American Idol 2014, Top 8 recap – It’s starting to get good.

American Idol's top 8 - Fox Television

We’re down to eight, which usually means we have kind of identified who the top two or three contenders are and we’re just kind of waiting for everyone else to drop off. But tonight, most of the top 8 rose up and gave a performance worthy of making us think they could compete for the title. And, I’ve had to rethink my power rankings a little bit.

But enough build-up!  It’s late and I need to crank this out.  The theme was “Sing That Song You Sang The First Time We Saw You In Your Audition City”, or something like that.  Also, top 8 means we are making everyone sing a duet in order to fill the two hours.  So, I will be weighing tonight’s rankings based on the combination of their two performances.  Because that’s what I do.  So, in order of their appearances…

JESSICA MEUSE “Blue Eyed Lie” by Jessica Meuse – Jessica sang an original song at her audition, and it sounded fantastic with the band.  I would dig this song if it was on the radio.  It was her best performance by far, though I still thought she could have shown a little more animation toward the end of the song, which Harry also kind of observed.  Still, this was wonderful.  I started laughing when Keith compared Jessica to Grace Slick, because I had just written “sounds Jefferson Airplaney”. I loved this.

C.J. HARRIS “Soul Shine” by The Allman Brothers – C.J. will never be vocally perfect.  But his greatness comes in his passion and connection to his choices. This was a front-runner kind of performance (though it was on a night filled with front-runner performances). He spun his country-folk-soul magic all over this song. It was an easily enjoyable performance.

DUET: JENA IRENE & ALEX PRESTON “Just Give Me A Reason” by Pink and Nate Ruess  – This worked really well.  What surprised me was how much Jena outperformed Alex, both vocally and connection-wise.  Alex seemed slightly uncomfortable, but this was still solid for both. And, it made tonight’s show three for three with great performances.

SAM WOOLF “Lego House” by Ed Sheeran – Sam loves lamp. At least that’s how it seemed with several random lamps set around him on stage. I was actually worried that the lamps would outshine Sam (Ba-da-BING!). Actually, Sam gave what I think was his best performance of the season.  It only fourth best so far tonight, but still his personal best.  Harry wants Sam to smile more.  But, as we learned a long time ago, sadly, Sam can’t.

DUET: JESSICA MEUSE & CALEB JOHNSON “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” by Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks – Solid paring, solid song-choice, solid performance.  Jessica really impressed me tonight.  I liked her playful coyness here.  I guess she just needed an onstage foil.  Caleb was his usual brand of reliable greatness.

MALAYA WATSON “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin – Malaya is so fun to watch.  And, of course, she can sing.  This was soulful and dynamic.  It’s almost starting to feel easy for Malaya.  Too easy, maybe?  Is she starting to blend in?  I ask that in the same way that Caleb, who is clearly a front-runner, gets kind of lost in the scenery by singing the same kind of song every week.  Malaya sang beautifully this week.  But when the show was over, I wasn’t really thinking about her.

DEXTER ROBERTS “One Mississippi” by Brett Eldredge – This was a decent performance. Not special. My wife called it a “snoozer”. Dexter the Dud, aka Snoozer. The judges seemed to love this, but come on!  This was nowhere near any of the previous performances.  Except maybe Sam.  Maybe.

DUET: MALAYA WATSON & SAM WOOLF “Lucky” by Colbie Caillet and Jason Mraz – Oof.  I thought Malaya was going to eat Sam up on this, but I think he kind of dragged her down. In truth, this was a terrible song choice for Malaya.  The whole thing came off like a bad high school musical. And watching Sam have to sing a love song with someone was highly uncomfortable.

JENA IRENE “Rolling In the Deep” by Adele – Wow.  This was a stunner. She turned this overly exposed song into a riveting torch ballad. It built up to this cool, Lana Del Ray type of intensity. It was awesome. Jena has become electric and, dare I say it, a front-runner.

DUET: C.J. HARRIS & DEXTER THE DUD “All Right” by Hootie – Hmm. I don’t think these guys fit together. Dexter’s voice is cleaner, but C.J. is so much more connected and passionate.  I’ll take him every time.

CALEB JOHNSON “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin – Bluesy and full of attitude, Caleb delivered another get-out-of-my-way performance. This boy loves to perform. And he’s obviously great.  So why do I always feel a little bit let down by him.  I recognize that he should be the easy favorite to win this whole season. But I never feel like he is the favorite to win.  Is it just me?

ALEX PRESTON “Fairytales” by Alex Preston – Alex, like Jessica, played an original song in his audition.  And like Jessica, his song sounded great with the band. This was strong.  Being that he wrote it, it was easy for Alex to be connected, and it showed. He is just so easy to root for.  I don’t know if he is going to win this competition this year, but I think he is still my favorite.

So, taking all of the performances into consideration, here is how I rank the performers tonight:

  1. JENA IRENE
  2. CALEB JOHNSON
  3. JESSICA MEUSE
  4. ALEX PRESTON
  5. C.J. HARRIS
  6. MALAYA WATSON
  7. DEXTER HARRIS
  8. SAM WOOLF

Malaya’s poor duet hurt her overall rank for me. And Jessica strong duet, paired with a fantastic original song, moved her up for me.  The fact that I ranked Alex fourth is a testament to how strong tonight’s show was. I strongly believe that Sam should be going home, but America is often hard to read.  If it’s anyone but Sam or Dexter, I might have to pick up my mobile device and start voting next week.

And now, here is my new power ranking:

  1. ALEX PRESTON
  2. JENA IRENE
  3. CALEB JOHNSON
  4. MALAYA WATSON
  5. JESSICA MEUSE

I kind of shook up power ranking tonight. Jena continues to get better every week and, in my opinion, won the night. Meanwhile, Caleb and Malaya are starting to get kind of samey feel stuck in the same spot. I swapped Jessica for C.J. in the fifth spot based also on her recent growth. But I could easily swap them again next week (assuming they are both still around).

Okay, that’s it.  I”m going to bed. See you next week!

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~ by themattmorrisshow on April 3, 2014.

One Response to “American Idol 2014, Top 8 recap – It’s starting to get good.”

  1. I think the issue with Jena and Alex’s duet was he had to look up at her. I am guessing that might have been slightly awkward. Probably had to look at a light as well. Hard to say, but I noticed the initial awkwardness as well.

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