American Idol recap: Twilight of the Idols

The Top 12 take on 'Songs from the Cinema'; Harsh Harry mellows out
Ep. 17 | Aired Mar 11, 2014

Fox

Caleb Johnson, Adele's "Skyfall" from Skyfall: OH HELL YES. I'm liking Caleb more and more, mostly because he's defying early expectations that he'd become a caricature. I loved that he managed to successfully cover Adele while restraining himself. Who?! Who could do that? The man is a wizard. And he's only 22! I keep thinking he's gramps up there along with Jessica, who's getting the "wizened bar hag" treatment, but she's only 23! They're just kids babysitting younger kids. I always forget that.

Caleb -- or "If Jack Black and Meatloaf had a baby," Jessica summed up perfectly -- put just enough of his rock spin on "Skyfall" to make it sound just as cool in a different way. And I love this song. Great, great choice to cover this one. I like how it already feels like a classic hit, yet it's so recent no one else has had a chance to "set the Idol precedent." Good job, Caleb!

M.K. Nobilette, Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love" form Hope Floats: Uh oh. Jennifer compared M.K.'s "beautiful subtlety" to that of k.d. lang. Because they're both gay? Eh. Look, I don't think that's what J. Lo meant. I know everyone's going to jump all over her for this comment, but vocally I do see where she's coming from. M.K. isn't even in the same galaxy as k.d. in terms of talent and vocal richness, but k.d. lang is a great example of beautiful subtlety, and pretty much the only reason M.K. remains even a little bit compelling is that her facial expression barely ever even flickers with change and yet when she sings, you sort of "get it" based on the quality of her low-toned voice. (If it sounds to you like I'm having trouble even convincing myself of this, then you are RIGHT! I feel like I should be enjoying M.K. a lot more than I have been.)

Tonight's performance was my favorite from her because she got right up in the judges' faces as if to throttle them and scream "NOW DO YOU BELIEVE I REALLY WANT TO BE HERE?!!!!" -- and of course she did it all with her signature calmness! The combination was intriguing. If she hadn't been so close to them, I think their reactions would've been only lukewarm. She made them feel her love! It was like a movie.

Alex Preston, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová’s "Falling Slowly" from Once: It'll all depend on whether you're a huge Once loyalist and care whether he totally changed up the song. I am not; I liked the movie and think Glen and Markéta are great talents, but that song was so prevalent and so specific to those two singers that I think it would have been boring and one-note if Alex hadn't put a bunch of his own twists on it. It would have been, like, "Oh, wow, this guy is a fan of an indie movie everyone saw." So I liked this from Alex tonight. He thoughtfully drifted off (as the lights behind him dimmed -- cool!) on his final "Still got tiiii….iiiiii…ime" in a way that left me wanting more.

Harry revved up for some Harryism that would also double as a fabulous American Idol press release, killing two birds with one stone: "I'm so glad a platform as hugely visible as American Idol is still an opportunity for a young guy to sing a pretty song with a nice melody without a bunch of fireworks." True dat, Harry. "You don't ever phone it in, even when you're a little tentative," Keith sad. "Man, I love your artistry."

NEXT: Jena!!!!!!!!! And Malaya!

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