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AMERICAN IDOL Recap: Hemorrhaging, Raging, and 'Defying Gravity' for IDOL's Top-3 (updated w/ photos)

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AMERICAN IDOL Recap: Hemorrhaging, Raging, and 'Defying Gravity' for IDOL's Top-3 (updated w/ photos)

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome to our Three-Round Battle Royal! For the second year in a row, American Idol fans have voted the correct Top-3 through the maze of eliminations into the semi-finals. And tonight, for AMERICAN IDOL's 500th episode, we had a slobberknocker.

In one corner we have the underdog, wearing high-waters and no socks, hailing from Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, The Artistic Mystic, Alex Preston.

In the next corner, from Asheville, North Carolina, battling bronchitis, but keeping classic covers alive, we have the Rock 'n' Roll Renegade, Caleb Johnson.

And in yet another corner, the favorite, from Farmington Hills, Michigan, Jena Irene the Singing Machine. Now, let's get ready to rumbllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllle (Michael Buffer, please don't sue me)!

Coming immediately on the heels of the always emotionally taxing Hometown visits, each of Season XIII's remaining Idols performed three songs on Wednesday's penultimate performance show. The first round was made up of songs suggested by the surprisingly not-worthless "full-time" mentor, Randy Jackson. The next round was songs that the judging panel of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr. selected, and the final round consisted of songs the Top-3 had previously performed on the show and were determined by their hometown fans (and by hometown fans, I mean the show's producers).

After Ryan Seacrest introduced the finalists, they employed stall tactic #1 by bringing out the show's doctor, who said that Caleb has been suffering from bronchitis, and as a result has a vocal cord hemorrhage. Wasn't heAMERICAN IDOL Recap: Hemorrhaging, Raging, and 'Defying Gravity' for IDOL's Top-3 (updated w/ photos) the one bragging last week that his high-belting didn't hurt his voice? Someone needs to learn about vocal rest. Or perhaps karma is coming back to bite him for this faux pas.

Next, apparently nine performances and video packages of the hometown visits weren't enough, so Seacrest welcomed two DJs who call them self The Chainsmokers to "perform" their "hit" song "#Selfie." I don't know what is going on, and I don't want to, but Happy 500th episode IDOL!

After taking a quick shower to wash off that grossness, on to the performances:

DAWGFATHER PICKS

AMERICAN IDOL Recap: Hemorrhaging, Raging, and 'Defying Gravity' for IDOL's Top-3 (updated w/ photos)Caleb Johnson
"Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS
Three-Word Review:
Holy Vocal Damage

Randy said that he was looking for a modern song to prove that Caleb can be relevant in today's music scene, so he picked a song from 1988. Unfortunately, whether it was song choice or vocal damage, this was the worst performance I can remember from Caleb. Not only were his soaring high notes not present, but there were so many missed notes that I lost the melody on multiple occasions. However, apparently this close to the finals, the judges have no desire to critique the contestants.

Randy Cliché #1: "The show always goes on."

Alex PrestonAMERICAN IDOL Recap: Hemorrhaging, Raging, and 'Defying Gravity' for IDOL's Top-3 (updated w/ photos)
"Pompeii" by Bastille
Three-Word Review:
Blue Alex Group

To use Randy's tried-and-true catchphrase, Alex looked like he was "in it to win it" tonight. Not only did he accompany himself on the guitar, but he switched over to drums at one point, and then bounced around stage with an energy that we haven't seen from him all season. While there were some intonation issues, it was the type of performance that I think Alex should have come out with weeks ago. Also, was anyone else waiting for the percussionists to pour paint on their drums a la Blue Man Group?

AMERICAN IDOL Recap: Hemorrhaging, Raging, and 'Defying Gravity' for IDOL's Top-3 (updated w/ photos)Jena Irene
Titanium" by David Guetta Featuring Sia
Three-Word Review:
"Something Has Changed"

Ok, first off, did the WICKED tour leave the "Defying Gravity" lift on stage after their last swing through LA? (Did anyone notice Jena struggle to release her safety harness?) Also, like most musical theatre dorks, I am extremely partial to the "stripped down" version of this song that Brittany Snow and Anna Kendrick performed in the shower in PITCH PERFECT, so I had high expectations for this one. Unfortunately, Jena didn't performed it as well as I had hoped; she had issues on both the top and bottom of her register, and she did seem unusually guarded throughout the number. It seems like something has changed within her, something is not the same...AMERICAN IDOL Recap: Hemorrhaging, Raging, and 'Defying Gravity' for IDOL's Top-3 (updated w/ photos)

JUDGES' PICKS

Caleb Johnson
"Demons" by Imagine Dragons
Three-Word Review:
Oh, That Hurt

This performance was nearly as painful to watch, as it probably was for Caleb to perform, and that's just too bad. Caleb has been nearly too perfect on every song this season, so to see him struggle and have his voice abandon him was disappointing for this stage in the competition. So, like Harry, I will forgo any further critiques and move on.

AMERICAN IDOL Recap: Hemorrhaging, Raging, and 'Defying Gravity' for IDOL's Top-3 (updated w/ photos)Alex Preston
"Stay" by Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko
Three-Word Review:
I'm....Getting.....Tired

I give up. I don't know much, if anything, about fashion, but what in the Sam Hill is he wearing? Is that the first chartreuse suit in the history of IDOL? The judges loved this performance, but unfortunately, it just kind of lulled me to sleep. I'm familiar with the song, but not being much of a Rihanna fan, Alex's rearranged rendition did little to move me. As I have said all season, I love Alex's artistry, and would probably put his album on when I was falling asleep each night (is that a compliment?), but sometimes his performances venture too close to lullabies to get excited about.

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Matt Tamanini Matt is BroadwayWorld's Chief TV and Film critic. He also writes across other BWW sites, including BWW Orlando, and serves as BWW's Database Manager. He received a BA in Journalism/Communications from The Ohio State University and has worked in sports broadcasting, media relations, and journalism. He also has directed and/or produced over 30 plays and musicals, and is currently writing two plays of his own. You can connect with Matt through Twitter: @BWWMatt.



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