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'Idol' finalist Caleb Johnson powers through 'sexy' Led Zeppelin cover

If you missed "American Idol" finalist Caleb Johnson's cover of Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" this week, you missed one of the finer performances ever to grace the "Idol" stage. But even if you did, don't sweat it. Through the miracle of YouTube and its like, you can see the video clip anytime.

On Wednesday night's Top 9 performance episode, Caleb Johnson stepped into the spotlight and, like a veteran rocker, stood his ground amidst the sound and the fury of the blues-rock classic "Dazed and Confused," a Led Zeppelin standard that any diehard Zeppelin fan would recognize. In his recap, Michael Slezak at TVLine (via Yahoo TV) on March 26, called the performance "explosive." And to his credit, young Caleb did the song and the band proud, wailing into the mike like he wrote the tune. (It was actually written by Jake Holmes and later reworked by Jimmie Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.)

The theme for the night was "(I'm) With The Band," giving the Top 9 "American Idol" a chance to shine as a frontman for a band. Although most of the performances on the night were above standard fare, not all of them were quite band-worthy, as it were. Some, like Jena Irene, who followed Caleb Johnson with a powerful rendition of Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life." She and Caleb Johnson simply owned the stage and melted into the band framework as if they'd been singing with Ricky Minor and his ensemble for years.

But Led Zeppelin is a touchy challenge. Purists will undoubtedly find fault (there's nobody that can sing like Robert Plant!) but the truth of the matter is: Everybody cannot belt out a tune like Plant. There are only a few established artists -- David Coverdale, Lenny Wolf, Dave King, Ann Wilson -- who have ever accomplished performing a Zeppelin tune and actually sounded good doing it.

And "Idol" has had a fairly successful run at finalists taking on a Led Zeppelin classic and doing not just fair but worthy covers of the band's songs. It all started with Adam Lambert in Season 8 with his killer version of "Whole Lotta Love." Then Hailey Reinhart did an excellent rendition of "What Is And What Should Never Be" as one of her trio of Top 3 performances during Season 10. Then in Season 11, Elise Testone took on "Whole Lotta Love" again. All were solid performances.

But of them all, Caleb just might have delivered the most solid Zeppelin performance to date.

Still, no matter what anyone says, nobody expected Judge Jennifer Lopez to call the performance "sexy." Even the ever-confident Caleb Johnson looked a bit surprised by her descriptive critique. But when all's said and done, she was right: The young singer did show a sexy smoothness, a stage presence that comes with confidence in knowing who you are as a singer and an artist.

Yeah, it was that good. Watch the video. It will not disappoint.

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