'American Idol' Recap: Jena Irene Is Front-Runner After 'Can't Help Falling In Love' Performance
American Idol’s final four contestants – Jena Irene, Caleb Johnson, Jess Meuse and Alex Preston – each sang three songs Wednesday evening. All of the Idol hopefuls had to sing a breakup, makeup and a dedication number for the chance to crack into the top three.
American Idol Recap
Caleb Johnson was first up and sang Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Though it wasn’t as innovative as when Blake Lewis beat boxed it a few seasons ago, Johnson’s take on the song was still unique and deserving of praise from the judges. Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez were particularly complimentary of his rock presence on stage.
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Travelin Band” served as Johnson’s dedication song. It was a song that Lopez described as being in the rocker’s “wheelhouse.” Most surprising was Johnson’s choice to dramatically slow down the ending.
For his last song, Johnson made the risky choice of singing Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Finally, after all the weeks of the competition, he stuck with softer vocals for the majority of the song, and won Harry Connick Jr.’s praise and a standing ovation from Lopez and Urban.
Jess Meuse decided to perform former Idol winner Kelly Clarkson’s hit “Since You Been Gone.” It wasn’t one of the singer’s better choices as she struggled with pitch problems throughout and Lopez felt she lacked the confidence to knock a song like that out of the park.
In another questionable choice, Meuse sang P!nk’s “So What.” It was her second popular pop song of the night and the second that both exposed her rough lower register and was dubbed a bad pick by the judges.
Her third and final number was also a top 40 hit, though it definitely suited the gravelly-voiced singer much better. Meuse’s take on Lady Gaga’s “You and I” was by far her best performance of the night. All the judges were in agreement that she slayed the song.
Alex Preston’s first song of the night was Alex Clare’s “Too Close.” Though Preston made it his own, delivering a bluesy version of the hit, Urban was concerned about if Preston got into it enough, while Lopez worried over whether or not his performances were getting repetitive.
Preston dedicated Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” to his current girlfriend, American Idol and X Factor alum Jillian Jensen. Strumming on a ukulele, Preston gave a somewhat dull performance vocally. And Connick, a major fan of the singer, didn’t think he changed up the number enough to make it his own.
Coldplay’s “Yellow” was Preston’s final song on Wednesday and probably his best overall performance. He changed the song up enough for Connick and got into the emotion of the song enough for both Urban and Lopez.
Jena Irene took on “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar for her initial turn on the Idol stage last night. Once again, Irene showed that she could get the audience involved in her performance, commanding the stage and her vocals. Even Connick couldn’t find fault with her voice at any point in the rock song.
Singing the second Lady Gaga song of the night, Irene took on “Bad Romance.” Irene changed up the arrangement, giving the song a more sultry feel. The judges were split with Urban thinking she killed it, Lopez questioning the melody and Connick wishing she’d hit another high note.
For her final number, Irene sat down at the piano and delivered a truly moving rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” The focus was purely on her voice for the number and she blew away the audience and the judges. Lopez, overcome by how good it was, walked onto the stage to give Irene a kiss.
On Thursday night, the singers will find out who is going home and who will survive to move on to the top 3 and make their hometown visits.
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