The finale was set last night on “American Idol,” Season 13, as the Top 3 became the Top 2. The big question is what factors went into the voters’ choices?
- In this week’s dinner recap, the Top 3 talked about their experiences, with them mentioning Caleb Johnson’s injured vocal cord but Alex Preston keeping mum about his own bronchitis. Instead, he talked about his newfound respect for drummers, after drumming in his piece. Comments from mentor Randy Jackson were also included, with him saying Jena Irene’s rendition of “Creep” was amazing.
- We got a preview of the singles written for the Top 3 in this week’s Ford video, where they each sang a snippet of it while driving: “I Love This Feeling” by Alex; “We Are One” by Jena; and “As Long as You Love Me” by Caleb.
- The video of Jena Irene’s trip home to Farmington Hills, Missouri, was shown, starting with her being greeted by her family, and her dog, on the tarmac. She attended a celebration at the Hercules restaurant where she’d been a waitress. Then it was a visit with the grandparents and more family. She was happy to sit down at her home keyboard and play. Jena teared up during a parade in her honor and gave a concert, where she received the key to the city. After the video, host Ryan Seacrest announced that during the finale, Jena would be performing with Paramore.
- Two prior “Idol” contestants who finished third in their seasons were interviewed in the audience by Ryan. Danny Gokey has got a new album coming out soon, and his wife is expected again. He’s also started a charity. And Elliott Yamin has been busy just making music, currently working on his fourth album.
- Then Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery sang his single, “Feelin’ It,” a beachy country song, clearly designed for summer. You could almost hear the producers begging the audience to make it a crossover hit. He looked and sounded confident. Afterward, Jennifer Lopez gave him a kiss on the check, leaving a lip impression. Ryan teased her about liking younger guys.
- Then we saw video of Alex Preston’s hometown visit to Mount Vernon, New Hampshire. He pulled up to his house, greeting by family and friends, with big hugs from his parents and sister. Then he hung out with his friends, who said it’s been crazy dealing with people’s interest in him. The governor of New Hampshire declared it Alex Preston Day, and a cute little boy in the audience was freaking out, “You are so awesome! Oh, my God!” Then Alex got a parade, where he rode in an open car with his parents, his mom crying tears of joy. He played to a crowd of 7,000 people at a local venue. After the video, Ryan told him that next week he will be performing in the finale with Jason Mraz.
- Caleb Johnson’s hometown trip to Asheville, North Carolina, included a limo ride with his younger brother, Houston; a visit to a key landmark, the Bitmore estate, where he got to play the organ; and a concert at the Orange Peel, where he jammed with his band mates. The mayor declared it Caleb Johnson day. Then he did another, smaller concert at the Emerald Lounge and was feted in a big parade, riding in the car with his brother. Afterward, his brother joined him onstage as Ryan revealed that Caleb would be performing live with KISS at the finale. BTW, Caleb’s “little brother” towers over him, making him look small. Seeing the two of them next to Ryan onstage was very entertaining.
- Then it was time for results. Ryan announced the first person to compete in the finale is… Jena Irene! This left the boys to sweat it out, to wait for the final results. The person to battle it out with Jena is… Caleb Johnson. This meant that Alex Preston was going home. He remained calm and composed as he performed his original song, “Fairytale.”
- Why was it time for Alex Preston to go home, the guy I’d predicted could win the season? I can think of three main reasons. After the eight-year domination of White Guys with Guitars (WGWG), “Idol” viewers broke that trend last season by selecting Candice Glover as the Season 12 winner. Turns out it was too early for America to return to selecting WGWG finalists. Either that, or the viewing demographics (and tastes) have changed. The second reason that Alex went home? The producers made a big deal over Caleb’s health issues (bronchitis plus an injured vocal cord) and downplayed Alex’s bronchitis (possibly because he’d asked them to, as he said in a tweet that he hadn’t wanted to mention it.) This meant that Caleb probably benefited from viewers voting to “save him,” despite a performance that wasn’t as strong as usual. And finally, Alex, who’s been consistent throughout this season, was never as showy or dramatic as Caleb, which could also have been a factor. That said, I can safely say that for Alex, this is only the beginning of his musical career.