American Idol: Jena Irene, C.J. Harris and Alex Preston Stand Out from the Pack
After a harsh week of criticism, the contestants step it up with songs from the movies
American Idol‘s Top 11 sang songs from the cinema on Wednesday, but who possessed the Gravity to impress the judges and which contestants are destined to be Gone with the Wind?
Jena Irene, 17, who was in the Bottom 3 last week, earned a standing ovation from Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez, and a prolonged ovation from the crowd, following her electrifying performance of “Decode” at the piano.
Urban said there was a “ferocity” about the way she performed the Twilight song, comparing it to “hurtling along the edge of a cliff,” while Lopez called it the best performance of the night and yelled, “America, get on board!”
Singer-songwriter Alex Preston, 20, who admitted “last week hit us hard” with regard to the judges’ harsh criticism, didn’t receive any negative feedback following his moving rendition of “Falling Slowly.”
Urban, who was emotional following the performance, said it was filled with “raw fragility,” while Harry Connick Jr. said it was “simply stated and elegantly done,” adding, “I’m really proud of you, man.”
C.J. Harris 23, sporting a Pharrell Williams-esque hat and new guitar, sang “Can’t You See” which had Urban out of his seat and JLo groovin’ in her bubblegum-pink jumpsuit and calling him a “frontrunner.”
“You just picked and sang your way back to the forefront of this competition,” raved typically harsh Harry.
And typically hard-rocking Caleb Johnson, 22, turned the tables, singing the ballad “Skyfall” by Adele, which Urban called a “great, restrained performance,” and Connick said was “fantastic you’re going to be very hard to beat.”
Malaya Watson, 16, was a Dreamgirl, ending the show by singing Jennifer Hudson‘s “I Am Changing,” which also got Lopez and Urban up out of their seats.
Earning some of the harshest criticism of the night was Ben Briley, 24, who attempted to show a different side by playing the piano and singing “Bennie and the Jets” (something he might have reconsidered had he recalled the sizzling rendition of it by season 10’s Haley Reinhart).
Connick slammed the performance calling it “lackadaisical” and “pointless,” saying Briley’s voice sounded “affected,” and then gave a preview of his Thursday performance by taking to the piano at Ryan Seacrest’‘s request.
Who will experience Apocalypse Now on Thursday’s results show, which will decide the Top 10 that will perform on Idol‘s summer tour? Find out at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.