Wednesday, April 25, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 6 perform Queen and personal favorite

Cold opening - Ryan in the dark reminding us that there have been two shocking results in the past month, and imploring us to vote, vote, vote. The Top 6 join him looking severe.
Voiceover Man brings out the judges who come in through the audience. J’Lo looks like she’s wrapped in gold lame. Ryan reminds us again of Colton’s departure.

Video package on Queen. Oh Freddy, how we miss you. Huge crowds at their concerts. Sadly, Freddy passed in 1991.

 This week, Brian and Roger sat down with the Top 6. Joshua looks like he has no idea who they are! PP wonders how other singers can do Freddy’s songs. “Be human... keep faith in yourself... keep going.” ‘Idol’ hasn’t opened up the Queen songbook since season 5. Oh boy, a ga-roop number to start the show. They’re singing a medley of tunes, including “Fat Bottom Girl,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “We Will Rock You,” and finishing up with “We Are the Champions.” Tears come to my eyes as I remember what used to be and is no more. Spin Freddy, spin!

Round One - Queen

Jessica Sanchez - “Bohemian Rhapsody”
This starts out in black and white. She’s too melodic in the beginning and get screechy in the middle. She has a pretty voice, but I don’t think this was the right song for her tonight. Rather dull, all in all. And, Jessica’s in the death spot, which is never good.

Steven says Freddy would be proud, but points out rock isn’t her forte. J’Lo says she sounded beautiful singing the song, but when she went into the rock part of the song, she didn’t really rock out enough. Randy says he loved it because she sang no runs and used restraint. He says she needs to channel a little Tina Turner if she’s going to rock.

Because we had the Queen medley and visit from Brian and Roger took up fifteen minutes, this week, it doesn’t look like we’ll be having any moments with Jimmy before the performances.

Skylar Laine - “The Show Must Go On”
Skylar sings this rather uncountry-like, if that makes sense. She proves that she can sing something other than a country ditty and uses her “big voice.” She really connects with the lyrics and puts everything she’s got into it. Surprisingly good.

Steven says that was over the top. He says she put a shine on her voice and says it was fabulous. J’Lo has goosies. The word that comes to her mind is really articulating every part of the story. “It was powerful.” Randy says that was incredible and calls it one of her best performances ever. “Ryan, this girl right here... she’s gotta have it, dude.”

Ryan says this is the point in the competition where we can start counting down to the finish line. Randy thinks she could make it.

Joshua - “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
Another song Fantasia sang! He’s using a little hand mike, which is kind of cool. I love this. Joshua has a real old-school vibe, and this song feels like something from the 1940s. His vocal gymnastics are outstanding and he totally nails it.

Standing ovation from the judges. Randy says that was unbelievable, and gives him four checks for all the elements. He reminds Randy of Sam Cooke and the old dudes. Little Steven is in the house. J’Lo loves all the singers, but Joshua’s part of the show is her favorite. She always knows she’s going to get a great vocal and it’s a surprise every time. Steven says Joshua has a classic style that sounds like no one else,. “Freddy would have loved the way you did the two-step.”

Elise Testone - “I Want it All”
Elise is working a tambourine. I would have preferred her singing more “rockin,” but her vocals and energy work just fine. J’Lo is diggin’ it. Elise has such great texture to her voice and really tears this up. I love the way she enunciates her words and her phrasing on this.

Steven says she’s found her stride and really enjoyed it. J’Lo says this was Elise in her element. Randy is amazed at how great the night is. He thinks this was one of her best performances to date. Elise says she’s learned this is her wheelhouse and wanted to own it and sing with conviction.

Phillip Phillips - “Fat Bottomed Girls”
No guitar tonight, which gives us a chance to watch PP move. And move he does, or perhaps a better word is lurches! The singing is the same as always. PP has his style and he’s sticking to it. And why not? It’s worked so far. Randy and J’Lo aren’t clapping, they’re talking.

Steven says, “The bigger the cushion, the bigger the cushion.” He loves watching PP sing and run out of breath. Brilliant comments. J’Lo loves that PP gives them different flavors and this week, did not remind her of Dave Matthews. Randy isn’t jumping up and down. It wasn’t OMG! No, it wasn’t.
Ryan says he never seen Randy jump up and down.

Hollie Cavanaugh - “Save Me”
Bring on the Celine Dion voice again. Actually, this is probably Hollie’s best performance ever. She has a really nice tone and this song is in a great key for her. Very nice.

Steven says he loves the way she sings a Queen song and thinks she did a great job with it. J’Lo says she felt Hollie get emotional in the middle, but she wants to see her enjoy it more. She still thinks Hollie is thinking - “Just perform, people are going to watch, either way I’m going to have a good time.” Randy says that was well-said. He thinks she’s been having a lot of good performances. He doesn’t think she should hold back. Everyone needs to have a moment where they can win.

Hollie says last week she was really comfortable and knows it’s time to step it up.

I give Round One to Joshua, then Skylar, Elise, PP, Jessica, and Hollie. J’Lo and Randy give Skylar the first round. Steven says he was worried about the contestants singing Freddy songs, but thinks they did it well. He also thinks Skylar wins the first song.

Round Two - Personal Favorite

Before each performance, the other contestants basically mock out the one who's about to perform. Good stuff!

Jessica - “Dance With my Father by Luther Vandross”
Jessica dedicates this song to her father who will be deployed to Singapore soon. Phillip thinks she might be an alien, and that when she goes to school, she’s really being worked on by government agents who are making her sing better every week.

I love this song, so I judge anyone harshly who sings it. Jessica sounds a lot like Beyonce tonight. She does it beautifully. Brings me to tears. Nothing more needs to be said.

J’Lo says Luther was one of her faves ever and says this was the best she’s ever heard it sung. The feeling makes it beautiful. Steven says Jessica can’t sing a song bad. he says her voice touches on Whitney, but she’s got her own thing going on. It’s been an honor for Steven to listen to her. Randy is amazed at the talent and thinks they all can jump on the charts and have a career. He says now that she’s making the connection, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it!

Jessica’s father will be in the house tomorrow night.

Skylar - “Tattoos on this Town by Jason Aldean”
Back to the country twang and Skylar got the guitar. I’ve never heard this song, so for me, it’s fresh. Great job, right in her wheelhouse, and solid. This is the kind of song Skylar will record. And she will be recording no matter where she finishes in the competition.

Randy says he is a ginormous fan. He calls her fearless and effortless. “Dude, another great performance.” J’Lo says she’s so comfortable. Steven says he missed the flair, but she can do no wrong. He wants her to find songs that take her voice to “that place.”

Ryan asks Skylar if she has any tattoos. She has a feather on her arm to remind her that God will take your problems and make them light as a feather.

