Listen: Jena Irene, Caleb Johnson's Actually Awesome Singles - Rolling Stone
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Listen: Jena Irene, Caleb Johnson’s Actually Awesome Singles


In an unprecedented and exciting move on American Idol‘s part, the potential coronation songs by just-announced Season 13 top two finalists Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson are out now on iTunes and Soundcloud, five whole days before they will be performed on live television. And really, both songs sound like winners.

Just like Phillip Phillips’s “Home” (the best-selling Idol single ever, in case you didn’t know), Jena and Caleb’s coronation songs sound like real songs. Cool songs. They’re not ballads about magic rainbows with titles like “I Believe a Moment Like This Is My Now and Is the Time of My Life Because I’m Flying Without Wings Inside Your Heaven.” Phew.

(Side note: Poor Candice Glover really got screwed last year with “I Am Beautiful.” And so did Jessica Sanchez with “Change Nothing,” come to think of it.)

First, the thrilling news regarding Caleb’s “As Long As You Love Me”: It’s not a Justin Bieber cover (or a Backstreet Boys cover), but an awesomely rawkin’ new tune written by a much cooler Justin. Justin Hawkins. Yes, of the Darkness. Not only did Justin pen one of the greatest Idol alum songs ever, Adam Lambert’s “Music Again,” but he co-wrote two tracks on the 2010 comeback album by Meat Loaf, to whom Caleb is often compared. So this is a perfect match. I believe in a thing called love, I believe in a thing called Caleb, and I believe in this song, which is available on iTunes here. It is ALL sorts of ’80s-retro radness.

(Another side note: After hearing this tune, I really think Justin Hawkins needs to write songs for a 38 Special comeback album, too. Just a suggestion.)

As for Jena’s “We Are One,” it’s an anthemic, dancey fist-pumper that sounds like the movie theme to a modern-day remake of The Legend of Billie Jean, if that makes sense (it does to me). Basically, Jena sounds like a baby Benatar. However, “We Are One,” which was co-written by Season 8 Idol semifinalist Felicia Barton, ex-Ednaswap member Anne Preven, and SR-71’s Mitch Allan, is much more contemporary and radio-friendly than Caleb’s song. I can imagine the remixes already. It’s available on iTunes here.

It will be interesting to see how, or if, these coronation songs affect the outcome after the top two perform them next week. And as a final side note, I’m kind of hoping that, in a last-minute switch, Caleb performs with the Darkness instead of KISS at Wednesday’s finale. Make that happen, Fox.

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