Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Season 13 Finale: Final Performances

Welcome back. Well it's been a long season, over 3 months of singing, contestants, eliminations, a few shockers, a ton of Jennifer Lopez dancing, and a sprinkle of nonsense here and there, but overall we have two pretty great performers left in Caleb and Jena. They have been the most consistent contestants week to week, which is a good reason why they are still here. They both deserve a place at this finale.

A couple quick Idol History Notes: Last week we mentioned that the last time a female beat a male in a finale was Season 6, when Jordin Sparks beat Blake Lewis. Another interesting note is in the last two seasons, the winner is the person who sang second, Phillip Phillips and Candice Glover. Out of the 12 prior Season Finales 8 out of 12 winners sung last. So it's not impossible to win if you go first, Scotty McCreery, Lee DeWyze, David Cook and Ruben Studdard each prevailed while going first, but the odds aren't in the first performers favor.

For this season we learn that Jena won the coin toss but decided to go first. That's risky. We'll see what happens this time around with that choice.  So as always, let's get to it:

I'dol Be The Judge Rankings-Season Recap
We usually post our power rankings here, but given that this is the finale you never know what can happen. So in lieu of that, posted below is how Jena and Caleb fared in our Power Rankings all season long. You'll see that although Caleb hasn't been ranked lower than 4th all season long, Jena has progressively gotten better and better and finally has staked claim as our #1 in Power Ranking. We do these power rankings paired with all the remaining contestants and never do the 2 contestants side by side, so it's interesting to see their two journey's next to each other and see what kind of path they took to get to the finale.

Top 13 Week-Jena #8, Caleb #4
Top 12 Week-Jena #7, Caleb #4       
Top 11 Week-Jena #8, Caleb #3                                                                             
Top 10 Week-Jena #5, Caleb #1                                                    
Top 9 Week-Jena #4, Caleb #2
Top 8 Week-Jena #3, Caleb #2
Top 8 Week(Redux)-Jena #2, Caleb #3

Top 7 Week-Jena #2, Caleb #3
Top 6 Week-Jena #1, Caleb #3
Top 5 Week-Jena #1, Caleb #2
Top 4 Week-Jena #1, Caleb #2
Top 3 Week-Jena #1, Caleb #2

Performance #1-Producer Simon Fuller's Choice

(Dog Days Are Over-Florence & The Machine)
I think this was a good song choice, I don't know if she hit as much as I wanted her to. There were a few moments in the beginning/middle that she missed the microphone or just wasn't on it as well as I wish. She hits those high notes like crazy though. Really well done on that. I think it wasn't her best performance but it was still quite good. I still give her credit for going first, that's a big risk. B+
Keith=Great song choice. The way that she owned the stage is so good, sign of a real pro. A few issues with breath control, but that's because there is so much adrenaline going.
Jennifer=The electricity in the room makes the performer a little overwhelming. Did a really good job, sounded good. Loosened up and owned the stage by the middle of song.
Harry=It was fantastic. Favorite part was when she was walking on stage in time and really enjoyed how she owned the stage.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. Her adrenaline and excitement got to her a little and she was a little off, but it was still really good.

(Dream On-Aerosmith)
If Simon Fuller's intent is to make Caleb current then he did a bad job with this song choice, it's about 30 years old. But with that being said Caleb did a really great job with it. Everyone knows that huge Steven Tyler note in the song and Caleb really nails it. Keith and Jennifer give Caleb a standing ovation. A-
Jennifer=That's what you got to do. Gotta deliver and seize the moment and he just did that. Right song. That might have did it right there.
Harry=As powerful as the ending in his low register he needs the same focus and energy for the beginning. Phenomenal but needs it for the low intense part too.
Keith=Literally had me from opening song. Had a great arc to the song. Stayed really quiet in beginning and ramped it up by end.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. I think Caleb did a great job. I have to believe there are more current songs that could have been picked for Caleb, but given his track record this season I'm not surprised by the choice.

Our Choice of Winner of Round 1=Caleb

Performance #2-Contestant's Favorite Performance

(Can't Help Falling In Love)
Ya gotta think that if her hometown didn't pick Creep as their selection for Jena last week that Jena would have chosen that this time. I love this song and her version a couple weeks ago, but it gave her a big moment just a couple weeks ago, not a lot of time to have people put the prior performance out of their mind and take in a new one.  That being said, Jena does such a beautiful job again, along with string accompaniment. Really quite lovely. Again, this is a take on the Ingrid Michaelson version, but it has even more to it. Her voice is ridiculous. Keith gives her a standing ovation. Nothing but cheers from Jennifer who gave her a kiss last time. A
Harry=Can clearly hear the influence of other performers that perform this song. But what separates her is that she puts that aside and come out with a unique interpretation on it. Absolutely beautiful.
Keith=Did this song 2 weeks and was so good, showed in this moment that she is a leader and is a trailblazer.
Jennifer=Soul comes through on that song. So incredibly talented and it's overwhelming. Such a battle because both of them are so different. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? 100% It was so beautiful and the judges tell her that. She is so good behind that piano and so good on stage when she is moving around, basically she is good at most everything she tries.

