Posted: 6:06 pm Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

‘American Idol’ top 7 performance recap 

By Rodney Ho

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: L-R: Ryan Seacrest and  Caleb Johnson sing together on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Thursday, April 16 (8:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX.  CR: Frank Micelotta / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: L-R: Ryan Seacrest and Caleb Johnson sing together on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Thursday, April 16 (8:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Frank Micelotta / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

The theme tonight seemed rife with potential sabotage: the contestants picked songs for their fellow singers.

Why not force Dexter Roberts to sing R. Kelly? Or have CJ torture us with a Whitney Houston tune? Or Sam Woolf attempt Queen?

Instead, the top 7 basically helped their fellow rivals out with songs in their zones. The result: a solid night that lifted almost all boats.

The solo songs in general were all relatively modern and to some degree, lesser known, with Radiohead‘s “Creep” sung by Jena the closest to oldies.

The duets (and one trio) were enjoyable, even if the chipper Sam/Alex “Let It Go” didn’t really work.

Both C.J. Harris and Sam Woolf, in trouble for elimination, rose to the occasion and had their best performances to date.

Caleb was typically strong. Alex was fine, if a bit obvious. Jessica was good enough. And I enjoyed Dexter going a little darker and I don’t usually like him.

The judges were falling over each other praising Jena Irene’s “Creep.” I was less than charmed.

So who goes home? There will likely be a bottom two. And predicting this week is very very difficult. I think Dexter and CJ will be in the bottom two. I bet Dexter is going home. Just a wild guess.  I think Jena getting pimped so heavily may help her get enough votes to escape the bottom two.

I would give Sam the performance of the night though it was a close call.

My top 7: 1. Sam 2. CJ 3. Dexter 4. Caleb 5. Jessica 6. Alex 7. Jena

The seven performances:

Caleb Johnson (“Family Tree” by Kings of Leon, picked by Alex Preston) – I am honestly not familiar with this song. He brings a lovely Black Crowes blues-rock vibe to it. It feels old fashioned but it’s effective. And that bass player rocks! Grade: B-plus/A-minus [Random fun facts he provided include the fact he loves horror flicks but is scared of spiders and the dark.]

Jessica Meuse (“Gunpowders and Lead” Miranda Lambert, picked by Sam Woolf) –  She gets the leather pants and Stevie Nicks-style wind machine treatment. She’s missing the venom that Miranda pumps into this song. She isn’t bad but man, she sure is stiff on stage. I wish she could loosen up just a little bit more. Grade: B/B-plus [She believes she was chased by an evil pony once.]

Duet: Sam and Alex (“Let It Go'” Passenger) – An oddly peppy version of a very melancholy song. Yon can feel the Alex effect on this arrangement. HCJ: “Saccharine.” Keith: “Chintzy.” Demi Lovato, fresh from “X Factor,” wanted something more exciting.. Grade: B-/B-plus

C.J. Harris (“Gravity” John Mayer, picked by Caleb) Go figure. This song has minimal range and a need for a bluesy feel. So it works for him. Keith: “A good performance but if you do an emotional thing, I want it more to be an arc.” JLo said he felt more comfortable but needs to find the “moment.” I agree with HCJ: his best performance to date. Grade: B-plus/A-minus [Fun facts: He loves "SpongeBob" and would love to be a stand-up.]

Dexter Roberts (“Muckalee Creek Water” Luke Bryan picked by CJ Harris) – Luke Bryan is a South Georgia boy. This is a real dirty bluesy song, which works better for him than those anthemic tunes he tends to gravitate to. Again, this would be quite a highlight in a honky tonk at 2 a.m. on a Saturday. Surprisingly, I liked this more than I’ve liked most Dexter performances. Keith felt like the melody got eaten up in a “Steve Earle” place. J Lo said she liked this for her given it’s darker and showed a different side of him. Grade: B-plus [Fun facts: He loves crickets and had a scary plane ride once.]

Jena and Caleb (“Gimme Shelter” Rolling Stones) – They brought some heat to a great song and plenty of praise. Grade: A-minus/A

Alex Preston (“A Team” Ed Sheeran, picked by Dexter) – This is right in his pocket. His version of gorgeous. But very predictable outside of an attempt at a big note near the end. It was HCJ’s favorite performance of the night thanks to his conviction. Grade: B-plus [Fun facts: A gardening and cooking buff, he loves freestyle skiing and would love to be a dermatology.]

Sam Woolf (“Sail Away” David Gray, picked by Jessica) – For the first time possibly ever, Sam emoted a bit and found some truth in this song about longing for someone. I enjoyed it. I have to say this is his best performance to date and he needs it because this has been a good night for most everyone. HCJ said he saw progress but the biggest issue was song choice. He felt it wasn’t familiar enough as, say, “Hey There Delilah.” J Lo looked at the monitor and said it was clear he was trying to tap into his feelings. Grade: A-minus [Fun facts: He is horrific at sports except skateboarding  and pulls pranks on his grandparents.]

The Alabama mafia of C.J., Jessica and Dexter (“Compass” Lady Antebellum) – This actually works really well. Harmonies were not great but they had fun individually. HCJ hated it. Keith enjoyed it like a shish-kabob. Grade: B-plus

Jena Irene (“Creep” Radiohead, picked by Caleb) – That felt too stylized and lounge like for my taste. Keith loved it. J Lo said she “Jena-fied” it and made it beautiful.  HCJ said she sings with intrigue and “unquestionably the best performance of the night.” Huh? Grade: B/B-plus [Fun Facts: She peed in her pants during her first performance. She'd love to be a make-up artist and took ballet.]

 

642 comments
KyleKangaroo1
KyleKangaroo1

Jena was the best of the night, I know everyone has their own favorites, but when it comes to who can perform, looks like a star, and sings strongly, Jena jas that full package. I think she is the next American Idol winner!

UWreckMeBaby
UWreckMeBaby

Jena was best of the night by a long shot. Voters on this blog's poll picked her by an overwhelming margin. I havent read all 640 comments but many seem critical of her. Its her vs Caleb if there is any justice. All others are pretenders. 

KokoSnoot
KokoSnoot

Crossing my fingers that CJ or Dexter go home... but I'm remembering a comment from Caleb last week that irked me and I know it would have pissed off much of my mother's generation... something about hoping to "make some old ladies cry". A few of them: Caleb, Malaya, Jena, MK and Majesty had said things that really rubbed me the wrong way. The egos need to come down a notch with some of them, it's not a good look. 

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

Let us pray that there will be no appearance by the Osmonds - way too much Velveeta for me.

Sierra1707
Sierra1707

Listening to -- but not watching -- the performances again the day after, I'd still rank the top 3 as: (1) Alex (2) Sam (3) Jessica.



DeirdreC
DeirdreC

There's a bit of method to this theme.  It forces Dexter out of pure country for one song...at least, that's the way I'm reading it.  

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

The theme for next week has been announced.  Each of the 6 remaining contestants will sing 2 songs each with the theme "A Little Bit Country /A Little Bit Rock and Roll"  I think that's pretty self-explanatory.

MercedesS
MercedesS

CJ has an immense likeability and should do well as a coffehouse singer.  I'm pretty sure Dexter will be snapped up by Nashville; open arms await him  in nasal Countryland. 

MercedesS
MercedesS

Maybe Jeena can become a teen idol with the help of auto tune (This would explain JLo's connection to Jeena: fellow auto tuner).  Her natural screeching is painful and I can't imagine listening to a whole album of it. Caleb connects well with a live audience but I question his success as a recording performer.

MercedesS
MercedesS

Ill try again.  On several occasions last night, I had to leave the TV room and so I listened to the performers instead of watching them.  Best voices belong to Sam, Alex and Jessica. If I'm alone in my car, listening to music, I listen to the song, the voice and the words.  That's the "connection", not the  flailing of arms, jumping up and down, and staring at camera/member of audience that Harry and JLo are now demanding of all the Idols.

DoubleNaughtSpy
DoubleNaughtSpy

Oh yeah, I thought the Lady Antebellum trio was dreadful.

DoubleNaughtSpy
DoubleNaughtSpy

Had real trouble getting on last night for some reason.  I believe I got one post in which I considered quite an accomplishment considering my connectivity issues.


I thought this was one of the best shows I've seen in a while.  Perhaps it's because it wasn't "theme" night and each contestant was able to perform in their wheelhouse.


I didn't find Alex and Sam's performance to be as sugary as some, and I enjoyed JenaGeenaJeanaGina's voice more in the "Gimme Shelter" duet than I did in her solo performance.  Of course, some of that could be due to the fact that I love the Rolling Stones.


CJ had the best night as far as improving over recent weeks.  That song helped mask the limitations of his voice.


