American Idol recap: 'With the Band,' As In On the Same Stage

The Top 9 become frontmen and frontwomen, but the judges' giant gummy bear from 1972 threatens to command all the attention
Ep. 21 | Aired Mar 26, 2014

Fox

Malaya Watson, "The Long and Winding Road" by the Beatles: J. Lo wanted some more headbanging from Malaya after that truly treacherous opening medley, but our fairest judge was still able to rev up some glistening Baby Tears from the ol' ducts as Malaya slowed it down (and then somewhat bizarrely powered it up) for a meandering and challenging Beatles tune. All of my little criticisms of Malaya -- she lacks vocal control; her physical dramatics are wildly hot and cold to a distracting effect; the braces -- can be chalked up to the fact that she's only 16 years young. She'll grow out of that! A lot of what she's doing is remarkable. I don't want to use her age as a blanket excuse, but I have to. What Harry thinks Majesty could do (surprise us all), I think Malaya can and will do. As he said, she's the most consistently improved week to week.

I loved Harry's tweak to something Malaya said in her package interview -- that she was "on the road to stardom." She should be on the road to a better craft, he corrected her. "Work on harmonies. Hang around the piano players. Learn every note and every chord. With a voice like yours, your ear, the attitude that you have… forget about stardom; all of that will happen." Will it? It could.

"Your voice has the sweetness of a young Michael Jackson," offered J. Lo. "You're so blessed." Someone's still a little high from that gummy bear.

Sam Woolf, "Hey There Delilah" by Plain White T's: I love how they had to surround this sweet and polite young man with dozens of light bulbs on the floor to help us not fall asleep during his performance. I guess perching him in the center of a gaggle of girls would have been 1) repetitive and 2) not conducive with the whole fronting-a-band thing. But basically the lights were stand-ins for an engaged crowd and/or Sam's participating-because-they-happen-to-be-switched-on band members. There's nothing wrong with his vocals. He sounds lovely. But I am so bored. And don't you think it's a bit rude to fly all the way back to the retirement community in Florida just to swipe an old lady's flowered blouse for your American Idol performance? They have wardrobe people for that! And shipping. So strange.

Jennifer demanded to know who was the Delilah in Sam's life, which, ohhhh, gross, no, leave him alone, he's just a kid. He should be encouraged to play the field of switched-on light bulbs for as many more short weeks we shall know him! Harry and Keith agreed that Sam needed to loosen up and at least suggest the notion of communication with any second party. "Sometimes I wish you'd close your eyes and go inside that head…" Harry trailed off, perhaps visualizing the empty room that might be Sam's head. Four people clapped -- just "a smattering" of the crowd wants to encourage this trip inside Sam's mental space. "Now it sounds like your concert!" Keith immediately quipped. GO KEITH.

"What's 40 feet long and has eight teeth? Front row at Keith Urban's concert!" Harry snarked with some tried-and-true material. But nope. This round goes to Keith.

So who is Sam's Delilah? "My grandma." The uprising of "Awwww"s from the crowd was well beyond a mere smattering!

NEXT PAGE: Hunger Games unwind; life's a state of mi-iiiiind

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