Alex Preston, "The Story of My Life" by One Direction: Ha, I knew he'd presented British! Alex managed to keep an intimate setting and a high energy level throughout the song, and vocally he's always solid, so this was by far the best performance yet. The intricate choreography of his crazy-legs (reminiscent of the Phillip Phillips shuffle?) commanded much of my attention, and I was pleased to realize that this week, Alex wore socks. So I definitely agree with Harry: "You just hit the bullseye on the artistry target." And it's good to know that instead of just imagining a boring old red and white target, Harry thinks of the shooting-water pistols-at-horses games at amusement parks.
J. Lo said Alex reminded her of Buddy Holly. He's just missing the glasses, "but you don't need them," she insisted. Hipster glasses would definitely make him less likable. I can totally confirm that via personal experience.
The "Directioners" approve! Thanks for the Twitter check, Ryan. I don't know why he used a computer instead of just his phone, though. His phone is practically a cohost. We don't have room for another appliance!
Malaya Watson, "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars: I think this was her best performance to date -- she showed much more vocal control than last week on a tune she sang for one of her family members with the message, "Dude, she's gonna leave you if you don't catch up." I enjoy her senses of gravity and frankness re: the human condition. No piano this time, but she was piano-adjacent while perched on a stool, so it almost counts. She's showing growth by practicing restraint, a cool inversion of the typical expansion arc. And she looked gorgeous! The emotional quality of her performance nearly matched the height of her hair!
Harry offered some sound technical advice: Malaya should ask the "music people" to show her different chords and how she could sing different runs alongside them -- "It will enhance your experience as a singer," he promised. Damn. She's only 16. Reality check.
Caleb Johnson, "The Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga: "Just saying, the drums could go there." Oh my God, thank you, Randy Jackson, for all that you do. (What do you do.) This was not my favorite from Caleb -- I initially loved the song choice because I think it's easy to consider "The Edge of Glory" somewhat of a rock ballad, but I totally agreed with Keith in that there was an inconsistency with the vocal weight Caleb brings to a song and the limits of the song itself. If he'd changed the timing so he'd been able to stretch some of those notes out and play around with them a little, it might've been better, but this did feel like he was "lumbering along." Of course, Caleb's actual vocals were spot on, as usual; I was just struck by the disconnect in the energy of the performance and the energy Caleb probably wanted it to have.
Keith did an absolutely amazing impression of Harry, complete with dozens of vocab words within 15 seconds of improv. The man is a spiky-haired, tender-hearted genius!
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