'American Idol' recap: Do over

Jessica Meuse performs. (Courtesy FOX)

Jessica Meuse performs. (Courtesy FOX)

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:00 AM ET

Do overs can be great.

So when the remaining great “eight” American Idol contestants were asked to “go back to the start” and perform their audition songs again on Wednesday night, this time with a full band accompaniment, there was a major chance for improvement.

The contestants were also paired up in duets that, sadly, weren’t subject to judging which is too bad because those collaborations were often the most interesting thing about the two-hour show that dragged on and on.

Jessica, who revealed she got a ticket for eating ice cream while driving to the Idol audition in Atlanta, worked her shoulder and voice to a tee on her original Blue Eyed Lie and drew comparisons to such "ferocious" singers as Grace Slick, Cher and Nancy Sinatra from judges Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr.

C.J. vastly improved his Salt Lake City audition version of The Allman Brothers’ Soul Shine, by being on key this time out.

And Sam slowed down his Boston audition version of Ed Sheeran’s Lego House, but Connick said he still needs to connect with the audience, and Urban advised him to not be perfect, “let it be soulful.”

Malaya, who was a mere 15 years old when she auditioned in Detroit, belted out Aretha Franklin’s Ain’t No Way, and has gained poise according to judge Jennifer Lopez.

Dexter also improved on Brett Eldridge’s One Mississippi that he did on the bus tour’s stop in Salt Lake City with Connick commenting: “You sang the crap out of it.”

Jena slowed down Adele’s Rolling In the Deep and got a standing ovation from Urban as a result: “It was incredibly good and I loved every second of it.”

Caleb knocked it out of the park with a bluesy-rock take on Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools, even if Connick said he wanted something quieter from him next time.

“You are a blues warrior, you are a soul conquerer, you, Caleb, are a rock n’ roll Viking,” said an impressed Urban.

And Alex sang his original Fairy Tales and “shook that vibratto out,” according to Connick.

On the duet front, Jena and Alex performed beautiful harmonies on Pink and Nate Ruess’ Just Give Me A Reason while Jessica and Caleb were perfectly suited to the Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty duet Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.

Less cohesive was Sam and Malaya’s tentative take on Colbie Caillet and Jason Mraz’s Lucky as was C.J. and Dexter’s underhwhelming version of Darius Rucker’s Alright.

In fact if I was forced to pair down my top four, and bottom four, they would reflect those duets with Jena, Alex, Jessica and Caleb up top, and Sam, Malaya, C.J. and Dexter in the basement.

We shall see what America thinks Thursday when Daughtry, featuring past Idol contestant Chris Daughtry, performs on the results show which is blessedly only a half-hour long.


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