Jena Irene Asciutto, Coldplay’s "The Scientist": Jena wins the award for least willing to play along with the high-pressure #5in20 all-about-me personality test. I think she must have told Ryan off-camera that her hair was in fact "sh*t brown" underneath the black. Jena loves to paint it black! She hit some very strong vocal moments here even though I had trouble getting over the idea of "The Scientist" as a power ballad.
Keith offered Jena and the rest of the kids some advice: "Lean into the song. You've got the talent! When you hesitate, you fail." The judges' comments this season are shaping up to be quite the self-help book on mindfulness, and I LOVE it!
Alex Preston, Jason Mraz’s "A Beautiful Mess": Harry found Alex's performance introspective to the point of unrelatable, but it did the opposite for me (and Keith) (and Jennifer): I felt completely drawn in. I think this boils down to Harry not making good enough use of his tiny TV screen, because anyone who was watching close-up would have no choice but to get swept up in Alex's red-glowing emotion here. Keith knew what Harry was saying, but assured Alex, "I kind of came into you. It was cool." Yikes! Keith!
This was my favorite performance of the night; I loved the steady red light (in the shape of the top of a piano?) behind Alex so we had no choice but to zero in on the beautiful mess within his head. X Factor fans will be happy to have seen Alex and Sierra ("Alex's Friends") along with Top 13 should've-been Jillian Jensen (reportedly Alex's girlfriend).
Jessica Meuse, Shinedown’s "The Crow And The Butterfly": Okay! Yes! Suddenly an entire string of performances had been worth watching, and Jessica's haunting rock cover amped up my viewer satisfaction big-time. I wouldn't go so far as to say "Just the sound and power of your voice gave me goosies," like J. Lo, but that's because I've been trying really hard not to say the g-word in my daily life. Luckily you never get to read the recaps of my nightly life. Just kidding, this is it.
The graphics behind Jessica were laughably busy, especially just after Alex's simple red glow. She had dozens of angry crows busting out their flying game against a backdrop of curved doorways. The whole thing looked like a scary ghost world in Super Mario Land. But Jessica kept smiling throughout all that nonsense, because she is here to sing! Damn, she's good.
NEXT PAGE: 'Where is the yang?' Plus: The Unsung Hero of the Night!