Posted: 6:30 pm Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

‘American Idol’ final 2 recap: Caleb vs. Jena 

By Rodney Ho

AMERICAN IDOL XIII:  The Final 2: L-R: Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene.  CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: The Final 2: L-R: Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

We “Idol” vets know that how the final two perform tonight probably doesn’t matter too much. Fans of either will vote for one or the other, regardless of what happens.

While I think Jena has a slight edge over Caleb in polls, it’s close enough that Caleb could certainly pull a Ruben Studdard and win.

Overall, Caleb and Jena held up well. They both had relatively mediocre but not overly cringe-worthy coronation songs. Neither has “radio hit” written on it a la Phillip Phillips‘ “Home.”

They reprised their best performances and muscled through Simon Fuller’s picks. It was a quick and painless hour.

It ended with the entire top 13 singing “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson. Sadly, I have already forgotten the names of several of the earlier contestants.

Tomorrow will be packed with the usual highlight videos and celebrities dueting with various contestants.

Simon Fuller’s pick:

Jena Irene (“The Dog Days are Over” Florence and the Machine). I thought it sounded very Jena on a very difficult song. She did loosen up during the performance and it was ultimately fun. Keith: Jena has some breath control issues but he liked it. HCJ said she really enjoyed herself and that matters. Grade: B-plus/A-minus

Caleb Johnson (“Dream On” Aerosmith) – He’s in his element rockin’ a big 1970s classic and hitting those high notes at the end. He is truly gunning for the win. HCJ said as powerful as the ending was,  when he’s singing in the lower register, focus the beginning more. Keith thought he arced it well. Grade: A-minus

EDGE: Caleb

Reprise

Jena Irene (“Can’t Help Falling in Love” Elvis Presley) This is one of my favorites of her performances. So I’m happy to hear it again. It wasn’t quite as emotionally wringing as it was two weeks ago but still very good. Grade: A/A-minus

Caleb Johnson (“Maybe I’m Amazed” Paul McCartney & Wings) I find his version edgier and more interesting than the original. And I enjoyed it a second time around. Grade: A/A-minus

EDGE: Tie

Victory song

Jena Irene (“We Are One”) – She performed this well but the song lacked a particularly good hook. Given her enunciation I wasn’t able to really get the lyrics. Otherwise, it was passable. Grade: B

Caleb Johnson (“As Long As You Love Me”) – This sounds like a standard 1980s rock song and fits Caleb’s world view. He gave it plenty of energy and seemed to enjoy himsel. Grade: B/B-plus

Edge: Caleb, barely

357 comments
willisben32.
willisben32.

I think they should have a vote like ( get rid of these two singers and have ( Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson come back and sing against each other ) I would like to see that!

Kelly would kick Carrie's assets!

LisaJones34
LisaJones34

American Idol aired its one-hour performance finale, and just ( 6.6 million ) viewers bothered to tune in. :)~ That’s barely half of the audience of 12.1 million viewers who watched last May’s performance, and the least-watched episode in the show’s history. ---> Just cancel this no talent show! ---> I cant bare to watch this show now :)~

Taminator49
Taminator49

Reading about AI on another blog it stated the Jena's coronation song charted on itunes at lowly #77 and Caleb's song did not even chart. 

Taminator49
Taminator49

Was it just my ears or did anyone else notice last night during the group song at the end of the show (Clarkson's Breakaway) that Jena was MUCH louder than all the other contestants combined? She was even way louder than Caleb when it was just the two of them singing parts of it together in the beginning. She was also completely out of tune throughout. 

Jenny11
Jenny11

I'm going to go out on a limb and say Caleb wins.  Last night's performances showed once again that he's simply on a higher level than the others.  I think (hope) America will recognize that and reward him. 

I loved, loved, LOVED Jena on her Elvis reprise... I liked it even better than the first time she sang it.  But then Caleb stepped right up and matched her with "Maybe I'm Amazed."  

And he definitely left her FAR in the dust with "Dream On" vs. her song.  He was amazing.  Her voice sounded good, as always, but the song just wasn't catchy or memorable.

As for the "winner's singles" - meh.  Caleb and Jena both sounded good, but the songs weren't very interesting.  (As they're usually not.  PP was sooooooooo lucky to have been given "Home" in his year.  Those  songwriters deserve a huge, huge, HUGE part of the credit for him becoming successful. That song would've been a hit no matter who sang it.) 

So we'll see... I think Caleb deserves it far more on talent, but Jena's a worthy opponent.  If she pulls out the win, it'll be a bit surprising, but OK.  

