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'American Idol' Season 13 recap: Top 12 go 'Home' as Dexter Roberts stands out, MK Nobilette sinks

by Carolyn Menyes   Mar 5, 2014 22:14 PM EST

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It's the second week of live shows on American Idol, and to further get fans to know the contestants, producers picked the theme of "Home," which basically means the singers can choose anything they have a vocal connection to.

The show started off pretty weak, with so-so to bad performances from Jena Irena, Jessica Meuse and CJ Harris, all of whom are capable of doing better than they did, but the show picked up immensely with a beautiful country ballad from Dexter Roberts.

In a season that has such a diverse set of singers and personalities, who did the best? Who was only OK? And who kinda blew it? Check out the Music Times recap below.

The Good:

Dexter Roberts: After three really weak opening performances, it was sooo refreshing when Dexter Roberts performed Montgomery Gentry's "Lucky Man." Sitting on a stool and playing an acoustic guitar, Dexter gave a seriously pretty, deeply country performance. His tone isn't quite as rich as season 10 winner Scotty McCreery's, whom Lopez name-checked in her criticism, but he still managed to truly connect and give the first truly stunning performance of the night.

Sam Woolf: First off and totally biased, Sam Woolf, I love you for picking a Blind Pilot song. This little baby face took on the Portland band's "Just One" for a simplistic performance, sitting on the side of the stage with an acoustic guitar in hand. His vocals are so smooth and easy that anything he sings is going to come across well, and this was no exception. The judges had some issues with his ability to be emotionally dynamic, but I didn't quite gather that. It was a nice, simple and sweet performance, fitting for this stage in the competition.

Majesty Rose: Coldplay's "Fix You" is always guaranteed to get a rousing performance on Idol, and Majesty Rose's take tonight was no different. From the very first note, this performance was insanely pretty, with Majesty giving the song a softer, guitar-driven take. Near the end, she built it up and while the judges took note with that, it was a solid way to send off the show.

Malaya Watson: After landing in the bottom two last week, it was time for Malaya Watson to show she's more than just a quirky personality: she's a serious contender on American Idol. She returned to her gospel roots with Tamela Mann's "Take Me To The King." Starting at the piano, Malaya sold the performance with insanely loud and proud vocals, bursting through the music. She doesn't have the typical "gospel voice," she's way to youthful for that. However, she has the spirit and the chops and was able to make a successful recovery.

The Bad:

Jessica Meuse: Jessica Meuse is easily one of the most versatile artists on this season of American Idol, so it shouldn't be a huge surprise that she performed Dido's "White Flag" for the Home theme. Even though her tone is usually lovely and she can literally do any kind of music, this was not Jessica's night. As judges Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez pointed out, she was so disturbingly sharp throughout the entire song that the high notes couldn't even resonate. The thing that bothers me the most about Meuse is that she never seems to emotionally connect with her song choices, either. Something she also failed to do here.

MK Nobilette: After falling in the bottom three last week, MK Nobilette has something to prove now, and she attempted to do this with Train's "Drops Of Jupiter." Though she sang stronger and louder than she has in recent weeks, she still managed to get across an easiness and breeziness in her take. Unfortunately, MK just does not have that much of a range, and she fell flat when she strained for higher, louder notes. I feel like her days on Idol are numbered...

CJ Harris: CJ Harris oftentimes gets lost in his song choices, and he kind of did again tonight with John Mayer's "Waiting On The World To Change." It was easy, relaxed and breezy, just like a take on this song should be. Keith Urban noted that this sounded just like a straightforward cover of the song instead of something of his own.

Alex Preston: This week, Alex Preston stepped a bit outside of his comfort zone and performed Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want To Be." In its original version, this song is nothing but power, but Alex's arrangement was all blues and no balls, something that both benefitted and harmed his performance. His guitar playing was fun and original, his style was quirky and fine but his vocals were a little bit weak, especially when compared to DeGraw's super growl on the original.

The Mediocre:

Caleb Johnson: As Connick Jr. noted, Caleb Johnson is the most consistent performer on this season of American Idol, and this is for a few reasons. He's a notably strong singer, always in tune, always nailing the notes... and he has an old school rocker's rasp that's little heard in today's music. These things make him captivating. Tonight, he took on Rush's "Working Man," and it was, well, a Caleb Johnson performance. By now, he's not just consistent... he's predictable, and that could work against him.

Emily Piriz: Emily Piriz went for a bit of that Latin flare with a daring performance of Jennifer Lopez's "Let's Get Loud." She danced around stage and sold the performance aspect of it, but unfortunately, her vocals got a bit lost in the musical mix and arrangement. When you could hear her, Emily gave a solid vocal showing, and the song choice itself was so fun that it helped to break the show up a bit.

Jena Irene: Jena Irene went for a song that reminded her of her mother and brother, KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See." Unlike her performance last week of Coldplay's "The Scientist," this week she was notably more lighthearted, actually moving around the stage and getting into the music. She wasn't ALL the way there and was a little bit stiff, but it was nice to see her on her way to finding the groove. As always, Jena nailed her vocals. I'm sort of in love with her tone, sorry not sorry.

Ben Briley: Compared to Dexter Roberts, Ben Briley just does not have the country chops. Compared to everyone else, he's fine. Middle of the pack. For "Home" week, he fittingly chose David Nail's "Turning Home." The emotional connection of the song was lacking a bit, as the judges all collectively noted. But, his vocal was on point enough. He could just get lost in the shuffle.

Who Should Go Home: MK Nobilette

Who Will Go Home: MK Nobilette

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