Thursday’s American Idol wasn’t so much a results episode as a look back.
Before Ryan Seacrest announced that Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson would compete in next week’s finale, all three singers got to revisit their hometown trips.
First, though, the weekly Ford commercial sneaks in a mention of the three singers’ potential coronation singles (which will be made available on iTunes after the show). They are:
- I Love This Feeling – Alex Preston
- We Are One – Jena Irene
- As Long As You Love Me — Caleb Johnson
Jena Irene’s homecoming segment runs first. “There was a good five, 6,000 people there, just for me,” she tells Seacrest about her trip back to Michigan. She waits on a few tables at the restaurant where she once worked, then has an emotional reunion with her grandparents and the rest of her family. Viewers get a look at her music room, followed by a parade to North Farmington High School, where the 17-year-old receives a key to Farmington Hills from the town’s mayor.
And Seacrest has a surprise for her: The avowed Paramore fan will get to perform with the band on next week’s finale.
Former No. 3 finishers Elliott Yamin and Danny Gokey return for a visit — and Gokey announces that his wife is pregnant with their second child. He also has a new record deal and has just released a single called Hope in Front of Me. Yamin says he’s currently working on his fourth album.
Then Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery returns to perform his new single, Feelin’ It, a summery number that has more references to the sun than it has notes in its melody. It’s always interesting to hear a guy who can actually sing try to sing a song like that. Seacrest makes sure to get a camera close-up of the big lipstick print from Jennifer Lopez that’s on his left cheek.
Preston’s return to Mont Vernon, N.H., begins with radio interviews. “I wasn’t expecting to get past the auditions, to be honest,” he tells one of the jocks. Meanwhile, his mom is waiting at home to give him a big hug “and feed him.” Jena Irene may have gotten the mayor, but Preston has the governor of New Hampshire proclaim an “Alex Preston Day.”
Preston’s concert at a local arena suggests we’ve only seen one musical side of him during his run on the show. On Idol, he comes across as a singer/songwriter with a gift for re-interpretation. But the few seconds of live footage indicate he’ll be much bluesier, more likely to stretch out and jam when left to his own devices.
Like Jena Irene, he’ll get to sing with one of his heroes next week: Jason Mraz.
For Johnson, “the amount of good vibes is just palpable” when he arrives at the Rock Academy in Asheville, N.C. After reuniting with his family, he gets to spend a few minutes at the magnificent Biltmore Estate. At his concert, Asheville’s mayor proclaims Caleb Johnson Day.
When Johnson hears that he’ll sing with Kiss next week, he gets so excited he jumps into the arms of his “little” brother, who’s got several inches on him.
After all that, it’s finally time to get down to business. Seacrest thanks them for what they’ve done this season. The singers wrap their arms around each others’ shoulders as Seacrest points to dim the lights. Jena Irene’s in the finale, leaving Preston and Johnson to await their fate. Despite his vocal troubles, it’s Johnson.
“Which means we say goodbye tonight to Alex Preston,” Seacrest says.