Has there ever been a catchier American Idol name than Ben Briley? It just rolls off the tongue, like "Naima Adedapo" or "Phillip Phillips." For real, though. This guy's only 24 but he sings as if gently untangling roots that have been around for decades. I have no idea what that means now, but it made sense a few seconds ago, so I'm going with it! The judges loved what Ben did with Amos Lee's "Arms of a Woman," and Keith even said if he'd been driving and heard Ben a cappella on the radio, he'd have pulled over. "What's… driving your own car?" J. Lo wondered, silently.
Ben didn't seem to take to Harry's impromptu nickname for him. I don't think he realizes how much mass appeal "Gumbo" would have on the Idol voting public. That's just not how he wants to win this, okay?
Finally -- a profound sense of possibly undeserved entitlement! I like all the aw-shucks, good-natured kids we've been seeing, but Nica Nashae, 15, is a classic "I GOT THIS, BITCHEZZZ" contestant, the kind we all know and usually hate. I must say, her overwhelming pride leading up to and following her 20-second "Natural Woman" explosion did provide a much-needed burst of energy to the hour. I sat up a little straighter and wondered for the million bajillionth time (miss you, Randy Jackson) where I might be today if I had even one percent of this brat's confidence. "Only place I got to go from here is up," Nica gushed. Gah! Imagine!
Oh, well. Nica moves on; I'll be sitting here forever. Not all of us are winners. Next up: perfect-baby-faced high school cook Jordan Brisbane, 15, from Savannah, Georgia sang "If I Were Your Man" with a ton o' runs. His natural charisma really would win him oodles of fans -- Harry's right. But J. Lo and Harry both warned Jordan against overdoing the runs. In 10 years, he'd be a much, much, much better singer, Harry promised. See him in 10 years, then? No! American Idol -- and the movies -- cannot wait.
I'm obsessed with Jordan's answer to Seacrest's "What does it mean to be holding that ticket?" "Much," he enthused.
I was 100 percent with Harry, who wasn't buying the "weird impediment" Sam Burchfield, 22, took on during "I Want to Be Like You" from The Jungle Book. But I get it -- he was just trying to sound like a cartoon character, basically. This was about as original as singing a TV theme song -- i.e. not. I'm sure the University of Georgia college senior has a bunch of talent, but I wanted to hear something different. Why didn't Harry ask him to sing a non-gimmicky tune?
NEXT: Are 'way too much Americana' and 'purple stripper lipstick' mutually exclusive?