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Tara Ariano

S13.E26: 8 Finalists Perform

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Jessica- Her original song is quite good. Her voice is still so shaky though. And I agreed with Keith that I thought she could have moved the bottom half of her around more. Good song though. It reminded me of Miranda Lambert and I could see Jessica's album being like that.

CJ- He did way better tonight with pitch. I still feel like his time on the show is running out though. He could possibly be in the bottom tomorrow for the first time.

Sam- I felt like he connected with the song much better this time. The lamps were weird though. 

Malaya- She had everything mostly in control until she reached a couple of those high notes. I don't understand why the judges, especially Harry, hasn't called her out for those. But I still like her the most of the girls left and overall she did really well. She will be amazing as she gets older, for sure.

Dexter- Thank God he finally did a different type of song. He really does have a good voice. Unfortunately I think he could still end up in the bottom this week.

Jena- Third best performance of the night in my book. I was really dreading having to hear this song for the gazillionth time but I was pleasantly surprised at the rearrangement. It was really well done. 

Caleb- Best performance of the night for me. He always kills it. Just loved everything about it. I do hope we get to see him do something softer next week though, just so people will stop complaining about it and he can shut them up. Didn't Skyfall sort of qualify as a "softer" song? Anyway… loved his performance as always.

Alex- Second best tonight. His original song is really awesome and I can definitely see him making a record like that. It's honestly better than many songs on the charts today. 

Duets:

Alex/Jena- Really good! Their voices blended really well together. I think it was the best duet vocally. They could have gotten up and moved around though.

Caleb/Jessica- Predictable pairing and predictable song choice. Didn't Phillip and Elise do this same song in S11? Yawn. They were better in terms of interaction though. And before anyone starts shipping these 2, Jessica already has a boyfriend. Yeah I'm jealous and have a bit of a crush on Caleb. Sue me.

Malaya/Sam- Oh I bet all the Sam fangirls were jealous. It was sweet and cute but it felt like they were auditioning for some corny high school musical. Props to Malaya for trying to play the part but wow Sam looked awkward, like he didn't know how to handle it.

CJ/Dexter- Of course they put the 'Bama Boys together. It was cute how they high fived at the end though. 

Prediction for B3: CJ, Dexter, and Malaya or Sam

Eliminated: CJ

Judges will not use the save

Other comments: 

When JLo walked out on stage my first thought was it looked like she was wearing a maternity top and forgot to put on pants. Yikes. The styling was otherwise a major improvement for everyone else.

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At first I felt pretty cynical about the show's having them do their audition songs; it seemed like a desperate attempt to revive our interest.  But they actually sounded good for a change, after what's been a lackluster season.  If the show's aim was to remind me why I liked these kids in the first place, it succeeded.  Jena in particular has real star quality, and I wouldn't be upset if she, Caleb, or Alex won.

I have to laugh whenever they do the regularly scheduled close-up of Jennifer during the songs, complete with the camera slowly, dramatically moving in on her face.  It's GOTTA be in her contract.  It always lasts the exact same amount of time (too long), and always the slow moving in.

And that dress was heinous.

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Jessica - Her voice is very interesting but occasionally she veers into something that sounds like a bleating goat. It's jarring. It's not vibrato. It's goat.

CJ - That was all over the place. I recall Harry citing that CJ really listened to criticism about tone, singing on key etc.  I thought, "Were we hearing the same song? Do you have your Ipod on to ease the suffering, HCJ?" Can't say I blame him. And I tire of the packaging "Oh, CJ's so nice!" I feel guilty because I find him bland. I don't need your guilt trip, show!

Sam - Speaking of bland - can this guy get gone already? Come back when you develop a personality and some range. Should either ever happen.

Malaya - Her high "notes" are wince-worthy. I am continually bewildered at the praise they heap on her. She completely mangles the lyrics. I understand that she has dental work but acknowledge that you're not singing clearly and work on it. When she said "Aretha Franklin" tonight, I heard "Ruth Frankel."

Dexter - I liked it! For a ballad, it was nice to hear. Only, guy seems to suffer from an inability to open his mouth. He sort of has that panicked fish-face that Ben Briley had.

Jena - Best performance of the night. I liked the arrangement and while I acknowledge the flaws and affectations in her voice, she's really quite good.

Caleb - I am usually all for Caleb, but that was a train wreck for me.

Alex - I would have enjoyed his song - had someone else sung it. 

Eliminated - CJ. Please, CJ. I would plead that Sam be given the boot, but as long as he's got the teenybopper vote, it won't happen

Edited by JanetMacklin

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Probably the best show of the season so far.  I thought Jessica, Alex and Jena had the best performances of the night (in that order), but everyone did fairly well. 

On the other hand, the only duo that I thought was half decent was Jessica and Caleb.  The other three were pretty bad, with the CJ and Dexter performance almost unbearable.

CJ should be the one going home, but if not, then I hope it's Dexter or Sam.  Overall I think the other 5 have been consistently better.

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JenaNotGina can sing louder than Alex in a duet. We get it.  Her affected enunciation still makes me stabby. "We can larn to loaf ah-again." Ah-GAIN? Is she British this week? Ok, I'm an ass.

Were Sam's song lyrics about being surrounded by domestic illumination devices for the living room? Maybe I should listen more carefully.

Loved, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" and Jessica's original was better than I remembered. "A man worth your tears will never make you cry." So true. Sing it, Sister. :) I guess I do like  Slapout Jessica.

Malaya made my ears bleed and scared my cat.

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Jessica - Her voice is very interesting but occasionally she veers into something that sounds like a bleating goat. It's jarring. It's not vibrato. It's goat.

 I see your goat point, but FWIW Shakira rode "goat" all the way to  the bank and I say that as a huge Shakira fan; so I guess I enjoy me some goat. :)

Malaya - Her high "notes" are wince-worthy. I am continually bewildered at the praise they heap on her.

I agree. I was wondering if the judges and I were listening to the same thing or if it's my speakers because I had to mute it at one point in there. Yikes.

Edited by ari333

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I wasn’t wowed by anyone tonight;  then again, there weren’t any train wrecks excepting the duets, so that’s good I guess.

Jessica is so much more enjoyable when she sings her own material.  This was the first time I liked anything she sang – that nasally quality to her voice worked well on her own song.

Caleb is quickly becoming a joke to me; whoever said he was Jack Black in School of Rock was correct; that’s the vibe I get whenever I see him perform.  That’s not to say his voice isn’t solid, because it is, I just feel like there’s nothing new about his performances.  I hope Caleb does follow Harry’s advice and give us a less bombastic performance next week.

I did not like the duet between Caleb and Jessica; I couldn’t get past goat throat and the bad Stevie Nicks impersonation and Caleb’s growly thing he had going on.

If there’s a most improved award handed out, I think it should go to Malaya.

On poor Sam; I adore his tone and I think with a little seasoning he could be very, very good.  I just wished he didn’t look so terrified when performing and he had a bit more confidence/connection.  I think he’s talented, just not ready for the competition.

Alex continues to be head and shoulders above everyone else.

I still think Dexter and CJ are mush-mouths and beyond boring, (to me) they bring nothing new.  I can hear voices like theirs on the radio right now – only I can actually understand the words.

I’m not sure what to think of Jena; she does do that weird thing that makes her voice slightly affected which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I guess because I find her interesting and want to hear more that’s a good thing.  Maybe?

So, Harry, not a fan of auto-tune are you?


Sam- I felt like he connected with the song much better this time. The lamps were weird though. 

Malaya- She had everything mostly in control until she reached a couple of those high notes. I don't understand why the judges, especially Harry, hasn't called her out for those. But I still like her the most of the girls left and overall she did really well. She will be amazing as she gets older, for sure.

 

I love Sam's tone and the quality of his voice; once he gets a few years under his belt, some life experience, and experiments with different sounds/music I think he could have quite a successful career.