Joshua Ledet - “I’m Ready for Love” by India Arie
It’s a slower Josh tonight. Lots of emotion in this one. He takes it to the depth of his range and then slides back up to the middle. Quiet, subtle, beautiful performance.

He gets a well-deserved standing ovation from the judges. His 12th as Hollie later points out!

Randy says he’s speechless and says Josh is way beyond his age in talent. “These people are really singing, this is what it’s about.” J’Lo just shakes her head and calls it transcendent. She says the minute he starts singing everyone is suddenly present. “It’s such a gift.” Steven says he goes off into another place when Joshua sings. “I hope the label finds you some good songs and you’re off to the moon. I smell the finish.”

Elise - “Bold as Love” by Jimi Hendrix
A Jimi Hendrix song... this may be a first on ‘Idol.’ I think Elise has just decided to sing what she wants, the way she wants, and this strangely works. She really is good at this. But, I’m afeared, she’s gone this week.

Steven says she touched his heart with this song, but warns she needs to do songs people know. She says she thought everyone knew it! J’Lo says she knows what Steven is saying, but she slayed that song it doesn’t matter. She thinks Elise is one of the best singers in the competition. Randy says it wasn’t the right song for this time in the competition. He felt like she was boxing with the song and there was so much information, maybe if it was sung simple, more people would have gotten it. Hey, I got it.

Cool, Wallace, the guitar player is Elise's friend and bandmate. He did great.

Phillip Phillips - "The Stone" by Dave Matthews
PP does Dave Matthews, dressed in black. And he sound just like him. There’s really nothing more to say. It’s a cool arrangement, though, I’ll give him that.

The judges don’t seem to be impressed. Steven says entertaining, off the wall, typical Phillip Phillips. He thinks PP found his niche. J’Lo says it was obscure and artsy. She says song is so important and she needs him to do songs that will get him on the last show so he can win. Randy disagrees. He says what PP did was showed his true colors. He loves PP is an artist and that he showed that side. “Die, sink or swim, PP will always be PP!” He loves it because he is also a musician.

Ryan says they were backstage and PP ran by Ryan’s girlfriend, Juliana Hough, who sighed, blushed, and said, “Yummy.”

Hollie - “The Climb”
She sings it better than Miley, I will say that much. Hollie is showing more confidence onstage, and it seems this time, she wasn’t thinking too much. She felt this song and it showed.

Standing ovation from the judges, which pleases her. Randy says this is the Hollie we loved, perfect. J’Lo says that was stepping it up. Steven loves it too.

Hollie says this was the perfect time to bring this back!

Round two to Josh, then Jessica, Skylar, Elise, PP, and Hollie. Overall , for me, it’s Joshua, Skylar, Elise, Jessica, Hollie and PP. Bottom 3? Tough one, but I’m going to say it will be Elise, PP, and Jessica, and Jessica will go home.

Ryan chats with the judges. J'Lo says she's still surprised Colton's gone, which is why she warned PP about song choice. Steven says they've earned the right to sing what they want. Randy says we have to vote. Randy says everyone did great this week and doesn't know who might be at risk. Steven was most impressed with Skylar.

It's now over to us!

Results tomorrow featuring Stefano Langone and Katy Perry.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Kris Allen and LMFAO perform as another Idol bites the dust

'American Idol 8' winner, Kris Allen performs tonight as one more contestant is eliminated. LMFAO will also appear on the results show. Last night's "Then and Now" theme offered some pretty good performances, including two standouts by Joshua Ledet. But who will go home? Last night I was thinking Hollie, but now I'm leaning towards Elise. We shall soon find out.

Cold opening shows the Idols backstage preparing for their performances last night. Joshua is scared because he knows the judges don’t have any more saves,. J’Lo’s masking tape dress last night was really hideous. So much for that. Voiceover man brings out the judges. J’Lo is waring green pants and a white draped blouse. There’s Taylor Hicks! And Elliott Yamin! Wow.

Out comes Ryan. He tells us 53 million votes came in. In case you forgot, there is no more save. The Top 7 are singing Martha and the Vandella’s “Dancin’ in the Street.” This group may be one of the more talented Top 7, but their group numbers are a complete mess. Joshua is into it, though, dancing with his BFF Hollie. Jessica is dancing in the aisles. I want to see Taylor Hicks dance. Jessica shimmies with PP and Colton does whatever he does. The red streak is gone from his hair, by the way. Come on guys, give us a nice pointy pose. Please. Nope, no pointy pose tonight.

We return from the break to watch this week’s Ford video. They get to dress up as their astrological signs and sing “Stars.” Ryan asks the kids how they are doing. He asks Hollie how the atmosphere has changed since the judges used the save. Not much, she says.

Ryan calls BFFs Joshua and Hollie to the center of the stage. We watch Joshua first and then Hollie. What? No Jimmy? Oh, wait, they're recapping both singers and then getting Jimmy's words of wisdom on them both. Jimmy says Joshua did himself a lot of good and stayed in his sweet spot. He thinks Hollie did come out of her shell but he doesn’t think last night was enough to avoid the Bottom 3. He does think Joshua could end up in the finale if he sticks with smart song choices and does what he does.

Ryan asks Joshua if it’s surreal that he is standing on the stage when he almost didn’t get on the plane to go to Hollywood. The lights dim. “After over 53 million votes, Joshua, last week you faced elimination, and this week, you didn’t get the number of votes... to put you in the bottom three!” He is safe, but Hollie is not. Off to the stools of doom she goes.

Hi Taylor Hicks! He announces he’s doing Vegas this summer. Taylor shouts out, “Kris Allen.” But Ryan has to give him the official welcome! Then Taylor does it again.

Kris is playing piano, singing “Vision of Love.” How did he beat Adam Lambert? That still puzzles me. Anyway, Kris sings some falsetto, gets up and moves around a little. The song is pleasant with a very pop feel to it. People in the audience have been given little lights that they can swaybot with. Colton seems to be very into this performance. Maybe he’s having visions himself. Kris gets a nice reception from the audience, but no one-on-one time with Ryan. We go to break.

We return. Ryan calls down Skylar and Elise. Jimmy says Skylar delivered, but Elise felt flat. He doesn’t think Elise caused a baby boom with her performance and predicts she could go home. He thinks Skylar has a shot at the finale and is like the little engine that could. Skylar says being in the bottom three got her redirected. Elise thinks the judges and Jimmy are harder on her than anyone else. She says she thinks it’s because she’s older and maybe they think she can take it. She says it’s disheartening.

Elise is in the bottom three. She gets a hug from Ryan as she heads to the stools of doom. I think she’s about to cry. Skylar, of course, is safe.

After the break, there’s a tribute to Dick Clark, who, Ryan tells us, was his mentor. Lots of great clips from ‘American Bandstand.’ Dick went on to create dozens of shows. Then, finally, Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, including last New Year’s Eve when Dick appeared with him. Ryan is totally emotional when this ends. He really loved Dick Clark.

Quick segue to LMFAO. Now these guys are completely nuts. One has a box on his head and they have a fake zebra on the stage. The dancing zebra is awesome. Yes, I said dancing zebra. That was bizarre, but fun.

Phillip, Colton, and Jessica get their turn at bat. PP makes fun of J’Lo telling him the song was sexy. I love his irreverence! Backstage, Colton said he didn’t care what the judges told him. Really? That was pretty arrogant.

Jimmy says Jessica’s singing songs that are too old for her. As her mentor, he says he missed this. He thinks PP came out on both sides of the game. He thinks PP did a great job on his first song, but the second was a pass. He says Colton’s first song was all wrong... the look, the song, the performance... everything. He also needs better songs. Jimmy thinks PP will get into the finale because he’s picking great songs.

J’Lo says she agrees with a lot of what Jimmy has to say. She’s confused. Ryan says there’s no saving Jessica from the stress of the competition. She is safe. This leaves Colton and PP, neither one has been in the bottom 3. “The person at risk of leaving our stage tonight is... Colton.”

Ryan calls Hollie and Elise to join Colton. Randy says they have no power and they’re on pins and needles. Ryan calls Elise over to take a walk. He tells her it’s going to be rough for her this week, because she is going to have to watch one of her friends go home!

So, who will it be? Hollie or Colton? It should be Hollie, but imagine the judges faces if they lost their wonder boy the week after they used the save!!!

OK, here we go. “After the nationwide vote, the person whose Idol journey ends tonight is... Colton!” Wow. He apologizes to the judges for his behavior last night (as well he should) and says he’ll take that when he’s making a record. J’Lo is upset. Hey, arrogant does not play well on this show. He really got himself knocked down a peg or two, now, didn’t he.

So Hollie stays and Colton goes, thus clearing the way for PP. Colton sings us out starting on his knees. Hollie is weeping heavily. PP looks like he is praying. J’Lo is still shaking her head in disbelief. Love a good semi-shocker!

So that’s it, down to four girls and two guys. Hmmm.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 7 sing "Then and Now"

Two hours, two songs each... too much. This is the first time ‘Idol’ has started twofers this early in the season. Any hope of an hour-long performance show has vanished. Anywho... at the risk of sounding whiney, let’s get this show on the road.

Cold opening features the shocking almost-elimination of Jessica Sanchez. It’s all done in slow motion. Suddenly, we watch the replay as J’Lo runs to the stage and rips the mic out of poor Jessica’s hand. She is stunned. Jessica has to lay down. “And starting tonight, a new beginning for all.” Chilling!

Voiceover man earns his paycheck... or maybe he’s pre-recorded? Out come the judges. J’Lo has on what looks like a dress made of duct tape. Kris Allen (aka Who) is in the house. Out comes Ryan. He begins the show by acknowledging the passing of “a television pioneer and my dear friend, Dick Clark.” Ryan is clearly shaken up by Dick’s passing, and gets close to choking up. Awww, Ryan.

Out come the Top 7. Tonight, one song from 2000-2010 and one “soul” song. It will be interesting to see how they interpret “soul.”

Hollie Cavanaugh - “Rollin’ in the Deep” by Adele

Hollie is totally glammed up. She also seems very relaxed, which is a good thing. Little Hollie brings us a little attitude. Really, of all the people I’ve heard sing this, other than Adele, Hollie is the best. Still, Adele is pretty much untouchable. We’ll see what the judges say.

Steven says she finally came out of her shell and ruffled her feather. “I can’t judge it, it was perfect, it was beautiful.” J’Lo is excited that Hollie finally did it - stopped thinking. Randy says it wasn’t perfect... it was close to perfect. He says for the first time ever, he felt her. “Hollie, very well done.”

Hollie says she felt as though she was on track from the first note. She says she’s sung this song a lot and felt it was a good one for her “comeback.” Of course, she’s in the death spot tonight, so, well, we’ll see.

Colton Dixon - “Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga

Colton has some one-on-one time with Ryan. His sister, Skylar joins him on the stage. She says it’s surreal seeing him up there since they watched the show since Season 1. She says she’s learning a lot. Colton tells Jimmy he’s missing the rock element. He says Gaga lifts you and it comes from the bottom of her soul. Colton needs to do this. Jimmy says Colton has the female vote that backs him like a stone wall.

The on-stage musicians are all female and dressed in white. Colton, of course, is in black tails. He has a new red added to his hair. As for the performance, the arrangement is much heavier than Gaga’s. It’s hard on the ears. He’s singing way too low. Didn’t like it at all.

Randy says they were at the Colton Dixon concert. He doesn’t think this was his greatest performance, but overall, job well done. J’Lo says Colton lost her a little during the low parts, but overall it didn’t matter. Steven says, “You’ve got to get low to get high.” He says, “When you’re trying to get to the other shore, you’ve got to lose sight of this one.”

Colton will be slowing it down for round two. He says the song was out of the box, but he plans on expanding his box every week and he had a blast. Ryan asks if they’re thinking about scoring each round.

Elise Testone - “No One” by Alicia Keys

Jimmy says Elise has a vacation home in the bottom three. She doesn’t really understand why she’s always in the bottom. Hello, you are a female, sweetie, and we all know guys trump girls on this show no matter how well you sing. Jimmy thinks she feels like the underdog. He says there are other contestants who are riding waves of fandom. He doesn’t think she has a massive fan base and is being judged week to week. “She can’t afford to slip at all.”

Elise on has one-shouldered orange chiffon dress that is literally blowing in the wind (machine). The song is a comfortable fit, but the singing isn’t as effortless as usual. She’s pushing a bit. It’s good, but too forced. Elise really has an interesting, textured voice, but she’s too mature for the ‘Idol’ voting fan base.

J’Lo says what they push others to do as far as letting go, Elise does naturally. She’s got her first goosies. J’Lo says Elise’s eyes come alive when she gets into the zone. Steven says he loves Elise, but was wishing she’d done a better chorus. “It was delish.” Randy loves her too and loves that she stayed with the melody for once. “It was a great lesson in restraint for you, and I love that as you grow in the competition.”

Elise says she doesn’t feel well and also, her dog is very sick and might not make it. She giggle/cries. Sorry Elise. Maybe it’s time to go home.

Phillip Phillips - “You Got it Bad” by Usher

Jimmy wants to know where PP sees himself in this thing. He’s nervous about the song, but notice PP’s got a “new voice.” He says, “If PP can do what he did in rehearsal, he may pick up some new fans.”

Guitar in hand, PP is clad in gray, once again. Right on Phillip. This is a really interesting arrangement, and yes, he’s using a less gravely voice. I love the sax and stand-up bass too. This is actually pretty damn good. Will the judges stand?

Yes, they stand. PP shakes the hands of the band members. The audience goes wild. Steven says PP fools them all the time. He never knows what they’re gonna get. He feels like a chump. J’Lo says, “That was so sexy.” She loves when PP shows this side of him. “A great singer can sing any song and that, you certainly are.” Randy says he smiles whenever he see PP. “This year, we have a true artist on the stage.” He says PP doesn’t really need to listen to anyone because, “You, Phillip Phillips are the bomb.” WGWG for the win!!!

Jessica Sanchez - "Fallin" by Alicia Keys

Jimmy says Jessica doesn’t belong in the bottom three even if she sang “Yankee Doodle.” He tells her she needs to have a little bit of fun with it and feel the music. He thinks she needs a big moment. She’d better be on “blow your mind” tonight, says Jimmy. Jessica has umbrellas floating all around her. Not sure why, exactly. The swaybots are swaying their arms off. Not sure this was the best song choice for her. But as Jimmy said, no matter what she sings, she sings it well. She wants this so bad, and maybe it’s her slight air of desperation that’s hurting her.

The audience loves it. Steven says, “With talent like yours, you have a right to get mad.” He says she released the passion. J’Lo says when she started singing she played with the song. She’s glad they had the save and they used it on her. Randy hopes America shows up and supports her. He says he doesn’t think Jessica even knows how good she is. Randy hopes Alicia will “holla at the dawg.”

Ryan asks her what she was thinking when J’Lo took the mic. She thinks maybe the judges did not like her and didn’t want her to sing. Poor misguided child.

Skylar Laine - “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga

Jimmy tells her she came off like a front runner. He helps her rearrange this a bit. Cute guy on the fiddle! This girl digs into a song and devours it. I’m not always totally thrilled by her nasally voice, but I dig her energy and performing skills. Interesting country twist to Gaga’s song. She even gets a shower of confetti when it’s over. Or maybe it's some sort of electrical circuit overload!

Judges don’t stand. J’Lo is shouting “Yes, I love this version.” She doesn’t think a more perfect song exists. Steven says he’s so glad she was born that way. He says Skylar’s giving the other girls a run for their money. Randy says the crossover appeal is good. “You are so beyond ready to me.”

Joshua Ledet - “I Believe” by Fantasia

Joshua says he picked this song because Fantasia has always been such an inspiration to him. He really doesn’t know what happened last week. Jimmy says Josh has to look inside and dig deep. He urges Joshua to give a little more.

Fantasia really sang the crap out of this, but I like it done by a male. I get the same feelings I had when she sang it. It’s really a gospel song, and right in his wheelhouse. And it is positively amazing. I love this kid. Joshua puts so much emotion into every performance, but I think this is his best to date.

Standing ovation from the judges. Randy says he loves Josh picked a song he believed in. He says Josh is one of the most gifted singers they’ve ever had. He says Josh restrained himself, pulled back, and played the motion. J’Lo calls him “sweet cutie.” She says she feels blessed that he’s in the competition and they get to watch. She talks about loving seeing his "bulging throat" (heh heh, she said bulging). Better than bulging eyes, I suppose.

Steven says this is another step towards winning the competition. Ryan says one of his fondest memories is Fantasia singing the song at the finale with the confetti falling and the champagne bottles popping. He wonders if this is foreshadowing for Joshua.

Round one to Joshua. Runner-up PP, then Jessica, Elise, Skylar, Colton, and Hollie.

Before Hollie sings, we see clips from ‘Soul Train’ featuring the late, great Don Cornelius. Aretha says, “Soul Train was the show.” Tonight, we celebrate the spirit of the show. Don’s son is in the house. He looks just like his father.

Hollie - “Son of a Preacher Man”

I hate this song. There, I’ve said it. And, Hollie does nothing to change my mind. She shouts and sings tunelessly. Horrible song choice, terrible performance. Arghhh.

Randy says it was crazy and Hollie worked it out. He says it was better than the Round one song. J’Lo agrees and thinks Hollie is showing a new composure. Steven also sees and hears it. He thinks she can push it even more. This, of course, assumes she survives this week. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Hollie says she watched previous performances and saw her face as being “bland.” Now she’s just going to forget everything else and sing.

Colton -"September" by Earth, Wind, and Fire

The song has been rearranged so that it is unrecognizable. Colton, who is back at the piano, is pitchy as hell and smiling foolishly. This is almost as awful as Hollie’s performance.

The judges clap half-halfheartedly. Steven says this is the part of the competition that he needs to find the right song. “Your voice is a lot more powerful than that song.” J’Lo agrees-ish. She says he sounded good, but that it didn’t come together like normal. Randy says he should have done a Lil Wayne song and flipped it. “You sound good, but it’s not as exciting as we would like.” Colton “totally gets it.”

Elise “Let’s Get it On" by Marvin Gaye

Ballsy pick, Elise. The sax is back too. This time, Elise is just going for her. She’s relaxed, having fun, and doing her own thang. She ends up singing to the sax player. Good job.

J’Lo says Elise always sounds so good and she finds it hard to critique her. J’Lo notes Elise doesn’t show much emotion but thinks she should show that she feels them, that she’s a person. Oh shut up, J’Lo. I think she connected just fine. Elise is confused. J’Lo says it’s about getting vulnerable and it’s okay to let all that stuff out when you’re singing. Steven says she needs to take it up a notch. “You gotta find those few songs that will win America’s heart.” J’Lo interrupts. Randy says the problem was the song choice wasn’t right for her voice. Booo, says the audience. He thinks she over sang it and she needs to marinate it.

Elise says she needs to find the balance. It’s hard for her to do that in a short song. J’Lo wants Elise to embrace the vulnerability. God, shut up J’Lo. I thought she did just fine.

PP - “In the Midnight Hour” - Wilson Pickett

What? No guitar. PP gets down with it and even dances. He makes such odd faces and head movements. This is awesome!!! He struts, and bops, and wiggles his head. Almost as good as Paul from last year. PP got the moves like Jagger! Hilariously awesome!

Randy says this was exactly what PP needs it what he has (what?). “Be who you are.” J’Lo wants to do the little step with him. Randy says it’s like a preacher step. She says every once in a while he throws in a little surprise that he doesn’t even know he’s doing. Steven says PP is “brilliantly awkward!” He loves his character.

Ryan says half of the nation would like to see J’Lo get up and dance. Randy wants Ryan to do the PP step. Ryan defers.

Kris Allen (Who?) is introduced, again.

Jessica - “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding

Little girl tears this up. She literally performs vocal gymnastics when the song starts out. And her range. Holy moley. Plus she puts some serious energy into it. Where is that voice coming from. Wow. No way should this girl be in the bottom three.

Steven says, “It’s all about stepping out and winning people’s hearts.” J’Lo says we just saw BeBe Chez. She thinks Jessica has to start pushing and America has to connect with her in our heads. “Just the voice is not going to do it.” She urges Jessica to keep taking it a little further. Randy agrees. The viewers respond to the emotion. It’s about transference.

Skylar - “Heard it Through the Grapevine”

The cute fiddler follows her down the stairway. It is, of course, a countrified version of the song, which works surprisingly well. She shouts a little too much, but again, lots of energy, bouncing around, dancing, and stomping. Skylar could be a sleeper and certainly should outlast Hollie.

Judges don’t stand. Randy says she and Phillip have no problem connecting and feeling. They do what they do. He feels like whenever she’s on stage, it’s a party. “She wants it, Jennifer.” J’Lo says the little girls (who vote) are really into her right away. “You should be really proud.” Steven agrees and says she’s like a wild horse that refuses to be tamed. Ryan says she’s singing tonight like she’s got plans for May 23 (the finale).

I like it so much better when they come out and sing, rather than the video clips with Jimmy and all. So much easier to capture too.

Joshua - “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke

Joshua sounds just like Sam Cooke starting out. Then he channels Otis. He hits a couple of bum notes, but the emotion, the depth, the range, the soul, I am blown away.

The judges stand. Outstanding. Steven says Joshua has stretched his voice to the limits of soul. He says the restraint in the beginning made it so big when it popped. J’Lo says it’s how he comes out and sings them that make it so good. She begs us not to send him home. She loves him. Randy says this was he perfect song for him. Sam Cooke started singing gospel (quartet). He says the talent this year on ‘Idol’ is “better than ANY SHOW ON TV.” Josh’s grandma is there for the first time. Good she got to see him tonight! Josh comments on J’Lo’s dress that shows off her abs. She says if it makes her sing like that, he can stare all he wants.

So, Joshua wins the round and the night. PP is second, Jessica third, and Elise fourth. This puts Skylar, Colton, and Hollie in my bottom three. I expect Hollie to be eliminated tomorrow, despite the judges throwing Elise under the bus.

Randy doesn’t want anyone to go now. J’Lo says they are trying to give them the best advise so no one will go back. Steven says they need to find a good time and remember their best performance ever and double-time it.

“One of these faces will leave tomorrow night,” Ryan says as he tries to stretch the remaining minute. We even get a chance to see Kris Allen again. He’ll be performing tomorrow along with LMFAO.

I suddenly realize I overwrote last week's Top 7 performance show with this one. Arggghhh.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Results show Top 7 shocker

The best thing 'Idol' is doing this season is bringing back former contestants every week. Makes sense, really, considering this is the place where they got their start. This week, Season 3's Jennifer Hudson and Season 10's James Durbin will be hitting the stage to entertain during the hour.

As for the results, TMZ is reporting we're in for a "shocker" tonight. "One of the absolute favorites to win the competition will be eliminated," they report. But, of course, we have the save, so whoever it is will have a second chance. They have to use the save before the Top 5, after all. Who would be shocking? I'm thinking Colton.

We'll soon find out!

Expect The Unexpected, we are warned! Cold opening featuring scenes from before the performances, clips of the songs, comments from the judges - basically, two hours encapsulated into one minute. Oh how I miss the days of the half-hour results shows.

Voiceover man is on point with his judges intro, and as usual, Ryan enters via the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. That staircase will always belong to Adam! The audience is overjoyed with all of this, of course. Ryan tells us that James Durbin and J’Hud (featuring Ne Yo) are in the house. Ryan asks Randy if he’s worried about the results. Randy says he’s always nervous at this point in the competition because anyone can go.

Now for the treat of the week. The Top 7 perform Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” out of tune and featuring PP stroking Colton’s hair. This is pretty bad. Their voices are all so different there’s no harmony whatsoever. They do a little cheerleading-like choreography, and I’m thinking we’re sure to have a nice pointy pose ending! They end up behind the judges and yes indeed, we get a delightful pointy pose ending.


Back from the break for the Ford video. This week, it’s all about line drawings in notebooks. Cheap much? Song - “Great Escape” - get it? Okay, now for this week’s celebrity Tweets. Kellie Picker sent one, Skylar Grey sent one, and Jazmine Sullivan also sent one. We’ve even got a prom invitation for Colton. Hollie got an invitation to Tate Allen’s spring formal in Mississippi. Tate is cute. Elise got some feather earrings from a friend in Charleston and gives one to Steven! Nice

Time for some results. Hollie and Jessica join Ryan center stage. We know the drill now, right. We see clips and hear Jimmy’s comments. Jimmy says they are both good technically good. One has learned bad habits and the other good. Hollie sounded contrived, stiff, and not in the right place. Jessica can basically do no wrong. Jessica says she’s been working hard all her life. So there.

Dim the lights. “After the nationwide vote, Hollie, would you start a group on the right side of the stage.” Jessica goes to the other side. Oh noooooo, the “Huff” is coming (group is divided in half and the last person has to choose which group is safe or some such nonsense). And I’m guessing that since Jennifer Hudson is performing tonight, George Huff, who was the first Idol to be put in this precarious position, will also be along singing backup and witness the continuation of this particularly tired Idol component.

James Durbin performs “Higher Than Heaven” from his debut album. He starts out from behind a curtain. He’s a blonde now and singing into a strange little microphone, which I assume is creating a slight distortion to his voice. Oh, James Durbin, you’re such a rawk stah. I think this is prerecorded because I don’t see the contestants anywhere. Oh, yeah, there they are, clapping half-heartedly.

Ryan congratulates James on his success and his New Year’s Eve wedding. Stephano was best man, and they held up the wedding 18 minutes waiting for Casey. James is going out on tour starting tonight and has sold 100,000 records. James does a rocker hand gesture as we go to break.

Back from the break with Jessica and Hollie in their respective spots. Elise and Phillip are next. Jimmy says we have two singer/songwriters who are usually character singers. If you’re missing the soul, you have a mess, basically, and have Dave Matthews doing a Maroon 5 song. Jimmy doesn’t think Elise did enough to pull herself out of the bottom three. He thinks PP will be in the bottom three.

Dim the lights - Phillip joins Hollie (bottom three, ya think?). Elise joins Jessica. The drama is far from over, Ryan tells us! Who will be this year’s Huff? J’Hud and Ne Yo next.

I wonder if I’d get seasick if I went to see ‘Titanic’ in IMAX 3-D?

Now for my girl singing “Think Like a Man.” Highly choreographed with lots of dancers clad in black. Jenny looks amazing in a leather mini and skin tight black top. Her hair is great too, poofy top, long braid. The song is predictable, but the performance is highly entertaining.

Twenty minutes to go until the shocking results. I want to be shocked, but I think the only one who would shock me would be Jessica. Maybe it’s PP? Oh, Idol, why do you torment us so?

Colton and Joshua take the stage (so it’s Skylar who’ll be the Huff). Jimmy thinks they both did well. Joshua nailed it -natural, flawless, fit like a glove. Colton interpreted it and believed every word. “I’m in on both of them.”

Ryan asks Colton what it will take to get the judges on their feet. J’Lo says they’ll do it when they feel it. Guess they're not feeling him, right?

Joshua joins Jessica and Elise, leaving Colton with Hollie and PP. Skylar is still on the couches trying to figure out what is going on. Haven’t you ever watched this show before. They do it every freakin’ year. Harrumph.

Anyway, Jimmy worries that Skylar can get left behind. She’s both a singer/songwriter and a pro. He thinks she’s subtle. “She should not be in the bottom three.” He thinks the B3 is Phillip, Elise and Hollie. Ryan tells Skylar she is safe! And, of course, she is asked to pick the group she thinks she belongs with. She refuses. Ryan walks her to the Hollie, PP, Elise group and tells them they are all safe. This, of course, means Joshua, Jessica, and Elise are the bottom 3. Really? Hollie beats the three of them? PP? Come on.

Randy says this is a “ridiculous bottom three.” America got it wrong. Steven says they’re going to use the save tonight. This is stupid. 

Joshua is declared safe, and it's down to Elise and Jessica. Got to be Elise, right. Wrong! "The person in danger of elimination tonight is...  Jessica! Oh, come on. this feels totally rigged to me. Jessica? She starts singing for her life, and the judges storm the stage. J’Lo is screaming, "Gimme that mike... stop singing, we’re gonna use the save." Jessica seems stunned and doesn't quite know what to do or where to go. Mayhem ensues. Randy is pissed. He says, “This girl is one of the best singers in America.” He urges us to vote. Ryan asks Jessica if she was surprised. She says not really!

Jessica sings us out. Her mom comes up on the stage. And we’re out.

I am so done with this show!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Kellie Pickler returns for a results show performance

American Idol 5's Kellie Pickler returns to the show tonight to perform “Where’s Tammy Wynette” from her latest album, 100 Proof. Other than that, you know the drill - dimming lights, slams from Jimmy Iovine, and lots of faux drama. As for the actual results, well, I'm rethinking my prediction and have started to think it might be Hollie. If that's the case, I doubt the judges will save her. Elise? Maybe. DeAndre? probably. Anyone else? Absolutely.

Cold opening showing clips of last night’s performances, judges comments, and some deep thoughts by the contestants. Our votes have decided their fate!

Voiceover man does his thing. Tonight, J’Lo is clad in a shiny gray sheath. Matt Rogers is in the house. As usual, Ryan makes his entrance down the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. He greets us, Steven Tyler gets up and does some kind of rock god greeting, and we are off. Ryan asks the audience who they voted for. It’s hard to tell what they are saying. The remaining eight are seated on the couches of safety.

Ryan is checking on Joshua, who says he feels light-headed. He hopes he doesn’t pass out on national television. We cheer for Josh. Ryan tells us we have a performance by UK sensation The Wanted and Kellie Pickler. Also big news for J’Lo’s other show, Que Viva.

And, we’re getting the first view of J’Lo’s new video. Ryan wonders if there was any special chemistry between J’Lo and any one of the dancers in the video. We all laugh knowingly, since she’s dating one of the dancers. Dude is prominently figured in the  And Pitbull is in it.

Interesting, an ad for X-Factor.

We see the Ford video and a Twitter video from Joshua’s fans. A bunch of little kids in Vietnam cheer him on.

Now for results. We’re doing results by duets tonight. First up, Joshua and Jessica. Joshua. We see clips from Joshua’s performance. Jimmy says Joshua was over-affected when he started. He says he looked like a real pro and thinks this is the best time to peak.

On Jessica, Jimmy says she came on and does what she does. But, this wasn’t enough because the song wasn’t big enough. He warns Jessica not to let this happen two weeks in a row.

Ryan asks Jessica how she thinks she did. She says she thinks she did a decent job and that it’s hard to compare herself to Joshua. “After the nationwide vote, unfortunately, you’re not going to be happy until you relax and sit down on the couch. You are safe.” Jessica joins Joshua on the couches. No surprise there.

Next up, The Wanted from the UK singing their smash hit, “Glad You Came.”  There’s a whole bunch of them and they prance around the stage pandering to their fan-girlies. J’Lo seat dances with one of them who gives her a kiss. Simple, repetitive lyrics sung by a bunch of pretty boys.

We return from the break for more results. Next to hear the news, Skylar and Colton. Girlies scream, “We love you, Colton.” Jimmy says he is happy they talked her out of “9 to 5.” He thinks she went from the bottom to the top, and if she continues, can win the whole thing.

On Colton, he thinks he was good, not great. He says you don’t have to be the best team, just the better team for that night, and last night, he wasn’t.

Skylar says she doesn’t feel that she was overlooked as a power vocalist, just that she prefers the country songs.

Tricky Ryan pulls Hollie and DeAndre up to join Colton and Skylar. That’s so DeAndre and Hollie can go to the stools of doom.

Jimmy thinks Hollie’s problem is that she’s approaching this as a high school performance. “Where’s the feeling?” He says she will be in the bottom three and will be fighting with DeAndre as to who is packing.

Jimmy says no to the judges. DeAndre was not great. He needs to come out and grow at a fast pace, and that he is the weakest of the boys. He could be in the bottom three and could go home, unless J’Lo saves him.

Ryan asks the judges about Jimmy’s comments. They say they loved DeAndre last night. J’Lo watched again last night and she felt the same. Ryan asks how they feel about being compared. DeAndre says it’s fine. The lights dim. “After the nationwide vote, DeAndre, the judges praised you last night. America agreed with Jimmy. You’re in the bottom three.” His sister is weeping in the audience.

Colton is safe. One of the ladies is in the bottom three. Sads. “After the nationwide vote, the person in the bottom three is Hollie.” She joins DeAndre on the stools of doom. One more person will join them (Elise?).

Kellie Pickler is up. The song is totally honky-tonk and she’s dressed in jeans and a loose top. She’s let her hair grow out too. Skylar is going out of her mind. Kellie sits on the couch between Colton and PP. I’ve always loved Kellie Pickler! The kids on the couches get a hug. Kellie says she was backstage having an anxiety attack on results night. Looks like Joshua had to leave the stage. It’s her one-year anniversary too.

One more duet awaits their results. Elise and PP join Ryan. PP is first. Jimmy says there are three versions of yourself - great, good, and terrible. He says it was good and this was PP’s worst performance so far. He says PP needs to be pushed to be the best version he can be. If he stands still, it’s possible others can pass him.

Oh, Elise, wrong song. Jimmy says this was the right song and that she sang it great in mentoring and rehearsal. Unfortunately, she hit the stage and choked. He says this week she didn’t even sing the tune and that can take you from the top to the bottom. Elise says she really got wrapped up in the song and the more into it she gets, the harder it is to stay in the lines.  PP says he isn’t worried about complacency. He’s not into walking around the stage, touching people’s hands! Yes, PP. So who will it be? And no surprise, Elise is in the bottom three. PP is safe, but watch out, because now you’ve done gone Heejun on us (“I’m not trying to be famous”). 

Hollie is quickly sent back to the couches, leaving Elise and DeAndre.

Back from the break, DeAndre and Elise are with Ryan. Steven says America didn’t get it right - half and half. Randy is half and half as well. “The person who is at risk of leaving us and who will sing for the save tonight is DeAndre.”  He’s talking to his family before he sings. And, we’re doing a reggae tune, enjoying his last moments on the stage. J’Lo has her arms crossed. Will they use the save?  I don’t think so. They still have a couple of weeks and some faves in the mix.

J’Lo can’t look up. She gets to deliver the word. “This boy right here, we’ve been watching you for two years. I stand by that.” But... she only gets one vote and they’re not saving him. J’Lo voted to save but Steven and Randy did not.

We watch DeAndre’s farewell video. I was totally wrong this week!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 8 sing songs from the 1980s

Tonight, our remaining eight 'Idol' finalists will take on music from the 80s. Ah, the 80s - big hair, big shoulders, and some of the most wretched music of all times. Goody!

The show starts with the sad departure of Heejun Han, who was decidedly not saved by the judges. J'Lo tells him she wanted to save him. Oh well. Jessica tells us they're down to the "best of the best." We see the Idols rehearsing, posing, and generally solemnly reflecting on their fate.

Voiceover man welcomes the judges. This week, J'Lo is wearing what looks like a tinsel skirt. Ryan descends the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase and we are off.

Ryan tells us the Top 8 is doing music that will brings us back to our high school proms. Not me! We see a shot of a fly 1980s version of  Randy Jackson. The Top 8 hit the stage. The audience stands up. Tonight they'll be singing individually and pairing up for guy/girl duets. Convenient when they have an even number. First time that's happened in a while!

Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal from No Doubt are the mentors. The kids will tell us what they miss most about being away from home.

DeAndre Brackensick - "I Like It" by DeBarge

DeAndre misses his car. He just got his license before he went on the show. DeAndre starts out singing in the audience. The girlies like it. Lots of falsetto and he gets a chance to move around. Very true to the original. Unfortunately, he's first, which doesn't help at all. DeAndre is actually a good vocalist, a few pitchy moments, but he has a chance to work his range, and it's a solid performance.

J'Lo laughs loudly into the microphone. "I like it a lot," she says. She thinks DeAndre was comfortable and felt it was all very natural. "You really made it your own... great job." Steven says it was totally captivating and he forgot where he was. Not really unusual, now, is it Steven?  "That was exceptional today." Randy says DeBarge is saying "This kid has arrived. It was perfect, I would make records like this. You could be a 2012 version of DeBarge."

Ryan asks DeAndre about going first. He says it's a double-edged sword, but he was comfortable.

Elise Testone - "I Want to Know What Love is" by Foreigner

Elise misses her band in Charleston, SC. We see them cheering her on. She wanted to sing "Halleluiah," but changed her mind. Gwen thinks this could be a "magic moment" for Elise. The vocals are not good. She's all over the place pitch-wise to start off. She gets a little smoother on the chorus, but the overall effect is a bit disconcerting. Some more "ouch" moments at the end. I do like her voice, but this song, not so much. I also hate her one-sleeved white blousey top. Looks like something Erika would wear. I think Elise could be in serious trouble this week.

Steven says he loves her style and voice, but doesn't think this song was right for her. J'Lo says Elise looks beautiful and loves the way her look is developing. She thinks it wasn't totally right every moment, but she felt her emotion and says it was a great performance on that level. Randy says this is a tough song to sing, and Elise never hit the pitch right. He says she was under the pitch the whole time. "It was out of pitch everywhere for me." Yup, you got that right, Randy.

Now for the first duet. Colton and Skylar are singing "Islands in the Stream." Colton's hair is totally blonde now. Colton sings scarily into the camera. Together, they sound pretty good, but separately, Skylar owns this. They've put more red in her hair, and she really looks like Reba. I just know they'll force them to do this 566 times on the tour.

Randy says, "Wow." He thinks they did a nice job and it was sweet. "I enjoyed that." J'Lo says it was perfect for Skylar who knows when to bite into the song. She thinks Colton was the perfect partner. "Match made in heaven," says Steven. Ryan thinks there might be chemistry between the two.

Phillip Phillips - “That’s All” by Genesis

Before he sings, we meet Phillip’s brother-in-law, Ben, who he says taught him a lot about music. His dream is to have his brother right up on the 'Idol' stage with him. PP’s rehearsal started very rough. Tony wants him to stop playing guitar on the bridge to make it sexier.

PP gets his wish and has his brother-in-law on stage playing guitar. PP pretty much does the same thing he does every week. The arrangement is a bit more lilting if that makes sense. PP attacks a song and wrestles it into submission! And he never seems to take it very seriously, which is why I like him! I think it’s interesting how PP transforms into someone totally different on stage. He's not your average WGWG!!! Good performance as usual.

Steven says PP is a wild flower and loves his individuality. J’Lo says he got a little lost in the beginning and wonders if he was distracted by his brother-in-law. Randy loves the brotherly love thing. He thinks it was a great song choice. He also appreciates Tony Kanal’s suggestion.

Ryan asks the brother-in-law how it feels to watch his brother on TV. He says he couldn’t be more proud and that PP is staying true to himself. The brothers hug.Everyone goes "Awwww."

Next up, are Hollie and DeAndre singing the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited.” Their voices don’t blend well at all. Hollie is done up in leather pants and a polka-dot blouse. This reminds me of why I have problems going to the Idols Live shows! The whole thing is el-cheeseo.

Steven says it was a beautiful duet and loves that Hollie let go. J’Lo says she wasn’t sure about the song before she heard it, but also loves that Hollie let go. She thinks they sounded great together. “Very, very, very nice from two young’uns.”

Hollie says it’s more fun to sing when you’re not being judge. But wait, they are being judged... by us!

Before the break, Ryan banters with the judges who are all agreed they need someone to come out and blow them off the stage. 

Joshua Ledet - “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Simply Red

Joshua says his emotions came out last week because he was missing his family. We see his entire family standing around in the kitchen. Jimmy and Gwen are a bit concerned by the arrangement so they suggest a break in it. They also warn him not to overdo it. But, of course, that’s what Joshua does.

Joshua gets the “Candles in the Wind” background. He’s taken this song and infused more soul into it. It wakes it up! And, once he takes this to church, he tears it up. Joshua has a real old-school vibe and his voice has just enough gravel in it to make it interesting. I've so missed having a really good black male singer on this show. Thank you Joshua!  Loved it!

The judges stand again. J’Lo says, “Lawdy, lawdy, we asked for a powerhouse performance and that’s what we got.” She loves that he held back in the beginning. “It was spectacular.” Steven says, “Over the top... how can someone sing like that at your age.” He says it wasn’t too much over the top, but it was way over the top. Randy says that it’s rare that he wants to stand up from beginning to end. He doesn’t care what the song it as long as they sing it. He says, “We’ve found someone tonight who’s gotta have it.”

Ryan asks how emotionally draining is this process from week to week. Joshua says it’s tough to adapt these songs to make them their own, and he has a problem because he’s only 19-years-old and doesn’t have these love problems!

Jessica Sanchez - “How Will I know” by Whitney Houston

Jessica says before all this, she considered herself a normal teenager who loved to shop and sing in her room in front of boxes. Gwen says Jessica is shockingly good. She does think Jessica should try to move in ways different from a lounge singer! We’re gonna see “BeBe Chez!”

I really don’t like this song for her, but I suppose she’s sort of balladed out. Once she gets into the chorus, her vocals get stronger and we hear her. I am still hearing Jennifer Hudson in her too. She still doesn’t have the moves down, but that's okay. It’s the song that sucks, not Jessica! No worries, though. I would say this girl is in it til the end.

The judges don’t stand! J’Lo says that’s two powerhouse vocals in a row. She says Jessica is such a little girl, but is a woman at the same time. She says she listens to her and can’t believe it’s coming out of her little body! Steven says everything she does is beautiful and great. Randy says he had the pleasure of working on this song. He says Jessica had big shoes to fill. He can’t believe the maturity in her. “She has to have it too.”

Ryan points out the nuances in her performances and is amazed she’s OMG only 16.

Phillip and Elise sing “Stop Dragging My Heart Around.” PP looks odd without his guitar. He does this strange lurching movement around the stage. Elise sounds so much better on this one than she did her solo. I like the way she enunciates when she sings. Their singing, well, it sounds a bit canned to me. Not sure what’s wrong with it, but something’s off. Maybe it’s PP’s posture!

Randy says, “Yo” a lot and calls it “hot.” “That was great, both of you.” J’Lo says she wanted to be them! Steven says it was a Tom Petty moment wrapped up with Elise and Phillip. “It was beautiful, it was nice, as good as it gets.” Ryan says he loves the way PP creeps around the stage.

Hollie Cavanaugh - “What a Feeling”

This is the longest Hollie’s been away from home. Her little puppy is now huge. She was very surprised that Gwen is the mentor. Jimmy says he passed on the soundtrack! Jimmy says Hollie gets a little technical at times and needs to add more feeling into it!

Ooops, they’re not ready for her to sing and are still setting up the stage after the video clip. Now that would throw a girl off. She’s got the disco lighting and a fringed dress. She starts out okay, but once the song kicks in, she completely loses her pitch. Not a good song choice at all. Very, very karaoke. She knows it too.Hollie is a one-trick singer and when she strays from her comfort zone, she isn't there at all.

Steven says her songs are always great at the end, but takes time to get there. “Your pitch was all over the place.” J’Lo says Hollie is listening to what everyone is saying. She says you have to forget everything they say and just “free fall.” She says you’ve got to stop thinking and feel it from her heart and soul. Randy says they are both correct. Basically, honey, you’re thinking too much. Hollie says she agrees and is still learning.

Joshua and Jessica sing “I Knew You Were Waiting.” Seriously? It feels like the finale - Top 2 singing their mandatory duet. So polished. So professional. Perfection. Best thing I’ve seen on this show all season. Or maybe in two seasons. Fabulous. I love them both. Period.

Randy says two of the greatest singers in the competition. “This is one of the greatest performances I’ve seen on this show. You guys are ready.” J’Lo says this is a dream pairing and says she is thinking final!!! “You guys slayed that.” Steven says that performance was so over the top, it defies judging. I haven’t bought a single song this season, but I’m getting this one.

Colton Dixon - “Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper

Back home in Tennessee, Colton works as a face painter? Gwen says she thought it was strange he was doing this at first, but then sort of got it. She sings backup for him and he wants her to sing with him on stage. Tee hee hee.

Colton puts his usual angst into this. I really don’t care much for Colton and this song doesn’t change my mind any. His voice is somewhat toneless and the emoting feels forced. He works too hard at it. Sorry, not a fan.

Steven says Colton just proved what he can do with a song. “You’re ready to do.” J’Lo says Colton was in synch with the band and felt so many different things during it. She says it was like a climax... okay. Randy says he and PP and Joshua all made the songs their own. “You’re so current.” I guess I’m not current.

Ryan jokes about Colton’s new blonde hair. Colton acknowledges that he pretty much stole the arrangement from Quiet Drive. Good for you not taking credit like others have in the past.

Skylar Laine - “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler

Skylar misses her deer meet sausage, guns, and three-wheeler. Skylar says she was shaken by being in the bottom three last week. She’s debating “9 to 5,” but decides to slow it down.

I think she would have killed “9 to 5.” This song is too slow for her style. But, she does finish very strong and shows some power in her vocals we haven’t seen before.

The judges stand. J’Lo is pointing out that she has tears in her eyes. Randy says, “Wow, Skylar, Wow.” He says it started slow, but in the end, he loves her big voice. J’Lo says we might not know how well she can sing and is saying, “Don’t count me out.” Steven says that was the best song she could have picked for her voice and to end the night.

Skylar says she doesn’t want to be in the bottom three, so she put on a purty dress and showed ‘em something we haven’t seen before.

Best and worst

Hmmm. Joshua was my favorite tonight, followed by DeAndre (yes, DeAndre). I’d put Phillip third, Jessica fourth and Skylar fifth. My bottom three, then, would be Hollie, Elise, and Colton. Now, Colton isn’t going anywhere, which leaves Elise and Hollie. Of the two, Hollie had the weakest performance tonight, but Elise really hasn’t lit the audience on fire, so I’ll go with her.

We’ve got so much time to kill tonight. J’Lo says we should be voting for the “full package” (heh).

Kellie Pickler and The Wanted tomorrow night.