We’re still seven weeks away from the season 13 finale, but that’s not stopping American Idol from taking everyone back to the start of the season when we first met the eight remaining finalists. Yes, there were a couple audition songs that didn’t make it to air that were performed last night, but to quote SNL‘s impersonation of Joy Behar, “So what, who cares?” In the case of one singer in particular, it resulted in one of the stronger performances of the night.

Overall, “Back to the Start” night was pretty strong. There were a few solo performances that faltered. And half the duets were great, and the other half were just plain duds. So let’s get right into it and try to predict who’s safe, who’s in danger and which singer is heading home tonight.

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Caleb Johnson: One of the things that I’ve absolutely loved about Caleb in recent weeks is that he’s not afraid to take on songs/artists that are unexpected (Adele comes to mind). That happened again last night. Aretha and Caleb in the same sentence? Did you ever think that would’ve happened? But he delivered a new take on “Chain of Fools,” morphing it into a rock number instead of R&B/soul, and it worked big time. There’s nothing I can criticize about his performance.

Alex Preston: I can also use that previous sentence to describe Alex’s reprise of his original song, “Fairytales.” He made my list of the best season 13 auditions — in fact, he was one of my favorites then. And still is, for that matter. I love this song, and am glad he’s allowed to sing it during the live shows since that means I can now download it off of iTunes. Alex got the pimp spot for a reason, and he’s not going anywhere.

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Jessica Meuse: It should be a given that Jessica is also safe. She had one of the best performances of the night as well, and I love that she was also able to whip out her original song, “Blue Eyed Lie.” The only thing that could hurt her is being the first performer of the night. What’s helping her is how great she sounded on a song we remember and love from the auditions, her duet with Caleb and the fact that the two singers who came after her (not counting the first duet) were duds.

Jena Irene: The way she’s going, Jena could easily make it to the Top 3 or 4. I personally don’t think her rendition of “Rolling in the Deep” was quite as good as her previous three performances when she covered artists like Paramore and Evanescence — and that’s because her voice was a tad off from how she’s normally been. But what I did love was the new arrangement. I know that many online have the opposite opinion, that her voice was great but the arrangement was not; I disagree. Changing up such an iconic song, especially Adele’s biggest and most well-known song, could have been a disaster, but it wasn’t.


Dexter Roberts: The first two weeks of the Top 13 saw an all-female Bottom 3. We’ve yet to see an all-male Bottom 3, which makes me think Dexter is safe. And frankly, he should be after delivering one of his best performances to date. Since the theme is audition songs, obviously he’s limited in what he can do, but it was so refreshing to hear him not do another well-known, upbeat song. This ballad allowed his voice to truly shine in ways that I didn’t think was possible for him. Having said all this, I’m still putting in In Danger because I’m unsure how safe he really is.

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C.J. Harris: It’s pretty obvious that both C.J. and Sam are headed for the Bottom 3. Those two spots seem like a given. C.J. has been slugging along lately and not making any drastic improvements that are needed to stick around for the long haul. It’s just a matter of time before he heads home, whether that’s tonight or next week. The last two eliminated contestants performed in the first two spots of the night when they were cut, so that doesn’t bode well for C.J., who was second. Weeks ago, he had so much potential to be a really great musician and provide us with solid talent. But he’s been disappointing.

Sam Woolf: “Lego House” is a great song, so I was hoping Sam would pull it off with his reprise. But alas, it was not meant to be. Remember back when Harry Connick, Jr. called Jena a sleeper? It didn’t sound like a good thing because of what word it is, but it was actually a complement. For this performance by Sam, it was a sleeper in the literal sense of the word. He’s another one who could do really well if only he would actually try and make an effort to improve.

Malaya Watson: If C.J. and Sam are a lock for the Bottom 3, it’s this third spot that’s a little more open. It could be Jessica because she went first, though I still don’t think it’s likely. So that leaves us with either Dexter or Malaya. I’m going with Malaya for a few different reasons: one, Dexter was fantastic last night. Two, I’m doubtful that it’ll be an all-male Bottom 3. And three, Malaya not only performed in the middle of the show, but she took a step back after making great improvements in recent weeks.


C.J. Harris: If Malaya does end up in the danger zone, it doesn’t matter because either C.J. or Sam will be eliminated. Sam has been in the Bottom 3 twice and C.J. once, so it really wouldn’t be surprising either way.

I brought it up last week, and I’m going to do it again here. Would the judges use their Save on either one of these guys? Definitely not for C.J. I want to say no for Sam, but you never know. All I know is that there’s only four contestants who deserve the Save if they face elimination: Alex, Caleb, Jena and Jessica. Nobody else should get it. And hopefully we won’t have to see any of these four in that situation, am I right?

Who do you predict will be in the Bottom 3? Do you agree that C.J. and Sam are a given for the Bottom 3? If so, who will get the final spot? And who is heading home? Take the poll below and let us know your thoughts and predictions in the comments section.

American Idol airs Wednesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 9pm on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.