February 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

2 Metro Detroiters attempt to crack 'American Idol's' Top 13

Southfield's Malaya Watson performs. (FOX via Getty Images)

The two Metro Detroit singers competing on this year’s “American Idol” made the first of this week’s two cuts during Tuesday’s episode. On Thursday, they’ll learn if America’s votes have put them through to this year’s Top 13.

Southfield’s Malaya Watson and Farmington Hills’ Jena Asciutto — now billed as Jena Irene — got to sing live on Tuesday’s episode, the first live episode of the season. In a new twist this year, only 10 of the top 15 singers got to actually sing; the other five were cut by the judges based on their performances in dress rehearsal.

Asciutto took on the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” and punched it up with her rocker vocals. Jennifer Lopez praised her “sultry” quality and told her she was one of her favorites in the competition.

Keith Urban complimented her for her confidence, her calm and her strong vocals.

“It comes across with a cool balance of everything I like in a performer,” he said.

Harry Connick Jr. said he appreciated the intensity of her performance, but questioned whether she knew what the song was about.

Watson, meanwhile, closed the show, and in a taped bit, she was shown working with former “Idol” contestant Chris Daughtry, who along with Adam Lambert acted as a mentor for the contestants this week.

“Your voice is stupid,” he told her. (It was meant as a compliment.)

Watson sang a wild, untamed version of Ray Charles’ “Hard Times,” which won the approval of the judges.

“Every time you get up there, for me, it’s just epic,” Lopez told her, while Urban celebrated her unique style. “You make glasses and braces look so cool, Malaya,” he said.

The Top 10 guys, which will be whittled down live from a pool of 15, perform on Wednesday’s live two-hour episode. Grand Rapids’ Maurice Townsend will be among the contestants gunning for one of those spots.


Farmington Hills' Jena Asciutto, billed as Jena Irene. (FOX)