I'm just so glad we had an interesting final two... it helped to make up for all the bad years like the "all country" final.  And glad that 3 of the 6 songs were enjoyable!  :-)

G_
G_

 Congratulations to Josh Kaufman on winning The Voice!  Jake was also a solid country singer, but Josh deserved the win.  He's a great example of the changing face(s) of R&B music.  EXCELLENT collaboration between he and Robin Thicke last night.  

UWreckMeBaby
UWreckMeBaby

I am happy because I think Jena and Caleb were easily the best singer/performer/entertainers of this year's top 10. Whichever wins is fine with me. Caleb's Dream On was the best for me last night.!

Early on, I thought Jessica had the stuff to win, but she never appeared totally comfortable on stage to me. That said, her "Blue-Eyed Lie" is so much better than either of the finalists "victory song". I'm betting Caleb and Jena have better songs in their future, as well.

JTesla
JTesla

Idol needs to be canceled right now, don't even do tonights show.

Why?

Because Jennifer Lopez hugged Jena on stage after her performance last week. In fact, that was such a crime, I think they should shut down all facets of FOX. Oh and criminal charges should be brought against Jennifer Lopez and Jena, just for good measure.

RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

Just saw 18-49 ratings for The Voice (3.3), DWTS (2.4) and Idol (a mere 1.7). I only have total viewers for DWTS at 14.9 million. I presume Voice is around 11 million and Idol at 8 million.

MoSchreibman
MoSchreibman

As my grandmother used to say in these situations I do not care what you think I do not have to agree with nothing who let you in here anyway go away you give me a headache. Bless her heart I can hear her now or maybe my wife is talking to the cat.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

The truth is, we are never wrong about who we like best on these shows.  The Jena fans are right because they like her for their own reasons.  The Caleb fans are right because they like him for their own reasons.

The only time I get angry on here is when someone tries to tell me I'm wrong for picking who I pick.  We all pick the singer who appeals to us most.

Snarky comments, criticisms, put downs directed at the singers are ok.  They are in the public eye and must prepare for negative attention.  To me, personal attacks on the singers(she's mean, he's a jerk)are not acceptable simply because we only know who they are through the eyes of a tv camera and that isn't enough for us to make personal judgements about them.

NYMusicLover
NYMusicLover

Oh, and another thing.....I don't like Jena because I've listened to some people on a panel and need them to make decisions for me.  I can make my own decisions, thank you!

NYMusicLover
NYMusicLover

Sorry, but listening to Caleb hurts my eardrums.  That screeching thing he does is horrid.  I was so hoping for Alex to make the finals, but of course with so little personality that wasn't going to happen.  I loved his style of music, be it "coffeehouse" or whatever people like to call it.  Hey, different strokes and all. But now that we're down to Caleb and Jena, for me it is Jena.  Yes, she screams at times also, but she is easier to listen to than Caleb.  Plus, when she does a ballad it is beautiful. 

I would also like to make a comment about posters who put down other posters because of which contestant they are supporting.  Although I don't care for Caleb I think that those who do like him are entitled to their opinion and I have no problem with that. Please offer me that same courtesy.

Gregalan
Gregalan

This show was such a let down for me this year :(
 

It is like watching paint dry now! I hope they drop Keith and Harry Connick Jr. as a judges next year. They just bores me to death.

MercedesS
MercedesS

Good Morning!


Judging from the ad for the new singing talent show (sorry, forgot name), the only judges will be - the American public!

Interesting premise.

pjk4
pjk4

@willisben32.  It would be interesting if they found a past idol contestant performance that fit within each week's theme and aired it.  They could do both great examples and really weak ones (from people who improved a lot.)

Gregalan
Gregalan

Kelly is a pure singer and Carrie is a screamer of songs but I doubt Kelly and Carrie could save this show now!

JTesla
JTesla

@DoubleNaughtSpy She got called out on that before, had to hide one of her other personalities.

DoubleNaughtSpy
DoubleNaughtSpy

@LisaJones34


You said "I cant bare to watch this show now ".  Bare?   So don't take your clothes off when watching the show. 



Woodpappy
Woodpappy

@LisaJones34  Hell Lisa why don't you just blow up your television and computer and you wont ever have to watch or read about how Terrible IDOL is. 

ComaToes
ComaToes

@Taminator49  I'm thinking Jena's parents have gotten in "close" with either one of the producers on the show, or someone else with high connections. JMOOTBYT

Jenny11
Jenny11

And I haven't gotten to read comments so I don't know what y'all think.... prob won't get to catch up until the weekend... anyone want to summarize the overall blog opinion for me?  Just curious.  :-)

DanJohn
DanJohn

@G_ I was glad for both Josh AND Usher. It broke the Blake & Adam streak! I really enjoyed all 3 contestants in the final although I was sad that SaSaundra? sp didn't make it. Christina Grimmy has a record deal in place with Adam's label and hopefully Jake Worthington will be signed. He is a talented country artist who seems like a good kid. Josh winning was a plus for us R&B fans. It was a great season on The Voice!

