The first round of the American Idol finals sorta mirrored last week’s semifinals.
It started off a wee bit on the rough side. But there were enough solid performances to continue the hope that Season 13 will be a lot more entertaining than the oh-so-predictable Season 12.
Oh, and kudos to Idol for implementing vote limits. Sure, it took 12 years for them to figure out that lots of us are turned off by the fact that we’d have to dial a telephone until our fingers bleed to have an impact on the outcome, but at least they finally instituted some sort of limit.
That said, I’m not thrilled by the fact that voting begins when the show begins. Silly me, I still think the singers should have to earn the votes with a solid performance before they’re cast.
On to the recap. For all the grades from Wednesday’s performances, head here.
Best of the Night: In Idol-land, a song only lasts 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Ben Briley made the most of his time on stage, fitting in every possible word of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” that he could in a fun, rapid-fire performance punctuated by a little jump at the end. Keith thought the tempo a wee bit too fast. I loved the fact that Ben changed up the song on a night when many of the performances were pretty much mirror images of the original.
Runners-up: The night was short on wow moments. The good news: It was not short on solid performances. Majesty Rose looked at home on stage again, having fun and singing “Tightrope.” Emily Piriz delivered a better vocal than I thought she was capable of on Pink’s “Glitter in the Air.” Caleb Johnson ended the night with a rock solid rocker, “Pressure and Time.” He’s another contestant who will never be intimidated by the Idol stage.
Worst of the Night: Malaya Watson is a bundle of energy and has a dynamic personality. But I probably would have enjoyed hearing her play another one of the numerous instruments she’s capable of playing more than I enjoyed her vocal on “Runaway Baby.” I mean, having fun on stage is great. But this is still a singing show. Shame on the judges on not calling her out for a very subpar vocal.
Please save her: Another of the night’s very solid performances was delivered by Jena Irene (please call her Gina) Asciutto (don’t bother pronouncing that; she dropped her last name for this competition). She sang “The Scientist” very, very well, showing off vocal range and power that should make her a front-runner. But I’m haunted by the fact that she needed a wild-card save to make it this far.
Baffled by the judges: I’m not sure what the judges were hearing when M.K. Nobilette took the stage. I heard one word sung beautifully (“satisfied,” which happened to be the song’s title) surrounded by a very tortured vocal. That tiny bit of vocal perfection is the only thing that kept her from earning the distinction as worst of the night.
Judges’ line of the night: Keith Urban, on Ben Briley’s version of Folsom Prison Blues: “It was particularly brisk. The tempo was a little quick. I’m sure Johnny (Cash) might have done that tempo at one point. Probably with some stimulant assistance.”
What should happen Thursday: A bottom three of Dexter Roberts, M.K. Nobilette and Malaya Watson, with Malaya going home.
What will happen Thursday: A bottom three of Dexter Roberts, Malaya Watson and Kristen O’Connor, with Kristen going home.