American Idol: C.J. Harris ignites a comeback for Idol contestants

American Idol recap: On Wednesday night, the final 11 American Idol contestants took on songs from movies. C.J. Harris's performance seemed to ignite a flame in many of the contestants, resulting in the strongest week of performances since the show began.

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Contestant C.J. Harris poses at the party for the finalists of American Idol in West Hollywood, Calif., February 20, 2014.

On Wednesday night, the remaining 11 American Idol contestants took on the theme, "Songs of the Cinema," which apparently inspired Jennifer Lopez to come out dressed like the Pink Panther.

With so many contestants failing to connect to the audience last week, was there any hope that the movie-inspired music would give them a little boost of the emotion and drama that was sorely lacking last week? The odds didn't seem that good until C.J. Harris performed and kicked off a Season 13 comeback! Can you call it a comeback, when it's really the first time all the American Idol contestants did well?

Sam Woolf: Sam opted to sing, "Come Together," by The Beatles. Sam tried to add a little edge to his persona after all his fellow contestants teased him about living in a retirement community with his Granddad as a wingman. The satin blazer and black jeans added a touch of coolness to Sam's performance but the arrangement of the song was a touch painful. The judges liked that Sam is loosening up but Jennifer Lopez was looking for a big rock star not "baby rock star." B-

Jessica Meuse: If any Idol needed to make a comeback after last week, it was Jessica. She hoped to strike last week's bland, wooden performance from the viewers' memories with a rendition of Simon and Garfunkel's, "Sound of Silence," which she called a deep and introspective song. Jennifer had hoped that Jessica would have wowed the audience more, especially since she's been touting her extensive experience performing. Harry Connick Jr. noted that the band made a mistake but he appreciated that Jessica stayed focused. Chances are, the viewers won't appreciate that focus as much as they would have appreciated just a touch of levity to her performance and her persona. C+

C.J. Harris: Our boy from Alabama (or one of them) opted to sing, "Can't You See," from the movie "Blow." Within the first few notes his girlfriend was in tears and Jennifer was flinging her pink self around like a maniac. It was much stronger than his last few performances and the judges loved it. Harry said that C.J. sang himself back into the forefront of the competition. A-

Dexter Roberts: Dexter decided to shock all of America by choosing a song that no one would have ever expected. Just kidding. Dexter selected, "Sweet Home Alabama," because when the judges hinted that he was predictable and unoriginal this was obviously the best course of action. The judges liked his performance but reiterated that Dexter needs to differentiate himself, otherwise he's just doing covers. Some would argue that mumbling through the song is Dexter's own unique touch. B

Ben Briley: Ben grew up with Elton John; well, not really with Elton himself but with Elton's music, so "Bennie and The Jets," was the natural choice for him. What wasn't as natural was seeing Ben cleaned up and "playing" the piano. Jennifer was trying to get her head around Ben's transition from country to Elton in one week. Harry said the performance seemed kind of pointless and all the judges were sharing in the confusion. C+

Majesty Rose: Majesty decided to, "Let It Go," by performing the Oscar-winning song of the same name, from "Frozen." What is she letting go? Well, the chance of someone perceiving her as an adult, for one. The bobby socks didn't help matters and her vocals didn't do her any favors either. Harry, apparently weakened by the exhausting work of judging, seemed to experience a break with reality when he said the performance was strong. The other judges were less convinced but no one seemed to share my experience of rolling around on the floor, begging for the sound to stop. D

Caleb Johnson: Caleb elected to sing, "Skyfall," from the movie of the same name and it was a refreshing break from his usual schtick. Keith Urban agreed and was impressed by Caleb's versatility and Harry said it was fantastic and that the competition didn't really start until last night. A-

MK Nobilette: After a rather dismal performance last week, MK tried to make us feel her love this week with, "To Make You Feel My Love," from Harry's movie, "Hope Floats." If there was an award for most improved, MK took the cake Wednesday night. She was almost riveting and the judges agreed with Jennifer comparing her to K.D. Lang. A-

Alex Preston: Alex sang, "Falling Slowly," from the movie, "Once." (On a side note, does anyone else think that Alex sounds a little like Adam Sandler when he sings?) He chose a great song and performed it beautifully. Harry said he was very proud of Alex and Keith called him "raw and fragile" and loves his artistry. A

Jena Irene: Choosing the Paramore song "Decode" from Ryan Seacrest's favorite movie, "Twilight," Jena kept the excitement of the show going strong. Her performance at the piano was powerful and dynamic and brought Keith and Jen to their feet. She also looked incredible! A-

Malaya Watson: Dreamgirls had a big impact on Malaya so she closed out the show with, "I Am Changing."  Although the performance felt a little "pageanty," (this is Malaya, after all) she had a really strong vocal and handled the big song remarkably well. The judges loved her and predicted that with time Malaya would only get better. B+


Overall, it was a stronger week than most of these contestants have had since the audition rounds. But when some shine it makes the gaps in talent all the more obvious. This week my senses are telling me that these three will find themselves in the bottom:

  1. Majesty Rose
  2. Jessica Meuse
  3. Ben Briley

What did you think about the performances this week? Is anyone ready to agree with Harry's far-fetched argument that this is the best talent of any season? Sound off in the comments below!

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