‘American Idol’ Top 12 Night: Go Big or Go Home
The theme for this Wednesday's "American Idol" show was "Home," which meant the top 12 performed Phillip Phillips's "Home," Chris Daughtry's "Home," Carrie Underwood's "Temporary Home," and Carrie's version of Mötley Crüe's "Home Sweet Home." Just kidding! It was actually another open-ended theme night, on which the contestants could sing any song that reminded them of their respective hometowns.
None of the contestants went for obvious homages to particular cities or states. There would be no "Georgia on My Mind," no "New York State of Mind"…and sadly, no one did my favorite song about my own hometown, Bran Van 3000's "Drinking In L.A." (Maybe next week? Maybe if it's '90s Week?) But there were still some interesting song choices, and some great performances. As for the not-so-great performers? Well, one of them will probably go home, for real, after this week's votes are tallied.
Here's how everyone did this Wednesday:
Jena Irene – I'm still unsure what K.T. Tunstall's "Suddenly I See" had to do with Jena's hometown of Farmington, Michigan. (Jena said something about it reminding her of family vacations; I assumed it reminded her of the Farmington Wal-Mart, since this song has become that chain's unlikely commercial jingle.) Anyway, this was a solid performance — Jena worked the crowd and seemed confident and fresh — but it wasn't an amazing performance. "It wasn't the most wow song to pick, but it still showed how you can make every single song your own," said Jennifer Lopez. Harry Connick Jr. liked how Jena "messed with the melody," but said, "I was waiting for you to bust out. You're 17. You should be climbing all over the ceiling with that song. Great to see that energy, but I wanted more." Uh oh. Suddenly I saw an elimination in Jena's near future.
Alex Preston – I cringed when I learned that New Hampshire boy Alex planned to cover Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want to Be." It was a sentimental choice for Alex, because he once opened for a local Gavin concert, but I didn't think I needed to hear this song covered on "Idol" ever again. I was wrong. To employ the above-mentioned singing-show cliché, Alex totally made the song his own, giving it a blisteringly bluesy vibe. No wonder Gavin had been so impressed by young Alex when they'd met. Unfortunately, the judges weren't as impressed. "It wasn't your best vocal performance. The arrangement didn't quite suit the song. It overtook your performance," said J.Lo. "I'm so used to hearing you in an intimate, introspective context. I think you're good at that… I didn't really like this as much as some of the other things you've done," said Harry (completely failing to mention that he'd actually criticized Alex last week for being too introspective onstage). Keith thought the performance was "unstable" and that Alex seemed nervous. I disagreed. I thought Alex seemed like a budding star. But I'm not nervous myself; I know this guy has a fanbase and is in no danger of going home this week.