Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Top 3 Perform: Randy Jackson, Judge's and Hometown Picks

Welcome back. Tonight is the 500th episode of American Idol and also the penultimate performance episode. We are so close to the end. We have 3 contestants left and tonight's performances will determine which contestants makes the Finale. Alex, Jena and Caleb have been the most consistent performers since the Top 12 and each deserve to be here, it'll be interesting how everything shakes out.

Tonight the contestants will be singing 3 songs. One song will be Randy Jackson's pick, one will be judge's pick, and one song will be selected by a poll conducted only from their hometown. Right before the performances we are told Caleb has been dealing with bronchitis and has a small vocal cord hemorrhage but according to the American Idol doctor he is cleared to perform. Drama, Drama.

According to reports, next season American Idol's results show will be eliminated and everything will happen in one night, anything can happen between now and then, and if FOX under-performs as much as they did this season, then maybe they will reconsider, but I'm pumped about the 2 hour format. Results shows are silly and are time wasters. But anyways, let's get to tonight and get started:

I'dol Be The Judge's Power Rankings
With the elimination of Jessica Meuse from the competition this drops Alex to the bottom of our list. At this point each of the contestants have been at the top of our leader board, so it's really anyone's game.
1. Jena Irene-Same From Last Week
2. Caleb Johnson-Same From Last Week
3. Alex Preston -Same From Last Week

Guest Performance
Um, I looked down for a minute and when I looked up all of a sudden everyone was taking Selfies because for the guest performance of the night DJ's The Chainsmokers came out and "performed" a song called "#selfie". It's an absurd song and everyone, including the judges and audience, pulled out their phones and were just takeing selfies all over the place on tables and everything. Idol has been doing these "selfie" things all season and it's absurd. Maybe if I was attending a Bar Mitvah that would have been a fun time but I'm really not here for people on my screen to be taking selfies. It's not good TV at all.

Round 1: Randy Jackson's Picks

Caleb Johnson
(Never Tear Us Apart-INXS)
To be current Randy chose a 1980s song. OK. Very current, so that means I'm a newborn baby. Anyways moving on from semantics, Caleb can't talk or do interviews, he can only perform his 3 songs, he didn't even perform during dress rehearsal. Caleb pushed his voice as far as he could. If I didn't know he was sick I would say he was holding back a little, but given his illness I'd say he did really well. But since I'm watching and looking at everyone the same I'd say he did a real solid job with a tough song. B+
Keith=Great song choice. Has that blues-soul thing in his voice. Hears the voice go in certain spots but he is such a pro.
Jennifer=Can see he wanted to do more. Him his on his worst night is better than most people on their best. Still a stellar performance.
Harry=That song forced him to work within confines. Real concern is that he doesn't hurt himself tonight.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. His worst is still pretty darn good, and I don't think that was his worst.

Alex Preston
This is a current and modern song and it allows Alex a chance to do an uptempo song.Alex starts in his usual perch with his guitar, but with some backing drums Alex joins in and plays drums himself. He throws the guitar behind him and actually doesn't go back to the guitar, this is a first for him. Wow. I was actually gonna mention how Alex doesn't change things up, but tonight he really did.It was a little shaky when he transitioned from one thing to another, he missed the microphone a little, but I liked that he changed it up and tried something that we haven't seen. He has his eye on the prize, which is the finale/winning and he is doing what he can to get there. A-
Jennifer=Can see what his doing. He is creating moments. It was a different Alex, much different and elevated. 
Harry=That song gave him do everything he needed to. It was current and great. Can see the wheels turning a bit too much. Felt a little piece mealed.
Keith=Despite a few hiccups of going from one instrument to another and moving around stage, when he was playing the drum he became so solid as performer.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yup. Alex really went outside his usual comfort zone and tried to switch things up and push himself. It was a good call on his part.

Jena Irene
(Titanium-David Guetta feat Sia)
This was a song choice that Jena admitted that she wanted to sing a week or so ago, so it's definitely inside of her comfort zone and song personality.  The song started a little low.  Jena was up in the air on a pedestal thing and it didn't allow to get her usual stage personality going. I didn't like that staging choice at all. Her voice is so good and does carry her pretty far. She hits every note and hits some really tough high notes to boot. She just goes for those big notes and doesn't really falter. I wish the first part of the song was like the second part, but still she kicks those high notes in the butt. B
Harry=Another great song choice.  This song has a ton of high notes, it is a high risk, high reward song. It's great to see her week to week to see her get better on stage.
Keith=Is a killer performer but also has fun. Is inspiring to mix the conviction and approach with fun.
Jennifer=Hit all the high notes. One of most difficult songs. The beginning felt a little shaky and never saw her fully loosen up. Not her best but not worried about her.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yep, especially with..Jennifer. I think the beginning of the song was a little too low but by that middle end she killed it.

