The Top 7 on American Idol season 13 took on songs from the likes of Ed Sheeran, Miranda Lambert, John Mayer, Lady Antebellum and others. But it was a Radiohead song that stole the show.
This brings us to our latest Music Battle, pitting Idol against the now-cancelled X Factor and the low-profile The Sing-Off with “Creep” right at the center.
“Creep” has been sung more times than what will be featured below — I’m not adding auditions, Knockout rounds or the like into the mix. This is just performances from the finalists on these shows.
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So let’s take a trip all the way back to 2010, during season 2 of The Sing-Off. (This was when Nicole Scherzinger was still a judge, before she departed to join The X Factor — see? Everything’s connected here in some way.)
On this particular night, the five a cappella groups were tasked with two songs, with the first theme being Rock Songs — cue Radiohead. Street Corner Symphony performed “Creep.” And they did a pretty solid rendition, though I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve ever heard. The lead singer’s vocals are good, but not stellar. There were some notes he delivered that didn’t come out quite right. Then again, there were other areas in the performance where he brought out the big notes and he really shined as a result.
In a way, it’s hard to make comparisons between this and the others since Street Corner Symphony is an a cappella group, whereas the singers I’ll mention later performed either with a band or backtrack. But the other members of Symphony did bring out an interesting take on the song, I will give them that.
By the way, Street Corner Symphony ended up coming in second place in season 2.
Now back to talk of The X Factor. During what we now know to be its final season, Kelly Rowland had a very talented rock singer in her Over 25’s category: Jeff Gutt. Yes, his story with his son was a big push on the show, but there’s no denying how great of a rock singer he is. And when it mattered most, when he was competing in the final week when America would be deciding on the winner, he whipped out “Creep,” which incidentally was also his audition song.
“Creep” is an interesting song because it starts off very soft for a while, then ramps up all of a sudden and finally back to soft again as the closer. The rock style is very much suitable to someone like Jeff. But having said what all this, it wasn’t his best. At times, his voice wasn’t completely on point. And I’m not sure if it was the arrangement or what, but it didn’t fully come together for him. He still had moments that sounded good, though.
The following night, Jeff Gutt became the runner-up of season 3. Am I spotting a trend?
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And that leads us right into the current season of American Idol. The Top 7 sang songs that were chosen by their competitors. And overall, they made some great picks for each other — especially when Caleb Johnson went with “Creep” for Jena Irene.
Jena closed out the show and trounced every single contestant that night, and it wasn’t even close. I’ve mentioned before how she found who she is as an artist when she took on songs by Paramore and Evanescence, and that continued during this week as well with Radiohead. And after this, she solidified herself as a possible Top 2 contender.
Where the arrangement might have hurt Jeff Gutt a tad, it immensely helped Jena. Starting with the soft start at the piano (in fact, she stayed at the piano the entire time, which was a smart move), and then transitioning into all-out rock mode, she brought it all out and delivered a stellar performance — no doubt one of her best and one of the best performances out of anybody so far.
Both Street Corner Symphony and Jeff Gutt performed “Creep” and ended up in second place; does this mean Jena will be season 13’s runner-up? We’ll see.
But until then, who won this Music Battle? Well, it’s not really a fair fight because there’s one clear winner. The first two had their moments, but Jena Irene killed it from start to finish, and delivered a flawless and powerful performance that brought out the goosies, to use one of Jennifer Lopez’s words.
Whose cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” is your favorite? Is Jena the clear winner as it was to me, or did one of the others do a better job? Vote in the poll below and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
American Idol airs Wednesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 9pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX and NBC)