Reminder: I will be on a cruise ship in the Caribbean next Wednesday and Thursday. Even if the ship gets Fox in St. Thomas, I'm not about to spend two of my evenings in Paradise watching this show, and I am not going to saddle myself with watching 3 DVRed hours the day after I get back home. We'll just pretend next week doesn't happen, okay? I'm pretty sure we won't miss anything important.
The screen assures us that it's anyone's game. The screen does not explain that that's mostly because no one is even remotely exciting this year. In fact, this may be the most lackluster year since Season 3.
Anyway, Ryan is wearing a charcoal suit with a wine tie and a bright red and white print pocket square. And brown shoes. I still don't get it. He explains that the theme tonight is *I'm With The Band*, not meaning that the kids will sing songs only from bands (rather than solo artists), but that Rickey Minor and the band will be right down on stage with them. I'm not sure how that's different from any other week, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.
JLo is wearing a tight, white, just-below-knee-length skirt and a slightly tan, short-sleeved, crop top. Her hair is center parted and mostly straight, with prominent highlights. She's wearing very red lipstick and no eyeliner with her pale-blue eye shadow. It makes her look like she just spent a long day in the hot sun, wearing sunglasses. Keith has finally settled into the right style for his new haircut. HCJ looks like HCJ. It would be nice if, once in awhile, the guys wore some color. Any color besides black, white, and gray.
So Fallout Boy is meeting with the kids, who now get priceless advice from the former Mr. Ashley Simpson.
What fresh Hell is this? A group sing on Performance Night? Oh yeah, that's right- they still have to fill up two hours. Sigh. The kids are singing a medley in trios, Alex-Sam-Majesty, Jessica-CJ-Dexter, and Caleb-Jena-Malaya. So much energy packed into one little Malaya. She makes me tired just watching her. Whatever it is that they're singing, they sound fine, and Alex is becoming more and more comfortable on stage. There is no Pointy Pose. Dammit, if they're going to lip-sync to something on a Wednesday night, then I want my Pointy Pose.
#1. Alex, singing Don't Speak by No Doubt. The clips tonight are reminiscences about what the kids were doing last year. In Alex's case, it was working in a farm stand, and dropping a notebook full of original song lyrics into a mud puddle.
Tonight, he's wearing a jacket over a plaid shirt, and his usual no-socks-rolled-up-pants-legs. Alex is doing his own quirky thing with this song and I like it a lot. The Hub disagrees, he thinks it's dull.
Keith: Agrees with The Hub, asking for more edge
JLo: Not as thrilled with the softer version of Gwen Stefani
HCJ: Honors Alex's artistry and asks him to move around a bit more
#2. Majesty will sing Shake it Out, by Florence and the Machine. Last year, she had a normal life and if anyone thought she was special, it was her preschool students.
Her hair is down and floaty, with a couple of bright red tips. She's wearing, and here are words I never thought I would type, a totally adorable shorts jumpsuit. It's white with red pinstripes, double breasted, self tie belt, and shoulder pads. She looks like she might, at any moment, start tap-dancing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. In the 40's. It shouldn't work, but somehow it does. I don't know this song, but I think Majesty is doing well with it, connecting with the emotion, and not oversinging.
JLo: Welcomes the Confident Majesty back, critiques the vocal
HCJ: Has been waiting for a real connection, and Majesty is almost there
Keith: Great song choice, but Majesty needs to center herself
#3. Dexter will sing Boondocks by Little Big Town. Last year he was a poor but imperfect Farm Boy, a lifeguard, a fire fighter, a dog trainer, and a tractor tire changer.
He's wearing a Dexter outfit, and singing a Dexter song, in a typical Dexter fashion. It's the sort of thing that if I was in a bar and it was playing, I would tap my toes but I would never remember any of the lyrics. It's generic shouty C/W.
HCJ: Says exactly what I just said
Keith: Gives HCJ a huge gummy bear (remember they have to fill 2 hours) and then finally realizes that he should talk about Dexter's performance, not that he actually does
JLo: Asks Dexter to mix it up just a little. Pretty please?
