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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 30 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

American Idol XIII: Top 2 – The Sleeper Vs The Rock Viking

In case you haven’t checked the polls from my previous article, it turns out that literally everyone who voted had already decided which team they were: Caleb or Jena, before even seeing the performances. Which is part of the reason I feel like the finale performance night doesn’t actually matter in the grand scheme of things. Bad feedback can charge a contestant’s fan base into voting extra hard for them (which changes some with the limited voting) and good feedback can snatch up the votes of the undecided or casual viewers. That said, I think it’s important to talk about how two of our most consistent contestants this season did on their last night of performances.

Honestly, I could watch these two perform for a few weeks. Both of them have given us some real pieces of Idol history and I’m almost sad this season over, but also excited for one of them to get the title. As a sidenote, I loved the “prom gone wrong” theme the producers gave us. It was very reminscent of the David/David boxing match showdown and brings a little bit of humour to an otherwise serious night. With that said, let’s talk stats…

Round 1: Simon Fuller’s Choice

Jena “raging” during Dog Days, Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

. Jena – “The Dog Days Are Over” (Florence & The Machine) – This is definitely a great, epic song with a melody that drives right to the very end (very similar to Simon’s choice for Caleb, so kudos to him on consistency). I really wished Jena’s microphone was turned up so we could hear the intricacies of her voice. In parts, she sounded spot on and really lent a new flavour to a song that is so iconically Florence Welch’s. I agree with JLo that it took a while for Jena to get into the groove of it, but I’m going to chalk that up to the nerves of going first, especially since we saw both Jena and Caleb show a bit of nerves on their faces tonight when they thought no one was watching.

  • Rating: B+

Caleb head-banging during “Dream On”, Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

2. Caleb – “Dream On” (Aerosmith) – This song has been done amazingly well on reality shows (See: Amanda Brown on Season 3 of the Voice) and in a trainwreck fashion (Danny Gokey back in Season 8) so naturally I was holding my breath and waiting to see how Caleb would pull it off. I think Harry’s critique was spot on her: Caleb’s voice was a little shaky at the beginning, but the closer he got to that bigger glory note the better it got and he finished in a home run fashion that I think gave him the win in Round 1 over Jena, like the judges said.

  • Rating: A-

Round 2: Contestant’s Favourite Performances

3. Jena – “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (Elvis Presley) – Here’s a little background about why I was worried about Jena reprising this song: Back in Season 5, Katharine McPhee (who went on to star in NBC’s Smash) delivered a knockout performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” during the Top 3 then, a week later in the finale, reprised it and despite giving a performance that was almost just as breathtaking, but the magic of the original performance just couldn’t propel her to victory and that is why I cringed when Ryan announced that Jena would be reprising a performance from only two weeks prior.

But my worrying was in vein. One of the big weaknesses of the finale is that the contestants often seem swallowed up by that big stage, but Jena seemed to draw all the focus to her and her pristine vocals. She sounded just as good as the first time and, like JLo said, I’m sure you could hear a pindrop in the living rooms of the millions of Americans watching. If Caleb tugged the proverbial rope to his side with Dream On, Jena tugged it right back with this performance.

  • Rating: A+

4. Caleb – “Maybe I’m Amazed” (Paul McCartney) – Fortunately, Jena’s recent reprisal choice is probably also negated by the fact that Caleb chose an equally recent performance. As the judges said, Caleb slayed this the first time around, but he benefitted from going before Jena, rather than after. For the first time, I understood why Jena might have wanted to go first because she set the bar so high that Caleb’s performance seemed a little lackluster in comparison. Like the judges said, Round 2 went to Jena but that meant they were going into Round 3 dead even…

  • Rating: A-

Round 3: Winner’s Singles

The cover for Jena’s single “We Are One”, Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

5. Jena – “We Are One” – Like reprisals, there’s a huge risk in the original song round. They’re songs we’ve never heard before and definitely do have a huge cheese factor to them. But when a good one comes along, you know. You can picture the confetti raining down on the contestant and get the chills associated with a great performance. As I said in my last article, Phillip Phillip’s “Home” (who’s new album “Behind The Light” came out yesterday and my fellow reviewer Elizabeth wrote an amazing review about) and Fantasia’s “I Believe” are two such examples.

I think Jena’s single has a great Kelly Clarkson vibe to it. The beginning reminds me of her smash from last summer, “People Like Us” and the driving beat really suits Jena’s power-pop style. Although the lyrics are odd in places, I definitely get the inspirational vibe from it and I think, with the right promo, it could be a hit. Jena’s performance of it definitely did it justice and I did get a bit of those aforementioned chills I talked about that go along with picturing Jena under the confetti.

  • Rating: A-

Caleb’s single cover, “As Long As You Love Me”, Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

6. Caleb – “As Long As You Love Me” – Caleb’s single also suits him really well. It’s got a rock vibe without being a little redundant for the rest of his performances. It does a good job of blending his rock sensibilities with the pop aspects that Idol sort of requires. Caleb did a good job with his performance of it too. He sounded a little hoarse from that glory note in Dream On and, likely, from last week’s illness but he did himself justice and closed on a good note. I noticed, however, that the judges praised Jena for her single and performances, but just gave generic comments about the closeness of the competition for Caleb. Maybe it was just to do with time restraints.

  • Rating: B

Anyway, that’s my quick recap of the performances. I will not acknowledge the closer on Breakaway except to say that it was an interesting little ploy to erase the power of the pimp spot and give Jena another chance to show off that Kelly Clarkson-esque tone of hers. So the question is… will Jena be the first wildcard contestant to win or will Caleb follow in Candice’s footsteps as a multi-auditioner to triumph after so much rejection? Vote in the polls, tell me who you think won each round and who you think will & deserves to win…

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3 Comments on “American Idol XIII: Top 2 – The Sleeper Vs The Rock Viking”

  1. Elizabeth Rosalyn The May 21, 2014 at 1:03 am #

    To me, Caleb took the first round with “Dream On” and Jena snatched it back with “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (which I’ve now determined to be my favourite performance of the season). The singles are still growing on me, but I think Jena’s “We Are One” has better radio potential. Overall, a solid Top 2 night.

    I’m Team Jena all the way! :)

    • Andrew Rogers May 21, 2014 at 1:19 am #

      You and me both! I think, overall, she’s been better & more consistent and is more marketable (which is good for the Idol franchise), but I have appreciated Caleb all season long and think he put up a fantastic fight!


  1. American Idol Season XIII Finale | Elizabeth Rosalyn - May 21, 2014

    […] For a more in-depth review, check out Andrew’s recap of the Top 2 performance show on The Hudsucker. […]

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