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‘American Idol’ top 9 performance recap: five standing o’s

Phillip Phillips opted for his idol Jonny Lang. CREDIT: Michael Becker/FOX

Phillip Phillips opted for his idol Jonny Lang. CREDIT: Michael Becker/FOX

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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

Who did you like the least (pick up to three)

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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%

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

242 comments Add your comment

Alex

March 28th, 2012
10:25 pm

Vote for Elise Testosterone!!

Alex

March 28th, 2012
10:29 pm

“Whole Lotta Love” was perfect for Elise.

Jubie

March 28th, 2012
10:29 pm

DeAndre goes,IMO.

Alex

March 28th, 2012
10:31 pm

Jubie
March 28th, 2012
10:29 pm

Let’s hope.

True Country

March 28th, 2012
10:38 pm

Are you kidding me? DeAndre had one of the best performances of the entire season thus far. Did you not see the standing O?

True Country

March 28th, 2012
10:41 pm

Oh and Rodney I think we all know why you gave Heejun a B.

Fair is the name of the game

March 28th, 2012
10:47 pm

I think that you have something against Jessica–no matter how good she is you are too hard on her.

ahnald

March 28th, 2012
10:49 pm

This show is garbage…is all about ratings, the standing “O’s” are designed to bring you back next week, the talent is marginal at best

Alex

March 28th, 2012
10:50 pm

True Country
March 28th, 2012
10:38 pm

Um…..yeah…..and JLO said she wanted to hear that voice several more weeks. :roll:

Jack Nasty

March 28th, 2012
10:52 pm

Hey Ahnald… If I thought a show only had marginal talent, I wouldn’t watch it. AND I sure wouldn’t take the time to comment on a blog about it.

Alex

March 28th, 2012
10:52 pm

True Country
March 28th, 2012
10:41 pm

Dude, are you shi++ing me?

RxDawg

March 28th, 2012
10:54 pm

I enjoyed Phillip greatly for the first time tonight. Before I just thought he was ok. But that was good.

Jessica is so polished and pro. She’s too good actually. For the same reason people like underdogs, they will not like Jessica. Still, her and Phil are the only ones I truly know will have a career in music.

I didn’t like Elise as much as I thought I would or wanted to, but I still really enjoyed it. Mostly because it was Zep!

Joshua…. he annoys me. I don’t think he can hold a steady note. He covers it up by going all over the place. He’s falling in my opinion, although I’m sure I’m in the minority on this (for now).

Heejun was a LOT better this week. But you still can’t win on balads.

Hollie, you can’t win on ballads either. And I’m worried about her. She’s not getting better as the competition moves on, she’s getting worse.

Skylar, good performance but bad song choice. A song that encourages women to shoot their man if they’re upset?

Deandre….deandre….deandre. Look, I can recognize that what he did was technically good. But I hate it. I guess I hate true R&B. Of all the genres of music it’s got have the worst melodies of them all. I think I just figured that out. They just go everywhere vocally and I simply don’t enjoy it.

I didn’t like Colton tonight. I don’t think it’s good for contestants to sing pure worship songs except for maybe a few very famous exceptions. But I really didn’t like his performance here either. I thought he was very soft vocally. Maybe it was just a sound issue.

I guess that’s all I have to comment on. Except that I just read where UGA’s starting safety and LB are suspended for 2-4 games for braking team rules. I’m kinda hot about that at the moment….I want to say bad words.

Seth T

March 28th, 2012
10:57 pm

The burning questions:

Will the HolliePops fan base and the great State of Texas still keep Hollie out of the bottom 3 this time?

Could Jessica lose her top 2 level status from a slow song that didn’t garner much notice tonight?

Will the Heejunies across America keep him safe against the boppers now impressed by DeAndre’s falsetto flings?

Logic would say that Phillip, Colton and Elise should be safe from the bottom 3, but no one else would get a performace pass this week.

No save would be used for DeAndre, Heejun or Elise if at the bottom. Skylar would be saved, this week only, due to her “differentness” in style and voice – for show purposes. Joshua would be saved as well.

Otherwise, they will not use a save yet. The Judges had to use a lot of standing ovations to make us believe this was a big nite, rather than mostly a “so what” nite.

Jenny

March 28th, 2012
10:58 pm

My ratings -

1. Elise. She nailed it. Almost lived up to Adam’s version (but not quite). Very, very good, though. 

2. Hollie. I thought she did a great job and I loved the snow. Did well on Madonna too. 

3. Jessica. I am starting to think she can sing anything well. LOVED her starting out “Like A Prayer.”

4. Joshua. I rewatched him, but only listened (to hide the overwrought faces)… I loved most of it, but then CRINGED when the screech came along. NOT standing ovation worthy. 

