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‘American Idol’: Caleb Johnon & Malaya Watson Soar In ’80s Week, David Cook Mentors

c21c16c4da8882958966de0e4d0a7ee7 ‘American Idol’: Caleb Johnon & Malaya Watson Soar In ’80s Week, David Cook Mentors

After Sam Woolf was surprised with a save last week, eight contestants are still in the running. So this past Wednesday night, all of the children — I mean contestants — sing songs from the 1980s, an era in which I can guarantee none of them were born. We are treated to some iconic jams from the soloists, as well as duets from the finalists, who are teamed up together to showcase their ability to work with one another. Will this second chance be enough for Sam to make his way into the top seven?

This time around, it truly is in America’s hands as the judges no longer have any saves left up their sleeves.

The show truly begins when the judges arrive to the stage. Jennifer Lopez looks ’80s fabulous with her super teased, retro hairdo and a short and sparkly black dress. Keith Urban is being funny, arriving with a rat tail attached to the back of his hairline. After jokes about hair extensions, host Ryan Seacrest makes Keith give him the tail. It’s mildly amusing. And this is how 80s week begins!

Season seven American Idol winner David Cook has returned to the show to mentor the kids this week. After his win, he’s enjoyed quite the makeover and, I have to say, I’m loving his hair a million times better than when he was rocking that strange elfin ‘do.

First up to get advice from veteran David is Jena Irene, who will be singing”I Love Rock and Roll.” For her version, she starts off very slow and down-tempo at a pink piano. But she very quickly abandons her seated position to strut across the stage and really rock out. Keith loved it all the way through. JLo wishes there would have been more energy in the middle. Harry loved the arrangement, but suggests she be less choreographed. Jennifer agrees.

Dexter Roberts has selected “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” by the Georgia Satellites for his performance. David cautions him to enunciate. On stage playing an electric guitar, Dexter has Jennifer bopping her head. JLo thought he nailed it. Harry calls it “a nice job.” Keith thought he did well but knows Dexter needs to keep loosening up more.

The first duet of the night is Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney‘s “The Girl Is Mine,” as performed by Sam Woolf and Sam Prescott. They both sound good, but Alex is clearly more comfortable on stage. Harry asks Sam how he feels and he immediately thanks the judges for his second shot. Keith likes the way they sounded together.

As soon as I hear that Malaya is going to sing a Chaka Khan song, I get so excited. After a commercial break, we return to hear that she will be belting “Through The Fire.” She starts to sing and I immediately get goosebumps. When she gets funky with it, the audience is right there with her. It is utter perfection, all of it. Keith compliments her, but tells her to just relax a little more. Jennifer concurs. Harry says more of the same. I feel like she is getting AP-level critiques, while everyone else is in regular singing class.

Harry joins the screaming fans at the foot of the stage for the next song, which has Jena and Caleb Johnson singing Bryan Adams‘ “It’s Only Love.” They sound good together. Harry returns to the panel with a young girl sitting on his shoulders. So many lawsuits waiting to happen. Thankfully, it ends pretty quickly.

Jessica Meuse tells David that she’ll be singing Blondie‘s “Call Me.” He advises to have more joy when she sings, which is a good note. While her voice is great, she doesn’t give a whole lot of energy as she walks around the stage. Harry tells her that she sounded great but he tells her she needed to groove more. Keith says she’s “almost there.” Jennifer gives Jessica a lesson in sex appeal.

Saved Sam Woolf practices “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper under David’s tutelage. For the performance, he is awkwardly placed in a crowd of adoring female fans. It’s so strange. Keith really loved the acoustic guitar, as did Jennifer. Harry advises Sam to acknowledge the audience more and tells him to search for videos of a young Ricky Nelson for pointers. I Google Ricky to be reminded that he is a dead ringer for Chris Evans. Doppelgänger yowzah!

Old soul, Malaya pairs up with C.J. Harris for the George Michael and Aretha Franklin duet “I Knew You Were Waiting.” Malaya is hands-down my favorite, but you probably already guessed that. Jennifer smiles big as she sings along. JLo calls it adorable, but Harry dubs it “regional theater.”

Alex Preston takes on The Police‘s “Every Breath You Take.” David provides Alex with a lot of technical guidance during their session together. He does a good job of truly making the song his. Harry really enjoyed Alex’s version of the song, but tells him he needs to be a bit bigger. Keith has a similar critique, saying that playing with the tempo will help. Jennifer is the only dissenting judge, saying that she didn’t like how different the arrangement was from the original.

Next up for a duet are Alabama natives, Jessica and Dexter, who take on the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers classic “Islands In The Stream.” At one point, the two male judges abandon Jennifer for the balcony, leaving her alone at the panel. After the two singers finish, Jessica and Dexter join her. It’s all very silly, but at least no one has some random young woman placed atop their shoulders.

C.J. has selected “Free Fallin’” for his ’80s song. Even I can tell that C.J.’s pitch is off tonight when he starts to sing. It doesn’t help that his jacket is bananas. He eventually gets it together. Jennifer was on board with the performance. Harry immediately zones in on C.J.’s pitch. Keith chimes in with similar feedback.

To close the show, rocker Caleb Johnson has decided to sing “Faithfully” by Journey. I love that his goal is to “make some old ladies cry,” mostly because I’m confident I’m included in this group he’s mentioned. Per usual, Caleb delivers with his big voice and fireworks. Jennifer looks like she’s going to cry. Harry is the first to chime in, saying that Caleb completely nailed the subtlety of the song. Keith calls it “killer.” Jennifer rounds out the glowing reviews.

So that’s that! Let’s return tomorrow to find out who is definitely going home, since all the saves have been used up.

Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.


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