The “American Idol” judges fell over themselves tonight. Five of the singers received standing ovations.
With the theme of picking your idols, everyone was able to pick songs they knew really well. So everybody had a chance to shine.
Unfortunately, I just wasn’t as excited as the judges. There weren’t any disastrous performances tonight but not really anything that would have lifted me to my feet – or at least off my couch.
And a show that now should be 90 minutes with nine singers has been stretched to two hours by Fox edict. So there was a pointless “fashion” bit with Tommy Hilfiger and three medleys that showcased Heejun Han’s inability to follow basic choreography and questionable fashion choice by Skylar Laine. (I did like Hollie singing Madonna. It worked. Skylar’s southern twang was a little jarring but interesting.)
I did like seeing the comfort of two old friends, Jimmy Iovine and guest mentor Stevie Nicks, who have worked together going back to the early 1970s.
I think Heejun is going home. He did a passable job on Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You” but I suspect the residual bittersweet taste of Billy Joel week lingers and he’s due. The bottom three? I bet it’s Joshua, Skylar and Heejun. I know folks here want DeAndre to go home but I don’t think so. Not yet. His fans will vote for him and that divisive falsetto of his.
My rankings: 1- Phillip 2- Hollie 3 – Elise 4- DeAndre 5- Jessica 6- Heejun 7- Skylar 8- Joshua 9 – Colton
Colton Dixon (Lifehouse’s “Everything”) – A snoozer of a song to me but fits Colton’s earnest approach. Vocally, I find his lower register boring and unimpressive. And even his full voice is very generic to me. Grade: B-minus
Skylar Laine (Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead”) – Sklyar opted for her strength: a honky-tonk rabble rouser. That’s what she excels at and she did what is a virtually note-by-note faithful rendition of this early Miranda hit. It was almost too faithful. She added nothing to the equation. Grade: B
Heejun Han (Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You”) – We’re back to serious Heejun after last week’s Vote for the Worst-level “My Life.” He lacks stage presence. I feel he’s too internalized when he sings something like this. It fits his voice well but I’m not sure this will inspire votes. His enunciation is distracting, too. Plus, I can’t help but think of Elliot Yamin’s version in 2006 that is hard to beat. Grade: B (standing ovation, by the way)
Hollie Cavanagh (Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel”) – She does an extremely faithful version of Carrie’s first hit. It’s sweet. Pretty dress this week, too. Couldn’t tell what shoes she was wearing. Lots of fog. Grade: B-plus/A-minus. (no standing o)
DeAndre Brackensick (Eric Benet’s “Sometimes I Cry”) -I am not familiar with this song. Falsetto tends to bore me. He does it well but it isn’t my gig. Still, this was his best live performance to date. He showed confidence and some inkling of charisma. Grade: B-plus (standing o)
Jessica Sanchez (Beyonce’s ‘Sweet Dreams”) – Beyonce has done a very slow ballad version of this mid-tempo hit live in concert. Jessica opted, of course, for that version. As usual, technically, she’s solid. Jessica is good at play acting but not good enough for me: I don’t really believe her. She is too young to truly express the pain in this song. “Tattoo your name across my heart,” she sings. Really? Grade: B-plus (no standing o)
Phillip Phillips (Jonny Lang’s “Still Rainin’ “) – Obviously, he has sung this a thousand times. But his assuredness and natural charm carries him through a bluesy rock tune hardly anybody knows. I just like watching him as well as listening to him. Grade: A (standing o)
Joshua Ledet (Mariah Carey’s version of ‘Without You,” though Harry Nilsson really owned this) – I usually enjoy watching Joshua but this was soporific. His histrionics in this case only felt histrionic. But I do appreciate that he was so into the song that he cried at the end. Grade: B-minus (standing o)
Elise Testone (Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”) – Clearly, she is comfortable with this song and does a decent job. It’s hard to beat the energy and intensity of Robert Plant. She just isn’t that intense. It’s such a great song that this fact alone elevates Elise. And it’s clear why Nigel & Co. gave her the pimp spot. It was good but I simply don’t like her enough to care that much. Grade: B-plus (delayed standing o)
Cover it live polls
Six of the nine singers tonight had high negatives of 33% or more, with DeAndre running away with it at 66%. A lot of split decisions, especially Hollie, Colton and Joshua.
% who liked it enough to vote, % who liked it but not to vote % not voting
Elise 80% 17% 3%
Phil 72% 19% 8%
Jessica’s 58% 29% 13%
Joshua 39%, 23%, 39%
Colton 30%, 27%, 42%
Hollie’s 25% , 42% 33%
Heejun 18% 48%, 33%
DeAndre 15% 20% 66%
Skylar 12% 56% 32%
Fleetwood Mac medley A-25% B-50% C-19% F-6%
Madonna medley A-10% B-48% C-32% F-10%
Michael Jackson medley A-3% B-24% C-45% F-27%
Favorite medley: Fleetwood Mac 42%, MJ 25%, Madonna 33%
Grade night as a whole: A-31% B-36% C- 25% F-8%
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk