The American Idol Top 7 attempted to rise to the challenge of showcasing their modern skills, but unfortunately quite a few missed the mark. Other than one special individual’s selection, I wouldn’t call any song choice last night particularly indicative of the the future musical path we’re likely to see from some of these contestants post-Idol. Some choices were bizarre, some I have never even heard of (color me shocked), and one was foolishly rehashed from a golden moment in Season Ten. In all, this was two weeks in a row that I’ve felt pretty disappointed with the performances. It hurt deeper this week knowing that there were some great selections to be made from the past few years, but hardly anyone jumped on the meatier choices that would turn the internet ablaze. So without further ado, I give you my review session that’s just a jump away…
7. Hollie Cavanagh “Perfect” (Pink, 2010) — This is the second time this season that I’m placing one of my favorites at the bottom, post-performance show. As much as I hate doing it, facts are facts, and this was just uncomfortable to watch. “Perfect” is a great song, but it’s meant to be sung in a specific way. I’m not saying Hollie needed to don a black leather jacket and slick back her hair a la heavy metal style, but I really doubt Pink would have approved of the Miss Universe
mistreatment to her song. “Perfect” is meant to be edgy, to showcase angst and heartache, not be performed in such a dainty manner. Everything about the performance felt reserved and entirely contradictory to the feel of the song. Hollie was trying to be technical, but even her voice wasn’t always “perfect” (pun alert!) on this track. Wrong song, terrible interpretation, and this might just be a one way ticket back to Texas. I gave the girl a huge boost in support last week, but Hollie didn’t capitalize on one of her many nine lives last night. For that, she probably does deserve to leave.
Performance Review: (**1/2)
I hate giving tepid reviews to my faves, but this one was warranted:
6. Phillip Phillips, “Give Me a Little More” (Maroon 5, 2010) — Thanks Phillip for giving me the middle finger after I suggested you a great Maroon 5 song (Misery”), and you responded by choosing one of their more forgettable tracks. This song did absolutely nothing for Phillip’s growth in the competition, merely keeping him at a stagnant level where everything is now starting to sound identical. I was surprised Phillip could make this track any worse, but he did! Maroon 5 is one of my favorite bands, but this is the last song I’d ever suggest someone sing, and P2 just had to be the contrarian. Being a rebel is fun if you can back up your talent. Unfortunately, Phillip’s talent has been slowing seeping out air over the last few weeks, and that bubble is about to implode.
Performance Review: (**1/2)
This guy’s stock is sinking fast:
5. Joshua Ledet, “Runaway Baby” (Bruno Mars, 2011) — I’m having a hard time imagining what is going through each Idol’s mental process when they select which songs to perform. There is strategy involved to be sure, but I bet for Joshua it went something like this, “Ooh! I need to do something uptempo this week, so why don’t I just sing that Bruno Mars song that’s been on my iPod replay for weeks now. OMG I just love that song!” This is where I want to shake contestants, because they need to prioritize choosing songs that are necessary over songs that they have a personal obsession with. By necessary, I mean the right songs that will give them the votes that week, songs that will send them over the moon and create Idol magic. Yeah, Joshua did have to change things up this week to avoid a backlash, but this Bruno Mars track didn’t quite fit him well. He sang on pitch mostly, and seemed to flail about the stage in his usual carefree manner, but I felt his disconnect to the song. On top of that, there are three years of songs to choose from, and this pick just seemed incredibly random and uninspired. A disappointment in some respects, but Joshua certainly outclassed many of his peers in the vocal department.
Performance Review: (***)
I would have preferred a different song, but maybe I’m just being a grumpy old Jedi Master:
4. Elise Testone, “Yoü and I” (Lady Gaga, 2011) — Elise Testone is back America, but with a lowercase “b.” Had Haley Reinhart not performed this song last year, I can bet you this would have been my song choice for E.T. this week! However, the history books have been written, the Growler has thrown down her mighty gauntlet, and everyone else should just go home, tail in-between their legs. Why would Elise cover a track that Reinhart performed just last year, to bad praise no less despite a universal internet backlash against the judges in full support of Growltastica!? It just doesn’t make any sense to me, other than Elise had it in her head that she could outdo Growlbacca (this is fun). Sorry Elise, you may be my Season 11 favorite, but your rendition paled heavily by comparison. Where Haley’s was controlled, nuanced, and flawless, Elise’s teetered on the brink of insanity, notes flailing about to who knows what quadrant of the universe. All I know is that Elise delivered a good rendition, maybe even one that could have stood the test of Idol time a year ago, but this song is and forever will be Haley’s. Even Gaga’s version itself doesn’t truly measure up. That is how good Haley Reinhart was, is, and always shall be, so get used to it.