(Maybe I'm Amazed-Paul McCartney)
I think that this was a smart song choice for Caleb. It allows him to show his tender voice and really powerful one as well.Some of the runs he does are pretty intense and right on point. He hits some falsetto again and nails it. I think this song benefits from being sung a little less intensely, but that's Caleb, so I'm sure that's hard for him to do.  B+
Keith=Such a deep emotional song. Don't get caught up in the gymnastics and lose the feeling.
Jennifer=His power is so undeniable that if he holds back then his should comes out. Required a little more heart and less of the powerful thing.
Harry=I think that the first round goes to Caleb and second round goes to Jena.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For the most part. Caleb got to show his tender side but he could have had even more.

Our Choice of Winner of Round 2=Jena

Performance #3-Original Song/Winner's Single

(We Are One-Jena Irene)
The fact that this song is written by Jena is amazing. She completely owns the song, literally and figuratively. This song could have been on the radio already, it fits completely into what the Katy Perry, Pink's and Rihanna's of the world are putting out there. Jena's final performance was pretty flawless, she moves around the stage, sings well and really enjoys herself out there. A-
Jennifer=Thought that the song really suited her.
Harry=Strong as in the studio. Nice work.
Keith=Perfect song for her.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yep. The judges had to rush with their critiques due to the show being close to over but they seemed to enjoy it.

(As Long As You Love Me-Caleb Johnson)
Again this song was written by Caleb himself, so that's pretty cool. The song is what you'd expect, big rock moments, crazy runs and a chance for Caleb to go nuts. This is a perfect song for Caleb. I love hearing Caleb performing something so current and from this decade. It was an excellent job by him. A-
Harry=This was Joe Frazier versus Muhammed Ali tonight. Good Luck America.
Keith=It's been an amazing night.
Jennifer=Gave it everything. Felt that he put it out there. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? Sorta. They didn't really give great feedback on this song in particular, they mostly gave a general view of the whole night, but I really liked this song.

Our Choice of Winner of Round 3=Jena(by an inch) 
*Explanation Found Below*

Top 13 Perform
Right at the end of the show the Top 13 join Jena and Caleb on stage and sing the song that's been the eliminated contestant's song "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson. I kinda wish we had a few more seconds of feedback from the judges on the last performances, especially Jena who the judges really didn't get to say anything about. But, it is what it is.


Should Win-Jena Irene. I think she nailed the second round, nailed her last performance, but Caleb's first performance and last one were really good as well. Jena has been close to or at the top of the leader board for weeks. She has had many weeks of just unbelievable performances and vocals. Her overall resume is a strong one and deserves to be recognized. She should be crowned the Season 13 American Idol winner.

Will Win-Caleb Johnson. I don't know, this isn't a clear cut choice like last season was. I just feel like the momentum was all with Caleb tonight. I think that Jena didn't have a huge lead over Caleb prior to the episode and although they tied the first 2 rounds and Jena's final song was a little stronger, Caleb just had a little something extra on his side. Not saying that he wouldn't deserve the crown just as much as Jena, but Jena probably just barely beat Caleb 2 out of 3 rounds. But momentum is key in this case and Caleb had it throughout the night.

Final Thoughts

*This was a pretty outstanding finale. I think each of them delivered absolutely great performances. Caleb's first performance and last one were fantastic and Jena's second and final performance was fantastic. This looks like it will be a very tight race. Both of them deserved to be in the finale and had an impressive resume to get to where they are, so neither of them were far and away the front runner. I think whoever wins will have deserved it.

*I think Jena winning the coin toss and choosing to go first was costly. I think that as good as Caleb's first performance was, it wouldn't have come off so big if Jena had gone right after him with her first performance. I'm not saying she is going to lose just because of it, but I think it was a bad risk that I would love to know why she did it for. Last season Kree Harrison also won the coin choice and elected for Candice Glover to close out the show, we all know how that turned out. Maybe I'm making a big deal of it, maybe not, I'm just saying if it's as close of a final battle as the judges and I think it is, a coin toss and order of performing could make all the difference.

This has been a really great season, and we'll finish up with our last blog of the year tomorrow night after the 2 hour finale. We have a few "awards", some recaps of the season and then our full blown recap of the show. So expect a decent sized blog tomorrow. We hope you have enjoyed our coverage of the show. So come on back here tomorrow and until then, see ya!

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