American Idol 13: Top 8 - April 2, 2014

Top 8 - April 2, 2014 - Audition Songs

1. Jessica Meuse - "Blue Eyed Lie" A+

Jess becomes the FIRST EVER American Idol to sing an original song during a live voting round. And what an awesome song. Her audition instantly captured my attention and I loved this longer performance of it. I loved the grit and the passion of it. The studio recording, which I purchased off iTunes, is worth a listen and is an awesome addition to my music collection. One complaint: the big bridge is just a repeat of the same lyric. Kind of kills the "build" of the song, but a minor complaint over all. Can someone explain why Keith Urban said she should move around the stage more when she was literally performing on a pedestal?

2. CJ Harris - "Soul Shine" C/C-

I've never been a big fan of this song in any way and CJ has consistently proven himself forgettable week after week. Not the sort of performance I would remember without re-reviewing it for this blog. CJ's gritty tone can be appealing in a small dose, but he overuses it each week. CJ seems like a nice guy but I'm not sure how he made it into the Top 8 over more talented contestants who were cut in the early rounds.

Duet #1: Alex and Jena - "Just Give Me A Reason" A-

The two most interesting, unique voices in the competition came together beautifully on this duet. There was the right amount of passion and their voices sounded awesome together.

3. Sam Woolf - "Lego House" C

The part of the show where I can fall asleep and not miss anything... Sam sings in such an affected, flat tone, with absolutely no emotion or feeling. I feel like there is something blank in his eyes and something missing in every performance. It's funny to me that Alex gets labeled "shy" or "awkward" when to me he is light years more comfortable in his skin and his performances than Sam. I've seen better performers in high school musicals. (And in the movie High School Musical.)

Duet #2: Caleb and Jessica - "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" A

I LOVED THIS. One of my favorite songs and I see where the producers were going by choosing the Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks duet for these two. They had an easy chemistry in this song and sang rings around the next two duets (Dexter & CJ, Malaya & Sam).

4. Malaya Watson - "Ain't No Way" B

A powerful and beautiful performance by Malaya. I admit I counted her out completely as a joke contestant in the early rounds of voting after her hideous performance of "Runaway Baby" and over the top personality. Her latest performances have changed my mind on the front. I still contend she may have been even better if she had come back at age 18, but there's no going back at this point. Her big notes at the end veered into her usual, unpleasant lane, but she did rein it in pretty quickly.

5. Dexter Roberts - "One Mississippi"A-/B+

Dexter's best performance in a long time. Season 8 Top 4 finisher Allison Iraheta sounded beautiful singing the harmonies in the chorus, and it really added a lovely quality to the entire performance. A quiet moment from him that he desperately needed to showcase some of his much-lacking versatility. Here is a performance that I wouldn't mind listening to multiple times.

Duet #3: Malaya & Sam - "Lucky" F

What an insipid, twee song and what a flat performance. According to the Official YouTube page for this performance, "It's a duet you simply HAVE to see!" (emphasis not mine, trust me). The vocals were embarrassingly off, the "oooooohs" sounded god awful, and the both of them looked obviously, glaringly uncomfortable. Listening to this back in order to write this review is almost painful. Idol, please never make 16 and 17 year olds sing awkward love duets to each other ever again.

6. Jena Irene - "Rolling In The Deep" A

WOW. This was a stunning, haunting performance in which Jena completely reinvented the song that we've all heard a thousand times, in a thousand cover versions, to the point it sounded like an entirely new song. This girl is unbelievably talented for any age, let alone 17 years old. Her voice is instantly recognizable from the first note and she signs with just the right amount of passion and emotion to entirely convey the meaning of the song. This was near perfection.

Duet #4: CJ & Dexter - "Alright" C-

Their voices did not blend well together and there were plenty of bum notes that stood out like sore thumbs. Absolutely forgettable, but at least it wasn't a train wreck like Sam and Malaya's duet.

7. Caleb Johnson - "Chain Of Fools" A-/B+

I didn't at all remember Caleb's audition so it was awesome to hear him sing one of my favorite 60's songs. Much like Jena, his voice is instantly recognizable. A fun performance without angst or deep meaning. His voice reminds me so much of David Coverdale of Whitesnake.

8. Alex Preston - "Fairytales" A-

Alex is such a unique talent and I have a feeling his original songs are awesome. He is the kind of contestant that fits well into the modern radio landscape of singer/songwriters and bands like Ed Sheeran, A Great Big World, American Authors, and Passenger. Of all the current contestants, he might just be the most likely to have current radio success. "Fairytales" improves each time I listen to it, as I hear more of the lyrics and the flourishes that Alex puts in the song.

Best of the night: Jessica
Worst of the night: CJ
Best duet: Jessica & Caleb
Worst duet: Sam & Malaya