American Idol
Season 13, 12 Finalists Perform

Episode Report Card
M. Giant: B- | 16 USERS: C-
YOU GRADE IT
"Home" Runs… Not

The pre-credits sequence remembers to re-humiliate Kristen O'Connor for her exit last week and then there's a montage of the remaining Top 12 -- both on the show and in their younger days -- with the names of their hometowns on the screen. I'm not getting them all now, but don't worry, I assume we'll see the names of all those towns again as we work our way through the evening.

Ryan comes out and works the crowd, posing in group selfies with the audience because he's got his finger on the pulse, y'all. He introduces the top twelve on the couches, and the judges who enter upstage. And yes, Jennifer forgot her pants again. Harry returns Ryan's compliment about how good the judges look, and as always when he compliments Ryan it's hard to tell if he's taking the piss. Ryan reminds us that this week's theme is "Home," which is also one of the better X-Files episodes ever. Ryan interviews the judges, making sure to call Harry "Junior," and says voting is already open. I think we can call make an informed decision now, don't you?

Jena Irene (Farmington Hills, MI) is starting us off tonight with KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See" because she remembers listening to it in the car on road trips with her family. Maybe "Home" isn't the best theme for someone for Detroit, which must be why Jena's singing something that reminds her of getting away from it. She talks about how supportive her family is, which probably includes them consistently pronouncing her name correctly. Before hitting the stage, she chats with Ryan and -- like all of the finalists -- gets the pre-song splitscreen window that was wasted on Randy Jackson last week. That's a step in the right direction. The balance of the screen will focused on each singer's family members present in the audience, in case anyone but that singer cares. Anyway the singing. This is a quick, bouncy song, which doesn't really fit with Jena's usual M.O. of singing every note with her whole head because there's no lingering on the notes, but it's not bad or anything. Keith likes her stage presence and doing something new, but wasn't sure about the song choice for her. Jennifer thinks any song lets her show off her tone, which as we saw is not especially correct. Harry liked it but wanted more energy, especially on the two and four. More rich tone! More bounciness! Do what you just did, but better and different!

Alex Preston of Mount Vernon, New Hampshire gets to show off his painful awkwardness in an edited interview segment, talking about his small-town home an hour from Boston. He's singing "I Don't Want to Be" by Gavin DeGraw, who Alex once shared a bill with in Boston and who gave Alex some positive feedback at the time. Alex hits the stage rocking an electric-blue suit (with capris as always, because apparently he's just too tall to be able to find pants that fit) and an off-white Stratocaster, which he starts right off scratching at like a mellower Stevie Ray Vaughn while singing the song. He appears to have taken last week's advice, seeming less in his own head and actually directing his eyes at the audience for long stretches at a time, but his singing isn't quite as captivating as usual. Jennifer likes the suit, including the pants (which are rolled up, meaning he wants them to look that way), but she didn't dig the arrangement or the vocal all that much. Harry appreciates how he ended on the nine again, and thinks he's better at the intimate, introspective stuff than what he did tonight, and agrees with Jennifer that he was a little overpowered by the arrangement. But he also liked how Alex stretched out some. Now if he would only stretch out his pants. Keith thought it was a little unstable, and he noticed some breath and pitch issues at the end of phrases, but he's still all over Alex's originality. Alex admits to Ryan that he was less nervous and outside his comfort zone, but he's glad he did it. He'll be fine.

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American Idol

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