American Idol: Born to Sing (or not, for some)

Last night’s American Idol was a classic theme – “Songs From The Year You Were Born” – which used to result in a lot of 80s jams, but now serves only to make me feel old by resulting in a lot of covers of 90s songs. I know, I know, I’m not old! But I used to be the same age as the people on American Idol (or younger!) and now if I were on the show I’d be that old chick trying to compete with the teenyboppers.

So without further ado, let’s talk about the show, shall we?

Phillip Phillips – “Hard to Handle”
Phillip showed up for his mentoring session with Jimmy Iovine and will.i.am. on his way to the hospital for surgery due to kidney stones. Surgery! Pain! Yikes! That’s dedication. Also, a great way to endear yourself to the audience. But mostly it’s impressive. Anyway, I didn’t know this song but I really liked Phillip’s performance.

Jessica Sanchez – “Turn The Beat Around”
I was excited to see that Jessica was doing an uptempo song this week because I wasn’t sure how that would go. I liked the sound of it in rehearsals and will.i.am called her a “swaggernaut”, but I still wasn’t sure if she’d have enough energy on stage. But I loved her performance as much as I loved her sparkly pants, which is a lot. This girl has a tone of confidence, talent and stage presence for 16 years old and I love it. This clearly wasn’t a vocal performance like last week’s, it wasn’t fantastic, but I was glad to see she could hold her own with a fast song.

Heejun Han – “Right Here Waiting”
Another sappy slow song? Even thought Jessica’s performance wasn’t her best, she took a risk and changed it up. Heejun’s performance felt slow and boring. Plus, the performance wasn’t that good. Heejun seems in over his head in this competition.

Elise Testone – “Let’s Stay Together”
This song was way more in Elise’s wheelhouse than last week’s Whitney Houston tune was, and you could tell. She sounded much better and seemed incredibly more confident on stage. I liked it, but I don’t know if it was very memorable.

DeAndre Brackensick – “Endless Love”
OK, is this “songs from the year you were born” or “covers from the year you were born”? Geez! Everyone’s singing oldies! I wish he’d sung the song from The Lion King. Instead, he sang an old-fashioned song that I like but teenagers haven’t heard of, and he sounded lousy on it.

Shannon Magrane – “One Sweet Day”
Oh, Shannon. Just because a song is about Jesus or heaven or whatever doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate song for you! Shannon butchered Whitney Houston last week and had no right tackling a Mariah song. The result was, frankly, painful. I wish she’d done “Don’t Speak”.

Colton Dixon – “Broken Heart”
This was a song that no one knew and, ironically, the advice Colton got from Chris Daughtry was “Be yourself and choose songs that people know.” Well, I have faith that Colton will be around for a while to choose plenty of songs we know. I really liked this performance. The judges were split on it, but I thought it was cool.

**Sidenote: Did anyone else burst out laughing when will.i.am. said “He’s slam dunkin’ like Vladamir” and made a face like that was a really awesome line, but Jimmy Iovine didn’t react AT ALL?

Erika Van Pelt – “Heaven”
Erika is one of the older contestants on Idol this year, along with Elise. I like both girls, but I’m not sure they’re going to appeal to the kids who vote on American Idol. I had split feelings about this performance – I thought Erika’s voice sounded great, but I found the performance itself boring. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian and hear that song too often, I’m not sure. It just didn’t really do it for me, but I think Erika is good.

Awkward Alert!
Have we ever seen someone get disqualified like this on American Idol before? I know people have been booted off the show for various reasons, but have they filmed it and aired it in place of a performance before? It was weird and made me uncomfortable, but I’m glad we know what happened. Jermaine Jones was disqualified from the competition for failing to disclose a previous arrests and active warrants. Had Jermaine been honest and come clean, Idol says they would have tried to help him. But they’re not allowed to have anyone with outstanding warrants on the show, and Jermaine had four. I was glad they played a little bit of his performance from rehearsal, too.

Still, it was an odd moment in the middle of the show.

Skylar Laine – “Love Sneakin’ Up On You”
Skylar stuck with her gut this week and sang a Bonnie Raitt song even though Jimmy and will.i.am were trying to convince her to sing Coolio instead. That would’ve been interesting, but the look on Skylar’s face suggested she doesn’t know what a Coolio is. It was likely for the best, since Skylar’s performance was great.

Joshua Ledet – “When A Man Loves A Woman”
Wow, is there anything more awkward than Ryan Seacrest faking a shellfish allergy and then throwing crawfish at tweens? Well, I guess there’s Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet, any time, ever. Joshua looked sharp tonight, and his performance was outstanding. Really, really excellent.

Hollie Cavanagh – “The Power Of Love”
I can’t be the only one who fell in love with Hollie’s British, tearful, not from a musically backgrounded family, right? This final spot probably should have gone to Joshua, but Hollie was good. The gal can definitely sing, and knows how to deliver a power ballad. But next week I’d like to see her take a risk and do something a little more fun.

It’s hard to rank these performances because so many of them were really good, and they were really varied. But of course, I’ll try.

1. Joshua Ledet
2. Colton Dixon
3. Hollie Cavanagh
4. Jessica Sanchez
5. Phillip Phillips
6. Skylar Laine
7. Elise Testone
8. Erika Van Pelt
–and this is where I stop being a fan –
9. DeAndre Brackensick
10. Heejun Han
11. Shannon Magrane

What do you guys think?

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About Jill

Pop culture junkie and TV aficionado. I write sharp and snarky TV recaps at www.couchtimewithjill.com
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2 Responses to American Idol: Born to Sing (or not, for some)

  1. I just finished watching the results show and you were right on with picking the bottom performer. You were also pretty close to correctly predicting the bottom three as voted by the public but I totally agreed with your selections. I was ready to give up on American Idol this year but got sucked back in by Hollie Cavanaugh. I currently live in McKinney, Texas and Hollie has this town pretty excited. I'm totally hooked on The Voice as I feel the talent level on that show is far superior to American Idol. Love your recaps for that show.

  2. bgtaylor4 says:

    I downloaded all 11 songs and played them a bunch today. In fairness, the live results don’t match the studio cuts (Deandre and Skylar were much better in the studio), but influence me. But this must be rated for live performances. Everybody was pretty good live — except lower grades to Deandre and Skylar. I liked Shannon, and will miss her. So the evening goes to Hollie… followed by Heejun, Colton, Shannon, Joshua, Phillip, Jessica, Elise, Erika, Skylar and Deandre. Given the need for summer tour balance and Jermaine’s disqualification, it had to be a girl going. Guess I’d have voted Erika off. As to the studio cuts, all are pretty good — best to Hollie and Deandre and weakest to Jessica.

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