#4. Malaya will sing The Beatles' Long and Winding Road. Last year she was in high school, playing a tuba, and being goofy.
She's wearing a black jacket over a white jump suit which may or may not be strapless, but which definitely has weirdly baggy hips. Malaya sings, waving her pageant arms throughout. There are some good moments, but for the most part, this feels weak and wavery to me.
Keith: Beautiful performance, highlighting both voice and spirit
JLo: Standout voice
HCJ: Majesty consistently improves, and she should worry about the craft, not stardom
#5. Sam will sing the Plain White T's Hey There Delilah. He was in high school last year too, but he played gigs on the weekends.
On stage, he's wearing a flowered shirt (roses, with thorns), and his pants are tucked into boots. Well, this is the best I've heard him sing. This song is a good choice for his voice and style. There are lightbulbs scattered all over the floor around him, which seems a little odd. For the first time, I think he deserves to have come this far in the competition.
JLo: The song is perfectly suited to Sam
HCJ: That was a smart, stripped down arrangement
Keith: Advises Sam to lose himself a bit more in the performance
#6. Jessica will sing Rhiannon, by Fleetwood Mac. Last year she sang gigs all by herself, just like the year before, and the year before that.
Evidently, Jessica is never going to get tired of the pink hair streaks. She's wearing an OpArt black and white pant suit and knee-high black boots. She sounds fine doing a countrified Stevie, and if I was just listening to her, it would be pleasing. But there is something incredibly uncomfortable about Jessica's stage presence. I don't know if the camera makes her nervous, or if it's just that she has spent too many years performing all alone, but she never ever looks like she actually wants to be a part of this competition.
HCJ: Nice job, favorite Jessica performance to date
Keith: Learn to be comfortable singing without a guitar
JLo: Confidence is growing
#7. CJ will sing If it Hadn't Been for Love, by Steeldrivers. Last year, he wanted music but knew that there was little hope for a musical career in his town.
On stage, he's wearing a denim jacket that fades from tan to gray, and a fedora that manages to look like it's on backwards even though it's not. I'm pretty sure that no one knows this song, since Ryan makes a point to say that this is the first time they've been featured on the show, but I like it. A lot. It's a folky/bluesy/soulful tune and CJ is really and truly connecting with it. This is the best he's done in a long time.
Keith: Clever song choice, but don't confuse sound with feeling
JLo: Good start, messy middle, good ending
HCJ: Stresses again that CJ needs to work on pitch
#8. I get excited when I hear that Caleb is going to sing something from Led Zepplin, because I really want to hear him do Whole Lotta Love. But he's doing Dazed & Confused instead.
He's wearing a black jacket with gold stars on the sleeves, and a black fringey scarf. The stage is smokey and the back-screen is all psychedelic. Caleb is wailing the shit out of this song, and JLo is going purely crazy in her chair. She and Keith give Caleb Standing O's. Even HCJ smiles.
JLo: The performance itself was sexy
HCJ: Caleb did an iconic song justice
Keith: Caleb is an excellent front man
#9. Jena is singing Evanescence's Bring Me to Life. Last year she lived with her mom, went to school, and worked in a small restaurant after school. She makes that all sound pretty bleak.
Her hair is straight with bangs tonight. She's wearing a white jacket with big black checks over a white tunic tee with black skulls, and black shredded capri jeans. Jena has a big voice, lots of confidence, and a very good stage presence. This song is not to my taste, but I can tell that she's doing well with it.
HCJ: Thought that Jena might have a hard time following Caleb, but she did just fine
Keith: Jena delivered
JLo: Phenomenal, but be a bit more messy
So, here are some more words I never thought I'd type: My Top 3 tonight are CJ, Caleb, and Sam, with Alex and Jena tied for 4th.
I don't have a Bottom 3 tonight, but my Bottom 2 are Jessica and Dexter. But I doubt either of them will go home tomorrow. I suspect Majesty will be in trouble again.