Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Phillip Phillips busts into Billboard digital songs chart at No. 2

Phillip Phillips leaves the stage after emotional 'Idol' win (Mark Davis, Getty Images)
Phillip Phillips may be crazy about his 'Idol' coronation song, "Home," but apparently, the music-buying public has different ideas. The single made its debut on the Billboard digital songs chart at No. 2 after selling 278,000 downloads in its first week. This gives PP the distinction of having the second highest digital first week sales of any Idol except Kelly Clarkson, who's 2009 single "My Life Would Suck Without You" sold 280,000 downloads its first week.

"Home" is the highest selling digital coronation song in 'Idol' history and is third overall on the list of single sales. Clay Aiken's "This is the Night" still holds the record with 393,000 single CDs sold in its first week. Ruben Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" is second, selling 286,000 copies its first week in the stores.

Here's a list of all the winners' 'Idol' coronation singles (and Clay, of course):

1. Clay Aiken, "This Is the Night" (393,000 first-week sales)
2. Ruben Studdard, "Flying Without Wings" (286,000)
3. Phillip Phillips, "Home" (278,000)
4. David Cook, "Time of My Life" (236,000)
5. Kelly Clarkson, "A Moment Like This" (236,000)
6. Taylor Hicks, "Do I Make You Proud" (228,000)
7. Scotty McCreery, "I Love You This Big" (171,000)
8. Carrie Underwood, "Inside Your Heaven" (171,000)
9. Fantasia, "I Believe" (142,000)
10. Kris Allen, "No Boundaries" (134,000)

12. Lee DeWyze, "Beautiful Day" (95,000)
13. Jordin Sparks, "This is my Now" (74,000)

Two other PP singles also debuted on digital songs this week. "We've Got Tonight" sold 43,000 downloads and entered at No. 41 and "Volcano" opened at No. 54 with 35,000 downloads.  

All this comes after PP was quoted as saying the song wasn't really "him!"

"I wanted to do my own stuff, but we only had a certain amount of time to do everything, so I had to do that one, and it's a really good song," he told MTV. "The writers are really good. It's not really something I would write, so I'm excited to get my own stuff out there."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Phillip or Jessica?

This is it. The end of the season, and of course, the crowning of the next American Idol. Two hours of ga-roup numbers, duets, solos, and guest stars, and then, at 10ish, the coronation. Will Phillip Phillips continue the WGWG streak or will Jessica become the first female winner since Jordin Sparks won 'AI3?' I'm team PP all the way. In fact, I picked PP to win in my pool at the Top 13. If he wins, I can finish no lower than fourth. Not that this means much!

I really debated as to whether or not to recap this show, but in the end, it’s the last show of the season and I’m watching it anyway! 

Frenetic opening in black and white. We see the Top 2 as they emerged from the dressing room to hit the stage for the first time. PP meets Scotty McCreery, who tells him he won’t sleep tonight. And we’re off.

No Voiceover Man tonight? Instead, the Top 12 minus PP and Jessica, all dressed in white, have their first ga-roup number (“Runaway Baby”).  Heejun makes me laugh. Dancers, dressed in black, come out and put the Idols to shame! A female dancer does the jive. The Idols are still be-bopping away on the sidelines. Oh, now they run back while dancers do the jerk. Shannon Migraine looks as though she’s about to burst out of her jeans. You get the picture? 

Voiceover man brings out the judges, who descend the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase, flanked by the Idols. Lisa Renna is in the house. Ryan follows wearing a tuxedo and poufy hair.

Ryan welcomes us to the show. “Tonight is one of the most anticipated events in television and in just two hours, your next American Idol will be named right here.” He asks for the sign-holders to show their stuff. He tells us a “staggering 132 million votes came in.” Out come PP and Jessica, also dressed in white.

Ryan asks if either of them slept. Jessica said she slept a little. PP says he got about nine hours. Oh PP, how we love you. Next up, PP and a “very special guest.”

PP is performing with John Fogarty. Of course, they are singing “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” PP holds onto the melody, I mean how can he not. Carrie Underwood is singing along in the audience. PP looks like he’s ecstatic. I sing along! As an aside, John Fogarty’s hair color is pretty unnatural!

PP says the next song is one of his faves and it’s an honor to be performing with John Fogarty. PP strums along and lets John take the lead. It’s fun to watch. Now Carrie is dancing! Her husband is with her too. Like an old time reunion up in here.

A time-wasting clip showing moments with the judges and the stupid auditions.

Joshua is singing “Take Me to the Pilot.”  This song will always belong to George Huff for me, but here’s another Louisiana kid taking it to the pilot, or trying to. Joshua intros Fantasia, who now has waist-length, straight hair now and weighs considerably more than she did nine years ago! . Fantasia is out in the audience screeching away. She looks totally out of it. Joshua can’t even compete. It’s a total, red hot mess! He daps Evil Jimmy, hugs ‘Tasia, and they sing over their allotted time limit! George Huff’s version of the song remains unchallenged!

The hilarity continues. Clips of Jimmy blowing his lines, over, and over, and over again.

Oh gawd, the ladies of the Top 12 sing some disco tunes. Elise’s hair is blonde again. She looks a tad chubby too. Shannon Migraine has a solo. Why is she here again? Skylar tries, but fails. Shannon is really trying to make the most of her time on the stage! This is pretty much unlistenable. Hollie leads us off with “I’m Every Woman.”  Chaka Khan enters via our stairway, escorted by a bunch of guys who rip off her cape to reveal her flesh colored cat suit. She’s completely out of tune, but looks fierce. Erica and Shannon Migraine dwarf her!

I’m not making this up. Ryan is at the judges’ table while Randy goes crazy over Chaka. Where’s J’Lo? Could there be a performance in the offing?

Back from the break, we watch the Ford tribute to the finalists. Of course, PP wasn’t in most of the commercials. Heejun gets a big hand. Last week, there was a special gift for PP’s brother-in-law, Ben somebody-or-other and Jessica’s music mentor Robert.  They are both invited to the finale. I thought they were getting cars. They are in the audience, and surprise, surprise, they each get keys to a new Ford Escape. Phillip and Jessica get cars too. Everyone gets a car. Jessica’s mentor is still overcome. I want a car for having to endure all of this.

Now we welcome a “global superstar...” Rihanna. It’s big, it’s autotuned, it’s what you’d expect.

Skylar is back. OMG who dressed her? She introduces Reba and the two of them sing “Turn on Your Radio.” Skylar was robbed, methinks. She really holds her own with Reba. They are so similar in voice. I love Reba and this is probably the best performance so far on this endless show.

Now for a fun peak into Steven Tyler’s house? It’s full of Playboy Bunnys. He has a seal. At least I think it’s a seal. Lots of pictures and memorabilia. Randy is now sitting in the dressing room with the Bunnies. Steven’s sister is making out with some old guy. We see Steven’s organ. Steven has a new fragrance, “eau de Low Tide” (see the skunk). We end this ridiculous interlude with Steven and a monkey on his shoulder.

Now, we relive a favorite moment from the season. Jessica is singing “I Will Always Love You.” You should have sung this last night, Jess.

Now for the Top 12 guys. Heeeeeejun. They’re singing Neil Diamond. I wonder who the guest singer is going to be? Poor Jermaine (the one that got kicked off). He could have been up there too. Or maybe he’s better off not!  I’m still wondering where J’Lo is.  Colton singing “I’m a Believer” is not pleasing. Where’s PP?  What, no Neil Diamond? Joshua kind of stars in the finale of this. OMG. Guess who’s here? It’s Neil Diamond after all. Q’uelle surpris. Neil actually looks pretty good, but he can’t sing anymore. And he doesn’t seem to know the words. He can do a pointy pose, though. So that’s something.

I am so ready for this show to end and we still have at least 55 minutes.