LisaJones34
LisaJones34

@RodneyHo ... Who did not see that coming? ... They should have had a Wednesday, Thrusday show ... 1.7 may make them think of even having another year? ... What smart guy thought it was a good idea to go up against The Voice and DWTS? :)~

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@RodneyHo  I am inclined to think that Idol's night change didn't help much. DWTS is clobbering everyone in total viewer numbers.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

Of course, Caleb's verbal missteps have made it a little easier to get a handle on his personality.

DanJohn
DanJohn

@NYMusicLover I think the fact that Jena was the teachers pet of the judges rubbed many of us the wrong way. It didn't affect me as far as her talent goes, I thought at best she was the 3rd best female vocalist going in. Truthfully the talent was not as good as I thought it would be and overall this season was a disappointment. But I still enjoy the show out of love for music and to watch those reaching for their dream.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@NYMusicLover  Exactly my point!  Why would 3 judges make anyone with a brain(and I'm assuming we all have one) decide who you should like.  Sometimes a judge's comment will make me listen to a singer in a different way...a second look, if you will, but I make my own decision about who to vote for and I would like to think everyone else does, too.

Idolfan
Idolfan

@NYMusicLover  No offense and although it may sound rude, you think that Jena is easier to listen to, but does that mean you have a clue what it is she is singing all of the time? 

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@NYMusicLover  Welcome and I really don't think you'll find many people here who "put down" what you think.  

RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

@Gregalan Looks like Fox is bringing the same judges back though only Harry Connick Jr. is signed for sure.

RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

@MercedesS "Rising Star" on ABC? There will be judges--Ludacris, Kesha and Brad Paisley. I'm not sure how this whole "real time" voting will work and how the West Coast viewers will feel.

LisaJones34
LisaJones34

@Woodpappy ...This show would have been better off just asking Carrie Underwood to come on TV and sing show tunes for an hour ( more people would have watched )  :)~
 


JTesla
JTesla

@YogiBare I'm thinking that's pretty absurd.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@NYMusicLover  BTW, disagreeing with someone is not "putting them down" .  Honest disagreement and discussion is uplifting(and sometimes irritating) but never a put down.

willisben32.
willisben32.

@YogiBare @LisaJones34 I think they should have a vote like ( get rid of these two singers and have ( Carrie Underwood and Kelly sing against each other ) I would like to see that! Kelly would kick Carrie's assets!

ComaToes
ComaToes

@LisaJones34  I have been wondering why they have not had an All Star AI Show yet.  Maybe 2 hrs. long with all the winners coming back for a couple of songs. Think that would get huge ratings.

baconsmith1.
baconsmith1.

They should have let us vote to bring back Carrie or Kelly and got rid of these two!

Idolfan
Idolfan

@DeirdreC  I agree with you.  Mostly what we know about them is what the producers feel we need to know, but more in the sense the way they can exploit it for ratings. Here's a good example, we saw CJ's baby in the audience, there we back stories on him where we were supposed to feel sorry for him. With Jessica, we were shown she sang in dive bars to as little as one person to a couple dozen. On top of that we know she believes in UFO's. I could go on and on with regards to the producers manipulations, but I know everyone if they thought hard about it actually can see it too. 

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@YogiBare @DeirdreC  During Hollywood week, the producers basically threw Jessica under the bus by portraying her as a selfish, opinionated b*tch.  We know that isn't true now but a lot of the voters never got over the edited version of Jessica.  It took a lot of smiling and hand clapping and non-controversial statements from Jess to change some people's minds.  And I'm pretty sure that wasn't the real Jessica either. We see what the show wants us to see and what the contestants want us to see...even during the live performances.   

ComaToes
ComaToes

@DeirdreC @YogiBare  Mostly all of it, but mainly the last sentence. We see enough of them, and are told enough to form an opinion about their lives and personalities. Just like JLo. I once liked her and thought she was one way, but now know she is exactly the opposite. 

DanJohn
DanJohn

@DeirdreC @NYMusicLover Someone's critique is only an expression of opinion. I've been critical of how some of the contestants dressed especially Alex. Personally I didn't get it and I think it hurt him in his vote total. Like it or not we're all judged in the court of public opinion on every aspect of our being. Once you sign on to be a contestant you put yourself out there.


I don't care for the screaming Jena, toned down she is okay but she does not have a great voice. Caleb has a very good voice but I don't see him being a huge success because of the type music he sings. Now as a front man of a band maybe but not as a solo act.