Wednesday, May 2, 2012
'American Idol 11' - British week and 1960s
Cold opening rehashes Elise’s elimination from last week. “Their dreams are hanging by a thread... in the eye of a storm. Who will change the weather? On this stage, there is nowhere to hide.” I will take this and consider the implications.
Voiceover Man brings out the judges. J’Lo is wearing a red sheath with some kind of white cloth in the V of the neck. Where does she get these clothes. Out comes Ryan looking so much better than he did last week. All spiffed up and ready to run this two-hour spectacle.
Ryan tells us the stress of the competition reaches a fever pitch tonight, and out come the Top 5. “One of these people is your next American Idol,” he tells us. This week, Jimmy has brought in Steven Van Zandt to mentor. Bruce tells us Steven is a garage guy and likes thinkgs dirtier. I love SVZ. Love him. He and Jimmy are old friends, so he agreed to sit in for a couple of hours to check things out.
Did I say I love SVZ.
Round One - The Sixties
Hollie Cavanagh - “River Deep, Mountain High"
SVZ tells Hollie she needs to act like she doesn’t care what people think. Jimmy says if she hits the stage and acts like she has to entertain, she’s dead. Hollie enters through the audience followed by a cadre of singers and horns. This song is completely wrong for Hollie. She doesn’t have the maturity or sass to pull it off. Her vocals are flat, and the whole thing is pretty mundane. I can’t believe she’s still in this thing.
Steven Tyler says this is the first time he’s heard Hollie step out and use her blues. He thanks the Lord. J’Lo says it was nice to see her surrounded by a the song. “It was a different type of Hollie, tonight, I could feel you.” Randy asks if Steven and J’Lo loved it, then says he loved it too. He says Hollie needs to sing it like no one is watching. “Very nice.”
I just shake my head in wonderment. Yeah, but she’s in the death spot tonight. Methinks she’s doomed.
Phillip Phillips - “The Letter”
SVZ busts Jimmy’s chops about PP’s style. He wants him to leave him alone. SVZ just laughs. Same old PP arrangement, faces, hunch, and gray tee shirt. Lots of horns on this one. He’s changed the melody completely. Nothing new or unusual here. He does what he does once again.
The judges seem to be chatting as the audience goes wild. Randy says he likes when someone comes out and made it his own, vibed it up, whatever, and made it new in his own jam-bandy sort of way. He loves it. J’Lo doesn’t know the original song, so she didn’t know how to compare it. She said the song lacked melody, but she wants to get up on her feet when he sings. It’s compelling. Steven says the bad news is that he missed the melody, but the good news is PP gets away with it. He says PP waves his freak flag really well. “At least he strives to be original,” says Randy.
PP’s girlfriend is in the house. I guess that’s in response to all the hoo-ha about Ryan’s girlfriend.
Skylar Laine - “Fortunate Son”
This was not her first choice, but turns out to be a good one. It’s a little too fast, I think it would have worked better if she’s stuck to the original tempo. She would not have had to shout quite as much. She’s having a little problem with her breathe too. That being said, it’s another solid performance for this girl, who could end up the last girl standing.
J’Lo asks how she’s feeling. Skylar is out of breath. She says Skylar attacks every song and it is natural for her. She says Skylar is fearless and that’s what it takes. Steven loves it when she boot scoots. He loved it. What doesn’t he love. Randy salutes CCR and says they would all be proud. He says Skylar was born to be on the stage. He asks if she loves to do this and Skylar answers, “Yes sir.”
Joshua and PP sing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” Before they start, there’s a moment of merriment with Ryan. PP starts it out on one side of the stage and then Josh joins in from a stool center stage. PP joins him on the other stool and they croon on. There is zero harmony. But, what’s interesting is that when PP sings it straight, he sounds completely different. Joshua kicks it in midway through and pretty much blows PP off the stage. They laugh like goons when it’s over.
Steven says, “Hey,you guys, you need to embrace each other up there!” PP puts his arm around Josh. Steven says he needed to hear that. “It was back when a song was a song... I think it was perfect... match made in heaven.” J’Lo says they were scared to sing that song together. “When you started letting go, you saw what happened.” PP is still laughing. Randy says, once they let go, it came alive. “Yo, you delivered it...ya’ll can sing anything if you do who you are.”
Jessica Sanchez - “Proud Mary”
SVZ says growing up in bar bands they all had to play this and they all hate it. SVZ wants to talk her about it, but when he hears her sing it, he changes his mind. A couple of key changes, and voila. I thought Jimmy was going to try and steer her towards more youthful tunes. Jessica’s dress is so short, she’d better watch it. She puts everything into this, and while she’s no Tina Turner, it’s not half bad. Great vocals, fairly good stage work, good performance.
J’Lo starts out. She says Jessica’s so grown up and she forgets that Jessica is OMG only 16. She says she loves seeing Jessica move. She likes seeing her throw her hair around. Steven says she did it again and is hearing the blues and the stretch out. Randy says the performance was barely okay because she took on the “biggest dragon of the night.” He says it didn’t sit with him. J’Lo says you can’t compare a 16-year old to Tina Turner. They argue. Randy says he could understand why SVZ said they were going to talk her out of it.
Joshua Ledet - “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”
Jimmy and SVZ dance along. SVZ says Jimmy better sign Josh. He’s got the moves and the vocals down on this one, that’s for sure. There’s nothing about this to criticize. This kid is a natural. Don’t know how they’ll channel him after ‘Idol,’ but he sure knows how to play this game. Another great performance from Josh. Stand, judges, stand.
But they do not.
Steven says Josh has to be one of the top two best Idols of all times! “You sing so fine... you’re such a talent... it was great.” J’Lo says he’s like a throw-back from another era and enjoys him every time he gets up there. Randy says Josh is like Terrence Trent D’Arby and could bring back R&B. He loves Josh’s jacket (pinstripe sleeve on black serge) and flower (daffodil, which Ryan prompts him to give to a girl).
Randy gives round one to Hollie, Skylar, and Joshua. J’Lo to Hollie and Joshua. Steven to Josh and Hollie. Me - Joshua.
Round Two - British hits (please, no Adele)
Hollie - “Bleeding Love” - Leona Lewis
SVZ tells her to keep it intimate and sing to one person. Jimmy says her voice is a powerful instrument. She starts out singing sitting on the Colton Dixon memorial red piano. This song is so sappy, but it is right in her comfort zone. She doesn’t hit the notes Leona does, thus, a bit of a melody change, but it’s not terrible. She does have a nice voice, and again, I am reminded of Celine. She finishes strong.
Steven loved, loved, loved it. He doesn’t know the song! He loves everything. J’Lo says SVZ gave her some good advice. She felt like Hollie might have surprised herself. “That was amazing.” Randy educates Steven as to the song. He says Hollie is two for two tonight, and for the record... J’Lo says she belongs here. “For real, you’re peaking at the right time. Stay right in there.”
Phillip - “Time of the Season”
SVZ thinks PP singing the melody might scare people. Jimmy and SVZ are in agreement on this one. PP gets the swirling tie-dye background. Again, as in the duet, he’s singing in a different voice. Still with the faces, of course, and probably the same gray tee shirt! He’s pretty much out of tune throughout. You’d better go back to your Dave Matthews voice, PP. Or maybe this is his ploy? If he tried to sing terribly, he succeeded.
Randy says this was relaxed and subdued. He says they were talking about how PP can sing the melody. He would have liked to hear more of PP’s guitar. So would have PP. J’Lo babbles on. Steven says he’s glad he chose the song and sing the melody. “You sang it well, you sang it very well, so good for you.”
Again, really? It was pretty bad.
Jessica, Hollie, and Skylar are singing “Higher.” Before they sing, the girls mimic each other. Have I said how much I despise these two-hour shows? They’re all wearing the dresses they wore for their first songs. Jessica carries the song, but flubs a lyric. Nice pointy pose and group hug to end it.
So sick of Steven Tyler. He says they sang the hell out of it. J’Lo says seeing the three of them side by side is a treat. She thinks it was cute. “You’re like three little dolls.” Randy thinks the arrangement was weird. He pimps Jackie Wilson. “Very nice job.”
Skylar - “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”
SVZ seems to be tiring of all this. Hilarity ensues. SVZ tells Skylar Dusty Springfield had country roots. Skylar has a street lamp and park bench set. The song works as a country tune and Skylar makes the best of it. Not crazy about the tone of her voice, but she sells it. Skylar is this season’s Kellie Pickler and is going to have a similar career.
Randy says Skylar is also peaking at the right time. He believes her. He says she’s starting to tell the stories even more. He does wonder about the people who were sitting on the bench and what were they talking about! J’Lo asks Skylar if she wants to win. “You just might... you’re winning over the heart of America.” She points out that Skylar ran off the stage after the duet. Randy still wants to know how those people got in there. Steven says it’s more proof that it works when you work it. Steven gives us some British invasion history and says Skylar brought the song into the 21st century.
Jessica - “You Are So Beautiful”
Jimmy is concerned this is going to sound loungey or Muzak. I think she’s lounging on the floor but it’s hard to tell with all the strange lighting. Thing is, the simplicity of the arrangement allows her beautiful voice to take front and center. And it is beautiful. It’s a perfect performance. So perfect the judges don’t even start clapping for a moment. Jessica appears to be overcome.
Steven says, “You once again showed America just how beautiful your voice is... you’re going to be number one, girl.” J’Lo says this is why they couldn’t let her go home. She loves what she did at the end. Randy says round one he was saying, whatever, but round two, “This girls is at the top of the leader board.” He says she is so pro.
Ryan fetches Jessica’s shoes. Randy wonders if he is going to put them on. Ryan says, “That would be everybody’s wish!”
Joshua - “To Love Somebody”
Josh wanted to sing Tom Jones, but Jimmy and SVZ don’t like the idea. SVZ is amazed that Joshua can take a song he’s never heard before and sing it so well 15 minutes later. Watch now! Not sure this was the best choice, but at this point, he can pretty much do no wrong. Joshua has not had one bad performance through the entire run. Not gonna say the same about his cowl neck shirt, though. But, if that’s the only thing I have negative to say... well. Joshua tears this up and puts it away. All right.
The judges stand! Randy is shouting. I am astonished. Randy says, “Crazy good. How did you do that?” He is totally blown away. We honor Robin Gibb. Randy says the Bee Gees are the greatest songwriters in the world. He says that Josh could take something he’d never heard and do what he did with it. “You have to be born, America, to do that. I’ve been doing this 11 years and you are one of the best singers ever on this show. Nobody could do that better.” J’Lo says there are so few people who can deliver like that. She says he’s one off the best singers she’s seen in fifty years - comparing him to the best. “Jimmy, you better not mess this up.” Steven says Josh is such a great artist. “That would have been a hit record right there.”
Josh’s mother is wiping away tears. What are we seeing here?
Round Two - Josh, hands down.
Once again, Josh takes the night for me. In fact, he takes the season for me. I want him to win. I am ‘Idol’ weary, but Joshua Ledet is giving me a reason to watch. As for the rest, I’m going Skylar, Hollie, Jessica, and PP. Bottom? Hollie and PP. Hollie is going home.
Carrie Underwood and Coldplay tomorrow night. Be there.