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How the American Idol Judges Failed MK Nobilette

Let me just start by saying that of the American Idol -watching editors at TVGuide.com, I'm the MK Nobilette fan. Therefore, it pains me to say that she wasn't very...

MK Nobilette  | Photo Credits: Michael Becker / FOX

Let me just start by saying that of the American Idol-watching editors at TVGuide.com, I'm the MK Nobilette fan. Therefore, it pains me to say that she wasn't very good in her first live performance as a finalist.

I am, however, hoping she gets back into the groove. She may not be the strongest singer or most polished musician up there, but the warmth in her voice and her demeanor is very winning. MK can sell moody and dreamy like no other, and that is what gets me in her corner. Then again, I'm the kind of person who prefers Audrey Hepburn's imperfect singing on "Moon River" to her dubbed acrobatics in My Fair Lady (sorry Marni Nixon!).

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MK gets points for trying to show another side of herself with the more upbeat Allen Stone song "Satisfaction," but unfortunately, it didn't gel. I caught glimpses of potential and soul in there. MK can certainly switch things up a bit, but perhaps not that song, or not that song yet. I'm not saying she needs to do a woozy ballad or slowed-down cover each week (not that I'd complain), but when it comes to uptempo songs, her performance skills need to catch up.

MK needs guidance and practice, which is why it was particularly galling to hear the empty comments from the judges last week. All of them gave her softball critiques that focused a disproportionate amount on her makeover. It wasn't a simple, "You look nice this way. Now let's discuss your singing." Instead, much was made of her beauty (and yes, she looked awesome in the pink suit, but who cares?) and how her voice is generally solid. The critiques weren't specific about her actual performance, which is baffling. Since when does Harsh Harry get dazzled by looks enough to not point out something technical?

Some viewers and her fans were shocked when MK fell into the Bottom 3 during elimination, but I wasn't. The performance was simply lacking. It's clear that she's a favorite with the Idol judges, and if they want to keep her around -- because they like her, because she's the first openly gay contestant, because there are still more suit-cap combos we need to see, whatever the reason -- they need to give her real feedback. We're the most disappointed in Harry not telling it like it is. At the beginning of the season, he built a reputation for his brutal honesty but also specificity. We're fine if he's decided he doesn't want to be brutal anymore -- tact is our friend -- but up until last week, he had my respect for his integrity when it came to his commentary. Hell, both Alex and Majesty are my Top 2 right now, and Harry even had very pointed observations about each of them.

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In trying to be too kind, the judges may want to sway voters to keep MK around. But if they don't help her improve, she'll be gone anyway. I felt the voters last week got it exactly right. They saw through what was and wasn't said, and voted whom they reacted to. Only once MK fell to the bottom 3 did Keith finally give a piece of advice that rang true: Make that emotional connection, especially through the camera. Great, now Randy Jackson needs to do his job as mentor. Last week, he also fell into the trap about talking about how MK looked and moved on stage. What about the singing? What about the song choice?

So how about it judges? If you like MK as much as you seem to, let's step it up with the commentary. Whether or not she gets far at this point is difficult for me to predict (this season has been quite surprising so far except for last week's results), but I don't think anyone wants to rely on someone being worse each week in order to stay.

What did you think of MK's performance last week? The judges' comments? Who are your faves this season?

American Idol
airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.



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