American Idol XIII – Top 8 Redux – Live Blog – Performance Videos

After last week’s save of Sam Woolf, it’s the Top 8 AGAIN! And this week they tackle The 80s!  And as a super special bonus: David Cook, American Idol season 7 WINNER was on hand to MENTOR the singers.  David, one of the greatest Idol player EVER, sang his share of songs from the era while competing for the crown. This will be good! Stay put. We’re live blogging.

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With the contestants performing a lot of contemporary material that’s brand new to Idol this season, it seemed weird for the producers to suddenly trot out a Nigel Lythgoe special in the form of 8os week. It was depressing on two fronts. First. Many of these songs have been performed by Idols before.  I mostly didn’t want to hear them again. Second. Many of these songs have been performed by Idols before. But a zillion times better.

I have to wonder, with last week’s retread audition theme (which did actually work to pull some good performances out of this cast) and the retro-for-Idol theme this week, if the producers aren’t getting a little desperate.  Not only by pulling out the 8os chestnut, but also the popular winner who was one of the best Idol players the show has ever had! Don’t get me wrong. I LOVED seeing David Cook on my TV again. His mentoring was A+.  Seriously. Let’s ditch the useless Randy and put David in his place! He zeroed in on each of the contestant’s weaknesses and patiently worked to improve their performances. But his presence? Also kind of depressing.

There’s only so much that can be done with a cast full of wet noodles. Other than Caleb and Jena (sort of) these kids can’t perform!  David gave it the old college try, but the learning curve is steep. Hearing David explain what makes a great performance reminded me of some of the past Idol greats. I’m not one for nostalgia, as many of you who follow me know. But, damn. I am NOT FEELING THIS SEASON.

Keith said something important tonight–that the kids are clinging too hard to what the stage blockers are telling them to do. The moves should be guidelines. Once they hit the stage, instinct should take over. But other than Caleb, that ain’t really happening. These kids are easy on the ears, but not so much on the eyes.

Jessica Meuse is a case in point. Her rendition of “Call Me” was solid from the neck up (although I agree with Harry that it needed more groove). But Jess could not have looked more awkward playing the vamp. Sam Woolf wisely went acoustic this week. Highlighting his stellar vocal tone almost made me forget he can’t relax on stage. Almost. Ditto Alex Preston, whose vocal skills and artistry are impressive, but basically sings to his belly button when he performs.

Speaking of Alex.  When I saw he picked “Every Step You Take” by the Police, I knew the big danger was changing the song up too much. Ugh. Not only did he make the melody unrecognizable. But his re-interpretation of the lyrics as a sweet love song completely missed the mark.  Google the lyrics. They’re sinister. It’s about a jealous, obsessed lover stalking his ex-partner.  It’s NOT pretty. And sorry, I don’t see another way to interpret those lyrics. There’s nothing nice about obsession.  At this point, Alex has people who would vote for him even if he tried to turn “Sympathy for the Devil” into the next CCM smash. No worries. But damn. Just because you can change something, doesn’t mean you should.

I’m also not digging Jena’s re-arrangements.  Tonight’s “I Love Rock n’ Roll” was a hot mess.  Starting a song off slow, only to kick it into high gear later has really turned into a singing competition cliche. If it’s going to be done, it has to feel organic.  The arrangement wasn’t fluid, and parts of it were out of her lower range. She performed first and could end up in the bottom 3 this week.

The best performance was Jena and Caleb’s duet of “It’s Only Love.” Searing spot on vocals from both singers, plus chemistry and stage presence.  Caleb’s “Faithfully” was also solid.

The judges attempts to kill time and be “entertaining” is falling flat. No. Really.  Unless they are critiquing, they need to STFU. Particularly when there’s a contestant in front of them, it’s disrespectful to goof around while they’re waiting for comments.  Harry is turning into an attention hog.  And was it only me, or did ya’ll go “EWWW” when Harry emerged from the crowd with that very young girl on his shoulders?  I still think the judges are doing a great job of assessing the performances. But keep the banter to a minimum please. Maybe just a bit at the top of the show, and between contestants.  The judges should NEVER overshadow the talent. Even when it’s super easy to do.


After a replay of last week’s EXCITING SAVE of Sam Woolf, we’re introduced to 80s week! As they take the stage each of the Top 8 introduce themselves with “I AM THE NEXT AMERICAN IDOL.” Alrighty then.

