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BWW Recaps: IDOL Rocks Out with the Band w/ Full Recaps & Pictures

Last Thursday when I heard about this week's theme, "I'm with the Band," I have to admit that I just didn't get it. However, now that I've seen how the American Idol Powers-That-Be implemented it on stage, I still really don't get it. The contestants sing with Ricky Minor and his band every week, however, to switch it up, this week the finalists will be singing with Ricky Minor and his band ON STAGE.

While all of the contestants did sing songs most famously performed by bands, it's not like they were all rock bands, or the songs were even really that band-driven. They were just songs by a group, rather than a solo artist. So, while I am glad that the new producers are keeping the themes open-ended this season, I'm not sure what the point of having themes really is if they are all going to be this vague. Might as well just let the contestants pick any songs they want.

After the traditional open, the finalists had a quick session with Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump before performing a mash-up of rock songs from U2, Rolling Stones, and Fall Out Boy (one of these things is not like the others). For the most part, all of the contestants appeared to hold their own, and some even thrived. Malaya looked remarkably comfortable with the hard pounding "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up);" however, Majesty still seemed to have the fear in her eyes that JLo pointed out last week.

Now on to the performances:

Alex Preston
"Don't Speak" by No Doubt
Three-Word Review:
Dude is Cool

Full disclosure: Gwen Stefani was one of the biggest crushes of my teenage years, so I will always be partial to No Doubt stuff. That being said, without any bias, I genuinely enjoyed Alex's arrangement of this song. The judges always tell the finalists to be true to themselves, and this was a quintessential Alex performance. However, I did agree with the panel that Alex's chill vibe has the potential to become stale week after week. He has such a command of his skills and artistry that I wish he would use his creativity to go in a non-Jason Mraz/Jack Johnson direction, even if it is only for one week.

Creepy Moment Alert #1: Not since the days of Simon Cowell flirting with Ryan Seacreast have we seen something this disturbing on AMERICAN IDOL. After Ryan got Harry Connick Jr. to admit his fondness for ankles (that was just the beginning of the weirdness), Harry convinced Ryan to take off his right shoe and sock to expose his ankle. Presumably overcome by lust, Harry bolted onstage, grabbed Ryan's shoe, and ran backstage, I guess so he could lock it in his dressing room for future personal use.

Majesty Rose
"Shake It Out" by Florence and the Machine
Three-Word Review:
One Step Forward...

It is always difficult to see a loveable frontrunner take a tumble from the top of any reality show. Ever since she crashed and burned trying to tackle "Let it Go," Majesty has indeed been tumbling in terms of both performance and confidence. This week, I felt like she took great strides forward in one of these categories; unfortunately, it wasn't the one I had hoped. Majesty was back to her fun, upbeat self throughout this song, but still fell victim to poor pitch, alternating between flat and sharp notes. I hope that the glitz of the performance will be able to keep her out of the Bottom Three this week, because I'm not sure that her vocal will.

Dexter Roberts
"Boondocks" by Little Big Town
Three-Word Review:
CD Was Better

A few weeks ago when Dexter sang "Sweet Home Alabama," I said that I found him to be little more than a really talented karaoke singer. Since then, he has done little to dissuade me from this opinion. Keith claimed that had Little Big Town not recorded this song and it had been Dexter who released it on the radio instead, that it still would have been a massive hit. While that might well be true, Little Big Town did record it, making Dexter's rendition little more than a good solo cover that lacked the killer harmonies of the original. Dexter said that he was capable and ready to go out of his comfort zone if he is still around next week, but if past performance is the best indication of future results, I don't know that I believe him.

Creep Moment Alert #2: After Harry called Dexter on his tribute artist act, Keith gave him a giant gummy bear to hopefully sweeten him up. Of course Harry, then Jen, took a bite, no big deal. It only got weird when Ryan asked for a slow-motion instant replay of Harry nibbling on the bear's ear.