Round 2: Judge's Picks

Caleb Johnson
(Demons-Imagine Dragons)
This is a modern song, it's nice to hear something more current.  Caleb decides to take the song in a different direction, especially the first verse, I don't think I liked it too much. I feel like he changed it just for the sake of changing it, I don't think it added much. The whole song was in a different style and direction than the original. I liked that it focused more on his voice rather than the band, which the original song does a little. Caleb did a nice job with it. I don't know if I loved the arrangement, but his voice carried him through. B
Keith=Feeling for him right now, loves that he is working through that. Killed that song, noticed a real Steve Perry vibe.
Jennifer=As a performer he seemed a little shaky and sang the emotion of the song, especially by the middle. 
Harry=Has come so far in this competition. Wonders what record he will make. Caleb tells him that he wants a rock album, soul and all original songs.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. Harry gave no opinion or critique. I think Jennifer was trying to say it was a little shaky at first, but they didn't really say anything about the arrangement.

Alex Preston
I had a feeling that Alex would take this song really acoustic and he did. He got some violin accompaniment and very gentle drum background. Alex hits some really lovely notes. He changes things up a little to take to this song in his own way. I really loved the arrangement on this song. He hit that really long note in the middle of the song so effortlessly and really delivered on the last note as well. Jennifer and Keith give Alex a standing ovation. A-
Jennifer=Knew he would sing the heck out of the song. So beautiful. All yours, forgot about Rihanna.
Harry=Beautiful. Really strong. Wants to know what he'll do in concert. Alex tells him they will be fun and a lot of rocking out.
Keith=Owned that song from beginning to end. He mixed up the falsetto and the full voice so well. 
Do The Judges & I Agree? Absolutely. Alex delivered a beautiful performance. I thought it was gonna go one way, but it ended up being a lot more.

Jena Irene
(Heart Attack-Demi Lovato)
This is a pretty perfect song choice on paper. Jena is so current that this song sounds like something she can sing right now and throw on the radio, if she is so fortunate. Demi Lovato is someone that is right in Jena's lane and Jena delivered appropriately. The song again started a little low, but after the first line or two she just did everything she was supposed to and more. The way her voice maneuvered around some of those high notes and low notes was pretty flawless. A-
Harry=Even in songs where there isn't a lot of ways to be original . Needs to have same energy from first note that she does in the end. Asks Jena what she wants to do on stage. Jena wants to rage with the crowd and connect with the audience.
Keith=It was great. Always so right on with her pitch and range. The notes just keep coming. Loves when she is with the band on stage.
Jennifer=Felt very loose and in control. She was free and perfect. Great song choice, if they say so themselves.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yep. She really nailed this song and performance. Would have loved that first few sentences to kill, but from then on it was pretty perfect.

Round 3: Hometown Picks

Caleb Johnson
(Dazed and Confused-Led Zeppelin)
This is a huge song, as are most Led Zeppelin songs. The band is really going crazy. Jennifer and Keith stand up after about 30 seconds of performance. Caleb wasn't on pitch the whole time, but the band kinda made up for him.  Jennifer is dancing a lot and really rocking out. I would have loved to see Caleb a little more. Caleb ends the song by bashing the mic stand over and over and dropping the microphone. His performance level was crazy. He put it all out there. Can't say he didn't. Knowing what he has going on and everything in between he pulled off a great performance. A
Keith=That was insane. If ever there was a complete moment of miraculous healing that was it. 
Jennifer=A true Idol moment. That was bananas. That was ridiculous. 
Harry=It was really great. This show is about opportunities and Caleb took advantage of the opportunity. It was absolutely fantastic.
Do The Judges & I Agree? 100%. Caleb put it all out there. Every ounce of himself and I give him much respect for that.

Alex Preston
(Story of My Life-One Direction)
This was a pretty predictable song choice. The hometown could have chosen any song basically and they chose one doesn't allow Alex to have huge moments. I wish that his song was a little bigger for this kind of moment. This is his last song of the night, before most people vote. Sure it was lovely and Alex sang very well, but unfortunately this was on the lower end of the performance excitement scale while Caleb's performance was at the higher end, so in direct comparison it was boring. But, Alex sang well and did a really nice job with it. I give his hometown an F for predictable song, but a decent grade for Alex overcoming it. B
Jennifer=It's gonna be hard for the audience. That was a great job.
Harry=This song strikes a chord with people. He sang it in Top 10 but gave a strong performance this time.
Keith=It was hard to come out after his last performance, it came down from that one.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. It was a bit of a let down after his prior performance and after Caleb's last performance, but he still sang prettily enough.

