American Idol Top 7: I’m tryin to tell y’all it’s not sabotage

None of that this week. DAMN YOU RANDY JACKSON! DAMN YOU!

None of that this week. DAMN YOU RANDY JACKSON! DAMN YOU!

These Idols are too nice.

Not for nothing, but if I’m six bad performances away from winning American Idol, I’m doing everything possible to make sure one of those performances is somebody I’m competing against. With this week’s theme – which had a stupid name but was basically “Idols pick songs for one another” didn’t get as nasty as it should have been. We found out 3.2 seconds into the show when Randy Jackson – the hipsteriest hipster who ever hipst – said “this isn’t about sabotage.”

Sabotage is such a dirty word. It would be strategy and from what we saw, only one guy picked with any strategy – Alex Preston, who picked lesser known songs and only Caleb Johnson was dumb enough to take the bait (I mean really? Let’s sing a song by a middle-of-the-pack one/two-hit wonder and it’s not one of their hits?).

For the most part, they all were terrible with the strategy but more than made up for it with their performances. Nothing was bad tonight. Sure, the judges didn’t like Jessica Meuse’s stage presence Nobody does. They weren’t feeling Sam Woolf. Nobody is. Alex sounded too much like (fill in the soft-rocker here). So? Geena Gina Jena Irene was just about perfect. Of course she was.

Tonight would have been one of my favorite nights if there were more songs I enjoyed and the duet’s weren’t completely awful (all of them were puke city). Individually though, tonight was a good night and it’s going to lead to a results show where nobody – not even the best expert around (PS that’s me) – knows what’s going to happen.
On to the review.

1) Caleb Johnson
There isn’t a better person at playing American Idol than Alex and he showed why when he picked a barely-known song from a one-hit wonder of a band for perhaps his only true threat at the Season 13 crown. Guess who just lost all momentum? Not the guy who picked the crap-ass song.

Caleb was good. My face remained in tact – I usually end up dancing in my living room as it melts off when he performs – but technically speaking, he was solid.

But fuck technical. At this point, we don’t want technical; we want to be blown away by performances and singing a random Kings of Leon song wasn’t a good idea. If you think it was an accident that Alex picked that instead of “Sex is on Fire” you don’t know Alex. Dude’s mindfucking everybody. Last week it was throwing his friendship with Jason Mraz all over Sam’s grill, this week it’s picking bad songs for his rival, next week he’s probably gonna have sex with the chick from Paramore and say “she’s so much cooler than Jena.”

Caleb better be safe because he wasn’t bad, but I really want to know what else he had to choose from because that choice was almost as bad as his hairstyle.

(And super PS: how about Kings of Leon pussying out and allowing their songs back on American Idol? A few years back they told Idol to get fucked and wouldn’t clear their songs; now they need a couple records sold, so of course they allow it.)

2) Jessica Meuse
All I heard was “Jessica singing Miranda Lambert blah blah blah” and I was ready to bitch about how I’m not going to be able to judge this because I don’t really know country music.

Then she started singing.

If you pick a country song that I know and kinda enjoy, you’re barking up the right tree. Singing Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder & Lead” (PS – should just be called “Shotgun” because I sing it “memamamamamamamamama SHOTGUN mamamamamamamamamama SHOTGUN”) was awesome because it’s a party anthem (right out of the Dexter Roberts’ playbook) and everybody except my 1-month old daughter knows it.

The performance was a little rocky. Jessica is awkward on stage; like 13-year old boy trying to ask a chick to dance awkward, and it hurt the performance. She started slow, the chorus was awful, but there was this portion toward the end where she needed tenderness in her voice and she nailed it before coming home strong with the chorus. It won the song for me.

Now do I think she’s 100 percent safe? Hell no. Do I think she’ll be here next week? Yes. Will she be bottom three? Maybe. Yes? I don’t know.

If she survives, Jessica needs to get a guitar back in her hand ASAP and keeping doing what she did in the first couple weeks of the live shows.

(PS And if you think she wasn’t trying to sabotage everyone, you’re insane. The only person playing Idol better than Jessica right now is Alex and I know she was pissed when this theme was announced.)

3) CJ Harris
Good CJ was back this week and the timing couldn’t have been better, because I had him pegged as going home before he absolutely nailed John Mayer’s “Gravity.”

The song was picked by Caleb and it was coincidental (worse writers would say ironic; it’s not) that it was along the same lines as the song picked for him; a well known artist (John Mayer, who’s 10x more famous than Kings of Leon) but not one of their hits (Gravity received accolades from critics; commercially it did about as well as any meddling song from a superstar). But CJ was so much better than Caleb and it really wasn’t close.

Tonight only proved that CJ has the best voice left and if American Idol was still a singing contest, he’d be the winner. There was so much soul in his performance and you heard it and felt it.

I don’t know if it’s good enough to save him. I hope it is. CJ was damn good and deserves to stay around another week. He was on the cusp of being cut and I don’t know if America is going to keep him around. They should, but I’m not gonna be shocked to see him Bottom 3 or gone even though that was clearly one of the better performances of the season.

4) Dexter Roberts
Uh, was that good? Was that different? Was that not out of the Dexter Playbook?
Because it sounded awesome.

