Wednesday, March 28, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 9 sing songs from their own idols

Now that Syracuse is out of the tournament, I can concentrate on other endeavors, including 'American Idol' and my new writing gig for Skyword. Thank goodness for Whitney and Bobby drama that continues even after her passing. We'll try to get some 'Idol' articles up there as well.

At any rate, tonight, the remaining nine sing song from their own idols. Word is Madonna will be in heavy rotation tonight. We'll be on it!

We start out with clips of the Top 9 and inspirational phrases involving dreams. Stevie Nicks' "Dreams" is playing in the background. We see a shot of the departed ones - Erika, Shannon, Jermaine, and Jeremy. Ah, their dreams are crushed, I get it.

Voiceover man does his thing. The judges appear and slap hands with the audience. Ryan makes his entrance down the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. Ryan asks the audience to indicate their favorites. Signs wave, people cheer. The Top 9 meander out to the stage. They are all wearing combinations of black and white clothing. Ryan tells us tonight, "It's our Idols taking on their Idols.

Tommy Hilfiger gets another shot to dress these people. He tells us the goal is to allow them to find their own image. Jessica comes out wearing some strange dress. The rest are paraded in front of us. Tommy says by the time we get to the finale, "the styles will be outrageous."

Lots of music tonight. The kids will be singing one song and then perform in groups of three.

Stevie Nicks is the guest mentor. We see tape of Stevie and Jimmy back in the day. Jimmy had hair.

Colton Dixon - "Everything" by Lifehouse

Colton is thrilled that Stevie knows who he is. This is a worship song and Colton tells us church is how he got into music. Stevie misinterprets this as a song to a woman. Jimmy says he is "in" on Colton this week all the way.

Lots of strings on stage. Colton is suitably subdued and reverent, gazing upwards (when he doesn't have his eyes closed). He's pitchy. The song starts out very slow and mournful. I keep expecting a kick and finally it comes. I think he's trying for the Lambert effect. It's not working. Not really a fan of this one.

Colton ends the song on his knees. The judges seem impressed. Steven says Colton is a dream come true for a judge on 'Idol.' "You've got that star quality, which puts you over the top." J'Lo is moved by "hearing his song... you're a performer, great job." Randy likes the white coat. He says he's been a fan since his first audition. He finds Colton believable. "I feel your heart and passion in everything you do." Randy says that performance was unbelievable. He says he thinks he's looking at a contender for the title.

Colton takes a deep breath. He says this is his favorite worship song of all time. He gets all choked up again. I think he's sincere, but the winner? I really don't think so.

Skylar Laine - "Gun Powder and Lead" by Miranda Lambert

Stevie and Skylar sing together. Stevie urges Skylar to remember she's a major storyteller. Jimmy thinks Skylar has to be "in her game" to do this.

I have no idea why they keep putting this girl in tops that flare out at the hip. Sheesh. Anyway, she comes out strong. She's got the attitude, that's for sure. Skylar's nasally twang is a bit annoying, but for what she does, I suppose it's appropriate. She may be the best female country singer on this show since Carrie and that's saying something.Solid job.

The audience approves. Randy is grinning from ear to ear. J'Lo says the Skylar part of the show is "unbridled, can't keep it in the can energy." She reminds us Skylar sang this earlier in the auditions. Steven says it was over the top and it was like singing to her old friend. "That was beautiful." Randy says "Mississippi was in it... more of that dirty south." He reminds Skylar that it's all about telling a story. He loved that at the end she showed her range. "You are a powerhouse singer. I like what you bring to this. Good looking out."

Ryan tells us our first trio is coming up after the break and "Heejun fights back!" Goody.

Colton, Elise, and Phillip are the first trio and sing a Fleetwood Mac medley. Colton is clearly the featured act in this trio. PP is totally off key, but Elise manages to hold her own. I really hate these trios tossed in the middle of a performance show. Why? Oh, right, they want to keep the show to two hours and it's harder to do when you only have nine people.

Steven says it was "most excellent." He tells us he just had a birthday and had dinner with Mick Fleetwood. Whoopty do.

Heejun Han - "A Song for You" by Elton John

Stevie calls it effortless. Jimmy says Heejun came in with a sparkling new attitude. Stevie says he's letting people into his world. So that means no more crazy, fun Heejun? Boo.

No joking around tonight. Another boring ballad. You wimped out Heejun. He is definitely subdued. He stays completely true to the melody and really, his voice is quite lovely. Still, I miss the fun of last week.

J'Lo totally grooves to the tune and the three judges give Heejun a standing ovation. He bows politely. Steven says Hee-Man turned it around. He doesn't think Heejun knows how good he is. "You make it come alive like no one else can." J'Lo asks him what he's doing up there. She says he is here because they know he can sing that way. "When you connect, and you really sing to us, you move people... that was beautiful." Randy says it wasn't perfect, but he loves Heejun's "buttery, beautiful tone". He says the Heejun they loved in the beginning has come back. And the Heejun I love has disappeared once again.

Ryan asks what Heejun we'll get each week. He says he showed the fun side last week, but wanted to show the serious side because he doesn't want to let people down.

Another songwriting competition. Jason DeRulo is writing a new song for Coca-Cola. He's got a blinged-out neck collar on as he broke his neck. He's written a song that fans can finish and will perform the collaborative effort on the finale.

Hollie Cavanaugh - "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood

Stevie tells Hollie her mother died two months ago and she doesn't have any problems. Not sure exactly what that means in terms of singing. Hollie says she felt the pain that Stevie felt. They share some whispered words. She thinks the world will believe Hollie.

Hollie gets the wintertime snowy background and a sole fiddler on the stage. It's tough singing a song that's so closely identified with another Idol. Not sure this was the right choice for her as it emphasizes her somewhat odd accent. She sounds like Celine Dion singing Carrie Underwood. She finishes strong, but for me, it's a tiny bit karaoke.

Randy says he didn't know Hollie was such a Carrie fan. He thinks she did a really good job, although it wasn't perfect. The audience boos. "Pretty good job, man. I was impressed." J'Lo disagrees with Randy and says this was one of Hollie's best. She says it was the first time she really connected with the song. "I felt it emotionally, I really did and thought it was one of your best." Steven says he's not gonna mess with Jesus or Carrie! He wishes she'd sung a different song. "It was just okay for me." He says she picked up on the passion, but didn't feel the full range of her voice in that song. Hollie says she gets emotional thinking about her interaction with Stevie.

DeAndre Brackensick - "Sometimes I Cry" by Eric Benet

Stevie says the song isn't doing it for her because it's too fast and tells him to slow it down. Lots of falsetto in this one. Jimmy and Stevie advise him not to forget about the camera. Jimmy says he's one of the guys in jeopardy and he needs to pull it together.

The song is perfect for his range. He seems to be concentrating on the camera, which seems to be circling around him. The performance is exactly what you'd expect from this song. Very Maxwell-esque. Personally, I think he was outstanding. Good for you DeAndre. You might just have bought yourself another week.

The judges give DeAndre a standing ovation. Steven says, "100 percent passion."  J'Lo says for her, DeAndre has the most special voice in the competition. "People pick up your phones and vote for DeAndre... I need to hear this voice for some more weeks." Randy says he's happy that DeAndre is back to the whole Maxwell, Prince thing. "Guess who else is back in the house... DeAndres's back." DeAndre is emotional and says he's glad he got back to himself.

Another hour to go.

Jessica Sanchez - "Sweet Dreams" by Beyonce

Stevie says Jessica's a good student. Jessica has always idolized Beyonce. Jessica has red doors and a red harp on the stage. She's slowed this song down and it feels very different, almost unrecognizable. I continue to hear Jennifer Hudson in Jessica's voice, but with a little more polish than where J'Hud was while she was on 'Idol.' This girl has a very powerful, clear and clean voice. And her performance skills are top-notch.

J'Lo says if Beyonce heard it, she might think she should do the song that way too. "You left all of us wanting more." Steven says he thinks Jessica's a star no matter what. "You really know your notes... it was delicious, it was beautiful." Randy says "stars are truly born." He says she's one of the best singers he's heard in many years. He loves her resolve. "You told a beautiful story in a beautiful way... Colton threw down the gauntlet... this girl wants it too!"

