The theme for the “American Idol” Season 13 Top 7 is that they get to pick each other’s songs, except it looks like each Idol actually picked for him or herself from a list made up of the other singers’ choices. It’s good they had at least a little say on what they were singing.
1. Caleb Johnson, “Family Tree,” Kings of Leon (Alex’s choice)
This is a nice contemporary choice for Caleb, I’m glad he went with this one off the list. He hasn’t done a lot of current hits so far, you know? Anyway, what is there even to say about him? He’s a terrific rock singer and pretty good frontman. It’s hard to critique someone who does a great job every week. He really hasn’t stumbled and this was another solid performance. His changes to the melody line to make it his own were particularly nice.
2. Jessica Meuse, “Gun Powder and Lead,” Miranda Lambert (Sam’s choice)
So, this starts out really nice with the a capella part and the single spotlight. However, the chorus is just a little too big for Jessica. She’s losing the low parts and it also seems like she’s slightly behind the beat. It’s like she’s struggling to keep up the entire time. She probably won’t be in any danger because it’s a very dynamic performance and the crowd goes wild, but what seemed like a great choice for her turned out to not be anywhere near as good as she’s done some past weeks.
3. Sam Woolf & Alex Preston, “Let Her Go,” Passenger
It’s awesome they let them duet together a second time. These two guys complement each other so well vocally. I’m surprised the producers didn’t make them partner up with someone else, but it’s nice that they didn’t. I do prefer this song slowed down a little, but this is cute and sounds pretty good.
4. C.J. Harris, “Gravity,” John Mayer (Caleb’s choice)
Well this is interesting. After several weeks in a row of being one of the weakest, C.J. brings it home this week on this song. He’s finally (finally!) on pitch and his voice is so smooth and soulful without getting too gravelly. Really well done, C.J. Best job he’s done so far on the show.
5. Dexter Roberts, “Muckalee Creek Water,” Luke Bryan (C.J.’s choice)
Terrific choice, both for C.J. for putting it on the list and Dexter having the brains to choose it. I’m so sick of his stadium anthems, so this is a welcome change. He still gets to jam out, but at least there’s more going on than the happy, clappy anthem-y songs. This is exactly the kind of hit Dexter could have after this show. Love the steel guitar, by the way. But anyway, this is my second-favorite Dexter performance so far (after “One Mississippi”).
6. Jena Irene & Caleb Johnson, “Gimme Shelter,” The Rolling Stones
Love this choice for them, but seriously — “Close My Eyes Forever”? Does this show not have permission to perform that song? Because these two voices are begging for it. Anyway, they do a great job with this. Caleb really anchors it and Jena is good enough to keep up with him.
7. Alex Preston, “A Team,” Ed Sheeran (Dexter’s choice)
Another great choice. Nobody’s really made a misstep except Jessica (but who knew she would biff that song?). But yeah, this is terrific for Alex. Ed Sheeran is the epitome of the type of stuff Alex probably wants to release as an artist. He also handles the falsetto jumps really well. The only problem with Alex is that he’s so quiet, so unassuming, so coffeehouse jam that is he a big enough star to win? Is he getting the attention from voters that someone flashier (like Caleb) is getting? Hmm.
8. Sam Woolf, “Sail Away,” David Gray (Jessica’s choice)
I would not have chosen this for Sam, actually, but he surprises me by doing a nice job on it. Maybe the judges weren’t too hasty with that save because he’s turned in a great performance both weeks since being saved. He’s emotional connection is there, his tone is lovely, the pitch is spot-on. This actually makes Sam seem more mature than he normally does. Talk about someone who has really grown over the course of “Idol” this year.
9. Jessica Meuse, C.J. Harris & Dexter Roberts, “Compass,” Lady Antebellum
I got so excited when Ryan Seacrest said, “With Lady Antebellum’s,” but then when he followed that with “Compass,” was disappointed. “Need You Now” would have been PERFECT for these three. Alas, “Compass” ends up being kind of blah. There’s just not enough oomph to this song. It plods along, la la la, and there’s the big pink heart flashing in the background and it’s a total karaoke performance. Plus, it’s not in tune. Kind of a hot mess here.
That is Jessica’s second miss of the night, she might be in some trouble.
10. Jena Irene, “Creep,” Radiohead (Caleb’s choice)
Again, not what I would have chosen for Jena, but Caleb obviously knows her really well because she absolutely slays it. She starts off so lovely at the piano, then the electric guitars kick up and she blows the doors off the place, but then she brings it down for a really sensitive, quiet ending. She also looks phenomenal. Excellent night for Jena.
Who are your Top 3 for this season? For me, it’s Caleb, Jena and Alex.
This night was actually pretty strong top to bottom. Both Dexter and C.J.’s solos will make up for that abysmal trio, whereas Jessica’s will not, so I would not be surprised if she goes home tomorrow night.
What do you think, “Idol” fans?