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'American Idol' Recap: Top 11 Contestants Tackle Movie Night

March 13th, 2014 9:07am EDT

American Idol Last night's 'American Idol' finally answered the question what do the songs "Come Together," "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Bennie and the Jets" have in common? They're all from movies, of course!
Yes, movie night struck as loosely as possible on 'Idol' last night. Luckily, the contestants were up to the vague challenge...
Sam Woolf sang "Come Together" by The Beatles
Keith Said: You can loosen it up a little bit.
J-Lo Said: It's like baby rock star. We need big rock star.
Harry Said: It was an average performance, but you're on the way.
The Verdict:
Sam ditches the guitar, puts on a green Members Only Jacket and turns The Beatles into a Vegas Lounge act and, against every conceivable notion of reason, it all works!
Sam's weakest point has always been his voice. Well, if you ignore his guitar playing and inability to do anything but smile like a Howdy Doody Doll, it's been his singing. Despite that, he sounds pretty solid on this song - right in tune and with a surprise jazz flair to what he's doing. This was the first vocal he gave that was even interesting, and he outdid that by being quite good.
It's still a lounge act/cabaret version of a Beatles song. But a pretty good one.
GRADE: B-
Pink Hair sang "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel
Keith Said: You need to explore the space a little bit.
J-Lo Said: It never got the groove all together.
Harry Said: The band was off, but you kept your focus. I thought it was a nice job.
The Verdict:
Pink Hair just doesn't want to win this show. She had the country-girl spot right in her fuchsia clutches and throws it away on a weekly basis.
Tonight, it's some sort of acoustic Tori Amos hybrid without the ability to sing in tune. She's in about five different keys as she muddles through this classic and is painfully sharp in all of them when she's not singing directly through her nose. Her vocals are just getting excruciating at this point.
At least she played three chords on her guitar so...that's pretty basic?
GRADE: D
CJ Harris sang "Can't You See" by The Marshall Tucker Band
Keith Said: It was killer, man.
J-Lo Said: I was celebrating the whole time because I'm so proud of you.
Harry Said: I think you just picked and sang your way back to the forefront of this competition.
The Verdict:
Absolutely perfect song choice for CJ. This is right in his blues-rock wheelhouse and, for the first time on the live shows, he doesn't disappoint.
In fact, CJ exceeds what he could have easily done with this song: deliver a solid performance in his lane. Instead, he takes the song to church and injects some soaring soul into the vocal as it develops. It's something of a revival onstage as he brings an abundant joy to the vocal that isn't there lyrically but seemed essential in the way CJ performed this song.
This is one of the best so far this season.
GRADE: A-
Dexter Roberts sang "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Keith Said: You gotta keep finding places to make it individual to you.
J-Lo Said: I think you're starting to believe that you can win too.
Harry Said: You have to be bigger than that song.
The Verdict:
It's gotten to the point where Dexter is just generic garbage. How more on-the-nose can he get than half-playing a boring cover of "Sweet Home Alabama"? It's just cliche on top of cliche at this point.
If those show's goal is to find a pop star, they're not doing it with Dexter. If this show's goal is to find a guy who can play the county fair circuit in the Deep South and have people smile through their beers, the Dexter's their man.
I have higher standards for this show.
GRADE: D
Ben Briley sang "Bennie and the Jets" by Elton John
Keith Said: I'm wondering who you are as an artist.
J-Lo Said: I don't know that it suited who you are, but it was a good vocal performance.
Harry Said: It felt like a lackadaisical walk through the song.
The Verdict:
Ben is a brand new artist every single week. From Frat Boy, to Dixieland, to Rockabilly to now lounge act complete with baby grand, green suit and a slicked-back coif.
The crazy thing is that he keeps making it all work. He may look and sound like Zach Galifianakis in "The Campaign" and move like him a little bit, but that hasn't stopped him from turning into an 'Idol' chameleon whose every shade turns him into a more complete performer.
He keeps getting me excited to find out what he'll do next.
GRADE: B
Majesty Rose sang "Let It Go" by Idina Menzel
Keith Said: You've gotta ease into it a little bit more.
J-Lo Said: You can do anything.
Harry Said: I think you're on the right track. I think that was strong.
The Verdict:
A total theatrical performance of a very theatrical song. A great song, but a tough one not to make sing like it's from a musical on this stage.
Majesty's in full-on sing-acting on this tune complete with stagey hand movements and some sort of odd walking choreography that saw her turning right at the real dramatic hits of the song. Summer Stock for those who can't dance.
Plus she was unable to hit most of the big notes and struggled to stay on pitch at times. This is an incredibly difficult song just to sing and she didn't hit solid where she need to.
Add that to the theatricality and this was her weakest performance.
GRADE: C-
Caleb Johnson sang "Skyfall" by Adele
Keith Said: A great restrained performance of that song.
J-Lo Said: It was great.
Harry Said: That was fantastic.
The Verdict:
This is a cool song choice for Caleb - breaking away from his arena rock comfort zone, he takes on a Adele and tries to turn her into something from classic rock radio.
It works pretty well for him here. This sounded almost nothing like the original record. It was like Deep Purple went a little more prog. The dark side of Caleb. Complete with scarf. I like it.
Suddenly, Caleb is full of range and seems like he could have a limitless ceiling. Or at least as high as his voice.
GRADE: B+
MK Nobilette sang "To Make You Feel My Love" by Bob Dylan
Keith Said: There was little glimpses of who you can be.
J-Lo Said: There's a beautiful subtlety to what you do.
Harry Said: I like the performance, but be careful singing runs.
The Verdict:
It's an endless same-story with MK. Her voice is clearly magnificent. As clear, pure and warmly unique as any that's ever been on this show.
But the voice is only half the story.
The rest is a scared youngster who comes off as impossibly nervous to be performing in front of a live audience. There's this uncomfortable moment of hesitation that disconnects her from the song and limits her ability to lose herself in the performance.
At least she finally embraced her New Wave voice and went full-on Flock of Seagulls with the outfit tonight.
GRADE: C+
Alex Preston sang "Falling Slowly" by The Swell Season
Keith Said: The authenticity always holds me. I love your artistry.
J-Lo Said: It was beautiful.
Harry Said: It's just really nice to see something simply stated and elegantly done.
The Verdict:
A perfect performance of a perfect song choice for Alex. There really wasn't another song for this Damien Rice clone with the better voice to .
GRADE: D+
Jena Irene sang "Decode" by Paramore
Keith Said: It's exhilarating the way you perform.
J-Lo Said: You have one of the best voices here with the most dynamics.
Harry Said: It was very very strong.
The Verdict:
It's Jena doing a Hayley Williams impression here. That's really all this is. The song is a dead-on clone of the record and Jena tries to make her voice sound as much like the original as she possibly can.
She does a startlingly good job of that. Closed eyes turn this into a Paramore concert as she has every tone, pitch and idiosyncracy of Williams' voice coming from her throat - it's a brilliant sound-a-like, but that's really all it is. We didn't get any Jena out of this performance - just a really good tribute performance.
But it was really good.
GRADE: B
Malaya Watson sang "I Am Changing" from "Dreamgirls"
Keith Said: What you've got in you is just magnificent.
J-Lo Said: That was killer. You have an amazing voice.
Harry Said: You just keep getting bigger and bigger and it's a pleasure to watch.
The Verdict:
This is good. It's not great. Malaya's got a big voice and she tries to fill this song with it, but she can't. Her voice is too young. It just sounds like a high school musical kid singing the song on a Friday night. She doesn't have the maturity and experience to take on a song like this.
This is why kids shouldn't be on this show.
GRADE: C+
Final Thoughts:
The judges said it all night: This was the best performance night so far this season by a large measure. Nobody gave a full-on dud of a performance (at least according to the judges) and most hit their high notes with a very liberal theme night.
With so much love going around, it's much more difficult than usual to choose the last one out before the tour group is selected, so it's a wild stab for this week's prediction:
MK is going home.
She's been in the bottom three every week and she's still yet to leave a real impression with any of her performances. Movie night was her last.

Related: American Idol, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, FOX, Reality (Talent)

Photo Credits: FOX

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