Scotty McCreery is in the house. Ryan tells us Adam Lambert’s album is number one on the charts. Now for a fun montage of Randy telling contestants they can sing the phone book. This is followed by the Idols in a choir singing the phone book (song written by Michael Orland). Joshua takes it to church, of course! The others look upon him in disgust. Thank you Michael! Highlight of the night so far!

Scotty has a phone book for Randy. Tee hee hee.

We are bringing out “one of the hottest women on the charts” (could it be J’Lo?). Of course it is. I need ice cream. I wonder if her boy toy will be featured on this one. I’m not going to comment on any of this. Remember last season during the finale she performed with Marc Anthony. Shortly thereafter, they split. When it’s finally over, Carrie Underwood nods her approval, albeit somewhat unenthusiastically.

Lauren Alaina, Taylor Hicks, Ace Young, and Diana DeGarmo are in the house. Ryan calls Ace and Diana up to the stage. Ace’s hair is past his shoulders. He looks like a caveman. OMG he’s going to propose. Ryan has the lights dimmed. Diana clearly had no idea this was coming. "This has always been home to us and I felt that this would be the perfect place to ask a simple question."

Then he gets down on one knee and continues, "We have conquered Broadway together. We have created our new music together. We have an amazing group of people around us. And with the help of David Webb jewelry I have a way to make this last forever. Are you ready? I love you to death. You're my best friend. I want to make this last forever and I will do anything in my power to have the most ... amazing life together if you will have me. Diana Nicole DeGarmo, will you marry me?" Diana cries and Ace puts the ring on her finger. They kiss and we have our first official ‘Idol’ engaged couple.

Hollie has to follow all this with “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Who will be singing with her? Oh, it’s Jordin Sparks. Her voice sounds shaky, but she looks beautiful. A choir joins them. Hollie outsings Jordin.

Thirty minutes to go. It’s pretty sad when the best part of the first 90 minutes is a choir singing the phone book and a marriage proposal!

Ryan intros the boys who are honoring Robin Gibb (who performed at the finale two years ago).  I can’t even begin to describe how bad this is. The Bee Gees were about harmony, and this group is so out of harmony and tune, it’s insulting. I want to mute the sound, that’s how bad it is. Joshua takes on “To Love Somebody” and once again, saves the dismal ga-roup number.

Jessica and Jennifer Holiday sing “And I am Telling You, I’m not Going.” J’Lo is back at the desk. Jennifer starts it off and Jessica blows her entrance. Jennifer doesn’t even look like she’s half trying. Jessy, baby, you’re not going to win this one!!! The song takes lungs and depth. Randy is groovin’ to this. She sort of mocks Jessica!  I wonder what Jennifer Hudson is thinking about all this!!!  J’Hol gets a standing O from J’Lo and Randy. Now Steven has disappeared.

Now for Aerosmith. It’s kind of weird watching Steven perform after watching him sit at a desk all season. Really. Joe Perry’s still got it! Song is a little psychedelic, very old school, but a welcome relief.  And, of course they close with “Walk This Way.” That was fun.

Seven minutes until ten o’clock. Will the show end on time?

Jessica and PP have their final duet (“Up Here Where We Belong”). PP is sitting on a stool and they are singing behind the judges. A choir stands on the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. A nice moment.

Now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Edward Boddington delivers the envelope. He verifies they are the official votes and a world record 132 million votes have been generated. PP says it’s been an honor to sing on the stage. He honors the band, the fans, everyone. Jessica thanks the crew, the fans, everyone. Ryan thanks them for a great season. Kiren dims the lights. “The winner of American Idol Season 11 is... Phillip Phillips!”  Heejun runs out and practicalloy tackles him. Scotty McCreery hands a guitar to PP - the traditional passing of the WGWG symbol, if you will. “Congratulations, you did it," says Ryan.

WGWG5 sings his single “Home.” Best coronation song ever. PP seems completely unfazed by all of this. Then, suddenly it all hits him and he starts to cry. Oh PP. He keeps playing as the marching band comes by once again, but he is overcome. The confetti falls. PP doesn’t want us to see him cry. He finally gives up when a piece of confetti gets into his mouth. He takes off his guitar, hands it off,  and goes to his family.  Best moment of the night.

As the credits roll, PP hugs the judges and that’s it. End of another season. This could be the last time, kids. But hey, it’s a long time until January!

Thanks for reading this and have a great summer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Phillip and Jessica face off for the title

Tonight, Phillip Phillips, aka PP, and Jessica Sanchez face off to determine who will be the next American Idol. Cue dramatic music and cheering crowds. The Top 2 will sing three songs each - one they've sung before, another chosen by Simon Fuller, and (drum roll please) their very own individual original tune (aka the Idol Coronation song). Can you stand it?

I picked PP to win the whole shebang back at the Top 13, so natch, I'll be rooting for him. He would, of course, become the fifth white guy with guitar (WGWG) to win 'Idol' since David Cook inaugurated this run back in 'Idol 7.' But Jessica certainly has a shot seeing that she's the darling of the Philippines, and has an entire country voting for her. On the other hand, poor PP has wicked bad kidney stones and needs emergency surgery immediately. He's literally risking his life for the chance to win this thing. So who's more deserving? I'll let you decide!

Here we go!

Here we go! Cold opening showing PP and Jessica on their way to their initial auditions. And, of course, we watch them as they get their golden tickets. PP told the camera he was going to be the next American Idol. Could be.

Voiceover Man intros the judges. Tonight, J’Lo is dressed in skin-tight black pants and a sparkly black top. Randy is in pastel. Ryan enters via a shortened version of the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. We’re live at the Nokia Theatre and 7,000 fans are in the house. Ryan asks the PP fans to holler out. Then he does the same for the Jessica fans. Sounds about even. Out come Jessica and PP. PP is dressed in a wrinkled blue shirt and white tee shirt. Jessica looks pretty in a black and gray gown. Ryan says he told them to take it all in. Jessica says it’s insane and crazy. PP babbles something nonsensical.

PP won the coin toss, so Jessica goes first.

Round One - Simon Fuller’s choice

Jessica Sanchez - “I Have Nothing”

Good choice for Jessica. She’s using her Jennifer Hudson voice. We’ve heard her do this many times over the season. Her vocals are controlled and she stays right on the notes. She really owns the song. I’ve never heard anyone sing it better... besides the late, great Whitney, of course. Nice job.

We’ll hear from the judges at the end of Round One. Ryan lets us know we have four hours to vote tonight. And we go to break. Dare I dream this show is only one hour? I check my cable guide and yes... just an hour. Saints be praised!

Phillip Phillips - “Stand By Me”

PP is sitting on a stool, guitar in hand. He’s using his Dave Matthews voice. There’s a smile in his voice, if that makes any sense. As usual he contorts the melody (and his face) and the overall effect is a bit harsh. Not sure this actually works. He seems satisfied, however. 

Ryan reads PP’s phone numbers and then PP departs the stage.

Ryan asks the judges how they thought they did. J’Lo says it’s tough because it’s a battle of the opposites. She praises Jessica’s voice and calls PP a modern day crooner. “At the end of the day, America has a tough job... who’s making you feel like picking up the phone and voting.” Randy gives Round 1 to Jessica, as do I.  Coming up, the world premiere of Jason Derulo’s Coca-Cola ‘Idol’ single.

Back from the break. J’Lo also feels Jessica won Round One. Jason D. will sing “Undefeated.” He starts out sitting down. He is no longer wearing his sparkly neck brace. He plays with a chair and stands on it. His girlfriend Jordin Sparks is singing along with him. Dancers appear, and whirl and twirl around him. Not a lot of imagination in the lyrics. He gets lifted up on the same device they used to “raise Joshua up.” Thrilling.

During the break, we are forced to listen to “Undefeated” again in a Coke commercial.

Round Two - Contestants’ Fave

Jessica - “The Prayer”

I think she should have gone with “And I Am Telling You...” This song isn’t “big” enough and is not as effective with one singer. She’s scratchy on the glory note too. She seems a bit tentative and there are some slightly off notes. She really needed a moment here and I don’t think she delivered. It was nice, and on any other week, would have been just fine, but this is the finale.

