Posted: 5:53 pm Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

‘American Idol’ top 8 performance recap: audition song refrain 

By Rodney Ho

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: L-R: Jena Irene and Alex Preston perform on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Wednesday, April 2 (8:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Frank Micelotta / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: L-R: Jena Irene and Alex Preston perform on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Wednesday, April 2 (8:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Frank Micelotta / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

This year’s producers have tried to change up the themes this season to shake things up and maximize success for the singers.

No more narrower Motown, country or Billy Joel themes. Instead, they’ve gone as broad as possible. They’ve had songs since 2010, songs that involve a band and this week, the same songs they sang during their audition week.

The reason these eight singers are even here was because they nailed their song choice and performance before the judges at the audition cities. How could they blow songs they’ve practiced umpteenth times already?

As a result, this theme worked like a charm. The singers simply had to take these tunes and make them work with a band. For the second week in a row, nobody bombed.

So how will this play out? The three weakest to date of the remaining singers have been Sam Woolf, Dexter Roberts and CJ Harris. But it’d be shocking if the bottom three are all guys.

Of the three, Dexter had the best performance. So it’s going to be Sam, CJ and a woman.

I feel CJ is in the weakest position right now. He sang second. That’s historically a poor place to be. Fewer people watch the first hour. Then again, the impact of placement is lesser now since people can vote before the show is over.

But CJ has had quite a few weaker performances to date and has been critiqued a lot about his pitch issues. He was good tonight though I’m not sure that song will really encourage people to vote.  I predict he will go home.

Which female is going to be in the bottom three? I have no idea. I’ll just say Jessica because she has yet to be in the bottom three yet. I know. That makes no sense. She performed first and sang an original, which may or may not help her. It could just as easily be Malaya or Jena, too. Both have been in the bottom three before. Tough call.

My favorite of the night: Alex’s original song was complex and bracing.

Here’s my ranking of the top 8: 1. Alex 2. Malaya 3. Caleb 4. Dexter 5. Jessica 6. Sam 7. Jena  8. CJ

Of the four duets, the Caleb/Jessica was the best, the Caleb/Dexter combo by far the worst, as in an off-the-rails train wreck.

Jessica Meuse (“Blue Eyed Lie” original) – An impressive start, a good song for her voice. It’s very bluesy, very intense. Keith loved it but felt she could have moved a wee bit more below the shoulders. Grade: A-minus

CJ Harris (“Soul Shine” Allman Brothers) -  If CJ goes home, he will at least go home on a good note. He picked this song because it fits his limited range and works his bluesy style. And he was more on pitch this time than usual. Still, Allman Brothers aren’t exactly my bag. I may not remember this in 30 minutes time. JLo said he touches people. HCJ said it’s clear he’s worked on pitch and intonation. Grade: B-plus

Jena and Alex (“Just Give Me a Reason” Pink/Nate Russ) – I appreciate that Jena went for different notes and phrasing than Pink. And Alex did his thing, too. It was intriguingly off-kilter compared to the original. Grade: B/B-plus

Sam Woolf (“Lego House” Ed Sheeran) – He opts for a slower version than the one he did in the audition. And it works well vocally. He chose this song in the first place so he seems to connect with it better than some he’s done live before. But he’s not Ed Sheeran connected. He needs to live more, have some tough life experiences to add real texture to his singing. Grade: B-plus

Caleb and Jessica (“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” – Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty) – Jessica looks more comfortable than normal being able to work with a pro like Caleb. Both sound good, too. Grade: A-minus/A

Malaya Watson (“Ain’t No Way” Aretha Franklin) – She is gaining poise, as J. Lo said. She feels her music (unlike Sam) and is sounding stronger and better each week. HCJ: “You’re doing everything is right. You’re entertaining. You’re performing. I’m going to give you the same piece of advice…; get them to teach you when you sing runs, make sure you learn all the notes.” Grade: A/A-minus

Dexter Roberts (“One Mississippi” Brett Eldredge) – He handles ballads better than upbeat anthemic songs. I don’t know why he keeps opting for the latter. This showcases his ability to sing an emotional slow piece with decent feeling. His best live performance to date.  J. Lo noted we got to hear some interesting nuances in his voice she hadn’t heard in weeks. HCJ likes how he complemented the musicianship behind him. “It was great to hear you sing,” he said. “Perfect song for you to sing.” Grade: A-minus/B-plus

