American Idol Top 9: Go Big or go home

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And you’re getting pregnant and you’re getting pregnant and you’re getting pregnant and you’re getting pregnant and you’re getting pregnant …

If you didn’t like tonight’s show, you don’t get American Idol.

It wasn’t filled with spectacular performance after spectacular performance. There weren’t any tears being shed from my couch (except by my daughter when I told her she had to go to bed) and I’m not downloading any of those songs.

But we saw the best night of competition on Idol we’ve seen in a while.

The song choices really showed up what kind of competitors we have. Loved that Alex Preston did his thing, taking a chick song and turning it into his own; loved Caleb Johnson sexing everyone up more than Color Me Badd on stage and rocking a Led Zeppelin tune; loved Majesty Rose and Geena Gina Jena Irene taking on songs sung by women with monstrously huge voices even if they didn’t exactly nail the performances; and loved CJ Harris just doing what CJ Harris does.

Sure, there were some song choices that were safer than sex in the 90s. Dexter Roberts did his country thing, Sam Woolf was predictably poppy and boring and instead of showing off her Stevie Nicks-esque voice, Jessica Meuse tried to be Stevie. But the performances weren’t terrible (OK, Sam Woolf’s was pretty blasé and boring) and it didn’t make me want to change the channel.

All told, this was a big week for the Idols. They’re learning. I mean, they still would be better off if they paid for me to fly out and stay in LA and coach them up (because I’m a fucking genius at two things – raising kids and picking songs on Idol) but what I saw today was a huge step.

And it was pretty cool


-Is anyone better than Alex Preston at picking songs? Picking No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” was a terrific song choice because the song is so popular in so many genres and to so many age brackets that there isn’t a voter who won’t like the performance, despite what J-Lo said. The only thing AP did wrong was he didn’t wear a cutoff T-shirt and do pushups like Gwen did in the video.

My issue with the judges critiques is there is absolutely no consistency. They keep saying they want the Idols to know who they are as artists and they want them to take chances; Alex knows who he is: a guy playing guitar to try and bang chicks a Jason Mraz type. And that works. He takes songs and makes them his own and if that means slow tempo, fine. Apparently that isn’t what the judges want because they don’t want him to get stuck in a rut or whatever the hell they said and that means they don’t want him to take chances and don’t want him to be an artist, which means Harry, J-Lo and Urban are morons. That’s more likely the case.

Majesty Rose had the ballsiest choice of the night. Florence probably has the best voice in the world. Like, the whole world. She makes Adele sound like a drunken frat brother on a Krazy Karaoke Sunday. Majesty does not have Florence voice, nevermind The Machine’s.

Now, she started beautifully. The tenderness in her voice was perfect. I told my wife if she nails the big part, I’d cry. That’s what that song does for me. It was going to well and then she had to hit the big note …

And it was bad. She sold it on stage. Majesty looked great and looked like she was having fun. But the sound – and despite what Harry said, the arrangement wasn’t different; it was Florence and the Machine but the Machine needed a little oil.

-I need to know who’s advising Dexter Roberts because I want to see their blueprint before I punch them in the face. His song choice is more predictable than Harry’s critiques and Seacrest short jokes. It’s safer than a rubber. He’s not picking something elaborate that’s going to make him stand out from the rest of the competition, but it’s not so bad that it’s going to shoot him toward the bottom three.

Last week he got screwed. He shouldn’t have been in the bottom three because he wasn’t one of the three worst performers and he wasn’t this week. My hope for Dexter is there’s someone in his corner that has a plan and Dexter is gonna go safe, safe, safe right to the Top 5 and then BOOM, take more chances than an 18-year old at the strip club. Urban was right – if Dexter sang that Little Big Town jam would have been a hit on country radio because it was a hit on country radio. It wouldn’t have mattered who sang it. But Dext is gonna have to mix it up because America could get bored quick.

-My worry with Malaya Watson is she might have been too old for her own good. Her performance was damn good. She’s eschewed the stupid AKAs and is just straight showing off her voice and it’s brilliant. We don’t need her to play a character; we need her to sing. The issue with picking The Beatles “A Long and Winding Road” is it’s not a song that non-Beatles fans are going to know – and I’m not sure how many Beatles fans there are out there watching Idol. Her performance was very “Soft Rock’s Hits From the 80s Night” and that might not help her out with the votes, but her voice alone should carry her. She is making me feel damn good about putting her in the Top 5 in my preseason picks. Almost makes up for putting MK Nobilette third and Ben Briley winning it (and for the record, my NCAA pick lost in the second round, so fuck me, right?).

-I’m done with Sam Woolf. Completely. And I’m done beating around the bush.

He’s not American Idol good. He’s not professional singer good. Don’t get me wrong – his guitar and voice are gonna get him a ton of BJs in college. Like a million. But he’s not selling records unless he works at Best Buy.