Malaya Watson
"The Long and Winding Road" by The Beatles
Three-Word Review:
I'm Sorry Malaya

Let me get this out of the way, Malaya's voice on this song was beautiful, controlled, and powerful all at once. However, the most impressive part of this performance was the soul and emotion that this 16-year-old communicated in a mellow song of love and loss. I'm not sure if her quirks will allow her to win this competition, but I really think that eventually she will have a great career, either as a recording artist, or perhaps on stage. Despite the fact that I couldn't stand her during Hollywood Week, count me as a fan. Just goes to show you that you can't judge a book by its really dorky cover.

Sam Woolf
"Hey There Delilah" by Plain White T's
Three-Word Review:
Hey There Dreamland

Like Alex's "Don't Speak" from earlier in the night, I am all for the contestants playing with the arrangements and slowing down more upbeat songs, but I don't get why Sam would take a song that is already mellow, like "Hey There Delilah," and slow it down even more. Yes, he sang it well (as he always does), but honestly, after the first verse I kind of fell asleep as the song turned into a fairly pretty lullaby. On a completely random tangent, for weeks I have been bothered by Sam's habit of saying "Thank you" immediately after he finishes his last note. Not only does it sound like he was just eliminated from a middle-school spelling bee, but it robs the audience of its full opportunity to cheer and appreciate the performance.

Jessica Meuse
"Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac
Three-Word Review:
Why's She Bored?

Despite the gravelly voice, the pink-streaked hair, and the bad-girl attitude, there is very little rocker-chick charisma in any of Jessica's performances. Like most weeks, tonight she was dead-eyed and emotionless; seeming to be bored while singing one of the most haunting melodies in rock history. While there are contestants who have underwhelmed more than Jessica has, she just hasn't yet convinced me that she has the talent, drive, or even desire to be a real contender in this competition.

P.S.- How is it possible that a female rock singer is unfamiliar with this song? Sacrilege!

CJ Harris
"If It Hadn't Been For Love" by The SteelDrivers
Three-Word Review: Pitchiness Wins Again

CJ's on-going battle with pitch problems continued this week, and unfortunately the pitch problems won... again. Fortunately for him, the song was the least familiar he's done, so there is a chance that the voters might not have noticed the inconsistencies. Other than that, I'm not sure he can avoid the Bottom Three this week.

Caleb Johnson
"Dazed & Confused" by Led Zeppelin
Three-Word Review:
Like a Glove

This performance just fit. After venturing away from his heavy metal roots for a couple of weeks, Caleb was back in his wheel house with this Zeppelin classic. From the tortured wails to the headbanging to the way he welded the mic stand, this was as perfect of a rock performance as we've seen on IDOL since the days of David Cook and Chris Daughtry. A lot of the IDOL prognosticators are rightfully hyping Jena, Alex, and Malaya, but to me Caleb is the most "ready for primetime" performer this season has to offer, and this week's theme brought him home.

Jena Irene
"Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence
Three-Word Review:
Can't Go Wrong

For my money, Jena is the most well-rounded performer in the competition this year. She has excelled singing such varied performers' songs as Adele, The Stones, Coldplay, Paramore, Zedd, and now Evanescence (not to mention her incredible original song in the Wild Card round). Like the judges' said, there is a definitive star quality in every aspect of her performance. If the field isn't careful, Jena could run away with this thing long before the finals.

Should Be Bottom Three
Majesty Rose
Sam Woolf
CJ Harris

Should Be Eliminated
CJ Harris

Best of the Night
Jena Irene
Caleb Johnson (Close Second)
Malaya Watson (Close Third. I'm sorry, I couldn't pick just one)

So, did the addition of the band on stage make a difference for you tonight, or did you think it was just status quo? Let me know what you thought of the show in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt. Don't forget to check back for my recap of Thursday night's Elimination Show.

Photo Credit: Michael Becker | FOX


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