American Idol recap: 'With the Band,' As In On the Same Stage

The Top 9 become frontmen and frontwomen, but the judges' giant gummy bear from 1972 threatens to command all the attention
Ep. 21 | Aired Mar 26, 2014


Caleb Johnson, "Dazed and Confused" by Led Zeppelin: No one can be surprised that Caleb slayed it on "I'm With the Band" night, which was probably decided on because of his participation in American Idol. He's so consistently good week-to-week that sometimes I find myself less dazzled by his performances and more charmed by the off-roading details of Caleb, like his shaggy mane getting professionally "shaken out" by a pair of hands (show Majesty how it's done, boy!) and his description of his typical bar gigs back at home, many of which boasted two or three people at best "or one drunk person that hates me." I cackled out loud at that one, which is rare for me. Usually I channel my delight through these recaps or Twitter. A genuine LOL! What are the chances? (Pause for applause.)

Season 13 now has a Sexy Airbag in Caleb -- Jennifer Lopez thinks he's sexy (she even called him "Papi," and when she infuses self-promotion into her critiques you know she's really into the guy), and Keith said Caleb's "whole performance came at me like an airbag in slow motion." PERFECT description! And Harry's followup about the fabulous Rickey Minor and the band not being "afraid to play" resonated with me -- Caleb is a band's dream in this case. (Can you imagine how monotonous and restrained they must have felt backing Sam?)

Jena Irene, "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence: If everyone sounded and performed at Caleb and Jena's level, this would be a much stronger Idol season. Vocally I thought Jena lost her way at the end, but I'm chalking it up to her literally jumping around -- her endless touching of audience-hands, interaction with the band members, and general liveliness helped justify why they'd place her last instead of Caleb. But I'm not sure I totally agree with Harry that Jena's voice is that distinctive on its own. To me she's a very competent mimic of whatever she's covering. It's like she's poured her favorite singers into one magical surname-dropping cauldron to create a distinct Amy Lee-Hayley Williams-Amy Winehouse-Lorde blend called Jena Irene.

She's talented! And I really like her personality. I just feel like I know more about the styles of music she enjoys than what Jena herself could offer as an artist. I know she's got more originals up her sleeve. We shall hear them!

Happy with Top 9 night? Who's your pick to go home? Mine is Majesty. Sad face (drawn by a preschooler).


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