been better off without her guitar.

Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
Kristen O'Connor – Song Choice: “Turning Tables”
Being second up is almost as bad as being first, especially when the one before you put on a solid show. I noticed the beginning of Kristen's performance faltered a bit because of nerves, but by the half way mark, she found her zone and locked it in. Not only did she show us her broad range and powerful vocals, she also showed that she is able to overcome the nerves and bring out her amazing voice. Kristen has a great personality, and it came through wonderfully on stage. I think she's got what it takes to make next week's Top 10.

Briana Oakley – Song Choice: “Warrior”
Even as a second-time-around contestant, this Rush Week element took away any advantage she may of had. During the clip of her workshop, she said that she needed to work on letting go of her 'perfectionist' trait and just come out of her shell.
She began singing, and it was still too stiff. The look of determination on her face closed her off from making a connection with the audience. It seemed as though she was concentrating so hard on the technical elements that she forgot all about the personal element.
She does have great vocals, with amazing range and control... so I can't fault her technically. As the song drew to a close, her personality began to emerge, and once she was done singing, she just beamed with it. What she showed after she sang should have been shown while she was singing. I'm not sure if she connected enough to make it through to the next round (but she's certainly a stronger vote for a Wild Card slot).

Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
Jena Irene – Song Choice: “Paint It Black”
She is one of the few artists I've seen on these shows that has no family background in music. With no musical upbringing, she's really had no experience in being a performer, but I think this could work to her favor. With no habits already ingrained, she is free to find herself under some professional guidance. She even stated during the workshop clip that she wanted to work on her stage presence (working with the mic, the cameras, and the audience).
She took the stage, and her nerves were mildly visible. However, it was clearly evident that she fought through and conquered them with professional ease. Her voice was very strong and had a natural power. Nothing seemed forced with her performance, and her bright personality came through her vocals very well. I'd be very shocked if Jena doesn't make the Top 10.

Bria Anai – Song Choice: “Wrong Side of a Love Song”
She wants to be noticed and remembered by using bold and crazy lip colors. While I don't judge... her 'lip thing' is just not my thing.
When she took her turn on the stage, you were forced to watch her lips (bright red and sparkly), which sort of made you take extra notice that although her vocals were very strong, the performance seemed pushed. At times, it was a controlled yell and overtook her natural power and range. Although solid, it was a little over-the-top.

Marrialle Sellars – Song Choice: “Roar”
Well, for me, this was the low point of the evening. I said it thirty seconds into the performance (and Harry later said it during the critique) that it was just too much karaoke like... very good, but karaoke nonetheless. I'm a huge fan of Katy Perry's work, and Marrialle's rendition was completely lost on me. Her stage presence and ad libs just reminded me too much of some with a mic in a bar. Her vocals were strong, and she does have a great voice. I think it was just a poor song choice and arrangement for her to showcase what she really is capable of. Song choice is vital, and this one may have cost her a Top 10 spot.

Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
Jessica Meuse – Song Choice: “Drink a Beer”
During her workshop, Daughtry wanted her to perform without her guitar, but in the end she chose to use it. I don't think it really mattered whether she used it or not, but the tone of the song did seem to call for its use. I'm not sure I agree with the song choice for her, as it didn't really allow her to fully show her range and power. She did have some minor pitch issues during her performance, maybe because of nerves or emotions, and she didn't connect as strongly as she could have with the audience. Nonetheless, I really did enjoy her 'country' tone, and even if she's not voted through (though I think she will be), I think she's done enough to earn one the Wildcard spots.

Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
Emily Piriz – Song Choice: “Paris (Ooh La La)”
Wanting to bring out her 'inner rock star' was no problem for Emily tonight. Everything about her performance was just what she needed to showcase herself. Her personality dominated the stage. Her vocals were strong and solid. She simply commanded the room and engaged the audience in a level we hadn't seen all night. I have little doubt she secured herself a spot in the Top 10.
However, while Jennifer really liked it, and Keith gave some very useful feedback and advice, I was shocked by what Harry said to her. He began judging not her performance but her on a personal and moral level. He asked about her birthday (she's now 18), then made her speak the first two lines of the song. The lyrics are somewhat provocative, but irrelevant to the nature of the competition. He asked her a few times if that's really what she “wants to be singing about?” In my opinion, he not only publicly brought into question her integrity and morals but also humiliated her on national television. It is NOT his job to judge, comment, or otherwise question song choice based on lyrics in the way he did. It was unprofessional and uncalled for, and I respect and admire Emily on how she handled that—with maturity, poise, and absolute professionalism.

MK Nobilette – Song Choice: “All Of Me”
She may have started off a little bit nervous with a few minor pitch issues, but MK took a rather powerful song and completely connected it and herself to the audience. She showed great range and deep emotion with her vocals, and the audience noticed and reacted. She showed one don't need the 'power' notes or huge runs to stand out. Sometimes, the simple, yet powerful, performances are the ones people will remember and talk about. Another strong contender for next week's Top 10.

Malaya Watson – Song Choice: “Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I)”
The crowd seemed to like her. Jennifer sees her as a 'powerhouse' singer. And Harry looks forward to seeing her “settle in her space.” I, on the other hand, tend to agree more with Keith. She was nervous and a little too low at time, but she also performed with way too much theatrics. She has a powerful voice and an abundance of energy... neither of which she seemed to have under control last night. Like Keith pointed out (and I fully agree), it was just too much “over-the-top.”

After last night's performances, I think the Top 5 Girls (voted in) will be Emily Piriz, Kristen O'Connor, Jena Irene, Jessica Meuse, and MK Nobilette.

Tune in tonight (Wednesday) on FOX to see who of the Top 15 Guys will make the cut and perform for your vote. Then tune in to FOX on Thursday (February 20) to see who has been voted into the Top 10 and who will be picked by the judges to fill the three wild card spots.

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Who do you think nailed it? Who do you think is going home? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. Love your review on Emily but you have the wrong picture of her next to her name! Her picture is currently next to Jena Irene's name.

    1. Thank you for catching that editing/layout error. It has been corrected. Her picture is where it belongs. :)

  2. I loved how Emily Piriz...answered Harry!!! Very sure of herself... and he looked and sounded very unprofessional....


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