American Idol‘s Top 10 took on Top 10 songs, but only a couple of performers soared to the top of the judges’ charts.
Perhaps the best performance of the night, however, belonged to Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr., who switched seats in the middle of the show and did spot-on impressions of one other, with Connick nailing Urban’s Australian accent, and Urban mimicking Harsh Harry’s often high-brow criticism, spouting phrases like “the monotone pentatonic” and “genomial parallax.”
Malaya Watson’s rendition of “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars not only earned her raves but also flowers: The song includes the lyrics “I should’ve bought you flowers,” but the 16-year-old admitted no one ever had, so Idol did (although it was charged to Connick’s credit card).
Watson’s performance, which Jennifer Lopez said was “sung so beautifully and tenderly,” gave the judge her first “goosies” of the night, while Urban said she “knocked it out of the park.”
Alex Preston, 20, was more than a bit scared to take on “The Story of My Life” by One Direction and risk upsetting the band’s crazed “Directioners,” but his upbeat, folky version of the song pleased everyone, and had Lopez saying the guitar-playing singer’s “greatness” reminded her of Buddy Holly.
“It was like you merged American Authors with 1D,” Urban said of Preston’s take on the popular pop tune, while Connick said he “hit the bulls eye on the artistry target.”
Jena Irene, 17, showing some midriff and sporting an outfit Lopez said reminded her of Madonna in the ’80s, sang “Clarity,” which Urban called the “best performance of the night by far.”
“[Electronic music] might be your wheelhouse,” said Connick, who got a bit chippy with Urban over whether the song had much lyrical heft to it. “I’m starting to get a really clear idea of who you are, and I like it.”
After being in the Bottom 3 last week, Sam Woolf, 17, redeemed himself, playing the guitar and singing the über-popular and oft-played “We Are Young.”
And Jessica Meuse’s poppy “Pumped Up Kicks” had the judges in a heated debate, with Lopez taking on Connick over the fact he didn’t like the 23-year-old’s “complacent smile” as she sang the provocative lyrics of the song.
Lopez contended many pop songs toe the line between happy and dark, slipping in heavy lyrics in a light way, before sticking her tongue out at him for emphasis.
The results show (and a performance by JLo) airs Thursday (9 p.m. ET) on Fox.