Dexter’s been more predictable than J-Lo’s tears, but this week he didn’t theoretically have the choice to pick some big country party anthem. Now for all I know, Muckalee Creek Water by Luke Bryan is a monster hit – guessing by Harry Connick, it’s not and Dexter didn’t do much to make it sound different – but I liked what he did.

Don’t know what it is. I know if you sing an unpopular song by a popular artist, it usually equals bad things; so if you do an unpopular song by a popular artist in a genre that really isn’t the top 3 (country gets wayyyy more credit than it deserves; it’s still miles behind pop, hip-hop and rock) could that equal good?

I really wished Dexter would have been horrible or boring or, much easier, horribly boring, because I could say “He’s Bottom 3 and he’s going home” but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. CJ picked a good song for him and Dexter did the Dexter thing. I’d rank him higher than most; don’t think he deserves Bottom 3, but wouldn’t be shocked if he was there.

5) Alex Preston
The judges got a little crazy tonight

This wasn’t Alex’s best performance of the season and it wasn’t the best performance of the night. It was another good performance from the person who’s going to win Season 13.

Book it. It’s over. Nobody can beat him. Alex can beat himself, but there isn’t one contestant out there that’s going to find the right combination of song/performance/likability to upend Alex. Everyone is playing for second.

Now this sucks for a couple reasons, one being Alex is a huge hipster and as a 33-year old father of two who’s also a registered republican, I fucking hate hipsters. I’m not going to deny the kid’s talent; he’s got whatever this modern soft rock sound is that drives people crazy and good for him. I’m not rushing to Best Buy to pick up his CD (pysch! Gonna illegally download whatever I want like everyone else) but I’ve never bought any Idol’s CD because CDs are lame.

MY biggest disappointment was there is actually a song by Ed Sheeran called “A Team” and Dexter wasn’t just drunk/high and wanted to hear Alex sing the theme song to the greatest action TV show ever (and the movie was awesome too).

So Alex is definitely winning Season 13, so let’s just watch to see if he intentionally sabotages himself to make things interesting.

6) Sam Woolf
As good as Alex Preston is at playing American Idol, that’s how Sam Woolf is at it.

Now Sam seems like an intelligent kid and if he’s been paying attention, he knows America fucking hates his guts. I mean hate, hate, hates him.

So to make American hate him less he a) wears a red beanie indoors, in Los Angeles where it was 70 degrees at showtime; b) he sang a David Gray song; c) he didn’t put 1,000 lamps on stage with him.

Here’s the thing people need to know – David Gray has the voice of a fucking angel. Like I almost divorced my wife before we got married because she wouldn’t let me have “This Year’s Love” as our wedding song. Angel.

The other thing about David Gray is he wasn’t super popular in the US. People know Babylon. Dudes know “Flame Turns Gray” because that’s the song you played in college when you were trying to bang chicks.” After that?
Nothing. Just like Harry said. “Familiarity is your friend.”

David Gray ain’t that, especially when you’re clinging to the Bottom 3.

Now Sam wasn’t bad. In fact, he was good (fuck you for disagreeing). But it was a terrible decision to sing that song at this time considering his position. That was the Patriots going for it on 4th-and-8 on their own 25 and not passing.

Not a bottom three performance. But at this point will it be? Ugh. I mean, if America stays true to its “worst performances go home’ it will be, but I think they’ll take body of work as a factor and Sam is bee-lined to the bottom.

7) Jena Asciutto
She was good. Real good. Damn good.

But she had a chance to unleash a monster of a song and missed. But she hit 2/3 of it.
“Creep” by Radiohead couldn’t have been a better choice. If she wins, she needs to give Caleb Johnson 3 percent of royalties in perpetuity. Boom, SharkTanked.

Her intro was brilliant. It was haunting. The lighting was ridiculous, the staging was perfect, her wardrobe/makeup/hair couldn’t have been any better. It told a story. I loved the first third of the song. And then I heard the guitar.

Maybe I’m being nitpicking. Probably am. Once Jena went fast-paced I we lost all the magic that was built up. It was still terrific. But it wasn’t magical and she needs magical to win. I talked myself into it. Her voice? I mean, seriously? I was OK with how it was going and then …

Back to slow. I was listening to the way she finished that song and was disappointed because of what could have been. I think on playback she’ll say “shit, I shouldn’t get a tattoo and I shouldn’t have switched the tempo.”
Jena is safe. She’s playing Idol and she’s being herself and she’s a heck of an Idol. Do I think she can win? Fuck no. But I think she can give Caleb a hell of a run for second.

So who’s bottom three? Who couldn’t be? Honestly? Based on how America has voted, I could argue any of the seven into the bottom, whether it was based on this week’s show or their body of performances as a whole.

If I’m picking, Jena, Alex, CJ and Sam are safe with Jessica, Caleb and Dexter going into the bottom three and, gun to my head, Caleb going home.

I sincerely doubt America is going to go that way. I don’t think the bottom feeders did enough to make that big of a leap and don’t think the top half faltered that much.

So Thursday America votes CJ, Dexter and Sam Woolf into the bottom three with Sam going home only because I can’t write CJ because a) I heart him and b) he had the best performance of the night.
No idea what to expect Thursday, but I expect me to go to bed right after the elimination show. Sleepy for days.