Jena Irene
Jena's high school voted for this song and it's one she already did, but unlike Alex this song provides Jena more opportunities.. Jena delivered so well last time with this song selection so it's tough to do much better. Probably knowing this Jena basically does the same performance with her sitting behind the piano. Her voice is so good and makes you almost forget that she did this song a few weeks ago. I take a little away from her grade because she didn't do much differently than she did before, but she still killed the song. Jennifer and Keith give her a standing ovation. A-
Harry=Something when she sits behind the piano, coupled that with how she does the other things. Doesn't envy the audience at home. That was terrific.
Keith=So belongs here. You're progress from auditions to now is mind-blowing. Gravitated toward production, band, how she dresses, everything has grown from leaps and bounds.
Jennifer=It was brilliant. So young, but it's so easy for her. So hard to beat.
Do The Judges & I Agree? 100%. Jena was brilliant and had 3 really great performances tonight.

Going Home Predictions
Alex.  This is tough. Probably one of the hardest picks of who will be in the finale next week. Alex delievered on his first two performances but was lacking in the third. Caleb was lacking in his first two performances but killed his last song. Jena really was the most solid of the night and provided many great moments. I think Jena is a lock and the battle is between Alex and Caleb. Will the person make it that did better as a whole, or will the person make it that did better at the end? We shall see.

Final Thoughts

*This is gonna be an interesting vote tomorrow. Alex, Caleb and Jena each had so many great moments and performances tonight. The judges said it a few times but the audience will have a tough time. I know that at one point in this competition I thought each one of them could win. They each have had so many big performances along the way. Whoever goes home tomorrow is gonna be a tough person to lose. But that's the competition, only one can win.

*I can't say any more of how much I disliked the opening of the show. If they were gonna try and stall for time, and really stretch out the 2 hours then have better performances. The fact that they had that selfie party thing going in the beginning was absurd. This was the 500th episode of American Idol. I know they brought back this season's Top 12, but why not have some Idol alum come and perform. Or show us more moments from Idol past. Idol has produced a ton of stars, they should have really tried to utilized them more. I know that they had few seconds of pre-taped material from some past winners, but I'm sure there is some Idol alum that could have come out instead of that selfie nonsense.

*I am doing something I haven't done a lot this season, complimented Randy Jackson. I know it was probably more producers pick than just Randy Jackson, but his picks were really quite good, even though INXS isn't current. If choosing songs is something Randy wants to do next season than that would be different, but in the capacity of mentor he probably shouldn't be doing that anymore.

That's it. Tomorrow we will find out which 2 contestants will make the finale and which contestant will come up just a little short. We'll also check out a little more footage from when the Top 3 went home. So come on back here tomorrow and until then, see ya!


  1. I saw the comment about trying to remove the results show next season and have everything happen the same night. That would be interesting on how to make it even voting based on the timing of performances. I agree on both counts that the selfie nonsense at the beginning of the show was completely absurd and that it would have been a great opportunity to spend more time showing some of Idol's best highlights from winners and popular non-winners. I think they need to scrap showing the "reject" auditions again of those who have no talent. I liked most performances and I'm trying to recall if all of the fan favorites were picked from songs previously performed by the idols as they seemed like repeats. One comment on Jena. She is not yet on tour and should do away with some of the theatrics as if she is established and needs to regain some humility again. The 1st performace was a little ridiculous and over the top at the beginning. Her redo of "Creep" was one of her best performances so far.

    THE JUDGES : I 'm sure they have zeroed in on Caleb from the start.. My opinion he is only a singer, and after the show on WED it is obvious to me, He should have gone home. The voting I believe is now rigged,and of course they never show who got what in NUMBERS. like they used to.
    Alex and Gena are Artists, not mere singers. and from reading some of the feedback on the control issues concerning song choices They don't have much to choose from. Bottom line I believe the show is now controlled behind the scenes. After being an Avid Idol Fan,perhaps it's time to quit.. I will not ever watch or vote again if Caleb wins.

    1. It's great to see some other feedback on this site. Interesting take on Caleb although I feel Caleb has the strongest voice and is also a performer. The only question is whether or not his style is too dated for today's genre. I hope you stay in there as a fan because this finale, like several recent ones, has arguably two of the best who were projected for quite a while. I think Alex is a true recording artist who may sell a lot more hits in the long run but isn't much of a performer on stage. Whether or not the show is or has been controlled? That's up for debate this season and any other prior. I'm still voting for Caleb to win but think it will be Jena (which is OK, too). I just think as a winner that Caleb will stay more down to earth in the long run while I can see Jena letting the fame get to her and down-spiraling like some other famous scandals. Hope I'm wrong.