It’s the 500th episode of “American Idol,” can you believe it? Also, I’ve missed nary any episode since Season 2 (I shamefully only watched Season 1 intermittently), which puts my hours watching “American Idol” at just under 1000, which is 40 days. Whoa.
Also, it turns out Caleb Johnson has lost his voice, which is too bad. Hopefully he can get through tonight and then rest up, because he totally deserves to be a finalist.
1. Caleb Johnson, “Never Tear Us Apart,” INXS
Awesome song choice and also — if this is what he sounds like when he’s sick, well, I don’t know. Because he sounds pretty good. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely not bad. His pitch is a little off at times, which is very uncharacteristic, so I’m assuming that’s due to his illness. He’s also fairly lethargic compared to how he normally is, but I assume that’s the same reason. It’s a shame because even though that wasn’t bad, if Caleb turns in three performances as lackluster as that one, he could be in trouble.
2. Alex Preston, “Pompeii,” Bastille
I love this call for Alex, it’s letting him do his Alex thing while also adding a nice band presence, just like Randy wanted. Check that out, I’m down with Randy’s thinking. Now, that being said, this is the same thing Alex always does and it’s still a little boring for me. It’s mildly interesting when he plays the drum, but overall kind of a snoozer. But if you’re a regular reader, you know I want a Caleb/Jena finals, so I’m not sure Alex can really win me over. He’s a good singer, no doubt, but he kind of puts me to sleep. But I’m just one voter and I understand if you’re Team Alex.
3. Jena Irene, “Titanium,” David Guetta
This is an OK choice for her — the higher stuff I have no doubt will be awesome, but the verse is a tad low for her and it’s hard to hear her clearly. However, as predicted, as soon as she gets to the chorus she nails it. Can you believe Jena was a wild card choice? She has been so consistently good in the Top 13, it’s crazy she had to be a wild card. Anyway, this was strong, though not her best. The verses could have been stronger.
4. Caleb Johnson, “Demons,” Imagine Dragons
OK, on this song I can really hear that Caleb’s voice is off. Yikes. This is pretty rough at times, I hope he didn’t put so much into his first song that he’s just going to struggle through the next two. It’s not like he’s croaking like a frog, but this song has an intricate melody line and his pitch is all over the map. The high stuff is also not getting there. Oh, this is such a shame. I know it sucks to say, but I hope the voters just have pity on him and vote, vote, vote because he’s so good and he deserves to be in the finals. Gosh, I just want to hug him, he looks like a kicked puppy. This is kind of hard to watch.
Also, you can tell the show really wants people to vote for him because no one will shut up about his vocal problems. Heh.
5. Alex Preston, “Stay,” Rihanna
At first I wasn’t sure about this song, but I ended up really digging it. This is actually my favorite Alex performance besides “Say Something.” It’s so hard to put my finger on what it is for me that makes some Alex performances snoozers and some electric, but this one is electric and the last one was a snoozefest, even though he did much the same thing in both. Hmm. Either way, with how poorly Caleb is singing tonight, Alex is making a good play for the finals (of course, there is the sympathy vote for Caleb), but Alex is not going down without a fight.
6. Jena Irene, “Heart Attack,” Demi Lovato
If I was going to pick a Demi song for her, I would have gone with “Skyscraper,” honestly. This one has much the same problem as Jena’s last song — the lower stuff on the verse is getting lost a little. Luckily there’s a big chorus with which to show off her chops, but I will say — neither of Jena’s performances have been 100 percent winners top to bottom. Could it possibly be two guys in the finals? I love Jena, but neither song so far has been her Elvis cover from last week.
7. Caleb Johnson, “Dazed and Confused,” Led Zeppelin
OK, Robert Plant is a great call for Caleb, but what a hard song to get when you aren’t at your best. Yikes. But Caleb handles his business and he leaves it all out on stage, lordy. You get the feeling that afterwards, he might never sing again, that’s how hard he just raged on this song. He certainly has sparkly J-Lo up and rocking out. She’s like a human disco ball tonight.
Anyway, hopefully that is enough for Caleb after two sub-par performances because he just left it all out on the field. He was really saving up his voice and his energy for this sucker.
8. Alex Preston, “Story of My Life,” One Direction
On one hand, I think Alex is better than 1D, but on the other, this is the best 1D song, and on the third hand, this is a smart choice for the voting demographic, so I guess I’ll allow it. However, this one has the same problem for me as the first one he did tonight — sleepy. It’s fine, but it’s nothing special. There’s no oomph behind it and I’m not emotionally sucked in.
Unless Jena comes out and just bombs, I think Alex is headed home tomorrow night.
9. Jena Irene, “Creep,” Radiohead
Excellent choice for her, though I’m disappointed she got a song she’s already performed on the show. However, Jena should hardly ever leave the piano, there’s something so incredible about her when she’s playing the piano and singing. It gives her an entirely different vibe. Also, vocally she kills this — the change in dynamic between the quiet, small moments and the big, blow-it-out stuff is outstanding. Sorry, Alex. I think you’re headed home.
What do you think, “Idol” fans?