American Idol – Now and Then

American Idol is pissed at you, America! The producers clearly weren’t happy with Jessica Sanchez getting the least amount of votes last week, because that opening montage was basically the equivalent of saying “America, it’s like you stomped on a kitten! Look at this tiny girl cry!” I’m surprised they didn’t cut in footage of Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift at the VMAs or someone punching a toddler in the face.

OK, on with the top! Here’s your top 7 2.0, singing two songs each – one from 2000-2012 and one a soul song from “back in the day”, whenever “the day” is.

Now

Hollie Cavanagh – “Rollin’ In The Deep”

When I first heard that Hollie would be singing this song, my thoughts were “No no no no no no HELL no.” Hollie was pretty lousy last week, and this is an amazing song. It’s also a song that has been covered by men, women, children and cats all over YouTube. But you know what? She freakin’ killed it! This was certainly one of the better covers of this song I’ve seen, and the best performance Hollie has delivered in a long time. Well done!

Colton Dixon – “Bad Romance”

This was a surprising song choice, but I kinda loved it. The verses were a little low for him and the judges called him out on that, but I thought his performance was fun, different and energetic. Colton always brings something different, and I like that about him.

Elise Testone – “No One”

This was a departure for Elise since she usually goes a little more rock or bluesy, but she sounded really good. I don’t think it was Elise’s most compelling performance, but it was nice to see her step out of her comfort zone and still deliver a solid performance.

Phillip Phillips – “U Got It Bad”

Wow! Another surprising song choice. Some of my favorite Idol performances have been by people like Kris Allen and David Cook who weren’t afraid to take a song that wasn’t in their wheelhouse and turn it into something completely new. Phillip has done this a couple times now too, and I love when he does. Since most of Phillip’s performances sound reeeeeaaallly similar, it’s nice that he can at least change up the genre of the original tune. I liked this performance a lot.

Jessica Sanchez – “Fallin'”

This wasn’t my favorite song for Jessica because “Fallin'” is sort of one of those songs that anyone during Hollywood Week on American Idol can pull off. I wish she’d done “Someone Like You” by Adele or “If I Were A Boy” by Beyonce or “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera instead. Something that really would have shown off her range. Don’t get me wrong – she was fantastic. But it wasn’t particularly memorable.

Skylar Laine – “Born This Way”

Another great performance from Skylar that makes it even more clear that she’ll have a big career in country music. This was a great song – I’d never heard Gaga’s country arrangement before, but it worked great for Skylar.

Joshua Ledet – “I Believe”

Man-tasia singing Fantasia! I feel kind of “meh” about this song to begin with, so the performance was not my favorite. Joshua can certainly sing, there’s no doubt about that. But if we’re talking about personal taste (and this is my blog, after all) then this wasn’t my favorite. But I really liked Joshua’s red jacket.

These performances are hard to rank because I actually really liked all of them. There weren’t any bombs. But here goes nothin':

  1. Hollie Cavanagh
  2. Skylar Laine
  3. Jessica Sanchez
  4. Colton Dixon
  5. Phillip Phillips
  6. Joshua Ledet
  7. Elise Testone

Then

Hollie Cavanagh – “Son of a Preacher Man”

Hollie seemed to have a ton more confidence this week than she has in previous weeks, and while this performance couldn’t compare to “Rollin’ in the Deep” it was still perfectly respectable. It was miles better than what she did last week, and the two performances made for a nice comeback for Hollie.

Colton Dixon – “September”

Colton’s rendition of “September” is basically nothing like the original, and while I like the original I appreciated this performance for what it was. I think Colton has a great voice, and is a dynamic performer, and I liked what he did here a lot more than the judges did.

Elise Testone – “Let’s Get It On”

This song was definitely in Elise’s wheelhouse, yet I didn’t dig the performance that much. Maybe it was all the groaning – I’m not sure. I can’t even pinpoint what exactly it was that bothered me. It just didn’t excite me – it was something a wedding singer would deliver. Perfectly good for last call at a bar, but not up to snuff with the rest of the performances this week on Idol.

Phillip Phillips – “In The Midnight Hour”

Well this was just plain fun. That’s it – I’m officially a Phillip Squared fan. Yeah, he kinda does the same thing every week. But the thing he does is good! This performance made me happy, it seemed like it made him happy, and I loved it. Phillip had a really good week this week.

Jessica Sanchez – “Try A Little Tenderness”

This was a song that showed off what a freaking outstanding vocalist Jessica is, and that’s good. I hope America was reminded of what an insane talent and discovery this kid was. It also had some attitude and edge – yeah, she got a little shouty at the end. But at least she showed passion! Jessica’s problem up until how has been that she can seem a little robotic and too calculated. This was edgier and more passionate, and I think it was enough to get her through to next week. I hope we see this alter ego “B.B. Chez” again – hey, it works for Beyonce.

Skylar Laine – “Heard It Through The Grapevine”

What a firecracker! Skylar needs to leave this show and go open for Miranda Lambert or somebody ASAP, because she’s ready for the big leagues. She could hold her own with Carrie Underwood at the rest at the Country Music Awards – she knows who she is, doesn’t waver from that, and I love it.

Joshua Ledet – “A Change Is Gonna Come”

THIS is the kind of Joshua Ledet performance I love. This is when that church background comes in handy, and he can deliver a beautiful, passionate performance that can send tingles down your spine.

Totally Arbitrary Rankings:

  1. Skylar Laine
  2. Joshua Ledet
  3. Phillip Phillips
  4. Jessica Sanchez
  5. Colton Dixon
  6. Hollie Cavanagh
  7. Elise Testone

Man oh man, I’ve gotta say – I think this is one of the strongest nights of American Idol I’ve seen in years. There is no one in this Top Seven that I hate, or that I think doesn’t deserve to be there. In fact, I can see pretty much all of them being in the final three in a lesser season.

The fact that I’ve ranked Elise last in both sections means, I guess, that I think she should be going home. But I do think she’s really good. Honestly, it would be between her and Hollie for me this week, and Hollie outdid her. This is a really strong group.

What do you guys think? Were you as impressed as I was?

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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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One Response to American Idol – Now and Then

  1. bgtaylor4 says:

    Mostly I agree with everything you wrote here and the order in which folks are ranked — it’s arbitrary and there were no “bad” performances. Feel Skylar won the night, that Hollie was really good (and have no clue how she landed in the bottom three or two), that Colton was fun and then his second song was really an interpretation I liked, that Joshua is solid, that Jessica is an incredible 16 year old talent, that there is just something missing with Elise (she should have been the one going home) and that Phillip is consistent. On that last word, consistent, falls my issue with Phillip and why I put him last on both my lists last night. He consistently changes songs and makes them his own. Sometimes (Billy Joel) that’s just an abomination and other times (Usher) it improves on the original. But, disagreeing with the judges, aside from the songs P2 chooses, there isn’t any surprise. Because consistent means every song he does sounds the same and looks the same; that’s boring and for me, makes him a one trick pony. We get tired of ballads, but I’d like to see Phillip do a ballad, or maybe rock out, or maybe dance (move around); and I’d like to see him wear something different. Would that make him a sell out or change his artistry? Perhaps. Just think as he advances on this show he should demonstrate some range.

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