American Idol Puts Spin on Florida Georgia Line

Since when is Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” a ballad?

Since American Idol contestant Dexter Roberts nailed it on Wednesday night’s (March 19) show.

The Top 10 finalists had to perform a Top 10 song from the last few years, so the choices were everywhere from a stylistic standpoint.

But it was Roberts’ performance that stood out to me. And I think it’s safe to say it stood out to Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez, too. (Harry Connick Jr. called it “bereft of joy,” but he was outnumbered.) The Alabama farmhand chose to turn the up-tempo song into a piano-heavy ballad. Eventually, he brought up the pace, but he really made it his own by slowing it down and keeping a sparse instrumentation.

“What I really liked about it was what you did at the beginning,” Urban told Roberts when he finished. “It’s tricky, man. We either do it exactly like it’s done and sound like we’re copying, or we change it and people go, ’Oh, what did you do to that song?'”

Urban also liked the performance because “your artistry tells me who you are.”

Lopez liked his take on the tune, too, but thought Roberts could have done a bit more rallying of the crowd.

“That is your opportunity to get them on the ride with you,” she said. “Get them clapping, doing something. You gotta keep the crowd with you.”

Before he tackled the song, Roberts admitted song choice is the ticket.

“If you don’t go out there and do your homework and find a song that fits you, you’re screwed,” he said.