Jessica has kind of disappeared for me and I just don't know if she has a big/growing fan base to keep her in it for long. 


In summary, I believe that Dexter, CJ and Jessica (in no particular order) will be the next 3 to go.



MercedesS
MercedesS

AAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH.  Long "thoughtful" post didn't make it. Again.

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

As much as I wanted him, and have always really liked him, Harry is starting to get on my nerves. He's overly harsh with several of the contestants. Last night he had nothing but criticism for Jessica, while I thought she'd really loosened up - went all around the stage, slapped hands with the audience - I thought she did a pretty good job relating! At least he let up a bit on Sam.

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

KoKo:  I pretty much agree with you, except I'm NOT 'over' Caleb - he's the winner for me so far. I'd put Jessica just above Alex, or tied - they both were good.

I'm more of a "singing" fan than "performing" fan, and Sam's voice is lovely - I don't mind someone who can actually sing well just standing there and singing - that's pretty much what Kelly did back when Idol was really good. I will admit Kelly had a killer, bouncy, adorable personality, and Sam is very shy, but they both stand and sing (Kelly didn't do her signature "bounce" back then).

I only saw half of Jena' solo - meh - not bad, not great. But I found her voice very shrill on the Stones duet - she was lucky that she was pared with Caleb, whose great voice kinda overshadowed her shrill tones. Looks like she's this year's anointed winner by the judges.

CJ did well, I enjoyed his performance. Still like him a lot, even though there've been some poor performance.

Wish Jessica wouldn't go so very 'country'.

Alex's performance was his best to me.

Dexter - GO HOME

KokoSnoot
KokoSnoot

1. Sam- excellent emotional performance, such a beautiful voice.

2. CJ- first time I've actually enjoyed hearing him sing. Though he's in my 2 slot, I believe it's far beyond his time to go.

3. Caleb- I'm kind of over him, I feel like it's the same dawn thing week after week, he's predictable. I did enjoy this peRformance more than many of his others.

4. Alex- I love Alex, but something about his performance tonight just wasn't right, it was rather dull and his vocals were shaky.

5. Jessica- not enough OOMPH, but I didn't hate it. I also wish she would get into the groove, sshe's so stiff and awkward.

6. Jena- first of all, her performance wasn't as great as they want us to think, so much hype but she didn't deliver. She's inauthentic and obnoxious. I didn't hate it, but to turn a classic into something boring and pretentious, I can't go for that (No can do).

7. Dexter- BORING! Same karaoke garbage from him and I can't understand a damp word he says, speaking or singing.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

I think there is someone on this blog with what we used to call a MPC(multiple personality complex or one person posting as a variety of different people)  If you haven't noticed yet, all the hate-posts about one particular singer sound very much alike.  Just want to say to the poster that we're not as dumb as you may think and, since we have been through this on more than one occasion in the history of this blog, most of us are very good at recognizing it.

JT:  MPC?  That's not quite right, I think.  What was it?

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

One more thing:  only 596 comments so far.  This show is so dead!  ;-)

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

It is so hard to predict the voting this year.  I used to be pretty positive who would be in the bottom 2 but this year is difficult(not that there haven't been bottom-dwelling surprises before)  I will pick CJ and Dexter for the bottom 2 mostly because they have been there more often(except for Sam but I think he redeemed himself)

When we get down to top 3, I'm pretty sure it will be Caleb, Jena and Alex unless Jessica knocks either Alex or Jena off the perch.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

1. Alex-this song was right in his wheelhouse(true of every song tonight which was not necessarily a good thing)

2. Caleb- I still like his style.  Classic rocker may not be very popular with the younger set however.

3. Jessica- she's got the voice, now if she could just get the pizzazz.

4. Sam- large improvement from Sam tonight.  

5. Jena- her song was ok, not as good as it could have been with Caleb

6. Dexter-yawn

7.CJ-despite staying with the right notes throughout the song which in and of itself is pretty much a miracle...he still needs to go.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

Morning!

The show was pretty good last night.  I like that I can see flashes of improvement in the performance levels.  Sam was the biggest success in improvement last night.  If he had been singing like that the first few weeks, he'd be unbeatable.  However, it may be too little too late for him.

Jessica is another bright spot in the improvement catalog.  She was a lot more emotive last night, actually using arm gestures and moving around the stage.  She still has a way to go but definitely has improved.

As for everyone else, I'm seeing basically the same performance every week with the minor exception of CJ staying on key with a song that has about a one octave range.

