Wednesday, March 5, 2014
AI Season 13- Top 12 Performance, 03-05-14
JLo is in a white vest with lapels, with nothing under it, and a black and white, very short, very tight, wrap around skirt with a sort of uneven hem. Her hair is pulled up into a very messy and voluminous pony tail, the kind you do yourself after you've been doing hours of yard work and you just want your hair up off your neck. It's not her best look. HCJ has stubble and is wearing a dark cardigan with a shawl collar and epaulettes. Keith's hair is even shorter, and more sculpted, than it was last week.
Ryan explains that tonight's theme is Home, and that the kids can choose any song that reminds them of home, or makes them miss home, or makes them remember that they have a home, or has the word *home* anywhere in the lyrics, or was sung by a band from their home state, or pretty much anything at all. Like every other theme on this show, it means nothing.
#1. Jena is singing KT Tunstall, but though they said it twice, I still missed the song title. She's from a Detroit suburb, and is close to her mom and brother, and visits her father often. Tonight she has smooth hair and good makeup, and she's dressed like Tai from Clueless: a print tee (maybe with a feathered Mardi Gras mask on the front), a flannel shirt tied around her waist, and leopard print shorts. Her huge hoop earrings have sharp spikes. I think they're actually weapons. Oh, I know this song, the one about Suddenly I See. I think Jena sounds better than she did last week.
Keith: Great stage presence
JLo: On the precipice of greatness
HCJ: Needs to bust it out more, act younger
#2. Alex Preston tells us that he's awkward, which is not exactly news. He's from a small town in Vermont, and he has a very sweet, supportive, Grandma. He's singing Gavin DeGraw's I Don't Wanna Be, which Bo Bice killed lo these many seasons ago. Alex is wearing a royal blue suit with the pants legs rolled again, no socks, and white shoes. His hair is reaching for the ceiling. I like Alex and I think he's doing fine with this, though his dancing style still looks mostly like he has to go to the bathroom.
JLo- Loves the suit, looks like he belongs on stage, but thought the arrangement was not perfect
HCJ- again gives a specific musical compliment, and congratulates Alex for going out of his comfort zone even though the result overpowered his voice
Keith: Alex didn't own the song and was perhaps nervous
#3. Jessica Meuse is from Slapout, AL. It's a very small, rural town, and Jessica misses the cows. Tonight, her hair is curly (for the first time) and still pink in front. She's wearing a black beaded sleeveless top, shredded jeans, and black knee boots. She's singing Dido, and this may be the first time we've heard her on this show. Jessica is playing her guitar, and oh hey! I know this song, it's the one about not going down with the ship. I think Jessica sounds more nasal than usual but otherwise, I think it's fine.
HCJ- The performance was understated to the point of being blasé, and it was sharp throughout.
Keith: There were pitch issues, and he sings his critique
JLo- Jessica looks great, but doesn't look comfortable on stage.
#4. Dexter Roberts is from Fayette, AL. It's another small town, and Dexter is a dog trainer and a farmer (not a cowboy though, he wears ball caps, not Stetsons). Dexter has new puppies! He's singing Lucky Man. I am so over the backwards hat. Over it. Completely. He's wearing a green windbreaker over a gray tee. He plays his guitar while sitting on a stool, to spare backup. This Lucky Man is not the Lucky Man I was expecting to hear, but it's fine- a ballady C/W ditty. Dexter is weak on his last note, but otherwise sounds fine.
Keith: Perfect song choice, showed vulnerability
JLo: Compares Dexter to Scotty McCreery
HCJ: Explains that he's not judging harshly, just being honest, and Dexter was the best so far tonight
#5. Emily Piriz is from Miami. Emily's entire family lives in Miami. She likes the beach. She's wearing a black and white striped, boat-neck, crop shirt and a short, flared white skirt with some sort of black dotty design (maybe an animal print, it's hard to tell). Emily is singing Let's Get Loud by someone named Jennifer Lopez, an upbeat song with bongos and a Latin beat. The vocal is weak, the dancing is pure pageant, and Emily is pretty much the opposite of loud, but when she finally tries to up the volume, she goes off key spectacularly. But JLo danced in her seat and sang along the whole time.
JLo: Loved hearing the song
HCJ: The song was far too big for Emily
Keith: Guarantees Emily will be here next week
#6. Caleb is from Asheville, NC, and I recognize at least some of the places shown in his clip. He's singing Working Man, by Rush. Caleb is wearing a brown jacket that is probably leather, but looks like vinyl. His hair is overstyled and even a little curly, and it's parted in the middle tonight, and yet it still manages to look dirty. He's doing fine with this rock song, though it's all a bit Meatloaf Lite for me. It's obvious that the band loves playing with him though, and at the end Caleb collapses on the floor. The audience reaction is great, loudest of the evening.
HCJ: Warns Caleb that consistency is not too far from predictability
Keith: Caleb is one of the best singers, but it's obvious that he's used to being in a band
JLo: Has been waiting for this all night
Ryan stands next to a monitor that indicates the instant voting totals for the first six performers. While they're not showing vote totals, they are showing who is getting the most votes. From among the first 6 performers. While the show is still on. Before the rest of the kids have had a chance to perform, and before the West Coast has a chance to see any of them. And now, he's showing their ranking from 1-6. Let me be very clear about how I feel about this new notion: I HATE IT WITH THE HEAT OF A THOUSAND SUNS!
