As this season of American Idol has progressed, Ryan Seacrest's hair has gotten bigger. And bigger. And bigger. That's the first thing I noticed tonight as the show started. The second thing I noticed was that there was no sad, tearful montage about Colton Dixon's elimination last week like there has been for every other contestant. Weird.
This evening, the Top 6 will be singing one song from Queen and one song of their own choosing. This will either be awesome or awful and, knowing our remaining contestants, I'm leaning toward the latter just because Queen seems like such an obscure theme and letting the contestants choose their own songs has the potential for disaster. However, if Elise can channel the juju she used in her Zeppelin performance, tonight could be her night.
Let Round One begin:
Jessica Sanchez starts off the night with "Bohemian Rhapsody." Vocally, it's okay, but rock and roll is definitely not her genre. Her performance seems insincere and kind of awkward which is what happens every time she tries to move around the stage. Steven says Freddie Mercury would've been proud but rock's not her forte. J.Lo said it needed more of a rock performance even if her vocals were good. Randy said he loved it. But Randy sometimes dresses like a clown so he's not always the best judge of awesome. 2/5
Singing "The Show Must Go On," Skylar Laine's up next. She shouted just a little much for my taste at the end, but she was leaps and bounds ahead of Jessica. She didn't over-Country the song and actually toned the Country down a little bit. I liked it. Steven said he could feel her passion in the performance while J.Lo called it powerful. Randy said it was one of his best performances to date and this time, I agree with him. I think it WAS her best performance to date. 5/5
Joshua Ledet's up next singing "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." First, I didn't know this was a Queen song. Second, he shouted his entire performance. It wasn't good. Randy said Joshua reminds him of Sam Cooke and said his performance was amazing. J.Lo said she loves everybody in the competition but Joshua's performances are her favorite part of the show. She called his vocals "inspired." Steven said Joshua has a classic style that sounds like nobody else. He sounds like nobody else because other people realize that his style of singing won't sell pop records. 2/5
Elise Testone chose "I Want It All" for her first performance. She's shaking a tambourine and rocking out with the full band on stage to accompany her. This is better than she's been in weeks and it's clear that rock is her thing. Steven said she sang the song perhaps better than the original and J.Lo said she definitely picked the right song. Randy said this style is her style and it was one of her best performances. Watch out, contestants. Elise is back. 5/5
Georgia-boy Phillip Phillips is performing "Fat-Bottomed Girls." Despite the fact that I'm constantly worried he's going to have an aneurysm during his performances, he never ceases to make me smile when he performs. This wasn't his best, but he definitely picked the right song for his style. Steven said something about fat-bottomed girls and looked at J.Lo. J.Lo said Phillip's performances are always signature Phillip performances. Randy said he liked it but didn't love it. Phillip could've sang the phone book tonight and he'd still be fine. 4/5
Hollie Cavanagh, in a bit of a plea, perhaps, is singing "Save Me." It's kind of sleepy and not the performance she needs to help her stay in this competition. When she sings, she drops the final sounds on almost every word that doesn't end in a vowel sound. Steven said she did a really good job on a song with a strong melody. J.Lo said she felt Hollie get emotional in the middle of the song but didn't seem like she enjoyed performing. Randy said she's been having a lot of good performances but she can take more chances to find her moment. Basically, Hollie's back in her own head. She looks great though. 2/5
Summary of Round One according to the judges: Skylar's the winner and Hollie has to step it up in the second half.
Here goes Round Two:
Jessica Sanchez has chosen "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross for her second song of the night. This performance has some very nice moments, particularly those at the very beginning and the very end. The middle got a little muddled, perhaps because she was emotional or perhaps because she moved. J.Lo said this was the best she's ever heard this song because she could feel the feelings. Steven said she can sing anything. Randy said she's truly amazing because she's so natural and there's absolutely nothing wrong with anything she sings. It was good, but it didn't blow me away. I understand that this song was a sentimental one for her, but this is the time to show who you will be as an artist if you win, not sing songs that age you the way this one does. 3/5
Skylar Laine chose the Jason Aldean song "Tattoos on This Town" for her Round Two performance. Vocally, it was flawless. Actually, everything about it was flawless. It was a perfect song choice for her. Randy said he loved it and in everything, Skylar's fearless. J.Lo said Skylar just looks comfortable on the stage. Steven said he kind of missed the flare but he enjoyed it. I think that the LACK of flare is what made the performance so good. Another 5/5 for her.
