American Idol Review: A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock n Roll

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We're down to the American Idol Top 6 and this week we're gaining a song per contestant. Each of the Top 6 will perform two songs, one country and one rock n roll, in hopes of making it another week.

With so many different personalities and styles of singing, this should prove interesting.

Can the contestants cross genres and prove their talent as versatile artists? Let's find out...

Alex Preston Photo

Jena Irene starts the night off with "Barracuda," which is a perfect classic rock song for her voice. The band is down on the stage with her which adds energy to the performance. Overall, it's a pretty great way to start the night. Part of me hopes we get to see her slow down for a song or two because the high intensity performances can be a lot, but I can't say anything bad about this one. 

Keith says she set the bar high but would only like to see MORE release from her physically. Jennifer thinks Jena has a chance to get to the finale. Harry thinks she has to think about what she can do to give herself a moment in each performance. 5/5

Now Sam Woolf will have to follow Jena with "It's Time." It's definitely a song that Sam wishes he had written and definitely sounds like something he could produce as an artist, but Blaine Anderson did it better. Sam is definitely learning how to show emotions beyond shy and embarrassed on his face while he sings, which is good for him, but this isn't my favorite performance of his. 

Jennifer got goosies with Sam's performance because she believed him. Harry thought this was a perfect song choice and loves that he's a sweet, humble, kind guy. Keith said he had two moments in the song that grabbed him because Sam gave the audience gravitas. 3.5/5

C.J. Harris, totally NOT sexy like Lenny Kravitz, chose "American Woman." Doing a Kravitz song is problematic for two reasons: 1) the sex appeal isn't there. Lenny Kravitz oozes sexiness. C.J. Harris does not. 2) This song is so played out if I never heard it again in my life it would be too soon. That was completely mediocre and not at all interesting.

Harry asked how he felt about the performance and C.J. felt it was better than rehearsals. That's not comforting at all. Harry calls him out on being out of tune again. Keith says the song is "all attitude" and "badass" and those things aren't C.J. Jennifer loves his look and thought the beginning was shaky. 1.5/5

Always original, Alex Preston picks Neon Trees' "Animal." It's really cool to hear him with a band backing him like this, but it's odd. It definitely gives us something different while still giving us Alex. He keeps the same driving melody from the original song but adds little inflections and vocal phrasings here and there that put his mark on the song. 

Keith wanted him to release a little more because the band overpowered him. Jennifer felt like something was missing from the performance because Alex didn't let go. Harry says he's really consistent and sensitive and at this point he gets a bit of a pass for his lackluster performance. 4/5

Caleb Johnson, whose passion is rock and roll, chose "Sting Me" from 1992. It's a typical Caleb performance so there's nothing bad to say about it, but I do not love the loungey backup singers. The crowd goes nuts. He clearly won this round. 

Jennifer loved his ability to recover from losing the microphone and jumping right back into the song. Harry called him virtually impossible to beat. Keith said there was a big crack in his performance and he spackled right over it. 5/5

Attempting to follow Caleb, Jessica Meuse is tackling "Somebody to Love." She looks really pretty tonight, but the band is all over her. she sounds great in the first verse but by the second one, she's totally covered up by the accompaniment behind her. I'm actually not sure I caught a single word from any of the verses.

Harry says she's here because she has a great voice, and thought this was a strong performance. Keith agreed with Harry that it was a vocally strong performance but he still wants to see more release from her. Jennifer thinks her voice is powerful and beautiful but agrees with Keith that sometimes her energy doesn't match her vocals. 3.5/5

Round One goes to Caleb Johnson, clearly. Not only is he the resident rocker, he had the best performance. Now let's get to Round Two.

  Song Artist
Jena irene barracuda Barracuda Jena Irene iTunes
Cj harris american woman American Woman C.J. Harris iTunes
Jessica meuse jolene Jolene Jessica Meuse iTunes
Sam woolf youre still the one You're Still the One Sam Woolf iTunes
Alex preston animal Animal Alex Preston iTunes
Caleb johnson sting me Sting Me Caleb Johnson iTunes

Sam Woolf chose a Shania Twain song for country round. "You're Still The One" was great until the chorus. The verses sound like not a Shania song, but when it gets to the chorus, it's just too old for him. He's 18. This song is about...not 18 year olds. Poor song choice, decent performance. 