Phillip - “Movin’ Out”

PP’s wearing a black shirt and jeans. Good choice. A bit more energy and a neat arrangement. PP is a lot more comfortable on this one too. It’s classic PP all the way and I’d call cacophonous! Yay PP! You did it that time.

Evil Jimmy is clapping and smiling. He knows PP just owned that one! Long after he stops singing, the crowd is still cheering. PP leaves the stage.  Ryan asks Steven what he thinks. He says “You don’t always have to be a good egg, hatch or go bad.” He gives the round to Jessica. Randy thinks this round was a dead heat. J’Lo goes with PP. She says this was “authentic Phillip.”

I give Round Two to PP.

Round Three - ‘Idol’ Coronation Song

I am breathless with anticipation. 

Jessica - “Change Nothing”

Lots of strings and schmaltz. Jessica starts out sitting on the piano, which is white this week. The song is too low for her! It’s a love song about not fitting together or something. No rainbows? No unicorns? Oh man, she goes totally off on the bridge. She’s shouting off-key. Jessica, you just lost it. The song is crap, devoid of soul. I think she knows she blew it too. Terrible.

Jessica faces the judges. Randy says he did not love the song, but that she made something more out of it. “I thought the song was just okay.” J’Lo says she thought Jessica sang the song well, but it was a pop ballad and missed the soul in it. “When you go to make your record, you have to be able to say to someone, this is not me... or change songs... everything has to be you.” Steven says he knows how good she can sing and doesn’t feel it was the proper song for her to sing.

Wow... Jessica says she agrees with the judges and wanted to do something urban, but chose something else? You blew it girl. Sunk by the crappy coronation song.

Phillip - “Home”

PP is wearing a jacket. Song is just right. Neat arrangement - almost bluegrass. PP is wailing on the guitar and singing the melody.  A marching band passes by! I laugh out loud. PP is almost celebratory. It’s awesome! Poignant, emotional, and right on the freakin’ money.

The judges stand. Randy is yowling. PP, you just won ‘American Idol.’

Randy says he loved the song, PP, the production, the marching band. “Your best performance of the night... reminds me of Mumford and Sons... genious.” J’Lo says it was so different and she couldn’t think of anyone else. “It was just Phillip.”  Steven says he heard a little Paul Simon and other ungodlike creatures. “You are the man.”

“The rest is in the universe,” Ryan tells us.

Round Three to Phillip. Game over. PP will be 'American Idol's' WGWG5.

Jessica says PP is an amazing artist. PP says Jessica’s an amazing person and is one of the best singers he’s ever heard. They hug.  “Tomorrow night, one of their lives will change forever.”

Scotty McCreery (WGWG4) sings us out with “Please Remember Me,” and we look back over the season. And it's a wrap.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Who will join Phillip in the Top 3?

Perhaps you think I'm a bit premature with the title and all, but really, is there any doubt? I'll be shocked if PP doesn't make the finals. The real horse race tonight is who gets the other spot - Jessica or Joshua? I'm going to say Joshua.

This scenario reminds me a lot of Season 5. We had Taylor Hicks, who, once Chris Daughtry was eliminated, was pretty clearly going to the finals. Like Taylor, Phillip has strong support from the key demographics - young girls and middle-aged women. That season, the second spot came down to Katharine McPhee, who like Jessica shone on the big ballads and Elliott Yamin, who brought on the soul just like Joshua.

Remember, the results that week were very close and the producers decided it would be lots of fun to pull out white boards to reveal the percentages and who ultimately got the second spot. It was, of course, Katharine McPhee who faced Taylor for the crown. It was never even close. Ultimately, I believe Phillip will win the whole thing handily, no matter who he faces. But tonight, at least, TPTB will play this for all it's worth!

 Let's see how this all shakes out.

Cold opening with Simon and Garfunkel singing “Homeward Bound.” We watch clips of the Top 3 and their triumphant (or semi-triumphant) returns home. “One goes home tonight!”

Voiceover Man intros the judges who enter through the audience. J’Lo is wearing a big turquoise skirt and raspberry halter top. Ryan gets the audience pumped up about the finale and pimps the tour. He lets us know that Adam Lambert and Lisa Marie Presley are in the house.

The Top 3 perform “Got to Get You Into My Life” complete with full horn section. It’s a jazzy arrangement that suits Joshua and Jessica. PP, not so much! The camera twirls around them. PP seems more hunched over than usual. Stupid song choice.

Now for the Ford video. It’s set like a silent movie. As usual, PP is not participating. He hasn’t been in one for weeks.

Jessica is nervous and excited. PP says it’s a blessing to be there and whoever makes it through deserves it. Joshua is nervous as well, but says he’ll support whoever makes it.

Ryan starts with results. Joshua is first. About his performances, Evil Jimmy says Josh had a good night - not his best. He feels the judges were very generous on the first song. He gave it an eight. On “Imagine,” Jimmy says he believes Joshua is the most exciting showman in the competition. He says Joshua overcompensated with riffs and runs, and it didn’t work. “It was overblown and overemotional... kind of like putting a Ferrari on a racetrack and leaving it in park. As for “No More Drama,” Jimmy thinks he needed a big moment, but there was something missing. He knows it was the song. There wasn’t enough melody. Evil Jimmy feels it was his fault. But he thinks Joshua belongs in the finale 100 percent.

Joshua says he listens to everything Jimmy says. Did Joshua earn a spot in the finale? We’ll find out in just a little bit.

Stupid bit with J’Lo pimping ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift.’ More pimpage with the Top 4 in the recording studio doing some song for the movie.

Lisa Marie Presley performs her new single. She has a very deep voice and sounds like she smokes three packs a day.  Very limited range and she hardly moves at all. I never, ever say this, but seriously, I can sing better than her! I guess this is why I didn’t even know she was recording. You didn’t get Daddy’s vocal skills, that’s for sure. Priscilla is in the audience. She looks embalmed. So much for that.

Ryan tells us auditions for Season 12 start next month.

Jessica is up next. We start with the Mariah song. Evil Jimmy says everyone needs a shock and awe moment. But he doesn’t think this came together enough. As for “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Jimmy says the judges felt it all came together, but he’s looking for more than that. She’s got it all, but she has to have the most magical moment she’s had so far to win. On “I’ll be There,” Jimmy says he chose the song because her voice reminds him of MJ. What he didn’t think of, was that it’s only two minutes, and forgot the Jermaine part. He thinks she’s worthy of singing on the Grammys.

Carole Bayer Sager and Rita WIlson honor Donna Summer. Donna was Carole's friend. Jimmy says everyone in the dance business today owes something to Donna Summer. I’ll miss her too. Sad to see her gone.

Adam Lambert sings “Never Close Our Eyes.”  Hard to believe it’s been three years since his season. Adam has a new hairdo, a little poufier on the top. He’s a little off-key here and there. There’s his little guitar player. I like the song. And he’s not lip-synching. That’s how it’s done, kiddies! That’s how it’s done.

They’ve cleaned up the stage after Adam and now it’s PP’s turn. First, it’s “Beggin.” Springsteen? Really? Jimmy says PP did a great job. He says’ PP’s sound is becoming more and more original and less derivative. On “Disease” (which I loved), Jimmy says what he likes about PP is he’s willing to risk everything. He agrees with the judges. “It was a total snoozefest... not strong enough for this point in the competition.” Finally, “We’ve Got Tonight,” Jimmy says PP won the night with this one, hands down. He thinks it was the best of the entire season. “He hit notes I didn’t believe he could hit... he was flawless... I was genuinely knocked out.” He says he sound like what he saw in the hometown video. “There was a cry in his voice and a depth that I haven’t seen all year from him.”

