'American Idol' Top 7 show features performance highs and lows
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/17/2014
American Idol's Top 7 performance show featured two contestants rising to the top and two singers falling a bit flat during Wednesday night's thirteenth-season episode on Fox.
Last night's broadcast was dubbed "Competitors' Pick." Each finalist could choose one song off a list of suggestions compiled from the opinions of the Top 7. Idol mentor Randy Jackson told the contestants not to "sabotage" one another with song choice.
Jena Irene, a 17-year-old from Farmington Hills, MI, and Alex Preston, a 20-year-old from Mont Vernon, NH, ended up having the two best performances of the night.
Jena sang Caleb Johnson's pick for her, "Creep" by Radiohead. She got Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban on their feet. Harry Connick Jr., who never gives a standing ovation, even explained why he didn't stand up -- as if it was strange he opted not to.
"I loved it, I loved it! I love your fearlessness, I love how bold you are, I love how you just own the song, baby," Keith explained.
"You can sing anything. You 'Ginafy' everything. You 'Ginafy' every song that you do. It was so beautiful... You're going to be here for the long haul!" Jennifer said.
"You are a phenomenal talent. You sing with great humility, great intrigue. Unquestionably -- I have to top what I said about Alex's performance -- unquestionably the best performance of the night. And don't be fooled by the fact I don't stand up [and clap]. I don't do that for anyone," Harry added.
"I'm a judge and this is my version of how to judge. I have to be very focused. I applaud people... but you're extraordinarily talented, and I think you did some major damage tonight."
Alex performed the song "A Team" by Ed Sheeran which Dexter Roberts had selected for him. The crowd went crazy after he sang.
"You deserve that applause... It was a perfect song for you," Jennifer noted.
"It was a perfect, perfect song... There's great beauty in smaller performances and I always questioned, 'Is that going to be able to win?' But your conviction in that world is so strong. This was my favorite performance of the night, by the way," Harry told Alex.
"What I like is you've got your signature things that you do... they're yours. And when you put them in songs, they're so natural... When it's chugging along like a cover song, suddenly you turn it into an Alex song and then pull it back. You do that really, really well, man. That was great," Keith explained.
Jessica Meuse, a 23-year-old student from Slapout, AL, and Dexter, a 22-year-old from Fayette, AL, on the other hand, failed to really impress the judges.
Jessica chose to sing Sam Woolf's pick of "Gunpowder and Lead" by Miranda Lambert.
"Jessica, I've been such a fan of yours from the beginning. You know I love your voice. This is the first time I heard you off a little bit vocally in the verses... You just seem a little bit uncomfortable. I don't know if it was all of the fireworks and all the things that were going on -- if that was a bit overwhelming -- but it just didn't seem natural to me," Jennifer told her.
"I agree with Jennifer. I don't think it was your best performance. I think I have a solution for you. I would suggest -- because I've noticed this over the past weeks -- there's a lack of rhythmic delivery when you perform... To try to get you to feel that, go back to the hotel and put on some funk music or some hip-hop... and just dance and watch yourself in the mirror," Harry explained.
"I feel like you were walking out of time with the music. You need to punctuate your vocal phrases more. If there's a groove, you need to sing it like that."
"When you hit the right song, you can really speak to me. That tonight, what happened tonight was this dissipation of energy on a song that really is about attitude and revenge. It's real. The reason Miranda kills it is because she taps into that place," Keith said.
"She's really pissed off, you know?... Instead of what's going on around you, I [should've] been drawn to you. Instead, it dissipated... and you're sort of wandering around. You're way better than that. If you want to stay in this competition, baby, get centered, get serious, and commit that lyric, because you can really do it."
Dexter chose to sing C.J. Harris' pick for him -- the song "Muckalee Creek Water" by Luke Bryan.
"That's cool. I like that song. All I would say is be careful when you do songs that have such an intensity to them but the melody is kind of down... It's easy to start over-singing because the adrenaline's there but the melody is keeping you down... Just be aware of that. Don't let the adrenaline pull you out of the key," Keith told him.
"I like this for you. I really did. I'm used to the kind of happy, anthemy Dexter... This had a little bit of a darker quality to it, a nice edge. This song showed us a different side of you and I actually liked it... You did a good job with it, [but] what I think I would say to you and all the rest of the contestants at this point, again, is we're getting down to the wire. These performances need to be spectacular. We had this conversation earlier on in the competition," Jennifer explained.
"We all felt you guys weren't stepping up, and then you kind of did. Now, we're at a new level. Now. we're towards the end. We're about to get into the Top 5 any minute now. Every time you guys come out here, you got to think about that. The room has got to rattle. It's got to shake! I feel like you guys need to push yourselves. You need to push yourselves vocally and you need to push yourselves [with] the band and how you're performing -- every single time."
"We know that you can sing this kind of tune really well, but again, I have to say that you didn't really do anything different from the original vocal. You could take that vocal out and plug your vocal in," Harry said.
"There's not a whole lot of melody there. That's not the type of tune that it is. So you're limiting yourself to basically singing the exact same thing that's on the record. I just want to hear you sing other things than singing along with the radio, and you can do it, because we've heard you do it before."
One contestant will be eliminated during Thursday night's live results show on Fox.