• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

'American Idol' Top Two Talk Finale, Star Duets: 'KISS Spent $25K on Pyro'

With the pressure off, season 13's Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene are looking forward to a fun last show.

Jena Irene Caleb Johnson presser S
Michael Becker / Fox

American Idol contenders Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene can breathe a little easier now that they have just performed their final three songs on the last performance night of the season.

“To be honest I am so glad tonight’s over,” Irene told reporters following Tuesday's show. “There is [nothing more] we can do to make the votes go in our favor, so we are just going to have fun.”

And part of that fun tomorrow night is the icing on the cake for the top two: duets with KISS and Paramore.

“I heard they spent $25,000 dollars [on] pyro,” said Johnson, who has already rehearsed with the band and described the performance as “literally like 4th of July. ... I am going to have a blast." That said, he won’t be donning makeup. "I would look so stupid,” he remarked, admitting that producers had discussed the idea with him.

Irene hasn’t had the chance to rehearse with Paramore yet, but said she is ready to be a total “fangirl” in front of singer Hayley Williams. The 17-year-old revealed that she has loved the group since she was 12. “There are so many things I want to talk to her about, but so little time,” said Irene, who also heeded advice from Demi Lovato. “Demi is extremely hard working,” she said. “She came straight into the rehearsal and said hi to everyone and learned all of our names, which is nice and got right down to work. She wants to put on the best performance she possibly can.”

As for Tuesday night’s performance, both finalists agreed they had to work on the same thing: breath control.

STORY: 'American Idol' Finale: Alum Felicia Barton on Writing Jena Irene's Coronation Song

“My adrenaline was going and I opened up the show,” said Irene, who kicked things off with Florence + The Machine’s “The Dog Days Are Over.”  “I was just really stoked, a little too stoked to be onstage first. But what I really liked was the last performance. It was the last performance I was going to give before voting was up for the whole season so I kind of took it in.”

Johnson said seeing the audience at the Nokia Theatre was a rush. “That is the biggest crowd that I ever performed in front of,” he marveled. “ I almost lost it right there.”

Irene won the coin toss, and chose to perform first, but did she regret giving him the advantage closing the show? “Since there is only two of us left, the order shouldn’t matter, in my opinion," offered Irene. "And to open up the show with such a big number, 'The Dog Days Are Over' ...  I wanted it to be big, so I asked the stage manager if I could have six drummers on stage. I just wanted to make a good opening.”

Did the Idols like the songs picked by executive producer and creator Simon Fuller? The answer was a resounding “yes.”

“We never actually spoke to the guy,” cracked Johnson. “But he did pick some great songs. He nailed the song choices."

STORY: 'American Idol' Recap: Top Two Duke it Out in Season 13 Finale

As for the songs written for them, “We Are One” and “As Long As You Love Me,” Irene said it was a good start. “The label has definitely gotten a chance to see what kind of artists we are,” she said. “We haven’t even shown them our original music yet because we both write. It’s an amazing starting point. The songs do fit us really well.”

Performing alongside their fellow Idols for the finale was an emotional moment, Irene told The Hollywood Reporter. “I can honestly say that we all get along and that is why I am so excited for tour,” she said. “It’s going to be an awesome summer to perform with nine of the best friends that I have made.”

Johnson said that he formed a bond with Alex Preston, as the two roomed together all season. “We have had such a great, strong friendship and it’s sucked so bad when he was cut [in the] top three because he had to move out,” he said. “I cried that night because we had been through so much together.”

Win or lose, Irene said both Idols are happy “no matter what happens,” while Johnson cracked a joke when asked if the two would make a movie like From Justin to Kelly.

“It’s in the works now, but we are going to do a weird Rocky Horror Picture Show-type film,” he said.

Hot Patootie Bless My Soul? “The Meatloaf song?” he acknowledged. “I don’t know it by heart … but I would do that song. I love that song!”

Twitter: @Idol_Worship, @MicheleAmabile