‘American Idol’ Recap: Jena Irene & Caleb Johnson Advance To Finals, Alex Preston Departs

Lisa Timmons | May 16, 2014 5:51 am

This was the second to last week of American Idol, with next week’s finale scheduled to take place at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. Wednesday night, the top three contestants, Jena Irene, Caleb Johnson and Alex Preston, sang three different songs in the hopes to earn a final shot at the grand title. Thursday evening (May 15), all of America learned the identity of the final two singers remaining, and we were treated to a performance from Season 10 winner, Scotty McCreery.

To open the show, host, Ryan Seacrest enters the stage with his new beautiful, black puppy named Georgia, whom he quickly passes off to a handler off stage. The top three contestants look pained as they sit in the lounge waiting for the results show to commence. Our beloved judges arrive, Keith Urban looking rock and roll in his signature leather jacket, t-shirt and jeans. Harry Connick Jr.‘s all dressed up in a suit and Jennifer Lopez is a bedazzled dream in a tight-fitting Pucci dress and a braided updo.

During the dinner recap, the contestants marvel at the previous night’s performances. Shortly thereafter, we see them riding around in some Ford cars and get a sneak preview listen to each of the contestant’s first singles to be released on iTunes. Next is a look at Jena’s return to her hometown of Farmington Hills, Michigan. She starts by stopping at the Hercules restaurant, where she works. She’s greeted by her boss with a big hug, as well as tons of fans and supporters.

At home, her teary-eyed grandparents await her arrival. Once at home, Jena plays a song on her keyboard. Then, it’s time for a splashy return to her her high school with a parade of screaming teens. She cries, overwhelmed and receives a key to the city. It culminates with her performing a senior class private show at night on the piano, the audience filled with fans waving glowsticks. At the end of the look back on her visit home, Jena learns from Ryan that she’s going to perform with Paramore in the finale. She’s unsurprisingly super stoked.

We return from commercial break for Scotty McCreery to sing his new single, “Feelin’ It.”

As always, I’m super confused to see such a deep voice coming out of such a tiny, young-faced man. As for his dancing, well, I’m not feelin’ it. Ryan teases JLo for planting a kiss on Scotty’s cheek, saying, “She likes the younger men.” After that, she zings him back, “I’m not the only one!” Ha!

Now, it’s time to focus on Alex Preston’s return home to Mount Vernon, New Hampshire. We see his family eagerly anticipating his return as he stops first to give a local radio interview. The troubadour receives a tearful, emotional welcome from family when he finally arrives home. The mayor of his town proudly announces May 10, 2014 to be Alex Preston day. There’s also a parade for him, as he and his family ride through town. During this part, we see an emotional Jennifer watching, seeming to fight back tears. The big finale of his visit is Alex’s performance at the Whittemore Arena, where fans know the lyrics to his original song, “Fairytales.” Alex learns that next week, he’s performing with his idol and newfound buddy, Jason Mraz.

Caleb’s return to Asheville, North Carolina was equally as big of a local event. The Idol finalist stops by the local music school, the Rock Academy, where he surprise some students during a show. From there, he turns up at the beautiful Biltmore Estate, a local landmark. Caleb also gets his own day from the Mayor of Asheville, as well as a hometown parade. On the stage, Caleb learns that he’s performing live with Kiss, news that literally has him falling to the ground in reaction.

After each contestant took time to look back at their hometown visits, the moment of truth has finally arrived, in which the two finalists are announced. Ryan starts off by thanking them for their contributions to the season, they thank him back in return. The kids link arms as the lights are dimmed. The first individual to find out they’re safe is Jena. After a few more torturous seconds, it’s announced that Caleb is still in the running and Alex’s American Idol journey has come to an end.

Alex’s farewell montage takes us on the journey from his first audition with an original song. For his departure, he croons his original, “Fairytales,” and generally takes the news with good spirits, given the circumstances.

And just like that, there were two. My only prediction is that it’s going to be super-close race between these two. Remember that for next week, performances will be aired Tuesday, with the big results finale scheduled for Wednesday. Till then!