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"American Idol" Recap: The Idols Take Your Requests

Image courtesy of Michael Becker/FOX (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Michael Becker/FOX (via ABC News Radio)

Wednesday night's installment of American Idol was #IdolRequest night, a new contest which saw America choosing which songs the contestants would sing.  The result: Some fresh, current hit songs, some never before heard on the Idol stage.  The contestants were helped along by some guest-mentoring by Jason Mraz , who mostly focused on teaching them how to improve on the one thing many of them are still struggling with: performing onstage properly.  

In addition, there were two guest appearances by a few of the male Idols' alleged celebrity crushes: Ariana Grande , Sam Woolf' s crush, who has a new single to promote, and Zooey Deschanel , Alex Preston 's crush, who conveniently happens to star on a show on Fox, the same network as Idol.   Unfortunately, Jena Irene and Jessica Meuse 's crushes -- Harry Styles and Jensen Ackles, respectively -- were nowhere to be seen, and neither was Caleb's crush, Rose McGowan .  Pop star Austin Mahone randomly dropped by, though, and of course, judges Harry Connick Jr. , Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez were on hand to comment on the proceedings.

Here's how it went down:

Alex Preston:
The show began with Alex performing "Sweater Weather," by The Neighbourhood .  Jennifer said that he pulled the song off nicely, but wished he'd made it more exciting.  Keith said it was a great job, while Harry gave him an A+ for remembering the song's very large amount of lyrics. Alex was just thrilled to work with Jason Mraz, who's his idol.

Alex's second number, later in the show, was "Say Something" by A Great Big World, and all three judges loved it, with Harry calling it the performance of the night, and Jennifer and Keith raving that it was the "perfect marriage of song and artist."

Caleb Johnson :
The first request he got was Aerosmith' s "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," which Jennifer said gave her "goosies."  Keith thought it was a great song, but felt that Caleb's technical skills were overriding any emotion he brought to the song.  Harry said Caleb should have brought the audience more into the song by looking at them and not the camera. 

Caleb did just that when he closed the show with Whitesnake 's '80s rocker "Still of the Night," which had Keith and Jennifer on their feet and banging their heads, and the whole audience giving Caleb a standing ovation.  Jen called Caleb's abilities "sickening" and "crazy" -- in a good way -- while Keith exclaimed, "Absolutely awesome!" Harry added, "You just can't sing that song any better than that."

Jessica Meuse:
Her first request was Christina Perri 's new single "Human," whose lyrics she said she really related to.  All the judges remarked that they could feel that she'd connected emotionally to the song, and J-Lo said that Jessica created a "great, dramatic moment" towards the end.  Harry called Jess out on pitch issues, but praised her for listening to their criticism every week and improving. Jessica herself said she felt "magic" when she connected with the song.

Her second song was Lana Del Rey 's " Summertime Sadness," which she sang while posing dramatically in a long red dress with a slit that showed a large tattoo on her thigh.  Harry raved about how perfect the song was for Jess' voice; Keith agreed, but asked her to "emotionally and dramatically lean in to the song more."  Jennifer agreed, telling Jess to "dig in more," and adding, "It left me a tiny bit cold."

Sam Woolf:
The young Ed Sheeran fan was given Ed's brand-new single "Sing" to perform, and he promised that he would "get funky for America" to pull off the upbeat tune.  Keith noted that it was a "tough song," adding, "You did as good a job as you could."  Jennifer said Sam looked more comfortable than ever before and said he did get funky, but Harry criticized him for not riding the song's groove enough.

Sam's second request was The Fray 's "How to Save a Life." Harry called it the perfect song choice, but noted some pitch issues, and encouraged Sam to play with his vocal dynamics, going from soft to loud.  Keith and Jennifer said that by the end of the song, Sam had won them over, and Jennifer got her second "goosies" of the night, after Caleb.

Jena Irene:
Her first request was "My Body" by Young the Giant, which she said she'd actually considered performing during Hollywood Week.  The energetic performance found her roaming all over the stage and calling for audience involvement, which all three judges praised her for.  Keith gave her a standing ovation.

Jena's second request was "Valerie" by The Zutons , made famous by Amy Winehouse .  She performed a slower, jazzier version of the usually quite upbeat tune, and neither Keith nor Jennifer liked that arrangement.  Harry, meanwhile, focused on asking Jena what name she'll go by when she makes a record, and she suggested, simply, "Jena," perhaps in all caps.

Jess and Caleb also duetted on the Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden," which led Ryan Seacrest to ask them how they felt about singing about "making some love" to one another on stage.  The two insisted they were just friends.  Jena, Alex and Sam also performed together, taking on American Authors' current hit "Best Day of My Life."

Someone's going home Thursday night; Keith Urban will also perform on the results show at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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