It was “take two” for the top seven again last night on American Idol after saving Jessica Sanchez from elimination last week. The theme of the evening was “now and then.” This meant each idol contestant got to pick two songs, one from today and one from a previous decade (think 60’s and 70’s mostly).
Although the “randomly” picked singing order is supposed to be just that, random, it always seems that the contestant that judges are anticipating leaving goes first. Strange coincidence? Perhaps, but either way, up first was Hollie Cavanagh with Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” She began the song with a confidence that had not been seen in her previously, singing with a spark of fire in her eyes that made all the difference in her performance. Judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez praised Hollie for “letting go,” and for singing it, as Steven put it, perfectly. Randy, determined not to compliment her too fiercely, declared it “well done” but not perfect.
For her next song, Hollie chose Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man,” a bold choice for a contestant that struggles with being energetic on stage. Clearly not a as comfortable with this selection, Hollie still did well as she moved from one side of the stage to the other trying to engage the audience. The judges, again, were complimentary, with Randy declaring he like this song better than her first, which made me wonder if we were watching the same show at that point.
For a male to pick a female artist’s song and sing it as his own is typically a surprising and quirky choice for a contest, however, Colton Dixon has done it so often at this point that picking a male artist would be the bigger surprise. With flashing lights and an all female band, Colton took on Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Too low in many parts and shouting through others, it just seemed like he was trying too hard to stand out. When it came time for the judges’ comments, I waited expectantly for them to criticize the performance, however, was let down when all three simply made excuses for his off key lower register and complimented him on his style.
Colton, for his second song, did the other option he tends to do, which is to turn a song into a ballad and play it on the piano. This has proved successful for him several times and admittedly, it usually sounds very good. Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September,” however, did not pan out for him, even earning him criticism from the judges to which Colton gave a pouty lipped eye roll.
Next up on the Idol stage was a judges’ favorite, Elise Testone singing “No One” by Alicia Keys. Mostly on key, Elise barreled through the song with very little excitement. Predictably, the judges raved about her performance with J.Lo claiming to have gotten the first “goosies” of the night.
For her “then” song choice, Elise selected the Marvin Gaye favorite “Let’s Get it On.” Although her voice is gritty and deep enough to, perhaps, pull it off, she failed to do so, taking a sexy classic song and somehow making it boring and emotionless. Even the judges criticized (gasp!) and told her she needed to sing with more feeling and emotion. Clearly not in agreement, Elise declared, “I do that.”
When Phillip Phillips told Jimmy Iovene during his mentoring session that he was going to be singing Usher’s “You Got it Bad,” I truly thought that we were finally going to see him falter. Shame on me for being a doubter though, because Phillip tore through the song in a bluesy acoustic type rendition that left all three judges on their feet applauding.
Phillip turned up the energy level next with “In the Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett. Seemingly unable to do wrong, he pulled off another great performance that dared audience members not to tap their foot along to the music. Even judge, Jennifer Lopez, declared that he made her want to get on stage and join in on his signature awkward dance moves.
Jessica Sanchez took the stage next, her first time after last week’s elimination, with another Alicia Keys classic, “Falling.” Although she was voted off last week, there is no denying that this girl is talented, as she blew the song out of the water with a strong and passionate performance. All three judges enthusiastically agreed that they made the right decision by saving her the week before.
After a strong power ballad type first performance, Jessica decided to have a little fun with “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding. She didn’t disappoint, with all three judges reminding her, and moreover reminding America, that she can sing.
Up next was resident country girl, Skylar Laine, who opted to sing Lady Gaga’s country version of “Born This Way.” While not my favorite performance of Skylar’s, she sang the song well, if not great, but as usual, nailed the strong power notes she does so well. The judges, who are enamored with Skylar at this point, raved and complimented the version of the song she chose.
For her second song, Skylar selected “Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Her spunky and energetic performance delighted the judges with Steven Tyler telling Skylar she was like “a wild horse that refuses to be tamed.”
Taking the stage last was Joshua Ledet, who had found himself in the bottom three last week. With a bit of the wind taken out of his sails, Joshua seemed slightly down trodden initially during mentoring, but didn’t let it show during his of former idol winner Fantasia’s “I Believe.” The judges agreed with an array of compliments for the singer.
Closing out the evening with his second song, “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, Joshua showed that he was determined not to be in the bottom three again. He powered through the song and ended with a bang that left Jennifer Lopez begging America not to send Joshua home.
After last week’s shocking bottom three, making a prediction for this week seems crazy, but I never claimed sanity so here goes nothing. Skylar and Phillip seem to be shoe-ins for making it through to next week, however, the rest of the contestants’ fates are much more up in the air. Joshua and Jessica both found themselves in the bottom three last week, but that may have been a case of the audience feeling they were safe. Therefore, I believe that, for this week at least, they too will be safe. This leaves Hollie, Colton, and Elise in the bottom three. Hollie and Elise have been tempting fate in the bottom three for several weeks and Colton’s less than stellar performances and slight attitude may have turned off enough voters to put him in danger as well. In the end, only one says goodbye and my money is on Elise.
Image via: Ledger-Enquirer