This was it: the final show before American Idol goes live next week. Tonight (Feb. 13) viewers found out which contestants actually made it to the highly coveted live shows, and there were (of course) a few twists thrown in for good measure (see: drama, ratings).
We'll get to all that and notes about the Top 30 at the end of this piece, but until then, let's revisit the top five performances from the last round of Hollywood Week.
5. Caleb Johnson: I was hesitant to add Caleb Johnson into my top five for this week because (sorry), I really loathe Imagine Dragons and "Radioactive." I'm not at Josh Homme's level, but UGH this song is just so melodramatic and overdone. And it just won't die.
All my personal biases aside, Johnson killed this song. Straight out of the 1970s (classic) rock scene, this Jack Black lookalike and sound-alike slayed this song. He went balls out, raspy to the nth degree and it was some killer stuff. Not sure how much of a fit he is for Idol, but the show got a little shake up with him, so I'm down.
4. Briana Oakley: Idol seems to have a thing for the youthful voices this season, and nobody embodies that sound quite like Briana Oakley. Her mere 17 years were clear in her performance of Emeli Sandé's "My Kind Of Love," but she had SO much power behind it, it was hard not to be totally, completely captivated by the performance. With the volume of her voice (and her hair!), she's one to watch for season 13.
3. Briston Maroney: The timbre of this kid's voice is at once so familiar and so distinct. He sings from his throat and his heart, and his turn on Passenger's "Let Her Go" was one of the quietest, most unique performances of Hollywood Week. It's easy to see Briston Maroney sliding into the adult contemporary/alternative world, and Idol is a good venue for that. Luckily, he made it on top.
2. Jena Ascuitto: First off, this poor girl's name. The judges can't decide if it's pronounced "Gina" or "Jenna," which is so sad for her because you know she's been dealing with it her whole life. (Note: it's like Gina.) But, let's get to the voice.
Jena Ascuitto went for a risk during the last Hollywood rounds, opting for an original song, penned and played on the piano. There's something quiet and Katy Perry-like to her. Think: "Not Like The Movies" Katy Perry, not "Roar." She's breathy and almost sounds like she sings with her cheeks, if that makes sense. But, she's charming and different and a little jazzy, which is always a positive.
1. Marielle Sellers: She's long been one of my favorite contestants on season 13 of Idol, so it's no surprise she blew me away here. To get through to Hollywood, Marielle Sellers took on Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" with a little R&B-infused, cool take. She really let the emotion of the song play through, with small, breathy moments that allowed for both herself and the audience to take in the true moments, making for a truly captivating performance in every sense of the word. She could quite possibly be the next American Idol, calling it here.
NOTES: OK. So, American Idol and judges Harry Connick Jr., Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez have decided on a top 30. There were some obvious choices in there, despite some attempts for drama on part of the producers. Casey Thrasher, Majesty Rose York, Marielle Sellers and Emily Piriz were all obvious choices for the top of the show, but that's not to say there weren't some mistakes made.
First of all, how did Spencer Lloyd slide into the boys' top 15? When talents like Savion Wright and David Oliver Willis got cut, this pretty boy made it through with mediocre vocals and a cheesy, happy original song. Must be the eyes. Life is good for pretty people, and I'm annoyed.
Also, kudos to Idol for finally allowing an openly gay contestant among its ranks. It's 2014, and that is loooong overdue, but was MK Nobilette really the best choice? It seems like she could barely hold a note for more that one second and her range is quite limited. Keri Lynn Roche, who gave a really saucy, jazzy performance last night of Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" was cut and was far more vocally interesting and talented.
There were also bad calls on the part of Jesse Roach, who had to face off against Jessica Meuse, because apparently there can only be one rocker chick while three country boys easily made it into the Top 30. Meanwhile, the insanely average Kristen O'Connor made it through? Remember her performance of "Unconditionally?" Yeah, me neither.
Whatever, Idol. Some people need to be cut early on, and count these people among the unlucky.