Now for another threesome. DeAndre, Heejun, and Joshua are singing a medley of Michael Jackson tunes. Joshua is the star of this one. He can sing and he can dance! J'Lo says it's a good thing they are not here for 'So You Think You Can Dance."

Phillip Phillips - "Still Raining" by Jonny Lang

Stevie says if PP had been around back in the day, he would have been invited to join Fleetwood Mac. We get a little love-fest between Jimmy and Stevie. Stevie thinks PP is going to be a big star and she thinks he's georgeous. PP is playing his guitar. The song is what he does best, a little blues, a little rock, and a little PP. Of all the WGWG, I think he may be the best yet and maybe, just maybe, he will hit it big. Hey, Daughtry did it, and in my opinion, PP is way better than Daughtry ever thought of being.

Another standing ovation from the judges. J'Lo says, "This is too much." She says he wants them to feel and experience the music, and is in the moment and makes everything go away. "That was a great performance. Amazing." Steven says every song PP sings he owns and he thinks there someone in there trying to climb out. Randy loves PP, the artist that he is, the individuality. "Dude you got big things in front of you. Big props. I loved it."

I love that once PP stops singing, he reverts back to his good ole boy, pawn shop worker demeanor. It's like he morphs into someone completely different when he performs! An interesting character.

Dionne Warwick and Jordin Sparks are in the house. Jason DeRulo is sitting with them.

Joshua Ledet - "Without You" by Mariah Carey

Jimmy says the first time the song came out, it was a guy singing it. Stevie says he'll be a goner if he comes in on the first not and is flat. Not loving this song for Joshua. He sings it well, no question about that, but I don't know.  I don't feel he's really committed to it. But then he turns the song inside out and infuses it with emotion. This guy is so good. At the end, he is so emotional, he looks like he's about to cry. I do believe Mr. Ledet has surpassed himself. I would love to see him win this.

Another standing ovation from the judges. Randy says he was talking to Mariah yesterday on her birthday (name-dropper).  He says he loves Joshua, it was flawless, and emotional. "That's what the audience feels, that's what they want." Steven says everyone has been pushing themselves beyond their own limits. He says Joshua had an emotional breakdown because he pushed himself so far on the song. J'Lo wonders if Joshua was singing to her. "You're a phenom. You're an absolute angel from heaven. That voice is a Godsend."  She says this group is phenomenal, but he is special. Joshua says he knows he can help someone else by singing this song. Ryan wonders when was the last time they had a show that was this emotional. Never?

Hollie, Skyar and Jessica are singing a Madonna medley. Again, I hate these medleys. They were the best of the trios, though. Randy loves the medleys, natch.

Elise Testone - "Whole Lot of Love" by Led Zeppelin

Stevie says Robert Plant would be very proud. Elise and Stevie sing "Dreams" together. Stevie says she felt a kindred spirit with Elise and if she needed a singer, she'd hire her in a minute.

Rock it, Elise. I have mixed feelings about this. It's completely out of what she's been doing on the show and shows another side of her. Risky. But was it effective? It's not what I would consider a "singer's song" and requires a bit too much screaming. I think she gambled and might have lost. Just my humble opinion.

No standing ovation from the judges. Oh, wait, they stand up a bit later. Maybe they were told too? J'Lo is screaming "You made me get up!" I think the producers made them get up. Steven said Elise made Robert Plant proud. J'Lo said that was "some real rock star stuff." Randy says he doesn't know what's in the air tonight, but they all want to win it. "Dude, you did an amazing job. Congrats."

Elise and Steven have on the same pants!

Best and worst

This was actually one of the best 'Idol' performance shows in years. While some were definitely better than others, no one had a bad performance. Best of the lot? I'd put  PP at the top of the list tonight closely followed by Jessica and Joshua. Skylar, DeAndre, and Hollie are my middle three, leaving Colton, Elise, and Heejun in the bottom. I think this week will be Heejun's last stand.

Ryan asks who is in danger. Randy says it hard to say. Steven says it was like a "magical mystery tour of talent and emotion." He urges them all to keep this up. J'Lo says there were so many standout moments she couldn't stay in her chair. 

Tune in Thursday for results, Scotty McCreery, and Nicki Minaj.

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