 

In a way, I think Harry did call out Malaya; he mentioned (yet again) that she really needs to work with the mentors/band and learn the notes; granted he was talking about runs at the time, however I think the meaning was clear (at least to me) - Malaya work on hitting the notes properly.

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Wow, everyone really stepped it up last night in their solos!  I'm kind of sorry Majesty is gone, because she auditioned with a song I love (Violet Hill) but if that was what it took to get everyone else to finally deliver really good performances, I can live with that.  I enjoyed all the individual performances for a change, and the list below pretty much comes down to personal preference.

My best of the night: Alex.  That original song was terrific, and I could easily hear it on the radio.  His performance seemed more connected, and his voice, while still nasally (which is okay with me) sounded great.  He reminded me of someone, vocally, but I can't put my finger on it.  Not Elvis Costello, but maybe somebody like that?

Jessica - Again, I really liked her original song and I like her voice.  There was a lot more intensity to her performance than usual.  I don't care whether or not her feet moved, Keith; that was a great performance.

Sam - Wow, so that's why they put him through!  Vocally that was wonderful, and he managed to connect with it emotionally.  The kid needs more maturing, but this was his best performance by far.

CJ - There were still a few pitch problems, but damned if that didn't work just fine.  He seemed very invested in that performance and really felt the song, and that helped him overcome his pitch issues.  By far, his best also.  Plus, I love that song, so good choice all around.

Caleb - That boy knows how to put on a show.  Plus the bluesy arrangement of the song worked quite well.  I agree with Harry about wanting to see Caleb try something softer and quieter (maybe something at 8 instead of always 11) but he really can sing, and with the right song, he does sometimes transcend the karaoke.

Jena - There were, I thought, a few moments when she sounded flat, but overall I enjoyed this performance.  It's pretty bold to rearrange an Adele song to sound more like a torch song, but in this case it worked; most people try to do this song straight and end up sounding like they're trying to be Adele, which is never a good comparison.  Plus, Jena's vocal affectations were much less distracting.

Malaya - This is the first performance of hers that I actually enjoyed.  There were still a couple of shrieky moments, but overall I appreciated the restraint she showed.  If she sang more like this every week, I'd like her a lot more and probably put her higher on my list.

Dexter - Okay, he needs to work harder on his diction, but Dexter really does have a very good voice.  This is definitely his best performance since Lucky Man, and showed off his talent well.  I think he connects better to songs like this, and his niche appears to be the country ballad one.  The only reason he's at the bottom of my list (and he is neck-and-neck with Malaya) is that I'm not really a modern country music fan.

 

The duets, well they were more of a mixed bag:

Alex & Jena - On one hand, I loathe this song with the fire of a thousand burning nuns.  On the other hand, although their voices are very different, they meshed effectively and this worked quite well for both singers.

Caleb & Jessica - I love this song, and thought it suited both of them.  I enjoyed this performance a lot.

Sam & Malaya - This started out well, and I had some hope.  Then it hit the chorus, bandzilla kicked in, and it all fell apart.

CJ & Dexter - CJ lost control of his pitch again, Dexter was sloppy with his ennunciation, and it was like a couple of good ol' boys in the local bar.  It wasn't the worst of the night (see: Sam & Malaya), but it wasn't particularly enjoyable either.

Can we just forget that the last two duets ever happened?

 

Top two: Alex & Jessica

Bottom two: Malaya & Dexter

Going home: I don't know, maybe Dexter?

(P.S. Wasn't last night the top 8?)

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"The scars of your loaf, leave me breathless."

JLo's daughter's Easter dress is lovely. Wonder why JLo was wearing it.

Allison sounded great with Dexter. Love that girl.

Edited by ari333
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Jena-not-Jenna/Gina was really over pronouncing her words last night. I kept thinking "theater kid" in my head and then the mom was popping up - anybody think the two of them want a reality show together? 

Malaya and Sam's duet last night was also very high schoolish - I kept thinking Sam was going to say "oh GOD, do I have to kiss HER?"