Performance Review: (***)
And just because I can’t stop gushing over Season 10′s best contestant, here is a side-by-side comparison:
3. Colton Dixon, “Love the Way You Lie” (Skylar Grey/Rihanna/Eminem, 2010) — Colton tackled my favorite song of 2010, no small task to be sure. He had a lot to live up to, as I find this hook one of the decade’s best, simultaneously haunting and intoxicating. There were definitely some noticeable vocal hiccups, especially with that all important chorus line, but this performance proved to me the difference between Colton and Phillip. While one clearly doesn’t want to find time to grow vocally or diversely, you have Colton who balances passion and creativity on a weekly basis. His experiments may fail as often as they succeed, but this week affirmed Colton’s value on Idol. He takes chances, he tries to elevate himself as an artist, and he refuses to take the simple way out. Colton, love him or hate him, deserves more recognition than Phillip Phillips, who has become lazier than a damn sloth. I pray if the tween girls are indeed voting en masse for one these two contestants, it’s the one who actually tries to make a difference on this show, not the one who couldn’t give a rat’s ass.
Performance Review: (***1/2)
Colton’s passion is limitless. This is proof:
2. Jessica Sanchez, “Stuttering” (Jazmine Sullivan, 2010) — I’ve never heard of this song before, and I thought the choice itself was a bit restricting for Jessica, but man when she lets her voice take over a song, I remain stunned. I was harsh on Jessica last week, but it’s that toughness I feel Jessica needs if she wants to continue knocking it out of the park on a weekly basis. Instead of just singing one of her idol’s songs like a crazed fan who happens to be a good singer, Jessica decided to tell a story this week. Storytelling separates an amateur from an artist, and last night Jessica crossed that monumental bridge. I wasn’t sold on the loungy beginning, but once Jessica let the song build midway, letting her emotions pour through those miraculously hit notes, I knew we were looking at Season 11′s winner. This may not have been the strongest choice of song for Jessica, but at least she finally proved her contemporary worth.
Performance Review: (***1/2)
The Idol crown is yours Jessica. Now just hold on to it:
1. Skylar Laine, “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You” (Kellie Pickler, 2010) — Two weeks in a row, Skylar Laine was the best of the night. I remain in awe at her ability to fight and power on through. There’s a new-found change in Skylar, and I think she knows it as well as America does. I get the sense that she’s so comfortable with herself as an artist, all that’s left to do now is provide an amazing show from here until her eventual elimination. Skylar selected a song that had meaning to her, and you could tell that by the genuine feeling she injected with each sung lyric. Nothing about this performance felt forced or gushy. Everything just seemed to solidify into one incredible moment of clarity. When I look at Skylar, I see a future country superstar in the making. What’s really going to be tragic is that Skylar won’t finish as well as last season’s inconsistent letdown, Lauren Alaina. Maturity and professionalism are taking over Skylar’s essence, and it’s been a privilege to see unfold.
Performance Review: (****)
Without a doubt, the only performance that screamed, “MODERN!”:
Rankings of those silly duets:
1. “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You (Stronger)” (Kelly Clarkson) — Joshua (***1/2), Jessica (***), Hollie (**1/2)
2. “Don’t You Wanna Stay” (Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean) — Skylar (***), Colton (**1/2)
3. “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Gotye ft. Kimbra) — Elise (***), Phillip (*)
Predicted Bottom 3: Hollie Cavanagh, Elise Testone, and Phillip Phillips
Alternate: Skylar Laine
Shocker: Colton Dixon
Going Home: Hollie Cavanagh
That is all for my Idol Top 7 review session! Again, am I off-base or right on target? Sound off below who your favorites were last night, who you think is going home, and if the save will be in play tonight!
Tags: american idol, American Idol Season 11, american idol songs from this decade theme, Colton Dixon, elise testone, Hollie Cavanagh, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips, Randy Jackson, reality tv, Ryan Seacrest, skylar laine, Steven Tyler