Caleb Johnson’s “Still of the Night” by White Snake brought down the house and drove the crowd crazy on last night’s America’s Requests on American Idol. Jennifer and Keith were on their feet and dancing. Jennifer called it “sickening”, and Harry said it couldn’t get any better than that. Caleb’s point-on rocker screams had everyone moving, clapping and screaming, and the band members were gettin’ down as the octaves geared up.
On the flip side Alex Preston’s emotional but controlled version of “Say Something” by Great Big World, was called the best performance of the night by Harry Connick, Jr. I got goosies just like Jennifer Lopez. For me, it was the first goosies of the season because It was far and away the most beautiful performance of the the entire 13th season of American Idol.
It was a two-song show for the Final Five and I’ll be mixing them up instead of going straight through the list. Though some performances were more notable than others. a few of those viewers really knew their singers, especially Alex and Caleb. And the last song for Jessica Meuse, “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey, probably guaranteed her a seat in the lounge instead of an uncomfortable stool in the bottom two. The dramatic opening scene with Jess seated in that flowing, side/split red dress, and big hair, leaning back in profile with bare leg revealed, was the best stage setting this season. Harry called the choice of song a perfect, natural fit, a marriage of voice and song. Keith loves that deep register of hers. She reminds my husband of Kim Carnes when she’s throaty like that. Jennifer loved the staging, the leg, and the tattoo.
Jason Mraz gave some good advice as mentor last night. Not that anyone listened particularly. He wanted Sam Woolf to move a little more, even if it was just to tap his hand against his leg, but I didn’t notice that the boy thought to do it. Sam’s first performance, “Sing” by Ed Sheeran, came after a surprise appearance on-stage of Ariana Grande, Sam’s celebrity crush. Sam had no problem showing emotion as his face registered very pleased surprise, and his arms reached out, not once, but twice, for an Ariana hug. Ariana wore a sweater with no skirt or pants, which seems to be the weird rage today.
Sam promised to “let go”, “get funky”, and “have a party” in his performance of “Sing”. I don’t think the poor kid has any idea what those words and phrases mean. Mraz called him “America’s Little Brother”, sweet and innocent. It’s amazing that Sam has made it through the past decade with that boy-next-door demeanor. He sings beautifully, but needs some grit to polish up that too smooth tone. I just hope that he doesn’t lose that Little Brother aura that makes him so appealing.
Sam’s second song, “How to Save a Life” by Fray started out off-key, but when he hit the “sweet spot” as Jennifer called it, she got her second (?) — she lost track — goosies of the night. Harry noted that on the last line, Sam had a break in his voice and wished he had sung the entire thing that way. Keith wondered what was going on with the first part of the song, because Sam may be a one-volume singer, but he was never pitchy.
Jena Irene was good, but not her best on both song choices, though her stage presence is still her best draw. Her last performance was “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse, a strange song whose words were incomprehensible except in spots. Jennifer did not think it was a good song choice and Keith liked the version with more tempo better. Jena’s first performance of “My Body” by Young the Giant looked energetic. But as she worked the stage she began running out of breath — which the judges thoughtfully failed to mention. I didn’t think she was going to be able to make it to the end.
Alex’s first performance was “Sweater Weather” by The Neighborhood, which Keith thought was a little linear. Both Keith and Jennifer wanted the song to soar more, and Harry compared Alex to Jesse Rutherford and said that the velocity of the tough lyrics was hard to do.
Caleb’s first song chosen by viewers was “Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith. Caleb had the voice for it, but looked uncomfortable. Keith called it a challenging song, Harry gave him stage directions, and Jennifer told him he had the range and ability to let the feeling drive the ability. Or maybe that was Jennifer who said challenging and Keith who did the feeling/ability. I can’t read my notes.
Jessica’s first song, “Human” by Christina Perry, didn’t go as well as she liked, though her voice is still “killer” as Keith says. He also calls her “Country Cool”, and liked it when her voice started to break, showing a vulnerability and fragility that he looked for in a song like that. Jennifer’s favorite part was when Jessica “got lost in the moment”, tapping into her emotions. Because Jessica had some pitch problems (not usual for Jess), it was not Harry’s favorite, though he gave her props for listening to their advice and trying to put so much of it into practice.
Jena, Sam, and Alex got a standing O from Keith for their trio performance of “Best Day of My Life”, and I agreed. It was really good.
Caleb and Jessica did a great duet of “Beast of Burden” by The Rolling Stones, which Keith said they “killed”. As I watched the two on stage, I couldn’t help but notice that Caleb wanted to move and Jessica stood in one spot. He seemed to be trying to get her in the groove, with her body moving, and kept getting in her space, bumping her microphone at one point, which got him a “look” from Jess. I don’t blame him though. I want to get up there and move her around, too. I’ve never seen such a great singer as Jess with such a lackluster sense of rhythm in her body. I’m old enough to be her grandmother and I can move better than that. Come on, Jess. Shake, shake, shake. Shake yo booty.
My prediction of the outcome tonight should see Sam Woolf in the bottom two. Jena could be in there since she didn’t have a stand-out performance like she did last week and Jessica, Alex, and Caleb did. Those three brought sensitivity (Alex); electricity and voice power (Caleb), and drama (Jessica). But I won’t bet the farm on it. We’ll see tonight, won’t we?