Annie Barrett
March 26, 2014 AT 12:00 PM EDT

On Wednesday the Top 9 had to pretend they were at the forefront of a band. (Which they are anyway, every week, at least if they wanna be!) The task was much easier said than done for a lot of ’em. Meanwhile, Harry Connick Jr. ran up onstage to steal Ryan Seacrest’s shoe and shared a giant purple gummy bear (seriously? at least get red) with Jennifer Lopez. Later, she swore, but the five-second delay zapped it out of existence. Was it an s-bomb or an f-bomb or another rendition of “I Luh Ya Papi”? We’ll never know. Anyway, there was a LOT of time to fill. Two hours, nine contestants. You do the math/eat the sugar.

Below is my ranking of the Top 9 after just a first listen. Leave your own ranking in the comments, and stay tuned for my full recap later on! Update: Here’s the recap!


Set list: THE TOP 9 sing ‘I’M WITH THE BAND’

9. Majesty Rose, “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine

8. Dexter Roberts, “Boondocks” by Little Big Town

7. C.J. Harris, “If It Hadn’t Been For Love” by The Steeldrivers: tk

6. Sam Woolf, “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s (pictured)

5. Alex Preston, “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt

4. Jessica Meuse, “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac

3. Jena Irene, “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence

2. Malaya Watson, “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles

1. Caleb Johnson, “Dazed and Confused” by Led Zeppelin

Alex’s “chilled out” No Doubt cover didn’t quite make sense with the “command the stage!!!” mandate of the evening, but I enjoyed listening to it. Jessica has very nearly shed all the prickliness I perhaps mistakenly came to associate with her and she did seem more comfortable onstage, as Keith said. Poor Majesty still looks terrified. C.J.’s got so much heart but is so very often off-key! Sam sounds great but is booooooring. Jena earns bonus points for the headbanging.

Have I ranked Malaya’s lullaby too high? She and Caleb have the biggest voices for me, so as long as she doesn’t screw up, I am so rooting for her.

I could go on and on. I guess that’s what the recap‘s for! Rank ’em yourselves, below.

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