Next, the judges take their seats. DAMN KEITH AND HIS MULLET!!! Jlo’s got some big hair going too.  Harry is a party pooper. No Jlo, don’t take Keith’s extensions out! He needs to wear them forever.

Ryan introduces a video package featuring David Cook! He redefined what it means to make a song your own. HELL YEAH. David says the 80s represent incredible production and music. He calls taking a risk a chess match. David felt he was coached well when he was on Idol. It allowed him to take those risks.

David Cook Mentors Idols – American Idol 13 by IdolxMuzic

Jena Irene – I Love Rock n Roll by Joan Jett  –  Jena begins the song at the piano.  David was a little confused about where she was going with it, but grew to love it. “You want people to believe what your selling” says David.  She sings the slowed up beginning in a minor key. Hm. She doesn’t spend much time there. The band kicks in. Eh. As soon as she leaves the piano, the song becomes a lot less interesting. This is out of her range a bit in the lower end.  It picks up on the anthemic chorus. Great wailing notes! She finally hits her stride. But it takes too long. This arrangement is like 3 songs spliced awkwardly together. Keith loved the originality she brought to her performance. Jlo thought it languished in the middle (I AGREE!) She wanted more “meat” from the chorus. Harry wasn’t a fan of the arrangement, he appreciates that she’s trying. It was a little too choreographed.  He thinks she should have run around a little more.  Jena met Joan Jett’s tour manager. She’s hoping that Joan is watching. –  Call 1 855 4 IDOL 08 (1 855 443 65o8) or Text 08 to 83676 –  Download from iTunes

Jena Irene – I Love Rock & Roll – American Idol… by IdolxMuzic

Includes David Cook’s Mentoring

Jena Irene, Top 7+1 ~ American Idol 2014 by HumanSlinky

Dexter Roberts – Keep Your Hands to Yourself by Georgia Satellites  – Dexter sings this tune in bars ALL THE TIME. David can’t understand the words. ENUNCIATION. Finish words, he tells him. Oh. Dexter has a 12 bar guitar solo. We’ll see. David tells him to OWN IT. Oy. Hapless. Welp. This is better than I thought it would be.  The guitar solo isn’t that big a deal, really. But he seems to have taken David’s advice about singing clearly. It’s a fun bar song. Very much a crowd pleaser. He thanks the band. A nice touch. Jlo felt he finally injected some personality into an anthem song. Harry thought this week was fine. After last week’s great performance, Dexter bought himself a week just to rock out. Keith felt Dexter was a little stiff in spots. It’s cool to kick the mic stand–do something completely unexpected. THIS. These kids cling to the choreography. None of them–save Caleb–know how to let loose on stage. Harry demonstrating leg kicks. Good stuff. –  Call 1 855 4 IDOL 01(1 855 443 6501) or Text 1 to 83676 – Download from iTunes

Dexter Roberts – Keep Your Hands To Yourself… by IdolxMuzic

Includes David Cook’s Mentoring

Dexter Roberts, Top 7+1 ~ American Idol 2014 by HumanSlinky

Oh look. Ryan’s mom and dad are in the audience!

Alex Preston and Sam Woolf – The Girl is Mine by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney – A good pick for both singers. Alex is carrying the duet. He has more confidence and character in his voice. But their vocals blend nicely. Pleasant. Harry wants to know how Sam feels after last week. The singer thanks everyone for saving him. He spent more time practicing this week, focusing his effort on connecting. The judges all feel he’s improving. He’s really not!

Alex & Sam – The Girl Is Mine – American Idol… by IdolxMuzic

None of the Idols were born in the 80s, Ryan informs us. SOB.

