'American Idol' final performance show "too close to call" whether Jena Irene or Caleb Johnson will win
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/21/2014
American Idol's judges agreed the Caleb Johnson vs. Jena Irene final performance show was just too close to call when trying to determine which Top 2 finalist might win the thirteenth season.
Tuesday night's performance show featured three rounds of competition -- executive producer Simon Fuller's pick, a reprise of their most memorable song, and the victory songs created just for them. Caleb, a 22-year-old from Asheville, NC, and Jena, a 17-year-old from Farmington Hills, MI, both brought their "A-game."
For Simon's pick, Jena sang "The Dog Days are Over" by Florence and the Machine.
"That was a great song choice. That was so good for her... the way that you own that stage is so good. That's the sign of a real pro. The progress you've made in leaps and bounds is incredible...You're like a jockey riding the Kentucky Derby winner and you rode it home. Fantastic," Keith Urban told her.
"It is electric in here right now... I know that can be overwhelming... [But] you did a really good job, it sounded good, and halfway through, you started really loosening up and owning the stage," Jennifer Lopez said.
"It was fantastic... You have great internal tempo but you [also] really enjoy being on the stage. Man, I hope when your record comes out, you put that song on your record. Great job," Harry Connick Jr. explained.
For Simon's pick, Caleb performed "Dream On" by Aerosmith.
"That's what you gotta do! This is the finale! This is it! You gotta come on and you gotta deliver, you gotta seize the moment, you gotta carpe diem, and that's what you just did!... You should thank Mr. Fuller for that song... because that song -- that may have did it right there," Jennifer said.
"As powerful as the ending was, don't forget when you sing in your low register, you're like a GT that's got so much power. Don't forget to take the same focus that you have, the same energy you have, on the end of the tune [and put it] in the beginning of the tune. It was phenomenal, but I still want to see that crazy power even when it's low and tense," Harry explained.
"You literally had me at the opening phrase of that song... I thought the way you arched the whole thing was exceptional. You stayed really quiet in the beginning, but you had somewhere to go and you ramped it up and you took it home... It was fantastic. Great job," added Keith.
For the reprise song, Jena took the stage with her rendition of "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis Presley.
"What separates you from a lot of other performers is that you're able to take [your] influences, put them aside, and come up with a performance that's very unique and very, very special... It was absolutely beautiful, Jena," Harry said.
"You did this song two weeks ago. It was so good... You showed in that moment you're a leader, and a trailblazer, a pioneer -- you inspired someone else and that's the mark of a true artist, in my opinion. Absolutely beautiful, baby," Keith explained.
"This time, I got the goosies as well. Your soul comes through in that song when you sit at that piano. You are so incredibly talented and it's overwhelming when you do that song. I don't know what it is, it just makes me -- I don't know. It makes me feel things, do things, that I've never done before," Jennifer told her.
"Again, this competition is so fierce tonight. It's such a battle between the two of you because you're so incredibly different... Tough job for America tonight. I wouldn't want to be in their position, but I love you and you're amazing."
"Caleb, woo!... It's a real, deep emotional song. And all I'll say is, don't get caught up in the gymnastic aspect of it and lose what the song is about. Don't lose the feeling on it, because it'll be the missing ingredient," Keith said.
"I feel like your power is so undeniable... At the end of the day, when that soul comes through, that's what's going to give the goosies. And I felt you holding back, like you're so ready to do the headbang, which I love... But this is a different song and that's what it required that it was missing a little bit -- more heart and less of that powerful thing you do," Jennifer explained.
"These are two heavyweight fighters, you and Jena, you're going at it. In the first round... Keith, who won it?" Harry asked his fellow judge.
All three judges then agreed Caleb had won the first round. Although Keith declared the second round a tie, both Jennifer and Harry agreed Jena had won it.
For her victory song, Jena sang "We Are One."
"I thought it was really good. It suited you. I think it was a nice finish to the show," Jennifer noted.
"I was wondering what that song was going to sound like live. It was just as strong as when you did it in the studio. Nice work," Harry said.
"I love this song, Jena. It's perfect. It's perfect for you -- great! Loved it," Keith added.
Caleb performed "As Long As You Love Me."
"The way I look at it, you're going to sleep tonight. I know you're going to have a nice, long sleep. The way I look at it, you're like Joe Frazier and Jena is like Muhammad Ali. This is a puncher against a boxer. All I can say is, good luck America," Harry explained.
"It's insane. I'm dying to see what happens tomorrow night... It's been an amazing night, congrats," Keith said.
"You probably won't sleep tonight, but you gave it everything and you should, you should sleep well. I felt you put it all out there and you went for it and you sounded good. It's going to be a tough night for everybody [voting]," Jennifer said.
American Idol's thirteenth-season finale will air Wednesday night at 8PM ET/PT on Fox.