“We’re about to do it.” Ryan asks the judges to set up the stakes. Randy wishes them all the best and says they are the best ever. J’Lo says it’s been such a journey and she feels like losing anyone of them tonight is heartbreaking for her and all of us. She says she’s never felt so connected to them. “It’s a big moment for the show to have three such talented contestants.” Steven says he loves them all because they have he courage to have a dream and it’s beautiful.  “Who goes to the finale? Find out live after the break.”

Oh boy, here we go. Ryan has the card. “Dim the lights. Here we go you three. After nearly 90 million votes, the first person to compete in the Season 11 finale is... Jessica Sanchez.” She looks shocked. Her family is shocked. “The person going head to head against Jessica is... Phillip Phillips.” Joshua smiles. "Which means we say goodbye to Joshua." I’m sorry Joshua. We watch his funeral video and see all the standing ovations.

Joshua sings us out with “It’s a Man’s Man’s World.” Skylar and Hollie go berserk. He hugs J’Lo and doesn’t miss a beat. Then he walks to the audience and brings he mother up on stage. J’Lo is waving her hands around. It's a classy singout from a classy guy, who in my opinion, deserved to be in the finals. But it is what it is. Make way for WGWG5. It's gonna happen!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 3 perform for spot in finals

Well, we've reached the Top 3! I suppose I should write some kind of commentary, but really, I don't have a whole lot to say. Is there any way to stop the Phillip Phillips steamroller? Will he vie for not only the title of American Idol but also WGWG 5?

We won't find out until Thursday, but tonight might provide some hints as to how the 'Idol' Powers that Be want this to shake out. Who gets the coveted "pimp" spot? What song did the judges pick for PP? How about Jimmy? I think this will make things a bit more clear.

Cold opening - the Top 3 are shown on a giant screen behind Ryan, and then on the stage. “Who will make it to the finale?”

Voiceover Man welcomes the judges. J’Lo is wearing a pink pantsuit.Randy is in salmon. Ryan descends the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. Heejun is in the house! Ryan tells us it’s going to be a huge night tonight and next week, we move to the Nokia Theater for the finale. Note, the final performance show is Tuesday next week.

Ryan brings out the Top 3 again. Jessica is wearing a purple gown. PP is in double-gray. The Top 3 will sing three songs each tonight - a judge’s choice, the contestant’s choice, and one picked especially for them by the evil Jimmy. Sink or swim time, folks.

Josh has the death spot.

Joshua Ledet - “I’d Rather Be Blind” by Etta James (Randy’s pick)

Josh is using the old-fashioned mike. Lots of brass. The song gives Josh a lot of room for his vocal gymnastics while at the same time, requiring a lot of restraint. He gets a chance to delve into his lower register before moving into his comfort zone.  Josh has a maturity in his vocals that totally belies his age. Good song choice and a solid performance.

He gets a standing ovation from the judges - his 15th? Steven says this is another Joshua moment. He thinks it’s surreal to hear someone singing this old song and have the audience respond. J’Lo says they struggled with song choice for him. Modern or not? Randy says Joshua is a classic stylist and this fit like a glove. He hopes Joshua can bring this into modern times. He says R&B needs a lift as it’s ailing.

Ryan says this is like watching a sporting event. Joshua says this journey has taken him through a lot of things, and while it’s tough, he thinks about what he wants and doesn’t give up.

Interesting, the Kraft ad following Josh’s performance features the same song! Heh!

The rest of the Top 12 is in the house. Heejun has a new “do.”

Jessica Sanchez - “Smile” by Mariah Carey (J’Lo’s pick)

J’Lo says she picked this song so we could hear the tenderness in Jessica’s vocals. Very, very nice. Jessica has a beautiful voice, and while the arrangement is pretty much the original, her voice is nothing like Mariah’s so the feeling of the song is different. She soars on the bridge. Very, very nice.

The judges do not stand. Randy says that was beautiful, perfectly the right song (boasts about Mariah), he says it’s one of the best times Mariah’s been performed on TV. J’Lo says it’s a hard song, but Jessica did it in her own way. She loves that Jessica has the kind of control to get through it. Steven says when Jessica sings, people hang on every note. He says she should get used to encores. He says she’ll be the last one standing. Ahhh.

Ryan asks if Steven had just made a prediction. He says, “Don’t I always?”  Jessica says she always wanted to sing this song, but it’s so hard.

Heejun is in the mosh pick with PP!

Phillip Phillips - “Beggin” (Steven’s pick)

Steven says he picked the song because of the melody. Ohh...PP in the pimp spot. To me, he still sounds like Dave Matthews. The song has more kick to it than some he’s done, and he is singing the melody. I don’t know. Another WGWG winner would not be good for the franchise, but PP has a whole lot more edge to him. He might be able to pull this off. I kinda liked that performance.

Steven wonders if we can believe this guy. J’Lo laughs and tries to yell over the crowd. She says PP can’t help but messing with the song. “It was great.” Steven says it’s been beautiful to watch PP unfold. He’s hoping PP will write his own songs and says PP could be a new-age Boss. High praise. Randy likes Steven’s poeticness! Randy says we were just at the PP concert. “You are so in the zone and you have been in the zone... you don’t care what’s going on around you... that was another incredible performance by you.. You are who you are and we love it.”

PP says three songs is.. screams interrupt.

Round one to PP, although it’s close. Joshua’s being in the death spot worries me. With PP in the pimp spot, it would seem TPTB have given him the edge.

Randy isn’t going to pick a clear-cut winner. He says Joshua has a slight edge vocally. J’Lo says PP’s performance really got her. Steven says the way PP crawls into a song and turns it into himself - he’s on the fence.

Round Two - Contestant’s Choice

Joshua Ledet - Westlake, Louisiana

Josh says the most memorable thing about being home was selling out the arena. He says it was touching that so many people came out to support him even though they didn’t know him. We see c lip of Joshua on the private jet. He’s nervous on the plane. He puts his shoes on and gets off the plane. Mom and Dad are there to greet him. “Son of a Preacher Man” is playing in the background.

He hits the Sheriff’s crawfish blowout. An old white woman says “Welcome home.” He goes to Daddy’s church.  Daddy sings “We love you Josh.” An infant is wearing a Team Josh shirt. His little niece gets to ride with him in the parade. Some guy has his name etched into his hair. It’s like Mardi Gras.

Even the dogs are excited. A woman with an eye patch takes his picture as he arrives at his high school. The cheerleaders cheer and Josh signs autographs. Then it’s off to the arena, which is packed. Josh sings “It’s a Man’s World” as Mom and Dad stand by watching proudly. Josh is like a superstar. Fireworks close out the day.

Joshua is singing “Imagine.” He’s going to take this to church, I can feel it. I just want to listen,. It’s moving, emotional, and original. J’Lo is singing along. He doesn’t oversing, but still manages to bring it up and over. He’s feeling the words and interpreting them for his own meaning. I applaud you Joshua. That was phenomenal.

Steven says this was another Thank You God moment. “You are so fine... damn.” J’Lo says it was pulled back and controlled, and a beautiful thing. “We have three different voices and all of them are beautiful in their own way... but the performance quality, the way you dig into the words and meaning, makes you very special.” Randy asks why he picked this song. Josh says he was riding in the car with PP and Jessica, and didn’t know what he was going to sing. This song came on the radio and it had a strong message. Maybe John Lennon was speaking to him! Randy says everything Joshua sings should mean something and be special to him. “Every time you sing people feel what you sing.. brilliant, dude, brilliant.”

Jessica Sanchez - Chula Vista, California

Jessica says it was weird going home because she was home-schooled and not popular. She gets to ride on a helicopter and they land in the stadium where she first auditioned. Jessica gets into a limo and hits the radio station. Then it’s into an arena where she tells a huge crowd she loves them. Morning comes and she’s back in the limo. She pulls up to the family home and sees her doggies. Her brother is happy to have her home and she tells them she’s going to try an win it for them.

Her family rides in the limo and her brothers are with her in the parade. She arrives at the high school, where apparently, she didn’t go? There’s lots of security. Nowhere near as much fun as Joshua’s trip! THe mayor declars it “Jessica Day.”

Back in the limo she’s at the U.S.S. Midway where lots of sailors are on hand to cheer her one. She dedicates a song to the service people. She sings “Dance With my Father” to her Daddy. Back into the helicopter and she returns.

Jessica is singing “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Kiss up much? Odd choice. Nothing wrong with her vocals, maybe a bit too much melisma, but it’s the song choice. For me, it’s a bit contrived and transparent. This is the best you could come up with? She finishes sharp. Jessica, you just might have blown your lead here.

Steven stands up and pats his heart. The other two are sitting firm. Steven says she just took a great song and made it greater. He thanks Diane Warren for writing it for him. J’Lo says this is a big deal for Steven. She says, “That note at the end sent everyone into the heavens.” Randy says she is choosing some tough hills to climb. “This girl is bold...”  He says he was waiting on a big moment and she delivered.

Phillip Phillips - Leesburg, Georgia

Finally, we watch PP’s trip home. I read somewhere this trip brought $500k to the town. Actually PP and Joshua shared a plane, although we don’t see this! PP arrives and is greeted by a fawning TV reporter. People are going crazy. It’s morning. PP goes back to the pawn show.  Another crowd of screaming mimis. Good for business! Dad is there to greet him. He’s happy to have his son home so he can put his hands on him. PP Sr. says this is a dream come true. PP gets all choked up. PP sits by the stuffed turkey, them he leaves. Daddy is riding in the limo with him. Mama wants to squeeze him ‘til she can’t no more.” And she does. The family is all gathered.

Mom and Dad ride with him in the parade. Pretty girls throw themselves at PP who is all emotional again. 

At the concert venue it looks like he’s drawn the biggest crowd of the three. PP’s gonna win this thing, you know that, don’t you?  

PP sings “Disease” by Matchbox 20. And, he’s not wearing gray. Nice arrangement. PP is totally loose. He isn’t making horrible faces either. This is good. No, this is real good. What I like about PP is that he and his guitar are like one. It’s not an affectation, he’s really good.  He gives the sax player (female) a little kiss.

J’Lo says this wasn’t the Wow performance, which “we are needing and wanting right now.” Steven says he feels the same way. Randy asks the other two if they didn’t love it? They didn’t. Randy says, “Wow, this is weird.” He didn’t like it either because it was subdued and PP could do it in his sleep. Ouch. Where’s the bus? I thought it was perfect for the moment and the mood. So, if you were going to throw him under the bus, why the pimp spot?

I’m giving Round Two to Joshua, then PP, then Jessica. 

Round Three - Evil Jimmy’s Pick

Joshua - “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige

Evil Jimmy says Mary J. brought this number to church at the Grammys and he want Joshua to do the same thing, 

I don’t like this song for him. It’s too choppy. And, for the first time all season, Joshua is off-key. And his dancing. He rips off his jacket midway through and goes all out. His ear piece falls out. Joshua is going nuts on the stage. The Top 12 are digging it. In the end, he pulls it off, but I'm not sure it wasn’t the moment Evil Jimmy was hoping for. BFF Hollie has her hands in the air. There’s a tall blond with the Top 12 whose name I honestly don’t remember. Also that chubby guy. Jeremy something or other. I guess the guy who got kicked off doesn’t get to come back. Pretty bad when you can’t remember and of their names!

Randy says, “At this point, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’ve laid everything on this stage there is to lay.”  I immediately think of geese or swans or some feathered creature. Randy says this is what being a great artist is about. “Joshua Ledet has got it Jennifer, what do you think.” J’Lo says it’s magic and feels so natural. Steven says he watched him and felt the last forty years in the music business., “It was over the top.”

Josh says he was so nervous performing the song, but believed in himself like Jimmy did. Please, America, keep Joshua. He so deserves to be in the finals.

Lisa Marie Presley and Adam Lambert perform tomorrow.

Jessica - “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5

Jessica gets the song via text after receiving a new AT&T Beat Box. Jimmy says he wanted to pick something that is young, but will appeal to older audience. Good choice, at least on paper. But, her plunge into her lower register felt a bit too stark. She’s much better in her upper reach. The song isn’t “big” and maybe since we’ve seen her slay so many of the big ones, this felt a bit too simple. Okay, not her best. Evil Jimmy seems pleased, though.

Steven says the song reminds us of “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” J’Lo says it was a good choice and that she sounded like Michael in the beginning. Randy says he didn’t love it, but liked it okay. He says we’re at the end and there was never a “moment moment.” He would have preferred the Mariah version. Evil Jimmy crosses his legs emphatically. I totally agree with you Randy.


Phillip - “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger

PP gets his Beat Box as well. I don’t think anyone knows what it is! Evil Jimmy picked a song to address both guy and girl fans. Also, it has a melody that he thinks PP will hold onto.  And here he is, your winner. Dressed in black, bathed in light with just a piano in the background. The piano player looks as though he’s swooning. PP is showing us his vulnerable side. A huge string section bursts through. PP might have missed a lyric or something... there seemed to be too much empty space. The song shows off the roughness of his vocals. He’s not a pretty singer. I preferred his other two songs.

The judges stand. The tall blonde Top 12 girl whose name I still don't remember loved it. Randy says this was the perfect song at the perfect time and his best performance ever. “You had a giant moment.” He says PP can sing the melody but chooses to do something else. “This boy right here is in it to win it and he’s ready.” J’Lo says there are 20 million girls who wish he was singing the song to him. Steven says something that’s bleeped out. That PP sang with passion.

Round three to Josh by default, although I wasn’t crazy about any of the Evil Jimmy song choices.

I’m giving Joshua the win for the night because of “Imagine!" PP is close, though. Loved “Disease." Jessica’s in third place, and I predict she will not make the cut. Joshua so deserves it. But, in the end, it’s moot. I think PP has this thing completely sewn up.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

'American Idol 11' - David Cook, J'Lo perform on Top 4 results show

David Cook
Season 7 winner, David Cook, performs tonight at four become three on 'American Idol 11.' Judge Jennifer Lopez will also break out the dance gear, performing her newest single. We'll all be on pins and needles waiting to see if the Top 4 elimination shocker trend continues! I'm sticking with Hollie!

We start off with clips from home visits from Idols past. Always get a little teary when I see Elliott Yamin’s sweet mother in the convertible as part of his parade. But only three will return to their hometowns in triumph, and for one, the dream ends tonight.

Our buddy, Voiceover Man intros the judges. Tonight, J’Lo is wearing a short white halter MuMu. Ryan comes out sans tie. He tells us this is the cut every contestant is desperate to survive. He lets us know David Cook is in the house tonight. Ryan pimps the tour. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 11. Everyone in the audience is getting a ticket to a live show. The crowd goes wild.

The Top 4 sing “California Dreamin’” - what else, right. The girls make a little arm bridge for Joshua who is wearing a rainbow tee shirt. There are a bunch of girls on the stage clapping along. PP looks particularly pained. Word is, he’s having surgery as soon as the season is over.

We go on the set of a Ford video. This week, they’re promoting Ford’s new electric car. Then we get to see the video. PP is not involved. Home sick again. Joshua gets to drive the car, which appears to be an electrified Focus.

Now for some results. First up is PP. I have to say, I really enjoyed “Volcano.” Jimmy says about PP’s first song, he’s beginning to hear his voice. “It was just the beginning of a night where he was beginning to find his identity and his voice.” About the second performance, Jimmy says, “PP finally delivered on the promised we’ve been looking for all year... it all came together... if I had seen him in a club, I’d sign him right there.”
Jimmy is in the audience looking smug. PP says it’s been a long journey and he feels blessed to be there. He wants to go home for the good part.

Dim the lights. “After nearly 70 million votes... the nation has decided... that you will be heading back to the couch to wait for the results.” Boo, they’re not telling now?

Hollie is next. About “Faithfully” Jimmy says, “All the things that concern me about Hollie’s singing... actually aided her in this song... but it was in the wrong direction.” Jummy was not as impressed by “I Can Make You Love Me.”  He says during rehearsals he wasn’t going to push anyone in any direction. He assumed Hollie understood the core of the song - she didn’t. He thinks she crashed and burned during the chorus, and lost out to the other three. Hollie goes back to the couch to wait it out.

David Cook, WGWG 1.0, performs “The Last Song I’ll Write for You.”  The song is innocuous enough. I like David Cook, he was the worthy winner his season and has done quite well  post-’Idol.’ The song has a good hook.

Another ad for ‘The Choice,’ the dating show with spinning chairs. I read today that Taylor Hicks is going to be one of the bachelors.

More results. Ryan calls up Joshua. The staging for “You Raise Me Up” was stupid!  Jimmy says, “This song works great in high school graduation... it might have worked if he’d kept it simple, but this didn’t work... you can’t use that trick on every song... ‘You Raise Me Up’ let him down.” On “It’s a Man’s World,” Jimmy says James Brown and Joshua Ledet came together and created a piece of magicd that has never been seen on ‘American Idol.’ “It was so captivating, I want to see it again, and again, and again... how do we find an original song as good as that for his album.”  Ryan tells Joshua to “hang tight on the couches,” and brings Jessica up for her critique.

Jimmy says she did a great job on “Steal Away,” but was impersonating a “great, older jazz singer a good idea? No. After a while the trick gets old, the rabbit gets old.”  On “And I Am Telling You,” Jimmy says she brought all her artillary in the right proportions. “Everything she chose was flawless... she murdered it.” He says Tommy Motollo emailed him and wants to go to Jessica’s first concert. He says last year he knew Scotty was going to win the whole thing. This year, he hasn’t a clue. He thinks it all depends on the right song choice and performance. Well, hey, that’s kind of the point, right Jimmy?

J’Lo performs her single “Dance Again.” She’s wearing a blue sequinned, low-cut tank bathing suit with black tights and high heels. And she’s lip synching. Lots of men without shirts dance around her and she shimmies and shakes. She solos with one dancer who might just be her boy toy.  Album cover pose to end it. She’s totally out of breath as she thanks the audience. The boyfriend fiddles with her hair. “He’s so cute,” she says as she leaves the stage.

Back from the break. The Top 4 are on the stage with Ryan. He asks Steven about PP’s evolution. He says we’ve gone from PP not caring, to showing what he’s got and still not caring. He says PP is not just a one and done.” He asks J’Lo about Hollie’s growth. She remembers the first audition like it was yesterday. She says she has always believed in her voice. She knows Hollie’s first song was a moment when she felt comfortable and found herself. J’Lo is very emotional.

Randy says when they first saw Joshua they knew he had “mad potential.” He’s so happy Joshua and Hollie came back. He feels they’ve seen some of the best performances ever. Again, he says Josh’s “It’s a Man’s World” was one of the best singing on any singing show.

Ryan wonders about Jimmy calling Jessica’s singing a trick. J’Lo says, yeah, right... singing great is a trick!

“The first person heading back to their home town for a heroes welcome is a girl who comes from Chula Vista, California...” Jessica. “The next person to head back to their hometown is the pride of Westlake, Louisiana... Josh.”  Yay Josh, busted into the Top3... first black male in the Top 3 since Season 2. Joshua FTW!

Who else gets a seat on the plane. We find out what happens, after the break.

Ryan reminds us of the Top 4 curse. Dim the lights. “After the nationwide vote, the person who takes the last spot in the Top 3 and heads home for a heroes welcome is... Phillip Phillips.”  No surprise this year.

We watch Hollie’s funeral video. No tears from Hollie. She says being on the show has given her confidence and she believes so much more in herself. Hollie sings us out with “The Climb.” J’Lo is tearful. Josh is solemn. PP looks like he is praying. Hollie goes over to the couches of safety and hugs the Top 3.  Hollie bids the judges farewell, and now, Joshua is weeping openly. The judges hug Hollie, Josh wipes his tears, and we are out... on time!

'American Idol 11' - The dreaded Top 4

Historically, the Top 4 has seen some of the most shocking eliminations in the history of the show. 'Idol' fans will always remember the night Katharine McPhee bested Chris Daughtry in one of the most shocking eliminations ever. There was also the Season 1 shocker when Tamyra Gray was ousted in favor of Nikki McKibbon and Season 2, when we watched as LaToya London ended up going home.

Viewers chose Danny Gokey over Allison Iraheta in the Season 8 Top 4 - not quite as shocking, perhaps, but unwarranted, at least in my opinion. And, last year, James Durbin, who seemed a lock for the finals, saw his 'Idol' journey end in the Top 4, shocking many fans.

So, what will happen this year? Who's elimination would be considered shocking? I would say anyone but Hollie at this point. Last night, both Joshua and Jessica had standout performances, so either of their eliminations would be unfortunate, but shocking... not really.

One note on Joshua. No African-American male has made it past the Top 4 since Season 2 when Reuben Studdard won it all. Michael Lynche was eliminated in the Top 4 on Season 9, and George Huff and Jacob Lusk only made it to Top 5 during their seasons.  Joshua's elimination would be the most disappointing for me and would also continue the losing streak for black male artists on the show. In my opinion, Joshua's the one to beat. We'll see how it shakes out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

'American Idol 11' - California finale dreamin'

When I copied over the picture this week, I couldn't help but to be amazed that there are only four people in it! I know it's Top 4 week, but it doesn't really compute until you actually see the four remaining finalists. Top 4 is the week anything can happen, so it's going to be an interesting week on 'Idol.'

 We start off with a memorial to Skylar. “Who will take the lead?” Carrie Underwood is singing “Blown Away” in the background. And yes, I want to be blown away.

Voiceover man welcomes the judges. J’Lo is wearing a skin-tight lame dress in varying shades of black, gray, and silver. Randy is wearing a jacket that looks like a big, ole red and white tablecloth. Ah, the sartorial splendor. Out comes Ryan looking dapper. He’s growing his hair out, I see. As usual, the crowd goes wild. Ryan welcomes us to the show and thanks us very much. He reminds us that in just two weeks, the next American Idol will be named. “All of them are hungry for the title, “ he says as the Top 4 comes out to the stage.

Tonight’s themes are California Dreaming and songs that inspire the Idols. We will also have a chance to watch each contestant’s journey so far.

First up is PP. He never expected to get this far, and is pushing himself to keep going. His brother-in-law did note that “Time of the Seasons” was “rough!”

Phillip Phillips - “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” - CCR

No guitar for our gray-clad WGWG tonight. He’s using his non-Dave Matthews voice and singing somewhat out of tune. He’s turned it into a reggae-ish number. Love the female sax player. Actually, he’s carrying the melody, for once, but this exposes the roughness in his vocals. He is not a melodic singer, that’s for sure.

PP is laughing, as usual. Steven says he’s living proof that the road to success is always under construction. J’Lo says he has a Joe Cocker-ish vocal quality and thinks it was a great way to start the show. Randy says it started out rough and he struggled to find the pitch (boos). But, as soon as PP started to smile, he found his way and it was sensational. “Remember, if you have a good time, we have a good time, so come on man.”

PP confesses he “somewhat” nailed the lyrics. He is smiling ironically!  Is PP “in it to win it” or he really hoping this torment will end? You gotta wonder, right?

Here’s Hollie’s journey. We see her audition last year when she cried. Then she sang “The Climb” and had her moment of clarity. We see her rejection from last year and then her grand return.  She says this has changed her life for the best.

Hollie Cavanagh - “Faithfully” - Journey

Kissing up to Randy, eh Hollie? I am still somewhat puzzled as to how she’s lasted this long. There just isn’t anything exciting about Hollie. She has a nice voice, for sure, but dull, dull, dull.
This performance is no different. The Celine voice is back. She has a little trouble with the lower notes, and I’m not getting a solid connection to the lyric either, but she sings it well enough. Too much wind!  She finishes strong and does seem much more relaxed. As Randy would say, I’m not jumping up and down, but it was good.

Randy says Hollie is peaking at the right time. He’s amazed watching Hollie’s history. He says this song is near and dear to his heart and says she did Steven Perry proud. “Dude, you were right in the zone. Hollie wants to take this thing.” J’Lo says watching the journey made her emotional. She says watching how much she has grown and loves the confidence she showed tonight. Steven says he’s watched her last year and she was so young. Now, he’s watch her blossom, and says her creativity is blooming.

I’m not ready for Hollie to win. She says a lot of people helped her understand the true meaning of the song and now she knows she’s living the true meaning of it.

Before we hear from Joshua, we have a chance to catch up with Jason DeRulo who is working on the Coca-Cola single. Jason is still wearing his bejeweled neck brace. He urges us to submit our lyrics asap. This is our last chance to finish the song.

Joshua is next. He tells us he is dedicating his performance tonight to his father who works so hard to help so many.  Joshua was turned away last season too. he says he wasn’t ready. We hear once again about how Josh overcame the fear of flying. He says all the hard work he’s put in is paying off.

Joshua Ledet - “You Raise Me Up” - Josh Groban

Hey, didn’t we just hear this on ‘The Voice?’ Oh... wrong show. I still recovering from Jermaine’s win.  Not sure this is a great song choice. It doesn’t fit his voice somehow. But, of course, the gigantic choir helps turn it into a gospel tune, and he immediately hooks into it. I get the emotion. Oh, so strange... the pedestal he’s standing on rises up when he sings “You raise me up.” Come on!

J’Lo says “OMG, I think the whole world knows what I think of Joshua already.” She says we have great artists on the show and she thought they would all be there at the end. Really?  She loved the “draama” and urges him to keep it consistent until the end. Steven says Josh sang his “little tush” off. “The world is acccepting you now like nobody’s business.” Randy is happy Josh came back. He says if you are a great artist, you can sing anything. “I’m so excited to see what you do... I think you’re an amazing artist with a ginormous career.” Josh’s next song is for his Mom, who is in the house tonight.

I’m not really feeling the California spirit in all of this tonight. Am I missing something?

Ad for new dating show on Fox with spinning red chairs and celebs picking dates by voice alone. The show is called ‘The Choice!’ Really?

Jessica tells us she’s wanted to be on ‘American Idol’ since she was five and performing since she was two. She says she can’t do anything but sing! She says she would have never imagined making it this far. She can’t believe she’s one of the Top 4.

Jessica Sanchez - “Steal Away” - Etta James

So much for age-appropriate song selection. Why does Jimmy even say this stuff? Jessica is sitting on the piano again to star. At least her outfit doesn’t make her look 45. The thing is, she puts this performance together with a lot of attitude and sass. Of all the OMG she’s only 16-year-olds on this show, she’s the best of the lot. She has vocal maturity far beyond her years and will only get better. Watch out for Jessica. I think she’ll be around for a while, win or lose.

J’Lo laughs about Jessica’s childhood growling! She is amazed at some of the things Jessica does. J’Lo says her vocal quality is one of the best. Steven says he loved it. He says it showed another side of her voice. Randy says he loved the vibe of it. He says her vocals are ridiculous, but she can tap into the blues of it.

Round one - Jessica, then Joshua, Hollie, and PP.

After the break, another PP/Josh duet on Maroon 5‘s “This Love.” Joshua, who is wearing another odd cowl-neck shirt, dances up the stairs to stand on top of the piano. PP, in gray as always, is sitting on the piano. What’s up with all the piano abuse this season?  PP has happy feet while he’s sitting down. Oh, now he’s standing up. The choreography is magnificent. They actually sound better together on this one than the mess they sang last week. Joshua ‘s voice is so much better.  But they really get into it and seem to be having fun.

Steven says everything about this song was “perfect” and congratulates Nigel on the song choice. J’Lo says it was funny because they are both so different. It was like “Adam Levine and Usher” coming together. Randy says they had fun with it and that it sounded amazing. he says “here” in some odd kind of southern accent.

Ryan asks if they were more comfortable during this one. Josh says he laughed all the way through it.

Hollie and Jessica are singing the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame.” They are both on fabric swings. Yes, you read that right. Both of their vocals are somewhat shaky individually, and the harmonies are harsh. Their voices don’t blend. Jessica is singing too low or something. Neither seems all that serious about it. Like, here you go, sing this and get it over with.

Randy says it was strange for him (boos). Josh and PP are in the background on the swings! Randy says it was weird and he didn’t like it. J’Lo says she’s always loved the song. Both of them have sweetness and power. Steven says “Four months in LA and you turn into our favorite swingers.” Josh and PP (Jillup) are still on the swings.

This week, the Idols were treated to a sneak preview of the new movie, ‘Rock of Ages’ (without Constantine)! The director gets a tour of the mansion. He kisses a picture of J’Lo.  They all watch a sneak peak of the movie... not the movie, I guess, and we, of course get to see it as well. Tom Cruise as the rock legend? Ryan’s girlfriend Julianne Hough is in it as well.  I don’t think I’ll be going to see this one!

That killed off a few minutes. After the cJulianne Houghlip, Ryan has the producer and Julianne stand up.

The Top 4 sing Foreigner’s “I’ve Been Waiting.”  I can’t get over Josh’s shirt. PP looks ill. They are sure working these kids like mules this season. Two solos, a duet, and a ga-roup number, all in one night. Wow.

Ryan talks with PP and asks him how he’s feeling. PP says he looks forward to going home and jamming with his buds.

Round Two - Songs I Wish I’d Written

Philip - “Volcano” - Damien Rice

Jimmy compares PP to a butterfly as he’s seen him becoming more like himself. Jimmy says this song sends a message that PP can record a song and not sound like anyone else. He says PP's voice is in a different place this week. "I think it's exactly what you need right now," he says. "He was sounding like another artist, until today."  PP’s got the guitar out again and is accompanied by a cello. He’s using his DM voice again. I don’t know what Jimmy is talking about. I like the harmonies with the background singer.  As he moves through this song, he really does seem to find his own footing, though. This is a beautiful song, very haunting and dark. This is PP’s best performance ever, in my humble opinion. Really, really good.

Steven agrees with Jimmy. He says he just sang like he really dug the way he sung! He says he could listen to this song over and over. J’Lo says very few people could have pulled this off on a karaoke show. She says this was one of the most beautiful performances she’s ever heard on the show. Randy says, “So yo, this is what it’s all about.” He says that was one of PP’s best performance on the whole season. “Sometimes a little simple statement has more volume to it.”

And that may well have gotten PP into the Top 3.

Hollie - “I Can’t Make You Love You”

Jimmy says you can’t get a girl with more soul or feel than Bonnie Raitt. He urges Hollie not to oversing.  He says if Hollie’s in the song, she can do great. I will always remember Kimberley Locke’s fabulous performance of this song. It was the song that pushed her up to contender status. Can it do the same for Hollie?  She does resist the urge to oversing, at least at first, but I don’t think she quite has the vulnerability in there. Pretty, but not really original.

Steven says "It's not so much how you sing that song, it's how you say the words. It felt a little short as far as the dynamic range. ... Sorry, baby.". J’Lo says "You're trying to make America love you. That's a hook, that's a way into a song. ... It doesn't have to be so literal.". She thinks Hollie should have been singing it to us. She says there was too much vibrato.  "You need moments," Randy says. "This was a great song, but you're a different kind of singer than Bonnie Raitt. It gave you nowhere to go. There were no moments. To me, it was the wrong choice at the wrong time."

Hollie says she loves the song and was feeling it.  Joshua’s doing James Brown - heh!

Joshua Ledet - “It’s a Man’s World” - James Brown

Jimmy says he’s seen James Brown in the recording studio. He tells Josh that after every take, a guy would come in and comb his hair! Jimmy says this James Brown song, Joshua really kills.  A parade of women come out playing violins as Joshua descends the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. The entire horn section is female.  Josh has got a little swagger on this one. Seriously? Kid is tearing this up. Tearing. It. Up. He’s able to control the intensity and reel it all back it when he needs to and then let it all loose again. Remarkable. So much depth there.  This is one of the most incredible performances I’ve ever seen on this show, and I have seen almost every performance in ten, now eleven season. This was Joshua’s “moment."

The judges stand. J’Lo is bowing. Steven says, “Neither man nor woman has ever sung that good with so much compassion on this show ever. I can go home right now. I’ve never heard anything like that in my life.” J’Lo says we may have thought we had seen everything he had, but we hadn’t. She speaks in Spanish. Randy says this was one of the best performance in the history of any show. “If you want to know what singing is really about... please watch Joshua Ledet. He’s sending everyone to school.”

J’Lo says she didn’t really understand what “taking to church meant.” Now she does. Josh’s mom is ecstatic. Ryan wonders where the transformation comes from... because it is a transformation. If ‘American Idol’ really were a true singing competition, Joshua just won it. But it isn’t. So we must wait.

Jessica - “And I am Telling You” - Jennifer Holiday

Jimmy says he was disappointed with “Proud Mary” last week, but when Jessica is challenged, she comes back strong. "If the audience sees and the judges see what I saw, it could be game over," Jimmy says. Jessica says she’s not going anywhere! I can’t help compare this to Jennifer Hudson. J’Hud has more depth to her voice, and of course, she didn’t have to do it in 90 seconds.  It is indeed Jessica’s moment  Whoa...  another moment.

"Another winning performance, just over the top," Steven says. "Tell me how you really feel." J’Lo says it’s going to be a race to the finish. She says there’s nothing left to say. Jessica is crying. J’Lo says Jessica let out so much stuff and standing still like that rips your soul apart. Randy says he doesn’t know what’s going on tonight show it that she, Joshua, and PP are really in it to win it. He says it’s a hard song to sing. He doesn’t know where she gets the strength to sing from that place.

Julian Lennon is in the house. He salutes Jessica.

Round two - Joshua, Jessica, PP and Hollie.

Top 3 - Joshua, Jessica, PP - Hollie will go home tomorrow.

David Cook and J’Lo perform and we find out who gets to make the triumphant trip home.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Carrie Underwood and Coldplay on Top 5 results show

Carrie Underwood returns to the place it all began tonight as our Top 5 become the Top 4. Coldplay will also perform on the show. Last night, I was thinking Hollie would be the one to go, but I'm beginning to think this could be Phillip's last night. Would that be a shocker? Nope. After his butchering of "The Letter" and straight-up strange rendition of "Time of the Season," all bets are off.

Cold opening shows the Idols at a photo shoot. More inspiring words on the screen. I shall not transcribe them. Little vignettes from last night. PP says they all have their time limits so he’s gonna enjoy it while he has it. Good strategy, PP.

Our friend Mr. Voiceover Man brings out the judges. Tonight, J’Lo is wearing a silver lame blouse and black pants that are so tight they look painful. Another fashion hit for our J’Lo. Ryan welcomes us to the show as the crowd goes wild. We’re inching closer to the final four, yeah, we know.

We’re doing results one by one, it would seem. Joshua is first. Jimmy says Josh’s performances are going to be tough to beat. He says the sky opened when Josh sang “To Love Somebody.” He’s still amazed that Josh could learn the song in 15 minutes and do what he did to it. Imagine Randy Jackson becoming a jockey and winning the Kentucky Derby!

Ryan asks Joshua about what kind of album he’d make. He tells him he wants something with a message that will touch people. The lights dim. Joshua laughs a little. And, he’s on to the Top 4.

Ford video sans PP again. They must be giving him the day off to recuperate on video shoot days. Ryan intros Coldplay singing “Paradise.” All their stuff sounds the same to me?

Back from the break for more results. Ryan calls Hollie and PP to the center of the stage. PP says he is nervous. You should be. We start with Hollie. I still don’t think she was all that. Jimmy says this is a critical week for Hollie. He thinks she pulled off the first song because she approached it like a pop girl. He says it was her most believable. He didn’t love “Bleeding Love” and says she was neutral. But, he thinks she’s safe.

Ryan asks Hollie where this boost of confidence came from. She says it was time to step it up.

Now for Phillip. He’s going to the bottom three or two or whatever tonight... you watch. That second song was horrendous. Jimmy commends PP for carrying on in the face of his illness. He says both songs were bland. Based on performances alone, PP is a goner, at least according to Jimmy. “After the nationwide vote, Hollie, unfortunately, you’re in the bottom two tonight.” PP is safe. Wow. Jessica looks verklempt.

Time for Carrie. Randy is blowing her kisses before she starts singing. She’s singing “Blown Away,” the title track from her new album. It’s a little different for her. Wish they’d tone down the dry ice machine. At times it seems to overtake her. And the wind machine looks like it’s up too high and bothering her eyes. Interesting to hear her sing a little more in her lower register. Not crazy about the song, but she is certainly amazing.

Ryan and Carrie chat a bit. She plugs her tour, they hug, and that’s that.

Okay, let’s get on with results. Skylar and Jessica hit center stage. We start with Skylar. Jimmy says every now and then you run into an artist who’s polite, but on the inside, they’re saying I’m gonna win. He doesn’t think she understood the lyric on “Fortunate Son.” He’s not a keen on the second song and mocks the people on the bench and the moon. He says she’s going to have to find that “crushing song” that wins the night in order to get to the finale. She thinks she needs to choose a bigger ballad.

Recap of Jessica and Randy’s “just okay” on “Proud Mary.” Jimmy says “You Are so Beautiful” was magnificent. He takes issue on “Proud Mary.” He feels she’s the best singer in the competition, but that song was a travesty. He wishes they’d talked her out of it. He criticizes her dress as being too old for her, and says the stylist torpedoed the song. He thinks this is going to hurt her. J’Lo says mid-America mihgt think her outfit was too much.

“After the nationwide vote, Jessica, I can tell you, you are one step closer to the finale. You are safe.” Skylar joins Hollie on the stools of shame.

Back from the break, J’Lo is standing with Ryan showing off her assets! She intros Coldplay.

Coldplay finishes in a hail of confetti all over Skylar and Hollie who are already in place waiting for their results. Not quite the confetti shower you were imagining, right girls? One of them is gone - which one? Hollie or Skylar. Skylar would be more of a shocker and Hollie’s been a rather permanent member of the bottom 3. Should have stuck with my original prediction, but I’m a sucker for those shockers.

Okay, back from the break. The girls are holding hands. Ryan asks Randy for his reaction. He says he’s sad because this is the best Top 5 evah. Joshua has his head in his hands. J’Lo says so many people have come up to her and tell her how much they enjoyed Wednesday’s show. Steven says they are all so great and the Top 5 has never been better.

Dim the lights. “Nearly 60 million votes have decided that the person who is going home tonight is Skylar.” Wow. Didn’t see that one coming. The judges stand as Hollie and Skylar embrace. J’Lo looks like she’s ready to cry. No worries Skylar, you’re going to be just fine. She smiles all the way through her funeral video.

Hollie is crying, of course. Skylar sings us out with “Gunpowder and Lead.”  J’Lo is wiping tears. So PP survives and Skylar is gone. I’m betting that will cause some massive consternation amongst the ‘Idol’ faithful. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

'American Idol 11' - British week and 1960s

We've got a jam-packed two hours this week with songs from the 60s and something British. Plus, there will be a duet and a trio. Wow.

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.