Poor bless his heart CJ - He's such a nice guy but he's so flipping out of tune all the time. Can't he hear it? He's a guitar teacher, can't he hear his pitch is off? It was worse when he sang with Dexter. 

Caleb is so consistent and so good (and he's a little cocky which apparently is his personality since birth) that I think people are rebelling against him. Every time I hear him sing, I was wishing Steven Tyler was doing a duet with him. Now that would be a screamfest. 

Who is dressing Alex? He looks like a kook with the short pants and the hats - something like Duckie from one of those 80s angst movies. 

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Malaya was SO out of tune during that duet, and it sounded even worse because they were supposed to be harmonizing. (Sam was bang on the whole time, but it didn't help.)

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So, Harry, not a fan of auto-tune are you?

That made me laugh -- doesn't JLo auto-tune?  They didn't show her face after that comment.  I liked how they book ended the show with the two original songs -- I really enjoyed both of them.  And while CJ was still not singing solely in key, it was MUCH better than last week.  I'd rather listen to CJ sing with feeling off key than have my eyes glaze over during another Sam performance.

Edited by msburg

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Who is dressing Alex? He looks like a kook with the short pants and the hats - something like Duckie from one of those 80s angst movies. 

Thank you.  I knew he reminded me of SOMEONE.  Duckie it is.  At least Sam managed to escape from the stylist this week and was wearing somewhat cool, normal clothing, and no stupid hat.  Funny, but he sang much better without a stupid hat on, too.

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Are we hearing what the judges are hearing? Because it is stunning to me that they're going on and on about Malaya as if she were the second coming. I don't just not hear what they hear;[/bad syntax] but I hear something pretty bad for much of the songs. Not all bad, but a lot of it. Maybe it's me or my speakers.

Slapout may win this thing and I wouldn't hate it.

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Why are the judges insisting that Caleb get out of his box, while they're just fine with Alex (in particular) singing a bunch of different songs the same damn way every time?

I assume that the theme was meant to illustrate for the viewers how a few of the contestants have improved, most of the crew are exactly the same (if somewhat better-

styled),and one is ready to hit the road home. Point taken, show, although 'most improved' hasn't really been a winning thing on this show for several years now.

(I'm surprised no one else reported that CJ was pre-empted by the president's comments about Ft.Hood, as happened in my city).

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I think Malaya did the best she could by arranging "Ain't No Way" with as few high notes as possible, but the best part of the song--the "I...need...you!" part--she still shrieked. (I love the song, btw, but only if you have the voice to perform it, which Malaya does not.) I have no idea why they're randomly throwing praise at her because she's not that good, but she does have a nice personality, so I'm not as annoyed as if it had been happening to Majesty who was always so full of herself despite having a limited range.

There weren't any trainwrecks, thankfully (except for the duets), but the only performance I liked was Jena's "Rolling in the Deep." I don't think Sam sounded as good as in his audition, but it was okay. Didn't care for Jessica's or Alex's original songs, and I've always hated "Chain of Fools" and Caleb didn't improve it.

The Sam/Malaya duet was hilarious in a bad way. They definitely looked like they were trying out for a high school recital. Loved how Malaya kept giving Sam the googly eyes and he just seemed terrified. Jena/Alex's duet was the only one I liked, but mostly for Jena's part (she improved on Pink, imo). I don't know why Alex couldn't look at her. It seemed like she was trying to create the chemistry for the song, but he kept looking down or closing his eyes.

Edited by TheGreenKnight
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CJ wasn't pre-empted in NY, Song of Roland, and I assume the same applies to the rest of the East Coast.

I suspect it has to do with the fact that Alex mixes up tempo and mood just enough that his song choices would make a good setlist, especially in the medium-size rooms indie singer/songwriters tend to play. But if Caleb tried to do a whole show without ever doing a slower, quieter number, his audience would just wear out their excitement half-way through, even in a huge arena, and go sullen on him. He doesn't need to change his STYLE, he just needs to show that he can handle some dynamic change in a setlist.

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Caleb has a big voice, so the song would have to be really slow and soft for him not to get loud.  Skyfall was a slow song for him and he kept it down the best he could, given the size of his voice, until the last 20 seconds or so.  Of course, I'd like to see another slower one from him, but I wonder why Harry didn't remember that one.  I like Caleb's consistency and stage presence.

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Poor bless his heart CJ - He's such a nice guy but he's so flipping out of tune all the time. Can't he hear it? He's a guitar teacher, can't he hear his pitch is off? It was worse when he sang with Dexter.

 

I don't understand when the judges keep saying he has a great voice and just needs to learn to sing on-key.  Doesn't having a good voice sort of mean you sing on-key? And can you really learn that? It seems that if you could hear the right key to begin with, you could sing it. Then again, I'm tone-deaf, so what do I know. It just seems that perhaps you should learn to sing on-key BEFORE you make it to AI's Top Eight.

Caleb & Jessica had the best duet mainly because they interacted and you believed them. Like them or not (I happen to love them both), they are both seasoned performers and it shows.

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Woot, Charlieboo in the house! :)  Good to see you and BTW get out of my head. My thoughts exactly all the way around. I think CJ is sweet and he has a certain something when he performs that is intriguing. But Good Lord Almighy, I agree -- you'd think folks would sing on key before making it to national primetime. Sheesh. That really seems like a given, doesn't it? WTF? And what the hell with Sam, so terrified? I'm waiting to cringe when he faints dead away and they call the paramedics.

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When JLo walked out on stage my first thought was it looked like she was wearing a maternity top and forgot to put on pants. Yikes. The styling was otherwise a major improvement for everyone else.

I thought it was a baby doll nightie,.

 

I loved Malaya's performance.

 

You just know that if Caleb sings a ballad they'll complain that he doesn't know who he is.

Edited by Rick Kitchen
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You just know that if Caleb sings a ballad they'll complain that he doesn't know who he is.

Harry pointed out (quite correctly) that singers like Robert Plant and Freddie Mercury did have "quiet" songs (not necessarily ballads).  You can be a "rock guy" keeping your identity and be less bombastic in your presentation.

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I think what was a major problem for 2 of those duets is that Alex has a girlfriend and Jessica has a boyfriend, but both were singing love songs so they tried to illustrate the lyrics of the songs by interacting with their duet partners, but probably didn't want to go too far with it since they have significant others in real life. Jillian Jensen would have been mad. :D But even though I think Jessica and Caleb tried to illustrate the lyrics of the song it just came off awkward because Jessica would do something like touch Caleb or make a facial expression and then be like "Oh wait boyfriend will get mad, so stop doing that now," and then she lost her connection and the whole thing just came off very forced from her end. Did not find it believable at all, just awkward. I felt like they should have looked at each other for the whole song but instead they kept looking towards the camera or audience. The song lost its meaning because of that. It was just a karaoke duet at that point.

Malaya tried her darndest with Sam but Sam of course is just so awkward and shy it came off completely awkward when one person is trying to play the role and the other stands there like a deer in headlights wishing he'd be run over.

 

I too am awaiting one of those obnoxious comments from the judges (it will probably be Harry) when Caleb does a ballad and then they will say that they miss his energy or something stupid like that. I hope maybe Caleb will do "Faithfully", he has a YouTube cover of it so he should already know it pretty well.

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Why are the judges insisting that Caleb get out of his box, while they're just fine with Alex (in particular) singing a bunch of different songs the same damn way every time?

 

Yeah I wonder why they haven't mentioned to Alex yet that he could stand to ditch the guitar for a week. What I don't get is that he says he plays like 11 or 12 instruments yet every week he only plays one. I wouldn't mind if he played an instrument each week as long as he played something besides guitar. This week, he gets a pass for it since he was playing his own song. But in the future I wish he would ditch the instruments all together for at least one performance. Just to show that he doesn't try to use it as a crutch. Everyone else has sung at least once without an instrument. It would also force him to move out from the mic stand instead of awkwardly marching in place or whatever it is that he does.

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Hey, sorry to ask here, but it's an active thread and someone will see it. How do I add friends? I didn't even know such a feature existed here and I still don't see it and why am I such an idiot?

Thanks.

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ari333, move your mouse over the posters name above their avatar and it will bring up a dropdown box (in this case a dropup box lol).  The "Add Friend" button it there.

Edited by onthebrink03
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You just know that if Caleb sings a ballad they'll complain that he doesn't know who he is.

Ah yes...the old "Step out of your comfort zone/you stepped out of your box!" conundrum that has been a part of this show since day one.  I think "Faithfully" would be a great one for him to do if there's ever a theme that allows him to choose it. 

 

I think what was a major problem for 2 of those duets is that Alex has a girlfriend and Jessica has a boyfriend, but both were singing love songs so they tried to illustrate the lyrics of the songs by interacting with their duet partners, but probably didn't want to go too far with it since they have significant others in real life.

I told my husband that if I were ever on this show singing a duet (or on DWTS), I'd play the hell out of it, because it's, like, you know.... a performance!  He agreed and said he'd do the same thing. It's not like a movie where they're doing a love scene.  Sorry...just a pet peeve of mine (and, of course, if they tried, there's no guarantee they'd look convincing, but still....).

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You just know that if Caleb sings a ballad they'll complain that he doesn't know who he is.

Exactly.  "You need to stay in your lane."  

What's always funny to me when they complain about them not "changing it up a bit" is that no one on that panel really does that.  I'm a huge fan of Keith Urban, but all his songs are pretty much the same vibe.  All of them.  He does know how to put on a hell of a concert, though (but I'm sure he didn't when he was 17).  J.Lo is pretty much one flavor.  And Harry Connick, Jr sticks to his very talented lane.  That's what people want!  They want JLo to be JLo.  They want predictable.  How many times have fans complained or gotten mad when their favorite band does something different? 

That being said, Caleb should probably sing a ballad.  ha.  I hope he sings "Beth" for the pure cheese factor.

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Well, that's the thing. They SHOULDN'T step out of their lane, not as such. But to put together a show, you have to mix up the pace, the song dynamics, you have to gear the audience up, and also give them some songs to sit back and rest. The differences between the songs can be huge and obvious or they can be more subtle, but they have to be there. And with such a high-energy vibe that Caleb has been bringing, he HAS to give an audience a couple of songs during which to sit back during any full-length show he puts on.

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Ugh.  That is all.

Seacrest, don't "congratulate" Sam on a "job well done."  His singing didn't save him tonight.  His age, looks and general maleness saved him.

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I'd disagree with that, Rhodinella. I think that, with HCJ at least, what saved him was Sam's obvious effort to make eye contact with audience members, as HCJ told him to do last night.

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Next week is '80s week so Caleb can do "Faithfully" Yay!

Exactly what I thought.  I'd be surprised if he didn't, since he told the judges he'd do something softer next week. 

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Yeah I wonder why they haven't mentioned to Alex yet that he could stand to ditch the guitar for a week. What I don't get is that he says he plays like 11 or 12 instruments yet every week he only plays one. I wouldn't mind if he played an instrument each week as long as he played something besides guitar. This week, he gets a pass for it since he was playing his own song. But in the future I wish he would ditch the instruments all together for at least one performance. Just to show that he doesn't try to use it as a crutch. Everyone else has sung at least once without an instrument. It would also force him to move out from the mic stand instead of awkwardly marching in place or whatever it is that he does.

 

For me it isn't so much about staying in a lane/box as it is mixing tempo.  Alex and Caleb both know who they are as performers and give us glimpses of that each week.  Where Alex has been more successful (in my opinion) is in his ability to change the pace and tone of his performances while remaining truthful to his artistic style.  Caleb, on the other hand has been dialed to ELEVEN! the entire competition (even his "quite" song ended up loud and shouty near the end) - I would like to see Caleb try a softer, quieter moment while remaining firmly in ensconced in his "rocker" roll.

 

And for what it's worth, Harry at one point did mention to Alex that a little variety would be good. 

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