American Idol Review: Welcome Back, Dawg!

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There are 31 finalists in American Idol season 13 - and by the end of this week, only 13 will remain. 

Tonight is ladies night on AI. After getting a crash course in Idol from The Dawg himself, Randy Jackson, the Top 15 girls will sing their hearts out in hopes of winning America over. And we - America - will get a tour of the talent in what Idol is calling "Rush Week."

Apparently we're all in one big Idol-loving fraternity now. Meh. There are probably worse fraternities we could be in.

Randy Jackson's Workshop

All 15 ladies are hanging out in a holding area and Ryan drops the bomb that only 10 of them will be singing tonight. The judges have reviewed the tapes--again--and culled them down from 15.

While they've all prepared a song, none of the girls know who will be singing tonight and who will be eliminated when the credits roll. Yikes!

Randy Jackson's boot camp features vocal coaches, movement coaches, stylists, Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry, and non-denominational spiritual advisors

The first up to sing tonight is Majesty Rose, from the Atlanta auditions. During the workshop she was given pointers from Randy Jackson and Adam Lambert about her song choice: "Happy," Pharrell's Oscar-nominated hit. The vocal coach tried to give her the advice to move around the stage for this song instead of playing the guitar but she chose to play and move in place. This song makes people want to dance, so she should've used the stage more. The hint of gospel she put in the song was great, but the performance could've been more dynamic. It's tough to go first, though.

J.Lo loved her confidence and called it a very good start. Harry Connick, Jr. said she did a fantastic job setting the tone for the night. Keith gave her credit for her song choice. 3.5/5

Kristen O'Connor chose "Turning Tables" by Adele. Randy tells her that she has to emote to the TV cameras and Daughtry tells her something about using the stage. If she never wears that hat again, I'll be a happy girl. Kristen's got a great voice, but her performance of Adele feels like an imitation of Adele instead of being even remotely original. It's sort of bland to start but finishes decently.

Harry says they have a lot of faith in the Top 10 and calls her performance "powerful." Keith says she has a killer range but had a lot of nerves and settled in halfway through the performance. Jennifer says she can hear Kristen "recording records tomorrow" but does give her the note that she was ahead of the band. 3/5

Keith reveals that the third girl to survive is Briana Oakley. She'll be singing Demi Lovato's "Warrior." Randy says that sometimes her quest for perfection can come off as "too professional." The movement coach says she's too rigid, as does the vocal coach. She chooses to start her performance seated and then rises to finish the number. She gets major props for NOT using a mic stand and moving while she sings. So far she's the best of the night simply because she didn't hide behind a prop. 

Keith kicks off the commentary telling her that it took her a minute to find her zone, but she did at the end. Jennifer says she looked scared when she hit the stage but she's a "young Whitney Houston." Harry says "high notes aren't triple axles." I can see some of what the judges had to say, but in general disagree with them. 4/5

Jena Irene (Asciutto) is the only musical member of her family. She's tackling "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones and gets the note from Daughtry to work on her confidence. It's an interesting song choice, that's for sure, but she takes the comments and does her best to stay in the theatricality of the performance. The song doesn't really showcase her voice as well as another might have, so I don't know if that'll be enough to keep her here. 

Jennifer loves her and calls her a "badass." Harry asks her what the song is about and she says "darkness." He didn't get what she was singing about, which is actually a pretty great comment. Keith thinks she's cool. 3.5/5

The next to make it to the stage is Bria Anai​. She's a fashion geek with crazy glitter lipstick. Hopefully a stylist tells her that the lipstick can be kind of ridiculous. She's singing "Wrong Side of a Love Song" and during her rehearsal, she suffers from Jessica Simpson arm, which Adam points out. It doesn't seem like she can hear the band or herself or something. She's all over the place and her voice cracks and wavers and that was just not good. Not. Good.

Harry kicks off the commentary by congratulating her for making it this far and then tells her she just shouted the whole performance. Keith thinks she overshot it. Jennifer says she has star written all over her and thinks she suffered from the first night jitters. 1/5

Marrialle Sellars is up next with "Roar" by Katy Perry. She's rushing through it and Adam tells her she's frenetic and needs to calm it down. She ditches the guitar for her live performance and starts in her lower register, which makes things a little rocky. She's adding a little spice to the song and dancing around working the stage which sets her apart from some of the girls who sang before her. She loses her shoe halfway through but doesn't miss a beat and just keeps singing. Vocally, it wasn't a solid performance, but energetically, she was there.

