The Top 8 is back after the “American Idol” Season 13 judges used the save last week and now it’s ’80s night! Who cares that these songs are older than the singers? Not us. We love the ’80s and we are not a bit ashamed.
1. Jena Irene, “I Love Rock ‘n Roll,” Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
We’re sad she didn’t pick a Heart song, but this is a decent second choice. What she does with the arrangement is nice, because this song is a lot of fun and a rock anthem, but not exactly a vocalist’s showcase, so it could have been really repetitive and blah. Luckily it is neither of those things. Not Jena’s best performance, but not bad at all. She could have maybe put it up half a step, but it should keep her around.
2. Dexter Roberts, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” Georgia Satellites
We’re honestly pretty disappointed Dexter chose this song. He’s definitely playing some mad guitar, but you know what it would have been amazing to hear him do? “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” which is arguably the greatest country song ever written and could have been an incredible moment for Dexter. I’m over the “anthem songs.”
As far as the anthem songs go, this was the best he’s done, but since he’s done so many before this, it would have been nice to see another slow one. This feels like a step back a little. If he hadn’t done so many blah anthems previously, it would have been fine, but I wanted something more. However, that was a lot of fun for the audience and Dexter is definitely safe.
3. Alex Preston & Sam Woolf, “The Girl Is Mine,” Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
So, interestingly enough, Sam Woolf apparently is not going to waste the save because he comes out and more than holds his own against Alex on this. They actually sound lovely together. It’s a totally boring song — how can two giants of musical history come together and this is what they do? — but that’s not the point. The guys sound nice.
Can Sam keep this up for his solo performance? We shall see.
4. Malaya Watson, “Through the Fire,” Chaka Khan
Interesting choice. It’s a little obscure, even if she’s doing a great job with it. I’m just not loving anybody’s song selection so far. It would have been nice to hear her try some Whitney, like “Saving All My Love For You” or something. But anyway, by the end, Malaya works it out (though that one high note was a little screechy).
5. Jena Irene & Caleb Johnson, “It’s Only Love,” Bryan Adams and Tina Turner
Great pairing for a duet, though (and I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record), I wish they had done “Close My Eyes Forever” by Ozzy and Lita Ford. That would have been amazing. This is actually kind of boring because it’s incredibly repetitive — and boring is hard to pull off when you’re talking about two of the most dynamic singers in the competition.
6. Jessica Meuse, “Call Me,” Blondie
This is the first song choice I can get really get behind. She certainly couldn’t do Stevie Nicks again, plus it’s nice to hear her rocker side again. Vocally, she sounds stellar. Unfortunately, Jessica’s stage presence without her guitar is a little lacking. The song and vocals are rocking and she’s meandering around like she’s out for a Sunday stroll. However, even with that issue, this is really strong.
7. Sam Woolf, “Time After Time,” Cyndi Lauper
I thought I was going to hate this song choice, but it actually sounds pretty great. Sam Woolf really came to play this week, where has this guy been all along? It’s just really lovely, though the judges are right that he could have interacted with something other than the camera. Also, HCJ’s advice to look up Ricky Nelson is spot-on. This is my absolutely favorite Ricky Nelson tune.
8. Malaya Watson & C.J. Harris, “Knew You Were Waiting,” Aretha Franklin and George Michael
Hmm. This is a good choice for Malaya, but not so much for C.J. and it’s really tough that he has the melody because on the chorus, you can barely hear him. It’s all Malaya on the harmony. Yikes. It’s not quite as bad as her duet last week with Sam, but it’s not great.
9. Alex Preston, “Every Breath You Take,” The Police
This is an interesting song choice. He does a nice job with it, but this song is repetitive and doesn’t really go anywhere. It has like four notes and I’m really bored with it. You know what would have been interesting to hear him do is Alex thing on? “Lost In Your Eyes” by Debbie Gibson.
You know, Alex does a nice job every week but he is also really forgettable and this was more of the same for me.
10. Jessica Meuse & Dexter Roberts, “Islands in the Stream” Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
OK, this song is fine, but you know what they should have done? “When You Say Nothing At All.” Sure, the Krauss version is from 1995, but the original is from the 1980s. And you know what is a perfect demonstration of how boring this is? The male judges totally checked out and ran off into the crowd (second time for Harry).
This season is kind of a giant snoozefest most of the time, you guys. It’s not that they don’t have good singers, so what gives?
11. C.J. Harris, “Free Fallin’,” Tom Petty
Not a good choice for C.J. He is so, so, so far off pitch it’s not even funny. Dude, there’s musicality and then there’s just flat-out not being anywhere near the right key. Between this and his blah duet with Malaya, C.J.’s time may have come. I mean, this is a mess.
DID YOU GUYS KNOW RANDY WAS IN JOURNEY?!
12. Caleb Johnson, “Faithfully,” Journey
I had high hopes for Caleb’s ’80s performance and he does not disappoint. Terrific song choice and terrific performance. I was actually hoping he’d do “Separate Ways,” but it’s nice that he went a different way because he hasn’t done a lot of slow stuff. He’s not quite as pure of tone as Steve Perry, but who is? Caleb’s got his own gravelly thing going on and it’s awesome. Well done.
So, who’s in trouble? Malaya and C.J. didn’t have a strong duet, plus C.J. biffed on his solo, while Malaya picked an obscure song. She did well, but she’s been in the bottom a lot. Sam Woolf bounced back nicely, so it is probably Malaya or C.J. headed home.
Since the judges just blew their save, it’ll probably turn out to be Malaya, right? That would be a shame.
What do you think, “Idol” fans?