‘American Idol’ Top 10 Perform: Malaya Watson & Alex Preston Sing Big

Lisa Timmons | March 20, 2014 6:44 am

American Idol is jogging your musical memory this week. The theme for the Wednesday (March 19) performances is “Top 10,” in keeping with the number of remaining contestants and also the 10 songs from 2011 until today they’re tasked with performing. Probably for the first time this season, we see the judges so divided about their opinions that they squabble politely until they practically run out of time.

Cue the grand entrance for judges Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez. Ryan Seacrest engages in some light earthquake banter with the panel, only to end up in an protracted discussion about Harry’s early morning dancing habits that goes on just a little bit too long.

We get a peek at the media training the kids had over the past week as they pop into Ryan’s radio show for some pointers. MK Nobilette starts off with Pink‘s “Perfect.” With some pink streaks in her hair, it’s definitely one of her most fun performances. She looks and sounds good, but I’m going to guess the judges will have wanted a bit more energy from MK.

Keith’s digging her style and I predict he’ll be sporting pink streaks next week. He thought it was good, but wants her to own the stage more. Jennifer still wants more emotion and for MK to be quicker on her feet. Harry didn’t really feel the emotion in the song.

Dexter Roberts is the second to take to the stage with his song selection from Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise.” I’m not yet used to seeing him without the baseball hat or guitar.

Jennifer, looking fabulous in her white dress, gives Dexter the critique to work the crowd more. This woman could give a master class in clapping. Harry wasn’t into to it because Dexter didn’t really make it his own. Jennifer boos Harry. Keith liked the song choice and the fact that Dexter started off different stylistically, but wished he would have sung that way all the way through.

Jena Irene announces to Ryan that she’ll be singing “Clarity” by Zedd. Her hair and makeup are fabulous, but her outfit is bananas, with her jeans covered in strange flair. With the audience waving glow sticks, the vibe is straight-up raver muzak.

Harry says he liked it, but I think he’s just too scared to admit he was too old to understand what was happening. Keith calls it the best performance of the night. Jennifer loved the singing but wanted Jena to command the stage more from the center.

Low-key Alex Preston confesses to Ryan he’s going to sing “Story Of My Life” by One Direction. Expertly playing his guitar, Alex quickly has the crowd clapping in unison. It’s a fun version of the song that has Jennifer happily chair dancing.

Keith kicks it off with a “Well done!” The girls in the crowd are clearly going wild. Jennifer says, “I was so in the song with you, the whole entire time.” She felt he had the best stage presence and says, “You evoke greatness.” Harry uses a very complicated metaphor to say Alex did a good job.

For her performance, Malaya Watson speaks to her experience of watching a family member allow a woman to slip through his fingers for her performance of “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars. I don’t know how, but this 16-year-old was born with old school Motown flowing through her veins.

Like me, Jennifer had “goosies” from the vocals and emotion. Harry enjoyed her sincerity and gives her some technical musical advice from one pro to another. Keith praises her control of the song, ending it with, “Great job, baby.” Then, she receives her first bunch of flowers ever from Ryan on stage. Aww, she’s the cutest.

Resident rocker, Caleb Johnson, has selected a Lady Gaga ditty for his performance tonight. His version of “The Edge of Glory” is rocking and he is killing it in those black acid wash jeans. Harry gives Caleb an “A for originality.” Keith thought it was an “interesting” song choice but thought he “nailed it” with his voice. Jennifer enjoyed the song and the pacing but needed more emotion from him.

C.J. Harris is up next with “Invisible” by Hunter Hayes. It’s just OK, if you ask me. Keith loves his voice but feels the performance was shaky. Jennifer says she’s rooting for him even if he didn’t sound great. Harry again gives a lesson on pitch. It’s as annoying as it sounds, but he is right.

Jessica Meuse gives her version of “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People and pretty much nails it. Jennifer loved it. Harry disagrees with Jennifer, who immediately boos him. His issue was that he didn’t feel that she emoted. Keith liked it but the judges disagree about the tone.

Majesty Rose’s song is “Wake Me Up!” and she looks great. It’s a fun version and Jennifer, in particular, seems to be enjoying it. Harry starts by saying he loved her interpretation of the song. Keith disagrees because he didn’t like the arrangement but loves her voice, as always. Jennifer cautions Majesty to regain her confidence.

Sam Woolf is the last to go with fun.’s “We Are Young.” Pressed for time, the judges give abbreviated critiques. Jennifer and Keith liked it, but Harry wants more self confidence.

And that is all she wrote…at least until Thursday’s results show, when we get down into the single digits. Can you handle it?

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