Last night’s American Idol was a weird one. Akon outdid Diddy as the season’s most inconsequential mentor (shocker!), while Steven Tyler went on an animal bender: He wore a gator skin robe and said things like “the crows may crow, but the hens deliver the goods.” (Translation: This season’s males can sing, but the females are next-level). The Top 7 took on songs from 2010 to today, which gave us a good look at the market value of the remaining contestants. In a pleasant surprise, some of our retro crooners had no problem going au courant. Head below to find out who’s ready to move some units right now and whose stock went down.
Also, adding to the night’s strangeness, did anyone see Modern Family‘s Eric Stonestreet in attendance? Oddly, it was never acknowledged, probably because Modern Family is up against Idol on Wednesday nights. Either that, or they didn’t want to shred a hole in the space-time continuum by showing Cam in two places at once. Anyway, on to the performances.
Jessica Sanchez gave a rousing, mature performance of “Stuttering” by Jazmine Sullivan. Jessica’s voice has this amazing character and flair that it just should not have at age 16. Last night, she showed so much agility and precision, her voice an intricate weapon that she’s mastered at a very young age. Randy Jackson said it was superb, while Steven told her “every time I hear you sing, I forget where I am.” That could be due to certain other mitigating factors, though.
Judges’ favorite Joshua Ledet got his now-automatic standing ovation after performing Bruno Mars‘ “Runaway Baby.” Though he’s a soul balladeer, we think this type of cut fits Josh better: It enables him to oversing without actually sounding like he’s oversinging, just because the song is so big. Josh, more of this, please! (And less “scat-howling over twinkly pianos.”)
Joshua Ledet, “Runaway Baby”
How country is Skylar Laine? She’s so country her grandpa’s drawl had to be subtitled. And that country authenticity came through during her cover of Kellie Pickler‘s “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You,” thanks to Skylar’s ability to strum while delivering those power twang vocals. Akon said her voice is “f***ing stupid” (in the good way), and we agree.
Colton Dixon sang “Love The Way You Lie” by Skylar Grey. (By the way, isn’t it weird that Eminem put Grey and Dido on the map?) Colton has a knack for burrowing into your ears with his delicate tone, which allows his voice to sneak up on you with its strength by the end of a song. Like Skylar’s, this was a polished vocal track that could’ve been dubbed and sold on the spot.
Elise Testone continued her sine wave season by hitting another peak with Lady Gaga‘s “You And I.” After a well-intentioned but painfully awkward video message from fan Jason Segel, she settled into the song on the piano, and by the end she was near her “Whole Lotta Love” greatness. She performed two stripped down songs tonight, so her divisive voice was under the microscope. Either you love that it sounds like she gargles with Pop Rocks pre-show, or you hate it.
We also have to include the trio of Jessica, Josh and Hollie Cavanagh here. While they were a little shaky during the first verse of Kelly Clarkson‘s “Stronger,” their three alpha dog voices coalesced on the harmonies and chorus. It was all capped off with a mammoth run by Jessica near the end, as is tradition.
Colton and Skylar paired up again this week for Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” Quite frankly, we were surprised that noted good boy Colton was allowed to utter the line “don’t you wanna fall asleep with me tonight.” But if he felt ashamed, it didn’t show, because the two once again had natural chemistry together (or, as Steven said, they made sing love).
Look, Hollie Cavanagh sang the hell out of Pink‘s “F**kin Perfect.” The last note proved her voice is an undeniable force. But she’s trying to prove that she is a pro and not just a prodigy, and it didn’t come across. There’s a “sing-by-the-numbers” vibe with her, and it ends up sounding like she’s soundtracking a Hallmark movie.
We never would’ve pegged Phillip Phillps as a Maroon 5 guy, but there he was, singing “Give A Little More.” He was in full DMB mode, though, thanks to the velvety sax accompanying him as he shuffled in place with his acoustic guitar.This wasn’t a bad performance, but as Jennifer Lopez said, it’s more of the same. After two weeks without evolving, we may have to start asking if we’re ready for an America with two Dave Matthewses. Considering some people don’t like living in an America with one Dave, this is a problem.
The judges swooned for Elise and Phillip’s rendition of world-conquering hit “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye and Kimbra. This is the part where we throw our hands up in a fit of confusion, because we were cringing for much of it. This is an extremely difficult song, made harder because it’s so of-the-moment that when you try to put your own spin on it, it’s jarring for the listener. For Phil, it was out of his register, and it was just too smooth for voices as gritty as theirs.
Best of the Night: Jessica Sanchez, again, uhDOY.
Worst of the Night: Elise Testone and Phillip Phillips on “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Sorry guys, but Glee did it better.