Singing "Ready For Love" by India Arie, Joshua Ledet nailed his Round Two performance. He sang instead of screaming and sounded like he's ready for the radio. Randy was left "speechless" but went on to call the performance "beautiful" and "crazy good." J.Lo called it "transcendent." Steven said Joshua's performances send him off into another place, which is what's supposed to happen. It's also possible that Steven's Coca-Cola cup is spiked or he's having some kind of acid-trip flashback, but the performance was really, really great. This is the kind of performance I want every time Joshua steps foot on the stage. 5/5
Elise Testone chose the Jimi Hendrix song "Bold As Love." She's clearly enjoying herself during this performance, which is nice to see. There were a couple of moments when she seemed a little too caught up in the song, but overall, I liked it. Steven said she did a great job, but needed to pick a song that is familiar. J.Lo said she killed it. Randy said it was too much singing when Hendrix originally sang a quarter of the lyrics Elise did and he didn't love it. I think Elise is staying true to herself no matter what and knows that this genre--rock and roll--is her genre. 4/5
Finally performing a Dave Matthews Band number on the Idol stage, Phillip Phillips is tackling "The Stone." It was maybe not the best song choice when there are so many other DMB songs Phillip could've chosen. Vocally, it was great and it was a trademark performance. Steven said "very entertaining, very off the wall. Typical Phillip Phillips." J.Lo criticized the song choice saying this one was too obscure. There will be a time and place for him to perform the obscure songs, but this is the time for him to choose songs people know so they'll vote for him. Randy said that, as a musician, he loves Phillips' desire to stay true to himself despite all criticisms. Because his judges' criticisms are basically the inverse of Elise's and both stayed true to themselves in their Round Two performances, I'm giving Phillip a 4/5.
Hollie Cavanagh is closing the night with the Miley Cyrus anthem "The Climb." If she could get out of her own head, this would be the perfect kind of song for her. It's young and current, but like J.Lo said after her first performance of the night, she doesn't seem to enjoy herself very much on the stage. The judges, however, give her a standing ovation. Randy shouts "Hollie is back!" J.Lo said she stepped it up and called the performance perfect. Steven said it was "perfect." I disagree with the judges. Sure, she had a little bounce to her step. But she's still very, very concerned with every aspect of being on the stage and very rarely is she capable of relaxing on the stage. It was better than her first performance, though. 3/5
- Jessica Sanchez: 5/10
- Skylar Laine: 10/10
- Joshua Ledet: 7/10
- Elise Testone: 9/10
- Phillip Phillips: 8/10
- Hollie Cavanagh: 5/10
Going solely by the numbers, Skylar Laine, Phillip Phillips and Elise Testone are tonight's top three. That has everything to do with their comfort as artists and their ability to choose the right songs. Skylar continues to choose the kind of songs that will send her straight to the finals. She has fun every single time she's up on the stage and has a presence that rivals that of seasoned performers. She's tonight's winner in my book. Phillip and Elise are both staying true to themselves despite the judges' criticisms and so far, despite Elise's frequent flyer status in the bottom three, their desire to do their own thing is working in their favor.
On weeks when they're forced to sing songs outside their comfort zones, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, and Hollie Cavanagh suffer and that's why they're in my bottom three this week. They aren't adept at making songs their own which makes them feel irrelevant in the landscape of modern music. When left to their own devices, Joshua and Hollie fare better than Jessica.
Despite the way the numbers fell, I think Elise will find herself in the bottom three again, and I also think she could be in danger of going home even though it really should be Hollie who leaves. That is, unless there's a shocking elimination like last week's.
Who do you think is leaving tomorrow night?
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.