'American Idol' XIII Top 4: Jena Irene's Elvis cover tops a very strong night
Anyway, the theme tonight is break-ups and make-ups, with each singer performing three songs. Let's dive right in ...
1. Caleb Johnson, "You Give Love a Bad Name," Bon Jovi
I'm actually surprised he hasn't done any Bon Jovi so far this season, but then he starts singing and I can kind of see why -- Caleb's voice is almost too rock for this. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Bon Jovi, but this song is making him sound too pretty. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? It sounds crazy, but the best parts are when he starts shouting outside the melody line. But the rest of it is a little too ... clean. It's not bad, of course, but it's lacking a little for me until he lets loose.
Either way, there's no reason why Caleb shouldn't be Top 3. He should probably win this, in all honesty. But that just wasn't my favorite of his. I'm with Keith -- it really didn't get next-level awesome for me until Caleb made it his own at the end.
2. Jessica Meuse, "Since You Been Gone," Kelly Clarkson
So, I am pleasantly surprised by this. I thought this was a terrible choice for Jessica's intricate country voice, but she busts out some mad rock/pop chops on this one and I end up really loving it. Clarkson is not easy to sing at all and Jessica pretty much nails it. I hate the ending, that one little "here's the thing" line, but I get that it's hard to end a song like that in a situation like this. But overall, pretty solid by Jessica.
3. Alex Preston, "Too Close," Alex Clare
I find him writing the lyrics on his hand to be ridiculous and not cute, do other people think that's cute and/or funny? Because, no -- just learn the words. Anyway, vocally this is good. Alex does his Alex thing and sounds great. I could be wrong, but I feel like the last spot in the Top 3 is going to be between Jessica and Alex (I think Caleb and Jena are shoo-ins), so this is good, but maybe a little quiet after Jessica's rocking out. I would give Round 1 to Jessica. Alex is a terrific musician, but I just didn't see more from Alex here, whereas I saw more from Jessica than we've seen from her before.
That being said, I could be totally wrong about who has the Top 3 spots sewn up, so maybe it's not Alex vs. Jessica for the final slot. But that's my opinion.
4. Jena Irene, "Heartbreaker," Pat Benetar
Terrific, terrific choice. Wonderful. Best song choice in the first half of the show by a mile. And Jena totally nails it. This is right in her wheelhouse, she's strong, sassy, right on pitch and really showing off her pipes. This just helps cement my feelings about her and Caleb being Top 3 locks.
I love the way Keith Urban was jamming out to the bridge -- that's my favorite part too, the drums are spectacular. But I do disagree with his assessment of her performance, I think Jena was totally into it, 100 percent.
5. Caleb Johnson, "Travelin' Band," Creedence Clearwater Revival
Love me some CCR and Caleb is perfect to cover their songs. There are moments when he sounds so much like John Fogarty that it's scary. This suits his voice so much more than Bon Jovi, I'm so glad he got to sing this song second. But yeah, I have nothing else to say. I was enjoying this so much I barely wrote a word. Really well done. I'd love to hear him do some "Born on the Bayou" or "Fortunate Son" or "Down on the Corner."
6. Jessica Meuse, "So What?," Pink
Huh. So Jessica decided to go full-on rocker punk chick this week. I dig it. She actually handles this song really well, no cheating on the low notes that a lot of women can't hit squarely. But yeah, this is dynamic and sassy, though she still has the problem of not quite knowing what to do with herself when she doesn't have her guitar. But I applaud her stepping out from behind her guitar at times.
Interestingly, all the judges think neither of Jessica's songs were right for her. Well, they aren't perfect for her the way Stevie Nicks' songs are, but they weren't wrong for her either. I like that she showed off a different style, but that is just me, apparently.
7. Jena Irene, "Bad Romance," Lady Gaga
I hate this song choice for Jena. There are Gaga songs she could absolutely pull off, but this slowed-down rocker arrangement is too weird, plus she's singing it like a soaring anthem, like she's still in "Heartbreaker" mode. This song needs more grit coupled with an EDM beat, this is like if Journey sang Gaga or something. Yikes. Jena needs to a good rebound for song three, because this is pretty weak.
8. Alex Preston, "I'm Yours," Jason Mraz
It's about time he performed this song, right? Really strong choice for him. If the voters agree with the judges that they don't like Jessica Meuse's songs tonight, Alex may have just taken a Top 3 spot with this performance. He doesn't do much to it that's outside the original, but he does a great job covering the original and people love this song, so it was a great choice.
9. Caleb Johnson, "Maybe I'm Amazed," Paul McCartney
Interesting choice for him to slow things down, but he really nails it. What's nice about this song is it's a beautiful ballad, but it's also kind of rock -- leave it to Sir Paul, right? But yeah, as J-Lo keeps saying, Caleb is going to be hard to beat for the title. He's just so good. He can sing anything.
10. Jessica Meuse, "You & I," Lady Gaga
Now this is more like it. I liked her first two choices, but this sounds like the kind of song Jessica would release, whereas the first two sounded more like fun covers of songs that aren't really in her lane. Also, this is how you do Gaga and make it your own, Jena. Sorry, babe. Either way, Jessica kills this. She's so, so good and wow, she has made this such a race.
11. Jena Irene, "Can't Help Falling In Love," Elvis Presley
I would never in a million years have guessed she would sing this, but it's a wonderful bounce-back from that atrocious Gaga debacle. Jena is always the strongest at the piano, in my opinion, and to top it all off, the vocal is flawless. There is so much emotion and she's doing wonderful things with her dynamics. This and Jessica's Gaga are tied for my favorite performances of the night, wow. The stuff she does at the end? Tears. So good.
12. Alex Preston, "Yellow," Coldplay
Good choice for him, but honestly? I think it could have been a little better. There are a few bum notes here and there and he also doesn't really do anything interesting or new with the song. I'm a little surprised they didn't have him go second-to-last and let Jena go last with her "Can't Help Falling in Love."
I know I may be in the minority, but I just don't love Alex's whole schtick. However, that's personal preference -- I'm not bagging on his talent, because he's obviously very talented.
I think my assessment that Caleb and Jena have Top 3 spots locked down was correct and now it'll come down to whether the voters prefer Jessica or Alex. I prefer Jessica, but it's personal taste. They're both great and it's no shame to go home at this point because everybody really brought their A game this week.
Which singers have your votes, "Idol" fans?