‘American Idol’ Recap: Finalists Take On Top 10 Hits With Mixed Results

Malaya Watson, Caleb Johnson stand out while MK Nobilette, Jessica Meuse falter.

“American Idol” ‘s top 10 tackled songs from the top 10 on Wednesday, trying their hand at Billboard‘s biggest hits from 2011 to the present.

Contestants took on songs from One Direction, Zedd and Avicii, and the performances ranged from strong (Malaya Watson) to extremely shaky (MK Nobilette).

Here’s a look at how the night unfolded.

Malaya, Caleb Lead The Pack
The last time Malaya Watson took on a Bruno Mars song, she landed in the bottom three. But Watson did Mars again on Wednesday and was on point, delivering a solid, heartfelt and emotional version of “When I Was Your Man.”

The judges were preoccupied with the song’s gender specificity — Jennifer Lopez admitted, “I was ready to kind of hate on you” for the song choice — but Watson’s sincerity shone through. “Well done for leaving it the way it was,” Keith Urban told her.

Caleb Johnson also stood out, taking on a powerhouse female singer — this time, Lady Gaga — for the second week in a row. Even though the band didn’t match his fire, which is a problem with nearly every performance this year, his version of Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” was a winner, earning Johnson “an A for originality” from sourpuss judge Harry Connick Jr. Lopez wasn’t as impressed, however, knocking Johnson for lacking feeling and “showing off vocally.”

On a singing competition, can you imagine that?

One Direction, Hunter Hayes Get Covered
One Direction got the “American Idol” treatment for the first time Wednesday when Alex Preston tried “Story of My Life” on for size. It was a good fit, and Preston’s fears that he would upset the mighty Directioners were unfounded. Connick told him he’s leading the pack with his artistry.

C.J. Harris’ version of Hunter Hayes’ “Invisible” wasn’t as good, and Harris continued to slide down into the dreaded middle-of-the-pack abyss. He was dinged hard for singing sharp, with Connick giving him a strict talk on how he’s not staying in tune in his performances, like a teacher lecturing a student in front of the class.

“Idol” Goes Electronic
On a night of firsts for “Idol,” Jena Irene, singing Zedd and Foxes’ “Clarity,” became the first “Idol” contestant to yell, “Everyone get those glowsticks up!” She was comfortable onstage and vocally on target, even if the band didn’t match her, but the highlight of her performance came during her critique when Connick talked about attending Miami’s Ultra Music Festival. We always knew Harry was a closet raver.

Majesty Rose also took on a popular EDM song, but went in the other direction with Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” singing it like a folk song and leaving the electronic elements out of it. The song was straightforward, possibly too much so, and Lopez harped on her for letting her fear after landing in last week’s bottom three rattle her at the beginning of her performance.

Sam, Dexter Stuck In Middle
Sam Woolf, who also found himself facing elimination last week, closed the show with fun.’s “We Are Young,” but he failed to break out of the box he’s placed himself in. He still seems shy when he performs, as if he’s afraid he’s going to wake up his parents who are asleep in the next room.

Dexter Roberts, meanwhile, has yet to prove he’s anything more than Competent Country Guy, hand-delivering Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” just as you’d hear Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” on the radio or at any tailgate across America. You probably wouldn’t want to face Roberts in a karaoke competition, but he has yet to show he’s anything more than a mimic.

MK, Jessica Fall Flat
MK Nobilette, who last week gave perhaps the best performance of the season, fell flat on her face with her show-opening version of Pink’s “Perfect.” Some performers don’t know what to do with their hands when they’re onstage, but Nobilette’s problem is she doesn’t seem to know what to do with her hands, her arms, her legs or her feet, and the whole thing came off as incredibly, painfully awkward. Having been in the bottom three twice before, she may find herself out of luck this week.

And Jessica Meuse has run out of goodwill. Her take on Foster the People’s sly “Pumped Up Kicks” was lifeless, presented in the same monotone delivery she uses every week, and she missed the point of the song altogether. Meuse hasn’t been in the bottom three yet, but that could change soon.

One contestant goes home on Thursday (March 20). The results show will feature performances by Jennifer Lopez and Royal Teeth.

What did you think of “Idol” on Wednesday? Who do you think is headed home? Let us know in the comments!