Annie Barrett
March 27, 2014 AT 06:59 AM EDT

American Idol

TV Show
Reality TV
Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, Ryan Seacrest
Current Status
In Season

This week, 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!) Total stage domination 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.

Alex Preston, “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt: He really “chilled out” this song, man. Alex could’ve done what he did with this one on any given week. But I wasn’t too disappointed in his lack of spirit fingers for the theme, because who really wants to see Alex thrashing around onstage just because he’s supposed to? Frontmen come in all shapes and sizes and sounds. I enjoyed the complete overhaul he gave the song. Would Harry really want a guitar wizard who refuses to wear socks to try and sound more like Gwen Stefani? Nah. That’s not Alex. Alex was just being Alex.

I don’t think he’s in any danger, though singing first always leaves a contestant vulnerable. I really enjoyed listening to this. This might not make any sense, but the style reminded me of when I used to take whatever my favorite song was at the time during the mid-’90s and just sing it aimlessly to myself while doing my homework or waiting around in a parked car (I had a TERRIBLE childhood!) — rhythm and tune completely up to me, but because I already loved the song so much, there was still some sense to it, a hazy adherence to the original. I consider Alex to be a technical master of this “whatever” effect.

And then he RUINED that for me by admitting after his segment that up until this week, he hadn’t even been familiar with the song! Doiiiiiiii.

Majesty Rose, “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine: Nope! Sorry, girl. I really want Majesty to do well, but this did not help the case of the girl who’s twice been a member of the Stool Set. She basically cannot and should not be belting songs, and this one was a belter. So many notes were off, and she still looked terrified to me. The only person who looked more scared than Majesty during that song was her best friend in the audience! I think she’s out of her element.

I totally agree with Harry that Majesty could still pull out a killer performance that’ll surprise us all. I just don’t think tonight’s effort particularly forecasted that in any way, so she might never get the chance. I loved her outfit! I’m surprised Keith didn’t mention it. That crisp white wrap-romper (did not know that could be a thing), red pocket square, and tambourine? You could not ask for a cooler preschool teacher.

Dexter Roberts, “Boondocks” by Little Big Town: He’s such a freakin’ busybody! I can’t help but admire Dexter’s work ethic as he seems to have eight hands, one inside every job — tractor-fixin’, firefightin’, lifeguardin’, playin’ music, huntin’, fishin’, dog trainin’, and obviously goin’ to church every Sunday morning. This was a smart song choice, and for all of the judges’ repeated critiques that Dexter needs to do something, anything, to set himself apart from the original artists he chooses to cover, I can’t help but appreciate his overall competency and drive to do well. Something’s not clicking — he either doesn’t get what they’re asking for, or has zero ideas re: artistry — but at least he doesn’t totally suck. A ringing endorsement, right? Watch Idol!

Also, Dexter deserves much credit this week for having to stand around like a dummy during the Gummy Bear Stare and refrain from throwing some serious shade towards the judges’ antics.

Nice form.

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