Malaya Watson – Through the Fire by Chaka Khan – David calls her a firecracker. He advises her to focus. He gives her tips on how to modulate the dynamics. DAVID IS VERY GOOD AT THAT. LISTEN CAREFULLY MALAYA. Oh. this performance has pitch problems. Shaky. Shaky. Shaky. Is she a little nervous? EYOOOW. The high notes are REALLY off. Oh. Malaya NOOOO. You gonna end up in the bottom 3 again, girl.  NO SAVE THIS WEEK. Yikes. Keith has no doubt in her vocal ability. She needs to lay back a little. In other words, don’t try so hard. Jlo agrees. She needs to relax up there.  Harry says there aren’t a lot of people who can hit the big note (But, she didn’t, Harry) He was impressed. He felt she sacrificed the beginning of the song.  Who new Ryan Seacrest was a Jody Watley fashion expert?  –   Call 1 855 4 IDOL 02(1 855 443 6502) or Text 2 to 83676 –  Download from iTunes

Malaya Watson – Through The Fire – American… by IdolxMuzic

Includes David Cook’s Mentoring

Malaya Watson, Top 7+1 ~ American Idol 2014 by HumanSlinky

Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson – It’s Only Love by Bryan Adams and Tina Turner – OK. This is pretty good. Jena sounds great. The two best performers jamming together–pretty awesome. The crowd is digging it.  Great chemistry between them.  Thanks for the reminder, Jena that YOU DON’T SUCK. I wish your solo performances weren’t so uneven. Who is that young girl sitting on Harry’s shoulders? Some random pit chick. She’s like 14. That looks wrong. Very VERY wrong.

Jena & Caleb – It’s Only Love – American Idol… by IdolxMuzic

Jessica Meuse – Call Me by Blondie  – Oh. Jess saw David play at Workplay! She plans to transform the song into a modern rock song.  David says it doesn’t look like she’s enjoying it. SMILE. He says. This is GOOD advice for Jess.  But, ultimately, this is not the right song for Jess.  She looks SO uncomfortable flirting with the judges, as she stiffly walks around the stage.  This sounds much better than it looks. Jessica needs to bring sexual heat to this performance, but that ain’t her thang. Judges thoughts after the break.  Harry loved her voice, but she needed some groove. “Sing that shuffle girlfriend. You need to sing in that pocket,” says Harry. He’s right. Jess shuffles pathetically on stage, illustrating that she has no clue what he’s talking about. Keith is waiting for her to release completely into it. Jlo, who understands these things, notes that Blondie was the epitome of sexy cool. She needed to tap into that part of herself.  –  Call 1 855 4 IDOL 10(1 855 443 6510) or Text 10 to 83676  – Download from iTunes

Jessica Meuse – Call Me – American Idol 13 (80… by IdolxMuzic

Includes David Cook’s Mentoring

Jessica Meuse, Top 7+1 ~ American Idol 2014 by HumanSlinky

Sam Woolf – Time after Time by Cyndi Lauper – Sam knows David can help him connect. “You have too much damn talent,” David says, adding that Sam needs to get out of his own way.  If we don’t know that young girls love Sam, the producers remind us, by putting Sam’s in the pit, with a bevy of moony-eyed teen girls around him. Ms. Allison sounds lovely on backgrounds.  Sam’s beautiful tone is on full display here. Smart to keep the song acoustic.  Beautiful intonation and phrasing from Sam. I still want more emotion, but his voice is so gorgeous, it almost doesn’t matter.  Keith loved that he did it acoustic. He still needs to loosen up more, he says. Jlo thinks he did a great job. She loves the way he sings! She felt him trying to feel it.  The key is to make it effortless, though.  His self-consciousness is holding him back. Harry thinks he’s getting better. He should have looked at the girls occasionally. Harry advises he looks up Ricky Nelson on You Tube. Watch what he does. YES!!!! Ricky is similar, but his performances illustrate how to emote, but with the simplest vocal inflections.  Oh. He changed the arrangement at the last minute. He wasn’t playing his guitar initially. Smart move. He probably saved himself from a trip to the bottom 3 –   Call 1 855 4 IDOL 12(1 855 443 6512) or Text 12 to 83676  –  Download from iTunes

Sam Woolf – Time After Time – American Idol 13… by IdolxMuzic

Includes David Cook’s Mentoring

Sam Woolf, Top 7+1 ~ American Idol 2014 by HumanSlinky

Harry’s hijinks are becoming pretty annoying.

Malaya Watson and CJ Harris – I Knew You Were Waiting for Me by Aretha Franklin and George Michael – Two of the worst off key singers in the Top 8. Is it really a great idea to put them together? NOT REALLY. Actually, this could be worse.  They seem to be having fun up there, at least. But epic it isn’t.  Harry thought it was more regional theater than powerful entertainment. That’s a pretty accurate assessment.