5. Heejun. Glad he finally used his pretty voice. But did he have some enunciation problems going on?

6. & 7. Colton and Phil. Interchangeable. Liked Colton on Landslide, didn’t like his first song. 
Phil, as always, sang fine but bored me. And he makes such contorted faces lately. He’s starting to remind me of cheesy Scotty. 

8. Skylar. Ugh. 

9,000. Deandre. Hurt my ears, and bothered the cat. 

Alyssa

March 28th, 2012
11:04 pm

I just saw Johnny Keyser’s audition…aww he should be in the live shows!!

Alex

March 28th, 2012
11:07 pm

Jenny
March 28th, 2012
10:58 pm

“…cheesy Scotty.” Good one.

Yes, Scotty was cheesy, but the cheesiest of all time was Cheese Puff Daddy (aka Michael Lynche).

Rodney Ho

March 28th, 2012
11:09 pm

@True Country B? For Bore?

Alyssa

March 28th, 2012
11:10 pm

Will Hollie ever sing something else than these slow songs? So Pia Toscano…careful Hollie!!

Rodney Ho

March 28th, 2012
11:11 pm

@Alyssa. Yes, Johnny should have taken Jermaine Jones’ spot.

Alex

March 28th, 2012
11:15 pm

Alyssa
March 28th, 2012
11:10 pm

But don’t forget, Pia went home AFTER moving away from the ballads.

excuse me

March 28th, 2012
11:16 pm

You’re just a hater. Elise gave it her all. Take a look at your poll.

Ms.Sharom

March 28th, 2012
11:20 pm

I am confused how can you make that statement about Joshua!!!!!!

Alyssa

March 28th, 2012
11:23 pm

Alex. So true, I forgot about that. And I like Hollie, just wish she would let loose a little and move around on the stage, I wanna see her do something different.

Alex

March 28th, 2012
11:27 pm

Alyssa
March 28th, 2012
11:23 pm

I like Hollie as well, but her performances often seem stiff or robotic. Great voice, great look.

MyPatootie

March 28th, 2012
11:31 pm

Some personal observations from an over 60 male who has seen every AI show since it started.
1. For the first time I can easily see 5-6 that are worthy of winning it all. Someone really, really good is going to be booted off in the last 2-3 weeks.
2. I can go along with RH’s top 10 except for replacing Holly with Skylar. Also I was wondering what the judges were thinking when they were ranting about Colton Dixon’s song. That had to be his worst performance so far, and I see RH agrees and has him at #10. Good minds think alike. Now I know my ears are OK.
3. They need to stop showing Jessica with the long shots and those short dresses. Pants and long dresses do her a big favor by not showcasing those “gams” . From the knees down all I can think of when I see her is “flamingo”. Sorry, but they are that bad!
4. Glad to see RH mention Harry Nilson had the original and only version of “Without You” as far as I am concerned. Nobody, not even Mariah C can do what he did with that song. Period!
5. Please, could Deandre go out this week. I was in the backroom when he was singing and I honestly thought the cat had gotten his tail caught in the door again. Somebody please take the “teeny-boppers” phones away from them!

Jenny

March 28th, 2012
11:32 pm

I don’t know, Alex… remember all the cheesy faces Scotty would make? Even Cheese Puff Daddy didn’t look like Howdy Doody when he sang. :-D

Jenny

March 28th, 2012
11:36 pm

Rodney… really? An A for Phil but only a B-plus for Elise? If Phil was an A (with which I respectfully disagree – he looked constipated) … Then Elise would’ve been off the grading chart!

Alyssa

March 28th, 2012
11:38 pm

That’s my point Alex, she has to sing something else and…I don’t know, walk around a bit so not to be so robotic.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

JTesla

March 28th, 2012
11:41 pm

Well at least people are reading what you write Rodney. People are getting behind their favorites!

Three in and a meadley. I would really like a 1 hour show, but I know it is not Idol’s choice, at least they are filling it with music and not fluff like they have in years past.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

Jenny

March 28th, 2012
11:50 pm

JT…. just wait till you see Elise… worth sitting through the 2 hour show!

And Rodney, I agree, the judges were awfully excited tonight over what was at best a mediocre show. (except Elise, who brought a much needed rocking ending!) And I’ve seen several other people on facebook, raving about what an awesome show it was tonight. I don’t quite get it… I thought it was just OK, overall.

I sure hope your Heejun prediction is wrong. Deandre and Skylar can’t get off that stage fast enough for me.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

Jenny

March 28th, 2012
11:56 pm

Quote:

MyPatootie
March 28th, 2012

11:31 pm

Please, could Deandre go out this week. I was in the backroom when he was singing and I honestly thought the cat had gotten his tail caught in the door again. Somebody please take the “teeny-boppers” phones away from them!

