It’s the start of the semifinals, and you know what that means…American Idol is live! After a two-month break, I’m back from recapping what we now know to be the final season of The X Factor USA. Regardless of whether you wanted that show to call it quits or not (most did), one thing is clear: American Idol is the best singing competition show out there, period.
Despite the unnecessary drama at the judges’ table last year with Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, things are back to normal this season with a panel that oozes with chemistry, and a new judge that so far has proven himself to be one of the best judges this or any singing show has ever had.
If what we’ve seen so far is any indication, then season 13 is going to be one of the strongest seasons of Idol yet. We’ve heard some amazing talent during the auditions and Hollywood Week, and I’m excited to be back recapping Idol — the show that I watch religiously.
There’s a twist tonight, though. We have 15 girls competing, but only 10 will get the chance to perform, which means the judges have to send home five of them. This is tough, because we all know there will be some singers going home who don’t deserve to.
Also, Randy Jackson is back! Boo! He quit at the end of the last season, but they have brought him back as the in-house mentor, replacing Jimmy Iovine, who I loved. Randy’s like a cockroach, he’ll survive anything. Just when we thought we had gotten rid of him, he came right on back. I guess he’s also like a boomerang in that way as well.
And with Randy as the mentor, he’s starting up an Idol Workshop, where he (and returning alumni Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert, along with vocal coaches, stylists, choreographers, etc.) gets to work with the contestants to help them prepare.
And with the start of the live shows, Idol has a new set, and I have to say, I really love the way it looks.
But enough about all that, let’s get into the meat of the show. Here are my thoughts on all of tonight’s performances from the Top 10 girls.
1. Majesty Rose: “Happy”
This is such a positive and entertaining song and performance. Majesty has been a favorite of everybody’s. Doing an upbeat song like this, though, also shows some possible weaknesses, that maybe she has some vocal limitations. But she has so much fun and it fits her very well.
2. Kristen O’Conner: “Turning Tables”
I don’t remember her at all. If other viewers agree with me, then she’s in trouble, so she has to really nail it tonight. Does she? Well, there are moments she’s really powerful, then other times she’s way off and her performance feels flat. She’s not unique or distinguishable. I doubt she’ll be voted into the Top 13. Having her perform probably means someone more deserving is getting cut.
3. Briana Oakley: “Warrior”
She was my #1 favorite from the auditions. I haven’t heard this song before, but it fits her and is more current for her than other songs she could have easily gone with. I’m not sure at first, but she soon starts to get more comfortable. Then about halfway through, she really kicks in and is absolutely fantastic, showing what I love about her. She’s been featured a lot before, so I have no doubt she’s staying.
4. Jena Irene: “Paint It Black”
I love this song. And Jena’s definitely very passionate and putting everything she has into it, but it’s kind of a mess–her voice is not controlled, and it needs to be. Idol fans online have liked her in the past, so it’ll be interesting to see the results after this.
5. Bria Anai: “Wrong Side of a Love Song”
Coming into tonight, the only thing I remember about her is her name, and this performance proves why. She’s got a good voice somewhere in there, but she’s shouting almost the entire time. And because of that, there are some cringe-worthy moments. She really needs to learn how to use control and restraint.
6. Marrialle Sellars: “Roar”
And here’s another disaster. The difference between Bria’s and hers is I see no potential for a good voice with Marrialle. All this comes back to a terrible song choice for her, which doesn’t fit her whatsoever. You gotta love “Roar,” but not for Marrialle. Her lower register is not good, and her mid-level is flat quite a bit. She’s been pimped by the producers in previous weeks, so she may end up staying (meaning a Wild Card pick if she’s eliminated).
7. Jessica Meuse: “Drink a Beer”
I was expecting her to perform an all-out rock number. Instead, she goes with a slower tune. And for a rocker, I’m surprised by how country she sounds here, and that’s a good thing because it shows a different side to her. I really like Jessica, and look forward to what she has to offer next.
8. Emily Piriz: “Paris (Ooh La La)”
I first took notice of her during the final solo performances during Hollywood Week–she had an absolutely beautiful performance then. I was then intrigued to see what all she has up her sleeve. Overall, she’s really strong here. Her voice sounds great. About halfway or so through, she loses it a tad, but I still like her and hope voters don’t forget about her. With the comments that Harry Connick, Jr. makes, that might be unlikely.
9. M.K. Nobilette: “All of Me”
As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I don’t take notice of a particular singer until later stages of the competition. For M.K., she wasn’t on my radar until she said she was gay during the Green Mile round, becoming the first openly gay contestant in the history of American Idol. During that moment, they showed a clip of her solo performance, and I wasn’t particularly fond of her voice. Coming into the live shows, she’s more known for being gay, so with this Rush Week song she has to make us remember her more for her voice. You can tell everyone in the studio loves her rendition of “All of Me,” but I’m unsure. Maybe I need to rewatch it or something. On a positive note, the message of the song is absolutely perfect for her. But I will say, if she gets cut, it’ll be because of her voice and not her sexual orientation.
Before we find out who’s performing last, it’s time to reveal the results of America’s vote between Ben Briley and Neco Starr. I never ended up voting for this one because I’m just not a fan of them, and even if you put both of them through, there’s no way either one would win. But the 31st contestant in the semifinals is…Ben Briley!
10. Malaya Watson: “Hard Times”
This pisses me off to no end that she took the last spot because that means Kenzie Hall has been eliminated–Kenzie was one of the best in the competition…WTF, judges?!?! Malaya only made it because of her personality, and this performance proves my point: her voice is all over the place at times (only good in a couple spots), and it’s more about making us think she’s good instead of actually showing it. I’m determined to see her go home. And whenever that day comes, I will relish in the moment.