Malaya and Sam (“Lucky” Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz) – This sounds like really really cutesy. I can’t say their voices melded particularly well but they did as well as they could, even without any chemistry. Grade: B

Jena Irene (“Rolling in the Deep” Adele) – She totally changed the arrangement to a slow lounge jam. I’m not sure she conveys the proper sultriness to make it really work.  It’s certainly risky and interesting. Not an epic failure but not a win either. Keith loved it and deemed it bold. J. Lo didn’t actually provide a critique. Grade: B

CJ and Dexter (“Alright” Darius Rucker) – Often off key and the harmonies were not harmonious. Atl all. Grade: C

Caleb Johnson (“Chain of Fools” Aretha Franklin) – He gave this R&B classic a rock edge and did a fine job as always. “A rock and roll viking!” Keith said. HCJ: “I would love for you to do something so loud for once.”

Alex Preston (“Fairytales” original) – This is a sophisticated, rueful song he wrote as a teen. Impressive! And he sings it with all his heart. HCJ: “I like the fact you did an original. You were shakin’ that vibratto out.” Grade: A

686 comments
Deenie
Deenie

Sam ... the new Ricky Nelson.  :-)

LisaJones34
LisaJones34

Anyone want to guess on how bad the Thursday night ratings are going to be? My guess is a 1.8 rating ( the worst ever ) and 7.87 million viewers the worst ever. What is your guess?

Deenie
Deenie

Can NOT believe C.J. got another week's pass. 

Deenie
Deenie

GOOD JOB JUDGES!!!!! 

FarTrain
FarTrain

Somebody mentioned Carol King earlier.  A great song for Jess, in light of recent CA happenings would be "I Feel the Earth Move" by CK.  Or the one someone else mentioned "Landslide" by the Dixie Chicks.  Wonder if anyone would catch on and maybe chuckle?  Bet HCJ would.

MercedesS
MercedesS

After last night's performances, my revised Idol list now looks like this:

1. Jessica (because of her own song AND the great duet with Caleb)

2. Alex (also sang his own song, beautifully)

3. Malaya (the voice is there, the style is coming)

4. Caleb (already a professional)

5. Sam (a bit wooden, yes, but  voice is pure and this Pinocchio might turn into a real boy yet) 

6. Jena (the me me me bit is getting tiresome)

7. Dexter (just not my kinda music)

8. CJ (just not)

KenPereyda
KenPereyda

Found a song great for Her voice, Sheena Easton " For Your Eyes Only " for Jena

Jenny11
Jenny11

Last couple for Caleb:  Def Leppard - "Love Bites", or Van Halen - "And The Cradle Will Rock"

(Have you seen Junior's grades?? :-) 

I'd prefer Dance The Night Away or Love Walks In - just not sure if those would fit him, though.

Jenny11
Jenny11

A few more I thought of for Jessica:  

Carly Simon's "Jesse" or "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be"
Helen Reddy's "Angie Baby" or "Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady".  

Highlander1
Highlander1

I'll be out with my lovely Heather and some friends tonight so I'll catch up on DVR and the blog later. Y'all enjoy!

KenPereyda
KenPereyda

Trying to think of a good song for Sam, for his voice to stretch him some

Jenny11
Jenny11

Since several have now mentioned Eagles songs for Caleb... how about The Last Resort?

"And we'll provide the grand design... what is yours and what is mine...
Cause there is no more new frontier,
We have got to make it here. 
We satisfy our endless needs, and justify our bloody deeds
In the name of destiny, and in the name of God.

And you can see them there, on Sunday morning...
Stand up and sing about
What it's like up there...
They call it paradise,
I don't know why
Call someplace paradise... kiss it goodbye...."


Highlander1
Highlander1

Rodney, the show might be slipping but it looks like your Idol blog is still rockin'!  645 comments on this thread!

KenPereyda
KenPereyda

Caleb might also like Love Hurts, by Nazareth

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

Of course, it's "Hey Mickey", but y'all know me and my names!!!