Keith says that's one of his favorite songs and thought it was a good one for Sam. (Keith is wrong, by the way.) Sam just needs to relax into his performances. Jennifer loves when Sam blushes while singing. Harry says he has to work on dynamics. 2.5/5

Grumpy Cat is on American Idol and that's ACTUALLY the highlight of the night. But Caleb Johnson is going to try to top his first performance with Carrie Underwood's "Undo It." Here's another example of a good song choice from Caleb. The category is country? Cool. He's going to choose a country song with a strong rock vibe. This basically isn't even a country song anymore.

Jennifer thought he did a great job with "Undo It" but there wasn't magic in it like there was in the first. Harry reminded him that the magic moments are fleeting and this one felt forced. Keith thought it was great and can't wait to hear what country song Caleb is going to do later. 4/5

Alex Preston is singing "Always On My Mind" by Willie Nelson. I'm so drawn into the performance I can't even critique it while he's singing it. There are a few runs that feel moderately unnecessary, but man, that was a beautiful interpretation of an old song.

Harry says he feels very lucky to have heard Alex sing that song. Keith loved that Alex dug into the heartbreak of the song but wanted him to dig a little deeper. Jennifer thought his performance was beautiful. 5/5

Our second Carrie Underwood number of the night comes courtesy of Jena Irene. Earlier in the night I wanted to hear her sing another ballad and just a few minutes later I got my wish. That was a really pretty performance. 

Keith calls her everything that Idol has always been about. Jennifer loved the way Jena's voice pulled her into the song. Harry didn't really know where she was going with her "ornaments" on the song but knows he's only one opinion. 4.5/5

C.J. Harris picked Zac Brown Band's "Whatever It Is." I'm interested to know why he chose this song over the rest of the canon of country music. Enunciation is an issue for C.J. and that's not any different on this song. He hits some very out of tune notes, too. It's not fantastic.

Jennifer expected "a tiny bit" more from him, expecting him to shine. Harry thinks it wasn't his best performance at all and blamed the tempo and song choice. Keith called him out on singing sharp for most of the song and told him he needed to pick a different song. Then we learn that he sang the song for a friend back home who passed away. 2/5

Closing out the night, Jessica Meuse chose "Jolene." It's hard to beat Miley Cyrus' backyard recording session of this song, and I'm not digging the band behind Jessica's arrangement. Once again, her emotional connection to the song isn't there. She's just singing but not performing. There's no conviction in her voice.

Harry said she did it again: she stood there and delivered the song in a strong and convincing way. (Nope, Harry.) Keith called it a strong vocal but hated the arrangement. Jennifer thought her vocal was really strong and thought she performed with her eyes. 3/5

Since everyone had two performances tonight, we'll add them up for tonight's rankings:

  • Sam Woolf - 6/10
  • Caleb Johnson - 9/10
  • C.J. Harris - 3.5/10
  • Jessica Meuse - 6.5/10
  • Jena Irene - 9.5/10
  • Alex Preston - 8.5/10

Based on my completely unscientific rankings, there's a CLEAR line between the top and bottom three this week. Jena Irene, Caleb Johnson, and Alex Preston are riding high after back to back knockout performances. That trio might actually be the Final 3 for American Idol Season 13.

Sam Woolf, C.J. Harris, and Jessica Meuse are the bottom three this week. Just how big is Slapout, Alabama that Jessica keeps getting enough votes to stick around? Truly, any one of these three could go home this week, but my hope is that Sam Woolf sticks around for a little while longer. 

What did you think of tonight's performances? Which of the American Idol Top 6 was the best?

Top 6 Perform Review

Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (4 Votes)

Miranda Wicker was a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in 2017. Follow her on Twitter.

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