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.
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
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
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