The roll call of top ten American Idol hopefuls marched down the list of ecstatic youth without a hitch — until Ryan Seacrest announced Caleb Johnson. The big guy dashed across the stage and grabbed Seacrest in some kind of awkward bear hug lift. Cameras scrambled to shy away from the scene, leaving the screens of America momentarily myopic.
Leave it to Harry Connick, Jr., Superman entertainer/judge extraordinaire, to save the day. Finding himself a confused camera to stick his face in, Connick quipped that it didn’t take Ryan half a sec to go back to Ryan mode. We all knew exactly what he was talking about. That’s why Seacrest is numero uno among emcees. Even in such strained circumstances he never once lost his emcee/host cool, or that smooth, melifluous voice America has grown to love. Seacrest slid right in behind Connick’s comic reprieve saying, “I feel like a Christmas ornament.” By this time, between Connick and Seacrest’s intervention, the cameras had calmed down enough to go back to the herd, forgotten by the TV audience.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, five guys and five girls leaped, danced, and wiggled their way to the top ten stools, starting with Malaya Watson, followed by a grinning Ben Briley with his cap on straight and face-forward, and on to Emily Piriz, Alex Preston, Jessica Meuse, big guys Dexter Roberts and Caleb Johnson, Majesty Rose, M.K. Nobilette, and Sam Woolf.
But the excitement was not over, folks. Not by a long shot. Seacrest called five more contestants forward. No hitches this time. Most were so terror-stricken they could barely lift a guitar. First to be called was C. J. Harris, which set me yelling as he is probably my new favorite since they cut several of the others. I was disappointed, not in his beautiful, full-bodied voice, but in his less than stellar performance, which was wracked by nerves. Harry Connick said either C.J. or the band was out of sync, and they would give him the benefit of the doubt.
The star of the wild cards, and probably more than any girl sitting among the top ten, was seventeen-year-old Jena Irene. With only her keyboard, voice, emotion, youthful beauty, and expression, she wowed the audience and judges, Keith Urban calling it a really good use of her “moment”. That’s the way you do it, I wanted to shout at the girls who like to screech and scream and “give us a show”. Look at Jena and get a clue.
Spencer Lloyd still looked great, but his nerves were showing really bad. “That’s not what I wanted America to see,” said Jennifer Lopez sadly.
Next up was Bria Anai, who unfortunately wanted to “give us a show”, which she interpreted as blasting the audience with everything she didn’t have. Harry, also sadly, told her she was over the top, all over the place, and had overshot the mark.
Kristen O’Connor gave us an okay performance, though something sounded wrong about it all the way through. Keith called it good, though she struggled with key-change. Keith also told her how to correct that. I was disappointed for Kristen, too. I really liked her in her Hollywood performances and hoped she would make it through.
Well, she did make it through, as well as sweet C.J. Harris. Harris must have resigned himself to going home because when Jennifer first called his name he didn’t respond. It took Jennifer a couple of tries to get through his shock. Jena Irene, of course, was never in question. She sounded like a nightingale among jays.
So now we have our Top 13 in spite of the Great Camera Stampede of 2014. And may the best singer mooove on up to be the new American Idol.