This week, the “American Idols” are taking on songs that fans requested via Twitter. That’s a lot of fun, and it also gives the show cover for choosing pretty much anything, since who can dispute whether or not it actually got suggested by a fan? Heh.
1. Alex Preston, ‘Sweater Weather,’ The Neighbourhood
This is a great choice for him — hip, current, right in his wheelhouse — and Alex does not disappoint. He actually shows off more personality than we’ve seen from him in weeks, which is not saying much because he’s a little static as a performer. Still, it’s nice to see a little more life. He also deftly handles the quick lyrics.
Overall, it was good, but not great. It didn’t blow the roof off, but Alex isn’t really that kind of performer, so.
2. Caleb Johnson, ‘Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,’ Aerosmith
Ughhhhh, can we get through one season of this show without having to hear this song? Out of all the fan suggestions, this is what they go with? Blech. Anyway, Caleb sounds uncharacteristically poor on this song, actually. Is he sick? He sounds like he’s sick because he’s going horribly flat and there’s a weird weakness to his voice that has never been there before. Now, if he is sick, he’s really muscling through. If he’s not sick, though, what is going on? This is kind of a mess. Of course, then he gets to the big notes and really nails them, so maybe he’s not sick? This is a weird performance from Caleb. Definitely my least favorite of his, though there’s no reason he should be in danger. He sings rings around the other contestants most weeks.
Caleb continues to totally win me over when he admits after the performance that he would not have picked that song for himself because it’s been done so much on “Idol.” Uh, yeah, dude.
3. Jena, Sam and Alex, ‘Best day of My Life,’ American Authors
Oh, we have a trio and a duet this week. Yippee? Anyway, this is … not great. Jena is really good, but the song suits her much more than it suits the other two. Really, she should have done a trio with Jessica and Caleb and Sam and Alex should have done a duet. But anyway, let’s keep rolling.
4. Jessica Meuse, ‘Human,’ Christina Perri
Absolutely terrific song choice, and she absolutely nails it. Jessica can be so hit or miss, but this is definitely a hit. Not only is she hitting every note, but the emotional connection is also there — there’s more going on behind her eyes than we’ve seen so far, especially on the ending. Really excellent job, I was captivated. My only criticism is when she opened up at the end and stopped playing the guitar, she needed to swing it around behind her like Jason Mraz advised. That would have really laid her bare on stage. But great job.
Harry Connick Jr. praises her improvement, though says it wasn’t his favorite of hers. I disagree on that last part — her improvement is marked, but I thought this was one of her best.
5. Sam Woolf, ‘Sing,’ Ed Sheeran
Nice choice for him. From the funky tie-dye to the fedora, this is maybe the most personality we’ve ever seen out of Sam. I haven’t always been his biggest fan, but watching him come out of his shell and figure out the performer he wants to be has been neat. It’s enjoyable to watch him have fun instead of look like a deer in the headlights. Sam has probably come the farthest out of anyone left in the competition, even if vocally I think he’s the weakest of the five who are left.
That being said, he’s doing a good job on this song, so perhaps he’ll earn his advancement. This isn’t exactly a challenging vocalist’s song, but he hasn’t screwed it up, so. We’ll have to see how the second half goes.
6. Jena Irene, ‘My Body,’ Young the Giant
I don’t love this song choice for her. You know what I would have liked to hear if they were going to go current? “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato. Jena actually seems to be kind of struggling to keep up with this song. Hmm. It gets considerably better once she stops running around the audience, so maybe she was just getting out of breath doing all that. It definitely ends strong, so she’s good to go for round one.
Honestly, after round one, I think Alex is in last place.
7. Jessica & Caleb, ‘Beast of Burden,’ The Rolling Stones
They sound great together, though the shimmying thing they’re doing at each other is weird. It’s like the slo-mo version of the “Shake Shack” from “Grease.” Stop that. But yeah, this duet >>> the trio earlier.
8. Alex Preston, ‘Say Something,’ Great Big World
This is an outstanding song, but it’s getting a bit overplayed. It’s everywhere! Anyway, it was inevitable he would do this song, because it’s such an Alex song, but it’s a shame they didn’t use this as a duet for him and Jessica because it’s lacking as a solo. Sure, there’s a backup singer doing the woman’s part, but that’s not the same. However, this will probably ensure he stays because he does a great job with it and it’s also super popular right now.
9. Jena Irene, ‘Valerie,’ Amy Winehouse
Great choice for her — it’s kind of surprising she hasn’t done some Winehouse before now. Strangely, though, this is not her best performance. The throwback staging, the horn section, and the jamming bass player are awesome and Jena gives a decent vocal, but she should have maybe been a little closer to Winehouse’s version. There’s just a little oomph lacking from this one. Hopefully Jena is not in trouble — I haven’t loved either song she’s done tonight.
10. Sam Woolf, ‘How to Save a Life,’ The Fray
This should be a great song for him, but he kind of biffs it. He’s playing fast and loose with the right notes throughout the song. It’s not an easy song at all, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to be so out of tune. He’s probably not in any danger because he’s cute and this is a well-known and popular song, but this is a huge step back from his first performance. He might be in some trouble now.
11. Jessica Meuse, ‘Summertime Sadness,’ Lana Del Rey
Vocally, this is another great performance by Jessica. She’s really bringing her A-game tonight musically. Now, this one isn’t quite as emotionally right-on as the first one and her stage presence is a little stilted. But Jessica isn’t really sure what to do when she doesn’t have a guitar, she’s still figuring that out. However, vocally she has put herself into the Top 4, I think.
Keith Urban saying this song has a “David Lynch mysticism” to it is maybe the best judge’s comment in “Idol” history. I love that he knows David Lynch.
12. Caleb Johnson, ‘Still of the Night,’ Whitesnake
Interesting choice. It would not have occurred to me, but of course, Caleb rocks it. This is so much better than his first song, it’s miles better. He doesn’t sound sick at all on this one. Glad to see him bounce back. And what else can I say? Caleb’s awesome. He’s head and shoulders above the other singers. You know what I want to hear by him? “Mad World.”
So, who’s going home? Well, this is a toss-up. For me, Jessica
was actually the strongest vocalist when you take all the performances into account. But she’s been in some danger this season, so it’s anybody’s guess how voters will respond. I have a feeling the Bottom 3 will be Sam, Alex and Jessica and for me, Sam should go home. But I don’t think he will.
What do you think, “Idol” fans?