Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jason Mraz may have stolen the night : Idol Nation

IdolXIIIWho stole Wednesday night’s American Idol show?

That’s easy.

It was guest mentor Jason Mraz, a remarkable song stylist in his own right, but an even better friend to the Idol wannabes. The first thing I noticed was how much his conversational voice resembled a combination of Andrew McCarthy and Judge Reinhold. He even looks like Andrew McCarthy, one of the members of the original Brat Pack of the 1980s.

Jason_Mraz_by_nadjeebLooking at the individual performances, here were two key points:

* 1. Jena won the night with two outstanding vocals.

* 2. Alex had the top individual performance with his *MOMENT* -ous “Say Something,” an effort that has a chance to be Idol Nation’s No. 1 performance of the year in the next rankings.

Here’s the rest of the scoop:


Jena Irene

Jena Irene

1. Jena Irene

Songs: “My Body” by Young the Giant; “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse.

J-Lo: “What is coming together is your signature on (these songs). It’s really coming together for you.”

My comment: After a surprisingly slow start that saw her apparently stumble over the lyrics, Jena absolutely crushed “My Body.” She owned the stage by the end of that number, even drawing a standing ovation from Keith Urban. Harry Connick likes the way she moves and controls the the crowd, and he’s right. Jena is, by far, the top “performer” among the final five. None of the other four really has a clue how to “own” their on-stage environment. Jena was also sensational with “Valerie.” At this point of the season, the confidence is just oooooooozing from her every move. “Your vocals are killer,” Keith Urban said. Keith obviously knows what he is talking about.

Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel

2. Alex Preston

Songs: “Sweater Weather” by the Neighbourhoods; “Say Something” by a Great Big World.

Harry Connick Jr.: “I know you’re really into lyrics. I can tell by the songs you pick.”

My comment: Alex was guaranteed a great night whether he sang well or not. When telling Ryan Seacrest his “crush” was actress Zooey Deschanel, out she came to greet him. By the way, Alex, I love Zoey Deschanel, too. “I didn’t see that coming at all,” Alex said. What I didn’t see coming was a rather pedestrian performance from Alex on “Sweater Weather.” It didn’t yack, but it was far below some of his more memorable efforts. Judging by his facial expressions, he may have been trying a bit too hard. He admitted to being nervous before the singing began. Whatever his problems with the first song were more than erased with “Say Something,” which was one of the finest overall presentations of the season. This was the Alex we have come to know and love. It was an incredibly emotional performance. “It was a perfect marriage of song and artist,” Keith Urban said. He was so, so right. Bravo, Alex. This, my friends, was a *MOMENT* extraordinaire.

3. Caleb Johnson

Songs: “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith; “Still Of The Night” by Whitesnake.

J-Lo: “You took more to a ballad, you started to soar near the end of the song. I got goosies.”

My comment: My gut feeling was Caleb would really nail the Aerosmith number. It seemed a perfect choice. Caleb could satisfy those who would like to hear more of a ballad sound from him, and it would also allow him to break our ear drums like he does most weeks. I thought did a nice job with the Steven Tyler classic. Not great, but above average. His second number, however, brought the house down and was one of the few times I have enjoyed Caleb in that kind of setting. There is no chance of Caleb going home this week. None.

4. Jessica Meuse

Songs: “Human” by Christina Perri; “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey.

Harry Connick Jr.: “There were some pitch issues … it wasn’t my favorite performance of yours … but I think you are listening to (the constructive criticism).”

My comment: Jessica almost put me to sleep with the Christina Perri song, and I don’t think I was alone. Her uneven vocals seemed to bring quite a few looks of frustration from both the audience and judging panel. Her second number partially salvaged the night for our favorite singer ever to come out of Slapout, Ala., but Jessica was far from the same level reached by Jena, Alex and even Caleb. Is the end near?

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande

5. Sam Woolf

Songs: “Sing” by Ed Sheeran; “How To Save A Life” by The Fray.

Keith Urban: “When Ariana came oout, you were as red as that Coke sign behind you.”

My comment: Just like Zooey Deschanel surprising Alex before he sang, Ariana Grande did the same thing to Silent Sam. Those are the unexpected moments, at this stage of the season, that always gives Idol that little extra, and Wednesday night was no exception. Sam is trying to show us more emotion during his performances, but what he demonstrated during “Sing” seemed entirely too forced. Not good. Not good at all. I thought he would bounce back with the Fray’s megahit, and it was better, but he seemed to get lost in the natural pace of the song. Sam might be in danger Thursday night.

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