I am literally laughing so hard I’m crying. LOVE IT!!!

JTesla

March 29th, 2012
12:01 am

I agree on Deandre. Dude has got to go. Keep Heejun, bring back Shannon, bring back Jermaine, bring back anyone. Oh well, it is the judges fault that we have him. So, I need to remember that he needs to “be in it to win it”.

Looking forward to some Zepplin.

JTesla

March 29th, 2012
12:08 am

Seth T

March 29th, 2012
12:12 am

If the poll above holds true, along with the poll from MJ’s, Skylar is at greater risk of getting the boot, than DeAndre or Heejun. 5 boys vs, 4 girls left until tomorrow night.

Jenny

March 29th, 2012
12:21 am

I’d have absolutely no problem with Skylar leaving! I would happily wave goodbye. Though of course I’d rather it be DeandreSanjaya… but I think Rodney’s right that his little fans will keep him in a few more weeks.

Mercedes S.

March 29th, 2012
12:26 am

Just finished watching my recorded AI… what’s withthe standing O’s for GUYS ONLY… and then Elise is better than usual and the judges don’t stand up and then they look at each other and it’s as if they think, “oops, we haven’t stood up for any girls tonight, so maybe…” and they stand up and clap.

JTesla

March 29th, 2012
12:28 am

I don’t get giving any credit to the “standing O’s”. These clowns would give a standing ovation to the color taupe.

Mercedes S.

March 29th, 2012
12:36 am

Amusing how Colton refers to his song as “my favorite worship song” and Stevie Nicks sees a certain line in the song as “something all women would love to have a guy say to them”.

Skylar did her usual happy dance… but what’s with the enlargement of her hips? Again!

Hejun fredeemed himself nicely.

Hollie my favorite of the night. I googled a handful of her songs before Idol and she has a pesonable voice I like very much. Don’t udnerstand Steve Tyler’s criticism. Weren’t the Idols supposed to pick material sung by their idols?Hollie’s dressand jewelry succesful.

Deandre – I finally get the hate. The guys is awful.

Jessica – “she is a good student” said Stevie Nicks… very true. Jessica is good at imitating.

Phillip – he’s just such fun to watch. And he wore a brown coat!

Joshua, in another ill-fitting coat that let his left shoulder droop.

Elise – did well, but I just don’t care for her.

Jenny

March 29th, 2012
12:39 am

Mercedes- good point! I just thought they were giving way too many standing o’s – didn’t pay attention to the breakdown. Ugh!

Mercedes S.

March 29th, 2012
12:40 am

And if I should tier my people:

Top Tier: Colton, Hollie, Phillip
:
Middle Tier: Jessica, Joshua, Skylar

Bottom tier: Elise, Deandre, Heejun

Mercedes S.

March 29th, 2012
12:41 am

Can someone please make “Chicago” shut up?

Jenny

March 29th, 2012
12:43 am

I meant to say they were giving way too many UNDESERVED standing o’s. Really, the show tonight wasn’t all *that* great. It really wasn’t. There have been way better shows this season alone. I was bored during about 2/3 of the show.

Nutmeg

March 29th, 2012
12:46 am

After watching, I think Hollie’s going.

1) She’s given two mediocre performances in a row.
2) Jessica is a better diva and Elise has been upping her game.
3) Hollie lacks the thing that makes an Idol successful: a Y chromosome.

That’s my prediction.

Jenny

March 29th, 2012
12:47 am

JT @12:28 – SO true!!! I am beginning to think they would give a standing o to a turtle if it crawled out on the stage. They are really becoming worthless.

JTesla

March 29th, 2012
12:52 am

AJC really needs to streamline it’s reporting function.

AIFan

March 29th, 2012
1:09 am

Hollie and Phillip sing exactly the same every single week. They are beyond boring and it amazes me that Rod is drinking the same kool aid as the idol judges fawning all over Phillip. Steven can do a range of power rock ballads and gritty tunes, but Phillip is the same boring Dave Matthews in a 4 note range every week that wouldn’t win a competition at any decent sized university or county fair. His only marketable attribute is having been on AI for a couple of months.

Seth T

March 29th, 2012
1:57 am

Hollie is slowly getting morphed-in to a singing prom queen with an older-than-she-is look.

If she doesn’t get a grip on where she is going soon, and demonstate some hot star qualities, she can forget about a run for the top 3. She has top 3 talent but is making some poor song choices and is dumbing-down her ability to be vibrant, demonstrative and attractive on stage.

I’m hoping she can snap-out-of-it soon, before the lower 2 boys move-up and past her while she is standing in one spot, singing an overdone Carrie Underwood song in a sparkly prom dress.