American Idol season 13 has had some pretty broad themes that allowed the contestants to pick just about any song they wanted. But for the Top 8 Week, their choices will be limited. To one.

That’s because the new theme is “Back to the Start,” which means the Top 8 finalists will be performing the songs they originally auditioned with. It’s certainly an interesting twist and one that will be able to show us how much, if any, they’ve grown since their American Idol journeys began.

Nearly everyone in the Top 8 got a full audition, complete with a backstory and clips of them at home. Caleb was the only one who got lumped into a montage while he, Jena and Malaya were the only ones who didn’t play a guitar.

Sam Woolf: “Lego House” by Ed Sheeran

Sam is best served by this theme as the judges have frequently referenced how much they loved this performance. They loved his pitch and sped-up version of the song, which should be right in his wheelhouse. But after two weeks in the Bottom 3, will it be enough to save him?

Malaya Watson: “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin

Lately Malaya has been crushing it with these soulful, slower songs, and with how much she’s grown, this might be the most different from her original audition.

Jessica Meuse: “Blue-Eyed Lie” by Jessica Meuse

This could be the most interesting part of the “Back to the Start” theme: originals. Will the show let contestants perform their original songs, or did she do a different, non-original song that they didn’t show? I hope they let her do it, because Jessica seems like the kind of artist who will come alive if doing an original.

Jena Irene: “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele

Back in the audition she went by Jena Asciutto and sang this monster of a song. One of the few singers who auditioned without an instrument, I can’t wait to see what she does with this song now that she has confidence.

Dexter Roberts: “Drive” by Casey James

It’s always fun when an American Idol contestant sings a song by a former Idol star. Casey James finished third in season 9 (losing to Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox). On the bright side, he’s not singing another wildly popular country karaoke song.

C.J. Harris: “Soulshine” by The Allman Brothers

During his original audition, Jennifer Lopez said “There were things that you do consistently wrong, but we can fix that.” I think history has proven her wrong, which means C.J. has a lot of work if he wants to avoid the Bottom 3 again.

Caleb Johnson: “Into the Void” by Caleb Johnson

Like Jessica, he did an original song for his audition, though we only heard 23 seconds of it. That makes him the biggest wild card of the week, because we don’t have a great sense of what he’ll do.

Alex Preston: “Fairy Tales” by Alex Preston

Yes, it’s possible we will get three original songs in Top 8 Week. Alex’s artistry is his best asset, and this would let him show it off a lot.

The “Back to the Start” theme is a nice change of pace for American Idol, but will it work? Will three contestants (aka the only ones who have never been in the Bottom 3) be allowed to perform their original songs? Which of these eight auditions was your favorite?

(Image and videos courtesy of FOX)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.