#7. MK is from San Francisco. She was adopted and has 2 moms and several steps and lots of siblings of assorted ethnicities and loves every bit of her life. Once again, MK is wearing a backwards hat, though at least it's pushed down on her head a bit more. She's dressed rather adorably in a white cardigan with black stripes over a black shirt with a white print, and a red bow tie. Also black cargo shorts, huge tennis shoes and argyle socks. She has the kind of makeup that looks like no makeup at all, though I can see the mascara. She's singing Drops of Jupiter, and unfortunately it's highlighting all of the weaknesses in MK's voice. I like her a lot, and with the right song and arrangement, she's really good. But this is neither.
Keith: It was fine, and he gives MK specific advice on what to do with her guitar when she's singing but not playing
JLo: It was nice
HCJ: Advises MK to work on the things that MK finds difficult (mostly performance issues)
Ryan wastes several minutes with Randy, who is going to inflict a band on us tomorrow night, but I don't catch the name because I can't look away from whatever lump it is that Randy has in his front pocket (and no, it's not *that*, it seriously looks like a banana in his pocket).
#8. CJ Harris is from Jasper, AL (that makes three from Alabama, right?). And surprise of all surprises, CJ is from another small town. CJ mentions that racism is still an issue in the south (something no one ever mentions on this show). He's singing Waiting for the World to Change, while wearing a tan jacket and jeans. CJ bounces on the balls of his feet while singing and playing. He's trying way too hard, there's no nuance in his voice, or connection to the lyrics. His girlfriend looks nice tonight though.
JLo: Loves CJ's outfit
HCJ: CJ was sharp (musically, not sartorially) but okay
Keith: Said everything but the *K* word
Woot! There's Casey James and James Durbin in the audience!
#9. Sam is originally from Michigan, but now lives in Florida with his grandparents. Sam has his front hair pulled straight back and tucked under a hat that is even more stupid than a backwards ball cap. I think I've seen Jason Mraz wearing something similar. Sam is wearing a blue short-sleeved shirt, and he's sitting on the edge of the stage, surrounded by adoring girls who gaze at him longingly. He's really not cute enough to inspire that sort of goggling. He's singing an obscure song by an obscure band because it reminds him of home (one of them, anyway). Sam sings well but he's not a comfortable performer.
HCJ: Liked the song and it was a pleasant performance, but one without an emotional connection
Keith: Guarantees Sam will be here next week (Note: Keith, The Amazing Kreskin V2.0)
JLo: agrees with Keith
#10. Malaya is from Michigan (another state with multiple representatives in the Top 12). She misses her school, and she dislikes sitting on The Stools of Despair and doesn't want to do it again. Tonight she has straight hair and a very cute white sleeveless dress. She's singing a Gospel song called Take Me to the King, while sitting at the piano. This performance is really subdued for Malaya, who is usually bouncing all over the place. Maybe it's too subdued. Oops, spoke too soon- there she goes, and now it's a bit shouty. But overall, this is much better than her performance last week.
Keith: Loved it, loves Malaya's amazing range
HCJ: Congratulates Malaya on being very focused
#11. Ben Briley is from Gallatin, TN, not far from Nashville. He has a huge family, over 120 members, and he's pretty sure their votes have kept him in the competition. He's wearing a brown leather jacket over a gold tee, and khaki green slacks. He's singing Turning Home, which is slow and... well *torchy* is not the word I want to use, because the song isn't romantic, but still, that's what it makes me think of. Ben did just fine with it.
JLo: Ben and the piano were not in sync at first, but they worked it out
HCJ: Thought the whole performance was shouted, and there was no emotional connection
Keith: Incredible voice but Ben is not using it as well as he should, mostly repeats what HCJ said
Ryan brings out deviled eggs for Ben, and then forces the judges each to eat one.
#12. Majesty is from Goldsboro, NC. Her curly hair is very big tonight. She's wearing a print denim pantsuit over a pink print top and a really busy necklace. I keep forgetting that Majesty is 22- she looks and dresses 15. She's singing something by Coldplay. It starts out lovely and restrained and I think it's wonderful until she ramps things up. Her Big Notes are not as skillfully sung tonight.
HCJ: Majesty belongs on stage but he wishes she would have stayed with the quiet part of the song
JLo: It's not necessary to go for the big notes in every single performance
Kreskin: Agrees with the other two and guarantees that Majesty will be around next week
And once again, Ryan shows the monitor with the vote indications and rankings for the last 6 kids, which is patently unfair, and once again, the West Coast has not even seen the show. CJ has the most votes because East Coast and Central folks have had the longest (an hour) to vote for him, while Majesty, who just finished, is ranked last. I am going to lodge my disapproval of this new wrinkle even if I have to print out a letter and slap a stamp on it. I hate it and I want it to go away. Now.
So my ranking for tonight (formed only after hearing ALL of them sing):
Best: Majesty, a distant second: Caleb
Worst: Emily, and not so far ahead of her, MK. I fear for MK.