Jen:  Actually I've been waiting for weeks for Caleb to do Meatloaf - and just forgot it today. "Two out of Three.." would be great. I would even love "Love by the Dashboard Lights" (parts of it, not the baseball countdown, though that part is hilarious). I totally adore the Meatloaf of old.

I'm closing out for now - let us hope someone we don't like goes home - of course with our mixed bag, that could be any one of them. I'm pulling for country boy.

Jenny11
Jenny11

And I don't like Dexter, but since everyone keeps saying he needs to slow it down, how about "Bless The Broken Road", "Drugs or Jesus", or "Live Like You Were Dying" (Not the Chris Allen pop song, but the much better Tim McGraw country song: "I went sky divin', Rocky Mountain climbin', I went four point seven seconds on a bull called Fu Manchu...")

Jenny11
Jenny11

And actually, there are several Meat Loaf songs I'd love to hear from Caleb: 

For Crying Out Loud

You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad


And for Jena, some Heart:

What About Love

These Dreams


Anyone who tweets and likes those ideas, feel free to send them. 

Jenny11
Jenny11

I don't tweet, but Dan John, I LOVE your choices.  Can you tweet the first four twice for me?  Desperado for Caleb, New Orleans Ladies for Sam, You're So Vain for Jessica, and Drift Away for... hmmm.. really several of them could do Drift Away, but Alex would be fine, just as long as someone does it. 

Deenie
Deenie

@LisaJones34 Well .... if the ratings could be measured by how many of us are blogging tonight, I imagine tonight's Idol ratings are going to be low.  I wouldn't watch but I feel invested in a couple of them, i.e. Jena and Jessica .... yeh .... Caleb, too. 

JTesla
JTesla

I just had an 80's flashback, now I can't get Roger Moore's James Bond out of my head.

Jenny11
Jenny11

Or, think she could pull off "Me and Bobby McGee"?  That might be a good one.

KenPereyda
KenPereyda

Or Mott the Hoople, All the Young dudes

RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

@Highlander1 Glad to see the remaining fans are still engaged - somewhere! 

Jenny11
Jenny11

@Sam-A1 - yes, I like "Paradise" too, but it's not quite as anthemic as my fave 3.  Would be good, though!

Highlander1
Highlander1

@Sam-A1 All this talk about 'Hey, Mickey' made me think of Tommy Tutone's 'Jenny'. Anytime some cashier (or anyone else who has no business asking) asks me for my phone number, I tell them, "770-867-5309". ...I've only been caught a few times.

I've also started answering my cell phone with, "Uh, this is Jake from State Farm", when it's an unknown number!

MercedesS
MercedesS

@Jenny11 No no no. And no. No Heart for Jena. She's not worthy. I now see her as artificial.

Highlander1
Highlander1

@Jenny11 Yes, Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad for Caleb. Perfect fit for him and perfect choice for HCJ's wish list.

DanJohn
DanJohn

@Jenny11 I don't think Jena could pull off a song by Heart. The only Idol contestant to do so was Carrie Underwood.

KenPereyda
KenPereyda

@Jenny11 perfect song  for Caleb, I was thinking about that song for him or some other Eagle song and any song by carol king  for jess

Jenny11
Jenny11

@Highlander1 - gee, thanks for posting my phone number, 867-5309.  I was TRYING to keep it private.  ;-) 

Jenny11
Jenny11

@MercedesS  I didn't watch last night.  Was it that bad?  Yikes. 

Regardless, I just want to hear Heart.  :-)

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DanJohn - Oh, I know... I wasn't worried about whether she could pull it off... I just want to hear those two songs done on Idol, and she's the closest bet to picking them.  :-)

Jenny11
Jenny11

@KenPereyda - Thanks, but I can't take credit for that one... Dan John came up with it.  :-)  Though you are right, Eagles in general would be good for Caleb! 

Jenny11
Jenny11

@KenPereyda Yep, that's another good one.  She and Caleb seem to be the easiest ones to pick songs for.  

Jenny11
Jenny11

@Highlander1 

What?  No.  Really?

Is that why I get so many wrong numbers?  ;-)