BigAintheBigA
BigAintheBigA

Yeah, the choices were kind and wound up being in everybody's general wheelhouse so not very challenging. Caleb's performance was best, highlighted by the band but hey. I agree Jena's was hyped as being more stunning that it actually was. Jess's was better than they slagged on her about. Alex and Dexter were themselves. C.J. had a good song for him and that's about it. He has the soul connection working and I like him a lot, seems like a good dude, but this is a singing competition right? Sam's performance I just did not get personally. Way too easy. Way too cookie cutter and just not really even up to his better efforts from the show. He showed me nothing with that performance. He's growing? Improving? Connecting? Really? I didn't see it at all. Seems like the same ole Sam to me (who I like just fine btw). The judges were kind and I'm cool with that. C.J. needed to go home 4 weeks ago. Jessica may be in some trouble. Sam may get the nod again I think.

JTesla
JTesla

It's that time of the season when the judges need to back the person that will be most marketable after Idol. If the person that wins does well post Idol, it reflects on them.


Jena's version of Creep, not that good.

JTesla
JTesla

@DeirdreC I'll believe it when I hear it. He'll make his Rock country. Heck, the theme could be Celtic music and it would sound like Country coming from Dexter. And not the "fun" Country music, but boring sleepytime Country music.

Woodpappy
Woodpappy

@DeirdreC  I agree Deirdre, it will force several of them out of their comfort zones and we shall see if they are "one style wonders".

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@MercedesS  I find Jena's voice harsh and unlikeable.  She screams a lot and it is unpleasant.  I think she has a pretty big fan club however and JLo's constant praise begins to wear pretty thin.  

And seriously...did JLo really tell CJ that he could win?????????

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@MercedesS  Absolutely agree. Although I think Caleb has an excellent voice, too

DoubleNaughtSpy
DoubleNaughtSpy

@Sam-A1


Amen to the Harry thing, but he's far more along than just "starting to get on my nerves".  I truly dread when he takes the microphone....

MercedesS
MercedesS

@Sam-A1 That's what I tried to say. The judges I liked to much at the beginning of the season have lost it.  At least Harry and JLo. JLo dislikes all the women, except for anointed glory girl Jeena,

Harry is overly harsh with Jessica.

KokoSnoot
KokoSnoot

Who are they hating on? It seemed like most of us were in agreement about Dexter, Jena and CJ last night.

Jubie
Jubie

Oh they definitely are.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@JTesla  He will countrify whatever he sings but at least he's forced out of his element.

JTesla
JTesla

Complete with purple socks?

Sierra1707
Sierra1707

@DeirdreC Jennifer said: "C.J., to me every week you're getting more and more comfortable up there, I think YOU'RE starting to believe that you really, you know, belong here and that you can win this thing, and I honestly think, like he (Keith) said, you have to start looking for the moments that are going to really, really lift the crowd. Like, I really want you to think about that, about making it exciting when you come out here, because everybody loves the sound of your voice, and the minute you start singing a song like that, it's a home run."

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@KokoSnoot  We had a guy on here a few years ago who used multiple personalities to attack other commenters.  It was a nightmare.  

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@KokoSnoot   While we were all somewhat in agreement about the singers there are a few posts that sound suspiciously alike and all dealing with the singer's personality more than the singer's voice.  Most of us pretty much stick with vocals and performance criticism(or making fun of their clothing, hair, etc.) so when the same thing is said repeatedly about a singer's personality, those posts come into question.  I get that people want agreement with their opinions or they want to try to influence others' opinions by making it seem like many people feel the same way.  The blog allows us to express our opinions without others knowing who we are so it is tempting to use the anonymity to push one's opinion just a bit harder.  No biggie!  Just kind of obvious sometimes.

Sierra1707
Sierra1707

@DeirdreC  Not a problem! And a lot of people seem to have heard it the same way...

KokoSnoot
KokoSnoot

Yeah, I've seen my fair share of that on other forums and such. I've had a few clients arrested for online harassment. The Internet: The Gift and The Curse

KokoSnoot
KokoSnoot

This just reminded me that when I used to speak of "Idol", it was Billy not American :/

KokoSnoot
KokoSnoot

Gotcha. I've certainly voiced my opinion about personalities (or lack thereof), but I'm not here to influence anyone- I simply have no one else to talk to about Idol. I think personality is a huge part of it for me, but maybe it's just ne. As far as my critiques of Jena, her voice annoys me fat more than her persona, she has rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning.