Tuesday, May 20, 2014

American Idol Season 13 - Final 2 Perform

Hello fellow Idol watchers.  The end is finally near again!  It's been an interesting season.  New producer, better judges, better voting system, more and more close-ups of J-Lo and a final 2 worthy of winning American Idol.  Yet, the ratings are dwindling fast on this once powerhouse show.  I think America may just about be done with the Reality Talent Competition scene.  But, that won't stop us from having at least 1 more season of Idol next year (and possibly with all 3 judges returning).  Will I be back?  That remains to be seen, but something tells me I'll be commenting on the show until it finally goes the way of Lee DeWyze's career.  Interesting night of finale performances.  I don't think either contestant made any new fans at this point or motivated any extra voters.  I feel like I'm conflicted most years on who actually will win but for many years it's been due to the voting system.  This year it seems like each of these contestants has a compelling case for the crown.  I know who I was thinking was going to win for a few weeks now, but now I'm uncertain.  We'll have to do a quick recap and see if I change by mind by the end!  Let's do this.

Jena Irene

Simon Fuller's Pick: Florence and the Machine's "The Dog Days are Over" 
Reprise: Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love With You"
Winner's Single: "We Are One"

Jena had a pretty good night.  Simon picked a great song for her to perform with the Florence tune.  It was basically a note for note rendition with a little Jena'izing added to accenting certain words.  But, I agree that she commanded the stage like a seasoned pro.  "Can't Help Falling in Love" was the idol moment of the season already, and she may have topped herself with that performance.  The judges kept talking about someone already covering her.  I had no idea what they were talking about, but it sounds like someone on The Voice did a similar rendition so maybe that was Keith subtly slamming the other show while praising Jena's original take on the song.  That was easily my favorite performance of the night.   The single was okay.  Better than some of Idol's worst original songs like "Inside Your Heaven", "Do I Make You Proud?"  I think we can all agree that the best single to ever come out of Idol was Phillip Phillips' "Home".  Catchy from the first time we heard it.  The Olympics certainly helped propel Phillips into one of the more successful Idol alums, but that was a decent song to come out of the show.  My problem with Jena's song was that I could barely hear the lyrics.  But, it sounded like it suited her style.  I don't think it will hurt her any more than Caleb's song will hurt him.  
Caleb Johnson

Simon Fuller's Pick: Aerosmith's "Dream On"
Reprise: Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed"
Winner's Single: "As Long as You Love Me"

Caleb had a great night too doing what he's always done.  Sing big, sing loud, and command the stage.  "Dream On" was good and we all kept wondering if he'd hit the big note, and he certainly did.  If anything would put him over the edge, it might be that.  But, Jena hit right back with the Elvis tune and hit back big.  "Amazed" was great again, but I could tell where the judges might have thought he was just going through the motions a bit.  But, Caleb going through the motions is certainly less noticeable than say Sam Woolf!  It was good.  The new single was kind of rough.  He sang it well and did his Caleb thing, but that whole lyric about 24/7 and "I'm in Heaven"?  That's all I remember and it's painful!  Maybe it just reminds me of Bo Bice disturbingly singing "Inside Your Heaven" and many adults' inner teenagers just chuckling at the unintentional innuendo.  I'm sure most of us were thankful that Miss Underwood released the single instead and eventually had much better songs to make us forget about it in the end!  

American Idol Season 13 Winner Pick

So, I've made it no secret over the past few weeks that I thought Caleb would be in the finale and I thought Jena (the wildcard!) had a pretty good chance of being there too.  I've also said that I thought Jena's sleeper status and growth story is more compelling than the always cool and good Caleb.  He didn't really have anywhere to grow.  He may have done some minor tweaking along the way, but he has always been Caleb and has always been really good.

Here's the thing folks.  If you think of today's popular music, who has a better chance of becoming a star?  I'm not sure if you read me saying this before, but as far as what sells today, Rock and Roll is truly dead.  Just look at the iTunes Rock charts to see what is topping them.  (Daughtry, ironically a season 5 Idol finalist, is the only one that is a recent artist/band)  And most rock stations would refuse to play Idol winners or finalists anyway, so where does that put someone like Caleb in today's music landscape?   Probably starring in Rock of Ages on broadway or playing Meatloaf's role in a Rocky Horror Picture Show revival.  Meanwhile, Jena seems like she could fit into the Alt-Rock Paramore-ish niche out there pretty successfully.  We'll see how well she does performing with Paramore Wednesday night.

I'll get to my pick in a second, but one thing is for sure, no one should ever ever ever EVER sing "Breakaway" on the Idol stage again unless it's the one and only Miss Kelly Clarkson.  I know all of the top 13 recorded the song as their farewell tune and I get that Per Blankens was trying to get that nostalgia vibe going all season and remind us of the success this show has had in developing stars.  But please, that was painful!   Okay, here we go.

As always I need to do a trip down memory lane with my finale record:

  • Season 1: Kelly Clarkson (winner) vs. Justin Guarini (got it right)
  • Season 2: Ruban Studdard (winner) vs. Clay Aiken (got it wrong)
  • Season 3: Fantasia Barrino (winner) vs. Diana DeGarmo (got it right)
  • Season 4: Carrie Underwood (winner) vs. Bo Bice (got it right)
  • Season 5: Taylor Hicks (winner) vs. Katharine McPhee (got it right)
  • Season 6: Jordin Sparks (Winner) vs. Blake Lewis (got it right)
  • Season 7: David Cook (winner) vs. David "the artichoke" Archuleta (got it right)
  • Season 8: Kris Allen (winner) vs. Adam Lambert (got it wrong)
  • Season 9: Lee DeWyze (winner) vs. Crystal Bowersox (got it wrong)
  • Season 10: Scotty McCreery (winner) vs. Lauren Alaina (got it wrong)
  • Season 11: Phillip Phillips (winner) vs. Jessica Sanchez (got it right)
  • Season 12: Candice Glover (winner) vs. Kree Harrison (got it right)
So now I'm 8-4 with picking the right winner.  Here goes nothing:

Season 13 Pick: Jena Irene 

Had to go with my instinct I've had for the past few weeks.  I really won't be disappointed either way on this one.  They're both very talented and hopefully they'll each find a way to carve a spot in the music industry with whatever they want to do.  We'll find out Wednesday night for sure!  Let me know if you agree/disagree with the pick in the comments. 

As always it's been fun writing this up even in the waning years of the show.  Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and I'll most likely see you in some form next year! 


Mary Ellen said...

I hope your right this year!!!!

Mike V. said...

Oh well!! He still deserved the win! Pretty good record this year picking eliminations though! Lol

Leslie said...

Did get to read your comments or post myself on the finale until now. I wish your pick had won! I think they are both really good. Like you said, Caleb didn't grow too much, and frankly, I thought he came off a little too entitled and not humble at all, so I was routing for Jena. But, as for the season, I think this was the best judging panel! They had great chemistry and had a lot of fun along the way while still giving some hard critiques, especially Harry who just cracks me up!

What was with Ryan singing? It was awful!

Mike V. said...

Totally agree with the juding panel. They were a lot of fun. Harry was having the time of his life up there and hysterical. He signed on for another year and I'm sure the other 2 will too. I can't imagine this show has many seasons left. They're already reducing the air time next year to 1 per week when they get to the live rounds.

No idea with Ryan...lol Apparently that song was sung on The Voice that week too so they may have been taking subtle jabs at the show. I'm not sure how that works itself into a jab but I haven't been watching The Voice anymore!

I'm sure Jena has a chance at a decent career. She certainly showed a lot of growth during the competition and has the appeal to make something of herself. We'll see what happens!