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Rodney HoRodney Ho

‘American Idol’ top 3 performance recap

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AMERICAN IDOL XIII: Alex Preston performs "Pompeii" on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Wednesday, May 14 (8:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX.  CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting. Also Pictured: Jennifer Lopez (R).

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: Alex Preston performs “Pompeii” on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Wednesday, May 14 (8:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting. Also Pictured: Jennifer Lopez (R).

I don’t know how much the performances once we reach the top 3 matter in terms of voting. I suspect people inspired to vote for their favorites will vote tonight regardless of how they did.

All three had their moments tonight. There was nothing too shocking beyond Caleb’s vocal node issues, which clearly affected his INXS and Imagine Dragons performances. He admitted he just went all out on Led Zeppelin, for better or worse, but it was a grand way for him to finish the night.

Jena probably didn’t change anybody’s minds with her weird enunciation and occasionally missed notes. But she did what she normally does and did it well. I fully expect her to make the finals with Caleb.

Alex tried some different things with “Pompeii” with mixed results. His highlight was “Stay,” my favorite of the night. Did he do enough to survive? I say no.

In other words, I see a Caleb/Jena finale, which is a nice contrast in styles. In fact, the three final performers are all so different that it made for an entertaining night.

First up are Randy’s picks, which are pretty good

Caleb Johnson (“Never Tear Us Apart” INXS) – He has some vocal node issues, the equivalent to a groin strain. He didn’t sound half bad to be honest, a little huskie than normal. The song fit him well. Grade: B-plus

Alex Preston (“Pompeii” Bastille) – I absolutely adore this song. Great stage sent up with the drummers. His presentation is a little too laid back compared to the original. But that’s Alex’s style. And the performance gets more interesting when he starts drumming, then hits some high notes, then slows it down at the end. Very cool. J. Lo said he finally created “moments” that they were requesting. “It was a different Alex, an elevated Alex.” HCJ: “Great credit to Randy to pick that song. It gave you a young hip song that made me envision what you could sound like on the radio. I could see the wheels turning which isn’t necessarily what I want to see… It felt piecemeal.” But he thinks it will get better with practice if he does it on the road. Grade: B-plus/A-minus

Jena Irene (“Titanium” David Guetta/Sia) – This song is a great choice by Randy. It fits her vocals in the mid-range but she struggles to reach some of the high notes. Tough song!  J Lo noted how hard this song is and felt it started shaky and she never quite loosened up. Grade: B/B-plus

Judges’ pick:

Caleb (“Demons” Imagine Dragons ) – He really struggled through that one. His cords are off. It didn’t work well at all. Keith had sympathy for him but said he still “killed that song.” JLo said he had to rely on other things. She noted that he did get better later. “You started singing the emotion of the song,” she said. Grade: B-minus

Alex (“Stay” Rihanna) – An interesting offbeat pick for Alex. He does an extremely pretty version with just enough Alex touches to make it worthwhile. JLo: “It was all yours.” HCJ: “Beautiful. Really strong.” Keith: “You owned that song.”Grade: A-minus

Jena Irene (“Heart Attack” Demi Lovato) – Sure, her enunciation is awful as always but I find this version so different from Demi’s that I found it intriguing. I liked her energy. Her stage work improves every week. J Lo said she had no nerves. HCJ thought she should keep the energy up from beginning to end. Grade: A-minus/B-plus

Past performances reprised

Caleb (“Dazed and Confused” Led Zeppelin) – He saved his poor voice – or terminally killed it. He just went for it and slammed down the poor mic stand for emphasis. JLo was gyrating ridiculously throughout, with arm thrusts for clear measure. The crowd went nuts. Phew! JLo: “Ridiculous.” HCJ: “Awesome.” Grade: A/A-minus

Alex (“Story of My Life” One Direction) – Simply lovely. HCJ: “This song really strikes a chord with people. You sang it in the top 10 when you were a wee lad. A classic Alex performance.” Grade: A-minus

Jena Irene (“Creep” Radiohead) – I didn’t particularly like this version last time around. I liked it a bit more this time but I don’t feel the massive love from the likes of HCJ and such. Grade: B-plus

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