American Idol recap: Wildcard vs. Wildchild

Jena and Caleb take to the stage of the Nokia Theatre to try and rock the vote one last time.
Ep. 38 | Aired May 20, 2014

Jena Irene, "Can't Help Falling In Love" by Elvis Presley: Two short weeks after her unforgettable performance at the piano, Jena made a smart choice in doing the song again, even though it may have been a little "too soon," but right after Caleb completely brought the house down with his high-energy song, Jena was able to take back control with this extremely intimate and vulnerable song, especially for the finale. Of course J.Lo got goosies again (no need to ask twice, Harry) but said something about the way Jena performs that song overwhelms her. Fortunately, the song doesn't seem to overwhelm Jena at all. Though it was clearly one of her best all season, I still think it was a very brave choice to pick this song for the finale, especially up against the much showier Caleb. However, it was another high risk/high reward situation that Harry loves to talk about so much, and Jena may finally be rewarded.

Caleb Johnson, "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney: Oddly enough, Caleb's pick for his favorite performance also came from the love-themed episode two weeks ago. However, what was amazing about Caleb's take on the Paul McCartney ballad the first time was just really good the second. Now, "really good" is obviously still really good, but for the finale of American Idol, it's just not good enough. I thought it was a safe choice for Caleb, and the reprise didn't do anything for me. Even though they spent most of the night (and latter part of the season) being fairly tame with their critiques, the judges were all unanimous in thinking that Caleb's performance was lacking an emotional quality to it that is really required by the meaning of the song. As Keith pointed out, it's a deeply emotional song about Paul's late wife Linda, and Caleb seemed to get "caught up in the gymnastic moment of it." Again, Keith lost me a little here with the metaphor, but I think he meant that Caleb's theatricality worked against him in this song. Even J.Lo, who has adored Caleb from the first time she saw him audition back in season 10, said it lacked heart.

Harry is a smart guy and knows what makes good television, or at least what the producers ask of him, so he had all the judges "vote" at the end of the second round to see who they think is on top with one song left to go. They all thought Caleb won the first round and pretty much all thought Jena won the second round. Keith thought it was a tie and almost ruined the moment for Ryan to say "It all comes down to the final round!"

NEXT PAGE: Third time's a charm

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