Recap: ‘American Idol’ Season 13 Rush Week – Top 13 Revealed

When it comes to Thursday (February 20) night’s “American Idol” results, I’m not confident on much. I know who I thought gave the best performances between the Top 15 Girls on Tuesday and the Top 15 Boys on Wednesday, but I don’t know how America will respond.

I’m using a picture of MK Nobilette with my recap because I’m sure that even if America didn’t love her, the judges will use a Wild Card for her. 

Beyond that? Well, let’s see who makes the season’s Top 13. Then I’m gonna go out and interview them.

7:58 p.m. ET. I don’t know what format this episode will take, so I’ll be playing it by ear. Hopefully things won’t get sloppy.

8:00 p.m. We’re starting my listing all 20 of the remaining contenders. That’s a lot. And then? On to a recap of last night’s performances from the guys. They weren’t all great, but they were better than the women collectively.

8:03 p.m. Who will make my Top 13? GOOD QUESTION!

8:04 p.m. Hi, Ryan Seacrest. And hello judges. J–Lo is looking glamorous-and-revealin g. And, once again, Keith Urban is taking it casual. “One of you smells like a pretty flower. I don’t know which one it is,” Ryan says. They agree it’s Harry.

8:06 p.m. There’s gonna be a sing-off for the Wild Card spots. Can we bring back somebody who didn’t perform? Like, hypothetically, Kenz Hall and her guitar? 

8:06 p.m. The first person to make the Top 13 is… MALAYA WATSON. That was easy. Malaya’s got a big voice and a bigger personality. She jumps into Ryan’s arms and runs around the crowd high-fiving everybody. 

8:07 p.m. Our second person in the Top 13 is… BEN BRILEY. He had a big advantage in having already mobilized people to vote him into the Top 13. And then he also had the advantage of performing really well last night.

8:08 p.m. Take a stool… EMILY PIRIZ. Hmmm. OK. Well, that’s one surprise already. And I really don’t know what to make of it. She was so-so on Tuesday and I really wouldn’t have guessed she’d advance so cleanly. Joining the group in safety is ALEX PRESTON, who i’m calling Lee DeWyzer, because… well… he’s like Lee DeWyze, only much better.

8:10 p.m. We’re roaring along with results and… JESSICA MEUSE is through. Ick. Sorry. I’m not loving what America did with the voting on the girls at all. I have serious questions about two of the votes already. Over to the Top 13 next? DEXTER ROBERTS. Now I like Dexter. He’s great. But he wasn’t great last night. That’s a generosity of voting that doesn’t surprise me hugely, but it sure shows something.  And keeping with the trend, CALEB JOHNSON joins the Top 13. He’s the first guy who didn’t play the guitar last night. But there’s a certain… sameness to the men so far? 

8:12 p.m. The next girl in the Top 13 is… MAJESTY ROSE. OK. Back on track again for the Girls. The 9th spot in the Top 13 goes to… somebody after the break.

8:14 p.m. The judges are going to have some difficult choices to make if the next guy through is either Spencer Lloyd or Sam Woolf, which would be my guess. 

8:17 p.m. Only two more spots courtesy of America. The next person through is… MK NOBILETTE. That’s good for everybody else, because she was a lock for a Wild Card if she didn’t advance, so now there are probably no locks.

8:18 p.m. And the last person voted by America is… SAM WOOLF. And that’s our fourth White Guy With Guitar voted by America and I somehow suspect Caleb isn’t a stranger to guitar. “It’s electric,” Caleb says. “We’ve all worked so hard to get this far,” Emily says. MK insists that they all love each other. “It’s a tight group this year, isn’t it?” Ryan says, pointlessly. 

8:20 p.m. J-Lo gets to explain the process. Of the 10 people America didn’t select, five will perform and the judges will choose.

8:21 p.m. Our first performer tonight is… 

Song: “Bring It On Home”
My Take: I really can’t imagine CJ not getting a Wild Card. He’s a great compromise. He goes with Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me,” which he does without guitar. I like CJ and he deserves to be in the Top 13. I just can’t believe that the judges are gonna go with an all-white male contingent, but race has nothing to do with why CJ belongs in the Top 13. Tonight’s performance, though, is full of weird pacing things that I don’t like. It makes me wonder about CJ’s limitations when he isn’t able to play the guitar and use that to maintain rhythm and melody. CJ could have made this easy with even a reasonably good performance. Instead, that’s probably the worst performance we’ve seen from him. Uh-oh.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Harry thought the performance was average and blames both the band and CJ. Keith felt like CJ was drifting in and out emotionally.

