"American Idol" relived the music of the 1980s in the latest performance show. Season 7 winner David Cook returned to share some advice to the Top 8, saying of this week's theme, "The '80s, to me, just represent incredible production, incredible music. That's why the songs stand up 30 years later."
After a group opening number, Jena Irene rocked the stage with "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. She started it slow on the piano and sang it in its original, edgy version by the time she hit the chorus. The judges admired her effort to put a twist on it and try to make the song her own, though Harry Connick Jr. didn't like the arrangement.
Dexter Roberts brought his guitar when singing "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by The Georgia Satellites. The judges had no complaint since it was a safe performance, but Keith Urban expected him to do something completely unexpected onstage.
Alex Preston and Sam Woolf were paired for a duet of "The Girl Is Mine" by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. Malaya Watson then took the stage to sing "Through the Fire" by Chaka Khan. Keith praised her vocal, but he and Jennifer Lopez said that she was too tense while anticipating for the big notes.
Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene delivered a rendition of "It's Only Love" by Bryan Adams and Tina Turner, before Jessica Meuse performed "Call Me" by Blondie. J.Lo said she's "almost there," but thought that she needed to show her sexy side for a song like that.
Sam Woolf went with "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper. David helped him connect with the audience. Keith praised his vocal ability, while Harry said Sam's stage act still wasn't right. He suggested Sam to look up to Ricky Nelson.
Malaya was back onstage to sing a duet of "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" by Aretha Franklin and George Michael with C.J. Harris. Later, it's Alex Preston's turn to perform solo, taking on The Police's "Every Breath You Take". Harry said the changes that Alex made to the song made it like "a new tune," but he wanted Alex to think more about being an entertainer instead of just a performer. Keith wanted Alex to tell "the story," while J.Lo didn't like the arrangement. "To change it that much, for me, really just lost the soul of the song," she commented.
Dexter Roberts and Jessica Meuse teamed up to sing "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, followed by C.J. Harris' performance of "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty. Harry pointed out that while he connected well to the song and the audience, C.J. was still struggling with pitch issue. C.J. was the opposite of Sam who nails the vocals but has no connection.
Saved for the last, Caleb Johnson didn't disappoint with his rendition of "Faithfully" by Journey. He approached it reverently as David suggested and soared at the end. Harry said that's what he had been waiting for, a vocal that had both strength and subtlety. J.Lo gushed, "You murdered it."