'American Idol' Top 13 Recap: Everything New Is New Again
The first competitive co-ed show of "American Idol" Season 13 aired this Wednesday, with the refreshingly open-ended theme "This Is Me." (Not to be confused with Jennifer Lopez's 2002 album "This Is Me…Then," thank gawd.)
That's right: no Big Band Night, Sixties Night, Disco Night, Burt Bacharach Night, Pat Boone Night, Barry Manilow Night, etc. The top 13 contestants could pick any song they wanted (well, any song they wanted that Fox could clear, that is), any song that "truly defines them as an artist and as a person."
And one thing was made clear: With a few exceptions, most of these young contestants do not define themselves with ballads, with anything from the Diane Warren catalog, or with anything recorded before 2002.
[Related: Surviving Randy Jackson's "Idol" Workshop]
It was a nice change of pace, I must say. After many seasons of "Idol" being regularly (and rightfully) criticized for its fuddy-duddy themes and heavily recycled ancient songs (how many times did we need to hear "Hallelujah" or "Feeling Good," seriously?), it seemed like the show was finally making a good-faith effort to appeal to what people in the biz like to call "millennials."
So we got to hear a lot of songs we hadn't heard on "Idol" before, which was a good thing. And while not every contestant did an amazing, goosies-inducing job, they all seemed genuinely excited by (and familiar with) their song choices, and this was also a very good thing.
Here's how everyone did Wednesday:
Dexter Roberts – Once again, Dexter didn't bring much originality to the stage. His song this week, Chris Young's "Aw Naw," was another predictable bro-country staple, like his Craig Morgan cover last week. But Dexter did bring the sort of energy needed to open the show with, if not a bang, then certainly not a whimper. The uptempo song showcased what Dexter called his "fun" side ("You are F...U…N," said Ryan Seacrest; I'm sure Fox censors heaved a sigh of relief when that last consonant left Ryan's lips), and Dexter's electric playing was solid. I just wish he'd chosen a more adventurous song. The judges called Dexter "likable," but there was a lot about his performance they didn't like, actually. "That was an excellent cover version of that song. What you have to figure out is how to make it a Dexter Roberts performance," said Keith Urban. "Maybe the way to make it more you is to use that personality more. I'm not sure if that was your nerves holding you back," said Harry Connick Jr. Said Jennifer: "The song was low for you, too. That's not the sweet spot of your voice." Dexter's death-spot placement and mixed reviews could lead to voters saying "aw naw" to him this week.