In American Idol‘s first ever “Rush Week,” the top 15 ladies are whittled down to the top ten in a one fell swoop, leaving five unfortunate women to pack their bags and their dreams and head home. Each of the top ten contestants are called to the stage, one by one, learning only when their name is called that they are still in the running for the competition. And Wednesday evening, it will be the men who go through the same rigamarole. Additionally, now that the votes have been calculated, Idol will reveal the identity of the last of the top 15 men after leaving us with the cliffhanger between Neco Starr and Ben Briley from last week.
But first, time for singing!
It all begins with host Ryan Seacrest unveiling the American Idol live stage, along with a very well-tailored suit. Looking sharp, Ry! Next, the judges enter, and I’ll be damned if Jennifer Lopez isn’t looking more fabulous than she has all season, in a sparkly, violet mini-dress with a plunging neckline. She is seriously a sight to behold. Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. clean up quite nicely as well, but I am legitimately fooled by the rocks that JLo’s got. She used to have a little, now she’s got a lot!
We’re treated to a reminder montage of who our top 15 girls are. All of them are ready to sing, even though only the top ten ladies will be called to perform. Tensions are high! Former judge Randy Jackson and his skinny jeans are here to showcase the mentoring he provided to the ladies during his workshop with them. Randy’s boot camp consisted of training with a group of vocal coaches, musical director, stylists and movement instructors. And for the first time ever, non-denominational spiritual advisors. Hmm. In addition, former American Idol finalists, Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry are special guests, providing behind-the-scenes pointers for the gals.
The first to perform is 21-year-old Majesty Rose. She tells Randy that she sang in church, but realized that “gospel is not my genre.” After going through Randy’s camp, she decides to sing “Happy” by Pharell. When she takes to the stage, she gets a great reaction from the crowd with her infectious smile and voice. The judges gush over her and deservedly so. Fresh-faced and totally original, she is a bowl of sunshine in a striped blazer.
Kristen O’Connor is out of her seat as soon as she hears that the next singer is a nurse. Her selection is Adele‘s “Turning Tables.” In her acid wash jeans and sparkly top, she’s rocking an ’80s look and gets a rave review from the panel for her big voice.
Brianna Oakley is up next and sings Demi Lovato‘s “Warrior.” Her challenge will be to emote during her performance. Per usual, she hits all the right notes, technically. Her mom straight-up loses it in the stands. Keith is impressed, but cautions Brianna to be mindful of her emotion. Jennifer calls hers “a privileged voice” and Harry warns her against always going for the high notes.
Next up is Jena Irene, who will need to maintain her confidence if she is to succeed. Her selection is “Paint It Black,” a decidedly dark selection from an otherwise bubbly contestant. JLo calls her “one of my favorites.” Harry calls her out and asks her what the song is about, which she doesn’t totally seem to get. Keith praises her poise.
Harry announces red, sparkly-lipped Bria Anai is the next to make the cut. She sings Melanie Fiona‘s “Wrong Side Of A Love Song.” Harry says that he felt she “shouted” her song, earning himself his first “boo” from the crowd. Keith agrees with Harry, saying she “overshot” a bit, but of course, he does so in a gentler way. Jennifer is completely beautiful yet delusional when she says, “You have star written all over you.”
With a happy scream, Marielle Sellars is funky fresh and cute as she sings Katy Perry‘s “Roar.” Getting nervous, she loses her pacing in the beginning, loses her shoe and it just continues downhill until the end. Keith calls it a “complete calamity,” in trademark kindly Keith fashion. He calls it “too karaoke.” However, she gets points for her poise.
The remaining ladies are crawling out of their skin when Ryan checks up on them. Jessica Meuse is up next. Chris Daughtry encourages her to abandon her guitar. Her selection is “Drink A Beer” from Luke Bryan. She cries tears of joy at remaining in the competition, oblivious to pretty much anything other than the news that she’s staying.
Emily Piriz is announced as one of the top ten and says that she will be singing Grace And The Nocturnals‘ ”Paris Ooh La La,” despite Harry’s none-too-pleased reaction when she first sang it in her initial audition. Her version is a very strange, weirdly ’80s metal band vibe and screams karaoke performance. Harry again questions whether or not she actually knows what the song’s about. I can’t help but agree that her song choice leaves much to be desired. Keith doesn’t want her to pretend to be anyone other than who she is. Jennifer, of course, liked it, probably thinking that she too, is a star.
With two spots left, Keith announces MK Nobilette is the second to last of the ladies. Her selection is John Legend‘s “All of Me.” With her nose all healed up, understated MK sits simply atop a stool for her low-key, emotionally stirring performance that has the audience waving slowly in unison. She and Majesty are clearly the standouts of the night. Keith declares it the perfect song choice. Jennifer calls MK’s rendition “a true sentiment.” Harry dubs her “an elegant, articulate singer.” He tells her, “You belong here.” She waves at her moms in the audience who are crying and cheering her on. So cute.
Last Thursday’s vote between Ben Briley and Necco Starr is revealed with to be…Ben Briley. He, his baseball cap and vest will live to sing another day on American Idol.
The last name is announced by Jennifer to be none other than the tuba-playing muppet, Malaya Watson. “Hard Times” by Ray Charles is her song for the evening. With her braces, wild hair and red lipstick, she gives it her all. Jennifer calls her “one of the powerhouse singers of the competition.” Harry and Keith are equally complimentary.
We bid adieu to the remaining five ladies who did not make it through very briefly before a reminder montage of tonight’s top ten flashes on the screen. Time to vote! And tomorrow, we do it all over again with the men. So, let’s hear it for the boys! I personally can’t wait to see what JLo is wearing.