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BWW Recaps: IDOL's Top-8 Separate into Pretenders & Contenders w/ full recaps and photos

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BWW Recaps: IDOL's Top-8 Separate into Pretenders & Contenders w/ full recaps and photosAs he has been doing throughout Season XIII, new American Idol Executive Producer Per Blankens has again thrown a curveball of a theme at the Top-8. Instead of the well-warn "Motown" and "Burt Bacharach" Weeks, for the first time in IDOL history, the finalists all performed their initial audition songs.

As I mentioned in my preview of this week's show, I felt coming in that there was a chance for this week to turn the competition on its head. With all of the contestants having a chance to revisit the song that earned them their Golden Tickets, I thought that perhaps it could remind those that have been consistently underperforming of what made them stand out in the eyes of the judges initially. I know that after rewatching all of the auditions, my perception of some of the performers' potential drastically changed. However, tonight's versions (along with their duets) seemed to cement the IDOL hierarchy that had been building all season.

Now on to the performances:

Jessica MeuseBWW Recaps: IDOL's Top-8 Separate into Pretenders & Contenders w/ full recaps and photos
"Blue Eyed Lie" by Jessica Meuse
Three Word Review:
There It Is

One of the things that got me most excited about this theme was rewatching Jessica's audition. For weeks I have been disappointed that she has seemed completely disinterested in any type of emoting while she sang. While the rasp and snarl of her voice has remained throughout, she hasn't seemed to be able to communicate any type of connection to the lyrics and message of the songs she's chosen. Being able to perform her own material allowed her to open up and show a side of her personality that has been severely lacking in recent weeks. While I would love to see even more of that passion, the fact that we now know that it is there, is encouraging. This was a good night for Ms. Meuse.

BWW Recaps: IDOL's Top-8 Separate into Pretenders & Contenders w/ full recaps and photosCJ Harris
"Soul Shine" by Allman Brothers
Three Word Review:
Happy for CJ

This performance from CJ was undoubtedly his most consistent for weeks. It is obvious that he is fighting as hard as he can to remain in this competition for as long as possible. That being said, I am not sure that it was stellar enough to compete with the front-runners who have been turning in better performances week after week. However, no matter what happens for CJ this week, this is a moment for him and his fans to be proud of.

Duet #1BWW Recaps: IDOL's Top-8 Separate into Pretenders & Contenders w/ full recaps and photos
Jena Irene and Alex Preston
"Just Give Me a Reason" by Pink featuring Nate Ruess
Six Word Review:
Jena Irene Wins This Battle Round!

I'm not going to comment on all of the duets, but, what in the heck is Alex wearing? He looks like he is playing the Scarecrow in a production of THE WIZARD OF OZ costumed by Urban Outfitters.

BWW Recaps: IDOL's Top-8 Separate into Pretenders & Contenders w/ full recaps and photosSam Woolf
"Lego House" by Ed Sheeran
Three Word Review:
Much More Confident

Before I start on Sam's performance, I have to bring up that during his performance of "Hey There Delilah" last week, the stage was covered with light bulbs, this week he was surrounded by lamps. I can only imagine what lighting accessory will be next. Lava lamps? Black lights? Ok, now to "Lego House;" it was nice to see Sam perform a song that he was completely comfortable with. It has been well documented that he is a shy boy with some confidence issues, so I think that his familiarity and comfort with the song, not unlike Jessica earlier, allowed him to perform at a much higher level than we are used to seeing. As a singer, he is great. As a performer, he is slightly better than mediocre.

Duet #2BWW Recaps: IDOL's Top-8 Separate into Pretenders & Contenders w/ full recaps and photos
Caleb Johnson and Jessica Meuse
"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty
Six Word Review:
I'd Buy That For a Dollar

BWW Recaps: IDOL's Top-8 Separate into Pretenders & Contenders w/ full recaps and photosMalaya Watson
"Ain't No Way" by Aretha Franklin
Three Word Review:
Wishing For More

Malaya's performance was passionate (if not a little overwrought), controlled, and professional, but I am not sure that this cut of the song gave her enough opportunities to shine. There weren't that many lyrics in the excerpt that she chose, and most of them were just "Ain't no way" over and over. That being said, what she was able to do with it was fantastic. She is quickly moving from dark-horse to front-runner.

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Matt Tamanini Matt is BroadwayWorld's Chief TV and Film critic. He also writes across other BWW sites, 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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