‘Idol’ Top 10 Night: An Imperfect ‘Perfect,’ Some Perfect ‘Clarity,’ and a Little Bit of fun.
Longtime "Idol" viewers may have attempted to adjust their TV sets Wednesday, when the top 10 finalists performed actual modern songs by the likes of Pink, Zedd, One Direction, and fun. — as opposed to, you know, the "Songs of Pat Boone" theme-night fare that contestants always had to sing during the series' crusty Nigel Lythgoe era. This was "American Idol"? Really?
Actually, throughout Season 13, the show has thankfully rejiggered its tried-and-true but done-to-death songbook, adding a slew of newly cleared, relatively new tunes. And this week, when the top 10 were tasked with singing only hits that came out after the year 2010, the show felt fresher and cooler than it had since…well...maybe since Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, and Allison Iraheta were still competing in Season 8.
But that being said, not everyone thoroughly nailed it on this thoroughly modern evening. Some still struggled with the age-old issues that have felled contestants since Season 1. Here's how everyone did:
M.K. Nobilette – M.K. did Pink's "Perfect," and it was not perfect. The message of the song was perfect for M.K., actually — she's far from typical "Idol" material, and that makes her a potential role model for all the misfits and quirky kids watching at home. And the performance started strong, with M.K. singing to a mirror a la Michelle Chamuel on "The Voice" Season 4. But she just didn't have the voice, or the energy, to take on this massive anthem. Plus, she facepalmingly messed up towards the end, coming in at the wrong time, and that totally threw her off her game. Her copycat styling (magenta hair streaks, tomboy rocker-chick wear) only emphasized the fact that she seemed like a poor woman's Pink. Or a pale Pink, if you will. Keith Urban said she needed to "own the stage" more. Jennifer Lopez said she didn't show "conviction" or do a good job recovering from her mistake. And Harry Connick Jr. griped, "I did not think that was one of your stronger performances…If you're not going to sing it as well or better than Pink, it's not going to work out well for you." I think this off performance, compounded by her negative critiques, death-spot placement, and past track record of ending up in the bottom three, will lead to M.K.'s downfall this week. Oh well. I like her, so I'm glad she at least squeaked into the top 10. Hopefully by the time she's on this summer's tour, she'll have honed her performance skills a bit.
Dexter Roberts – Dexter did Florida Georgia Line's bro-country megahit "Cruise," probably the most predictable song choice he could've made this week. I keep waiting for Dexter to surprise me — to take on something unexpected and outside of his wheelhouse and Dexterify it — but now I just don't know if he has that sort of creativity in him. J.Lo said Dexter needed to rally the crowd more. Harry said, "You didn't do anything different…Unless you get bigger than these songs, it's going to come across as being generic. I felt like you were meandering and bereft of joy." Keith the country man was more appreciative, saying "Cruise" suited Dexter artistically — but even Keith admitted that Dexter had struggled to make the song his own. Sigh. Dexter always plays it so, so safe, and so far that's served him well and played to his country base…but I don't think plodding performances like this one will take him all the way to the finale.