Keith called her ability to just keep singing a "good save" but didn't think that was a great song choice for her. Jennifer wanted to see her do that on her guitar instead of R&B around. Harry noticed that she wasn't in tune for most of the number and didn't see Marrialle in the performance. 2.5/5

In a choice I didn't see coming, Jessica Meuse is called. She wants to play guitar while singing "Drink a Beer" by Luke Bryan and Daughtry wishes he'd been able to play guitar during his season. He also wants Jessica to put hers down for the song because her playing talent doesn't match her vocal talent. She's got the eyes-at-the-camera thing down, but she's pushing it with her voice. Really pushing it. Maybe it's the nerves, maybe it's her voice, but there's something strained.

Jennifer loves her voice and could feel her nerves in her performance but loves the country tone to Jessica's voice. Harry thinks she brings something different to the competition and wants her to watch her intonation and her subject choice. He blames nerves for both. Keith loves the song she chose but tells her she has to stay in the song. She can't smile happily about a sad topic. 3/5

Emily Piriz, who was a standout during Hollywood week, is the next to be called. She's singing "Paris Oh La La" and expects some criticism for the song's subject matter. Adam tells her to get aggressive with it and bring out her inner rocker. She has the most fun of anyone else who has sung tonight, but I can't get Harry's earlier comments about this song out of my head. Vocally, she was rock solid. She looked great. It was a great performance, but an interesting song choice.

Harry calls her out on the song choice and tells her she's a singer, so the story she's telling matters. Keith tells her that being an artist isn't about pretending. It's about expressing and baring souls. Jennifer, the lone woman on the table, says she had one of the most relaxed performances of the night and did what she did quite well. 4.5/5

With only two spots left in the Top 10, MK Nobilette​ gets called to the stage. She wants to sing John Legend's "All of Me" and feels that her weakness is performing and staying in it. She gets five lines in and the camera pans to her mother bawling in the audience. The song is perfect and simple, which allows MK's voice to shine. I have goosebumps in my living room. Seriously. It was just that beautiful.

Keith said the song choice was perfect and loves the simplicity and vulnerability in the way she sings. Jennifer compliments her on the true sentiment she left on the stage. Harry calls her an elegant, articulate singer and says that for the first time he believes that she believes she belongs on the stage. 5/5

Before we get to the final girl in the Top 10, it's time to learn the fate of Ben Briley and Neco Starr. After a nationwide vote, Ben Briley​ is sticking around. He'll sting tomorrow night.

Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr.

The final girl in the Top 10 is Malaya Watson. She tells Randy that she loves being different and mixing old and new. She's singing "Hard Times" by Ray Charles and all Daughtry can say is "your voice is stupid." She starts in the bottom of her range and that's not her strong spot. When she hits the churchy notes in the second phase, she comes into her own and the Malaya who impressed the judges comes out. This girl is crazy talented to only be 16. Crazy. 

Jennifer says there's no doubt that Malaya is a powerhouse singer and calls her "epic." Harry says they all know how talented she is and can't wait until she settles and finds her space. Keith tells her she makes glasses and braces look cool because she has so much confidence. 4.5/5

And now it's up to America to choose their top 5 girls. 

By my account, MK Nobilette, Malaya Watson, and Emily Piriz lead the pack. Majesty Rose or Jena Irene would round out the Top 5 nicely, but Jessica Meuse could slide in there with the country vote. 

Or all 6 of them could make it. Or maybe even 7. Or 8. The judges each have a choice of one contestant to save after the Top10 are revealed on Thursday night. 

Rush Week was an interesting time-filler to fluff out the episode to a full 2 hours. Randy Jackson really added nothing of substance to the "workshop" but Lambert and Daughtry? Let's get them in here more often. 

What did you think of tonight's performances? Was Randy Jackson's Rush Week Workshop worth our time? Which girl had the strongest performance of the night?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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