Sam has no clue who he is as an artist and no sense of competition. He just wants to play songs that make girls drip for him and gets he adulation and stares from crowds. And that never works. His performance – and song choice – of “Hey Delilah” wasn’t any different than you’d hear on any college campus’ quad when the warm weather hits. The stage setup and stripped arrangement was cliché. Harry is a total asshole, but his critique was dead on. Except he should have ripped on Sam more for not having a Delilah and not understanding what the song really means (but we all know Harry only rips the girls’ lyrical choices). It was a bottom three performance but because he’s the heartthrob, it might be fine. Still, get him the fuck off my show.

-There was nothing wrong with Jessica Meuse’s performance. She is a modern-day Stevie Nicks and sounded terrific. HOWEVER …

That was a bad choice. She had built so much momentum going into the night sounding like Stevie doing covers of other songs and it sounded original. This just sounded like a Fleetwood Mac tribute band and I didn’t like it at all. Instead of having her voice compared to Stevie Nicks, she tried to do Stevie Nicks and it just wasn’t what she needed.

I think she’s headed to the bottom three. She wasn’t one of the three worst, but I don’t think anyone’s going to care because she did a meh Stevie Nicks impersonation instead of being the Jessinator.

-I can’t tell if CJ Harris is just singing the same song every week or if he’s being different because I am so distracted by his voice. I totally disagree with his choices – they’re not mainstream enough to get him big-time votes and take down the likes of Alex or Caleb – but in his cover of The SteelDrivers “Hadn’t Been For Love” his voice was so unique you couldn’t help but be enthralled. You’d think my point would be made when J-Lo said she wasn’t familiar with the song, but J-Lo doesn’t listen to indie bands, son, she only listens to the hits. Jenny don’t leave the Block trying to be an artist; you gotta sell out to make that paper and to win Idol. As soon as CJ gets this, he might be the only one with a shot to take down Alex.

Caleb Johnson is just filthy. I’m shocked he didn’t slip on stage because he was straight dripping sex all over the place. I figured he was going to do a Led Zeppelin hit – like one of the big ones that any idiot knows – and instead he picked “Dazed and Confused” which is only know by people who intentionally listen to Led.

It was straight magic. The band executed and Caleb couldn’t have sounded better. Yeah, it was a straight cover, but it was original because he’s the only Idol who’s rocking the fuck out of the stage every single week. Caleb’s gonna sing what he wants and no one’s gonna stop him.

Now this is gonna be controversial, but I could see him in the Top 3 because there are a lot of viewers who watch that and have never smoked weed/done acid/gotten hammered and listened to Zeppelin. They’re gonna be confused by the song and will vote for Sam Woolf instead. But don’t get me wrong – Caleb Johnson has a better chance of winning the Boston Marathon than he does of getting sent home this week.

-Forget what the judges said. They’re idiots and have proven as much. Jena Irene wasn’t good tonight.

I won’t bash her too much because I love what she did. She picked a song that is insanely difficult to sing. Amy Lee isn’t as good as Florence, but she’s got some power. And that’s power that Jena doesn’t have.

The judges have an affinity for miss JIA and because she occupied the pimp spot – and had to follow a monster of a performance by Caleb – they didn’t have the time to really break her down. But she wasn’t good. Anyone who says otherwise isn’t being honest. If you’re not changing the arrangement, it’s OK to not sound like the singer; but if you keep it the same, you’d better sound the same. Jena didn’t. She sounded ridiculous. It was very karaoke.

Here’s the thing – I liked it. Jena’s decision showed balls. I’ll take someone chasing a big song and performing it like that over someone like Sam or Dexter taking the easy way out. This is a competition and real competitors go for broke. So while I hated Jena’s performance, I loved it at the same time. If that makes any sense at all.

So who’s going to be bottom three? That’s tough. There really wasn’t a truly horrible performance.

If I’m voting, I’m putting Dexter, Sam and Jess Meuse in the bottom three because they all took the chickenshit way out and I think it’s unfair to put Majesty in when she went after a big song and missed it. America won’t do that to all of them.

Dexter will be safe. That’s a gamble of a prediction, seeing how he was Bottom 3 last week, but Thursday night we’re going to see Majesty, Sam and Jess Meuse in the Bottom 3. Jess will be the first one sent to safety and Majesty will be gone, which sucks because she showed some serious guts doing what she did tonight.

Good news is, tomorrow night is only a 30-minute show, so we won’t have to see craptacular group performances.



PS Apologies for the half-hearted effort last week. As some readers may or may not have seen, my wife and I welcomed our second daughter to the world on March 15, so last week was a little busy. I would have taken vacation time, but I don’t get paid to run my own site and I don’t have vacation time either. I’ll try to be better going forward and thanks to those who stuck around.