After two surprise eliminations, the woman who was near the bottom five times before finally found herself out completely on “Idol” tonight: Elise Testone.
The oldest contestant remaining at age 28, the New Jersey native and South Carolina resident clearly knows her own voice and understands what she likes. I enjoyed her when she channeled Stevie Nicks.
But experience also meant she didn’t particularly enjoy the judging process, questioning them at times and making faces at other times. I also found her stage presence a bit remote, her vocal stylings a bit mechanical, like she wanted to show off without entertaining us.
Last night, she did an adequate job with her Queen song, then did a self-indulgent Jimi Hendrix tune that felt more fussy than inspirational. Others were equally self indulgent (notably Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet) and they got away with it.
The past two lowest vote getters, Jessica Sanchez (saved) and Colton Dixon (not), made me question who would be in the bottom three. I didn’t even pick Elise. Instead, I chose Phillip, Joshua and Hollie Cavanagh, who was indeed in the bottom two and has been in the bottom three frequently.
Skylar Laine, who has been in the bottom three once before, had the third fewest votes – or fourth most. (Ryan Seacrest noted there were 58 million votes logged, ten million more than the top 6 a year ago, despite the 25% drop in ratings, which he didn’t mention.)
I didn’t get the impression there was a lot of shock or awe when she departed. But she was classy as she sang some Led Zeppelin and gave all the judges acknowledgment. The other five survivors didn’t seem all that upset, did they?
Here were Jimmy Iovine’s thoughts. He was much more into Joshua than I was and much less so with Skylar.
Jessica: “Jessica singing Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was a plain old mistake. Then to add to it, the three faces of Jessica. It actually scared me. That was less Queen and more Stephen King. But ‘Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross was magnificent… she sang it with brilliantly. She understood her words and her audience. Clever plus real talent, that’s double the vote.”
Elise: “She picked the wrong Queen song. A monotone stadium anthem. It comes off clubby. It didn’t move me. I didn’t want to see it again. Elise chose Jimi Hendrix ‘Bold as Love.’ To me, that’s double down on bad choice for the night. It was a musical piece with a very integrated soulful blues vocal. One without the other, it falls apart. That’s what we got. She’s a great singer who made bad choices.”
Hollie: “I wonder if Hollie choosing ‘Save Me’ by Queen was a subconscious plea to the public. [I thought that, too!] She did a very good job. This was a hard one. Freddy Mercury is tough. He is so unique… she tripped up at the very end… Hollie singing ‘The Climb’ was a good choice. She caught the emotion in that song. I hope it’s not too little too late.”
Joshua: “I was really impressed with Joshua last night with ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love.’ That Gary U.S. Bonds feel with Sam Cooke singing a Queen song showed he can interpret. He can cross over to pop. Then he switches over to ‘Ready for Love.’ Emotional, restrained and just moved us all to where we wanted us. He showed with those two songs, delivering with that type of intelligence, he could make the finals.”
Skylar: “I think Skylar did a very very competent job on ‘The Show Must Go On.’ She sang it more like a pop song… Now on her second song, ‘Tattoos on this Town’ was a little self indulgent… If you are going to do a song for one town, it has to be a strong enough song to appeal to the entire country. I don’t think that song cut the mustard.”
Phillip: “Ryan isn’t the only one not feeling well this week. Phillip is really having a rough time. It’s starting to show. With him not feeling well, he’s not able to pull off that character in ‘Fat Bottomed Girls.’ Watch Jack Black and Casey do it last year, they exploded that song when they did it. I don’t think we got that tonight. It was missing something… his second song was Dave Matthews ‘The Stone.’ … I’m very curious what the audience feels about this. What he did left an opening for someone other than Phillip to be in the final.”
- The “Idols Live” tour comes to Gwinnett Arena August 5. Tickets go on sale May 11 at 10 a.m. I’ll provide more details later.
- Harvey Levin of TMZ trained the top 6 about the media. They teased Philip Phillips about his aw-shucks nice guy routine, saying he should own it when J. Lo calls him sexy. “One name; Casper Smart,” one of the TMZ dudes said, noting J. Lo’s much younger beau. “Thank you man,” Phillips said. They then teased Skylar about her “relationship” with Colton. She insisted that they are just friends. Then Joshua’s nickname “Mantasia” gets teased because there’s a strip club in New York named that.
They then get busted for being slobs and Hollie eating cereal in the bathroom. Elise wonders how to not look so mad when she’s not smiling without being fake. They had no solution for that. Jessica admitted to 200 YouTube videos. Then they mock Harvey for his bad dancing in a YouTube video, causing former dancer Nigel Lythgoe to get in the act.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk