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.