Malaya & CJ – I Knew Were Waiting – American… by IdolxMuzic

Alex Preston – Every Breath You Take by The Police  –  David suggests he pull and push the tempo. Also, loosen up! David tries to coax him out of his shell.  Pretty guitar intro! But this isn’t a pretty  song. It’s actually pretty sinister. It’s about obsession. The protagonist is literally stalking his prey.  This rendition is too sweet and nice. This song needs EDGE to work.  Alex pretty much misses the point of the song. Alex had coffee with Jason Mraz. He sent him a tape of the song, and he got some feedback.  Harry liked that it sounded like a new tune. But, feels he’s not an entertainer yet. He’s not stageworthy. Keith says Alex grabs his attention. It was bold, dismantling that song, but he needs to push and pull the phrasing, like David said.  Jlo missed the melody of that song. He changed it too much. Oh. Alex thinks the song can be interpreted with  a sweet meaning. No it can’t.   –  Call 1 855 4 IDOL 09(1 855 443 6509) or Text 9 to 83676 – Download from iTunes

Alex Preston – Every Breath You Take – American… by IdolxMuzic

Includes David Cook’s Mentoring

Alex Preston, Top 7+1 ~ American Idol 2014 by HumanSlinky

Dexter Roberts and Jessica Meuse – Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton – Whoa that start was rocky. The song is out of Dexter’s lower range, and there were some definitely pitchy notes. They sound under rehearsed. This is totally out of Jessica’s wheelhouse. Why are Keith and Harry standing up in the rafters? After, Dexter and Jessica take Harry and Keith’s seats. What the hell is even going on here?

Jessica & Dexter – Islands In The Stream… by IdolxMuzic

The judges and Ryan are leading a “Like A Virgin” singalong. Alrighty.

CJ Harris – Free Fallin by Tom Petty – CJ really impressed David this week. He got him excited about the song again.  CJ says David helped him work out the arrangement. He’s singing sharp, as usual.  This is a pretty arrangement. But he’s losing the lovely melody. Having backup singers performing harmonies behind him, just highlights the pitchiness.  It’s better when he riffs and allows them to pick up the melody. Still, the pitch problems are distracting. Jlo says she roots for him every week. It started off shaky, but she liked the chorus. He touches people’s hearts. Harry says he has a connection. That’s an incredible gift. He’s sure, with more practice, he’ll beat his intonation problem. Keith agrees! He loved the rendition of the song. “You have a survivor tone,” says Keith. He loves the optimism.  CJ loved working with David. He was a generous mentor. –  Call 1 855 4 IDOL 05(1 855 443 6505) or Text 5 to 83676 –  Download from iTunes

CJ Harris – Free Fallin – American Idol 13 (80… by IdolxMuzic

Includes David Cook’s Mentoring

C.J. Harris, Top 7+1 ~ American Idol 2014 by HumanSlinky

Gosh. DID YOU KNOW RANDY WAS IN JOURNEY? Oy. I can’t believe the photo with the crazy hair and retro guitar wasn’t flashed on the big screen.

Caleb Johnson – Faithfully by Journey – David and Caleb wore the same shirt! TWINS.  David suggests Caleb give the song, which is one of the great tunes of the era,  more reverence.  David notes that Caleb has great stage presence, but mentors him on how to play to the camera.  This is one of Caleb’s fav songs.  I wasn’t looking forward to this. I’m not a power ballad girl. Never was! But I have to admit he’s singing the crap out of it. Keith is waving his iPhone flame from the judges desk.  Jlo looks like she’s going to cry.  Yep. It’s true. Caleb can sang. Harry was happy that he finally highlighted his subtle side. He’s proud of him. Keith calls it killer. “It was an 80s flashback,” he says. It’s no small task to take on Steve Perry, says, but he “murdered” it nevertheless. In a good way, of course. Caleb says he was giving “the baby face” during the tender moments.   Call 1 855 4 IDOL 13(1 855 443 6513) or Text 13 to 83676  – Download from iTunes

Caleb Johnson – Faithfully – American Idol 13… by IdolxMuzic

Includes David Cook’s Mentoring

Caleb Johnson, Top 7+1 ~ American Idol 2014 by HumanSlinky

About mj santilli 34998 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!