All season long on "American Idol," the judges slammed rocker-chick contestant Jessica Meuse for seeming stiff, for not fully utilizing the stage, for not making a real connection, for hiding behind her guitar, for not having enough (to quote Keith Urban) "release."
Sometimes, the judges were way too hard on Jess. But on other occasions, their critiques had some merit. Sometimes a certain spark did seem to be missing from Jessica's reined-in, blank-eyed performances.
This is probably why Jess found herself in the bottom two in recent weeks, and why she ended up going home in fourth place on this Thursday's results show. But when Jessica sang her swan song (a reprise of her original, "Blue-Eyed Lie"), she finally had her … wait for it … release.
Jessica began weeping the moment Ryan Seacrest told her she'd been eliminated — and while this result was hardly a shock (Jessica had a couple uneven performances this week, ill-advisedly covering Kelly Clarkson and Pink), her reaction to the news was surprising. This tough cookie totally crumbled, and for moment it seemed unlikely that she'd be able to pull it together and sing at all.
But then… oh, how she sang. She saaaannnng. No longer angling for votes or for the judges' always-elusive praise, and getting to perform a song that (obviously) meant a lot to her, Jessica literally delivered her greatest performance of Season 13.
Too bad it was her farewell performance. If only Jess had brought this sort of fire and passion to her "Idol" performances every week, she might have made it to this year's finale.
But who will make it to the finale, in less than two weeks' time? Well, now it's down to retro hair-rocker Caleb Johnson, quirky muso Alex Preston, and vivacious pop-rock princess Jena Irene. They're all very worthy contenders, so that means next week's elimination night is going to be even sadder. No matter what the result, there will be more tears. And at least some of those tears will be mine.