8:26 p.m. Our next soloist will be Jena Irene, after the break. Meh. She definitely had a bad song choice on Tuesday, so maybe this will help? 

Song: I… don’t know.
My Take: Jena is very smartly playing the keyboard for this performance. I’m not sure why she got to do this and CJ decided to go guitar-free, but I guess that was his decision. Is this an original? I don’t know the song, certainly. And it doesn’t have any kind of hook. It also doesn’t have any accompaniment at all. Smart. That was about a billion times better than her Tuesday performance, hook or no hook. I think that’ll get her into the Top 13. And it’s not a coincidence that she benefitted from performing without the band, while CJ suffered from playing with the band. Rickey Minor is making a mess of things this year and I really hope he gets the band back on track, because it was a rough couple days. The next three singers would be wise to ask to sing a cappella.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: “That was a really good use of that moment,” Keith says. He praises her for staying in the moment when the crowd cheered for her. Nobody else gets to say anything.

Song: That song about girls being pretty without makeup.
My Take: This was a no-brainer pick as well and I’m a bit surprised that Spencer didn’t get the Top 10 spot that Dexter snagged. Smart Spencer has his guitar tonight. And he’s also doing an original, but he’s got accompaniment. Unlike Jena’s song, this original is really bad, just as it was when we heard it earlier. It’s just not a good song and it’s also just not a good showcase for his voice. He’s better than he was last night, but he’s not making it easy for the judges to get behind him. Yeah. Not everybody is an advanced songwriter. Sometimes a teenage boy writes a song that sounds like it was written by a teenage boy. The crowd, however, loves it. The crowd, sadly, has very little taste.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: “I’m not sure that that was what I would have wanted America to see right now,” J-Lo says with very polite euphemism.

Song: “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”
My Take: Ah. I didn’t understand. They are, indeed, singing their last Hollywood solos. We heard a bit of this performance from Bria before the Green Mile and we know it’s a song that she does fairly well. Bria has, again, the bits and pieces of a spectacular voice and insufficient training to know what to do with it. That was better than her Tuesday performance but, once again, it was all over the place. And in some of those places, it was awesome and in some of those places, it was hard to listen to. I wonder if Bria’s eligible for next year or if she’s done because she got these two performances. It would be too bad if it’s the later. I’d really want her to take a year of lessons and come back. But she doesn’t belong in the Top 13 at all.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: “Bria, it was all over the place,” Harry says. That sounds familiar! “I think you overshot the mark,” he closes.

Song: “Unconditionally”
My Take: Oh right. I forgot that Kristen didn’t advance with the Top 10. I certainly thought she did enough on Tuesday to go through. Yeah. I don’t love this solo. Katy Perry isn’t really all that hard to sing and Kristen definitely has a big enough voice to do it. But her breathing and phrasing are a mess and she’s totally out of air on the choruses, which also seem too low for her comfort. Sigh. I wanted Kristen in the Top 13, but I’m not sure that was enough. At all.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Keith says it was “really good,” but he warms her that she’d have been more comfortable if she’d gone just a touch higher. EXACTLY. I’m just loving the substantive judging.

8:53 p.m. I’m taking Jena and CJ from that group. And if the judges need to take Spencer because he makes the girls squeal? That’s their business.

8:57 p.m. So who’s it gonna be?

8:57 p.m. Keith announces the first Wild Card. It’s… JENA IRENE. Yup. She earned that one.

8:58 p.m. Harry says that the ability to perform on the big stage is what sets people apart. He says that you have to have a KO. Kristen is clueless. Finally, Harry explains. KRISTEN O’CONNOR is in the Top 13.

8:59 p.m. J-Lo announces the last place goes to CJ HARRIS. Fair enough!

So, thoughts on our Top 13? Questions for any of ’em? Cuz it’s time to hit the red carpet…