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American Idol: Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson lay it all on the line (+video)

American Idol recap: On Tuesday night, American Idol finalists Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson faced off in their last opportunity to earn America's votes. On Wednesday night, one of them will be crowned. Who deserves the title?

Jena Irene & Caleb Johnson perform in Idol finals
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American Idol had one mission on Tuesday night, to get through the final performances by their two finalists in one hour. That happily meant less time-wasting than they usually employ; they've likely saved all of that for Wednesay night's finale. But just to stay true to their brand, American Idol producers threw in a weird little prom skit for Jena and Caleb before they launched into the task at hand: winning your votes and becoming the next American Idol.

Simon Fuller's Choice

Jena Irene: After winning the coin toss and opting to go first, Jena performed American Idol creator Simon Fuller's song choice, "Dog Days are Over," by Florence & The Machine. Jena lost her breath a few times in the performance but definitely compensated for that with her control of the stage. It was not Jena's greatest performance, those usually occur when she's quiet and soulful but it was a nice start to the show. The judges were pleased and brief in their comments to accommodate the hour time slot. B

Caleb Johnson: Simon Fuller selected Aerosmith's, "Dream On," for Caleb. Aside from looking a little like Beetlejuice in his get-up, it was more of the same: a strong vocal, lots of screaming and Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban on their feet pushing their favorite. Jennifer declared, "That song may have did it right there." A statement that was wrong on so many levels, not just grammatically but also because a judge should be a little less biased, especially when there are still two more songs to go. A-

Contestants' Choice

Jena Irene: In hopes of reminding Jennifer Lopez that once upon a time she liked her almost as much as she likes Caleb, Jena opted to perform Elvis's "Can't Help Falling In Love," again. It was an interesting choice to perform something that she did so recently but it was a strategic decision to show her range, the range that Caleb doesn't have. But if she was hoping to take Jennifer's breath away again, she missed the mark; though Jennifer claimed she had the goosies it was only Keith on his feet this time. A-

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Caleb Johnson: Caleb's favorite performance of the season was, "Maybe I'm Amazed," by Paul McCartney, also something he did rather recently and also something that showed a bit more range than what he typically does. It's always a good idea for Caleb to attempt to show emotion but every time he does, he sings the entire song with his eyes closed. Keith advised Caleb not to lose the meaning of the song and Jennifer claimed the song needed more heart. Harry summarized the two rounds with he and JLo giving the first round to Caleb and the second to Jena, while Keith agreed Caleb won the first but called a tie for round two. B+

Winning Singles:

Jena Irene: With what would be her first single should she win, Jena performed a song written for this show, "We are One." Most finalists don't fare well with their winning single (Phil Phillips is an exception, of course) and this mess of a song probably won't do Jena any favors going forward. It was impossible to understand what she was singing. The judges all said they loved it, in verbal shorthand. C-

Caleb Johnson: Caleb, in true form, couldn't even wait until Ryan Seacrest was done introducing him before he launched into his winning single, "As Long as You Love Me." Before Caleb started singing, it seemed that Jena had the short straw of winning singles but Caleb's song, which sounded like it was a strange blend of 80's disco gospel, took the cake. Keith said it was insane, Harry said Caleb would sleep well tonight, and Jennifer couldn't even pretend to like it but wished them all luck. D

Predictions:

Ah, and so here we are, the final prediction of the season. Who will be the next American Idol? Oh my heart so wants it to be Jena. Actually, if my heart had any say in the matter, it would just be Phil Phillips again . . .

But between Caleb and Jena, my instincts tell me that Jena may just eke out a win here. It wouldn't have been my guess a week or so ago, but after Caleb's "winning single," it seems likely that many of his fans were left confused and disenchanted (even more so than they were when he called them "retards") asking one another, "This is the kind of music he wants to make if he wins? What happened to the hard rock-screeching we all loved?"

So with that being said, the official prediction is that Jena Irene will win Season 13 of American Idol. Oh come on, you know you want to weigh in. That's what the comments section is for and remember, you have a 50/50 chance!


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