Wednesday, March 28, 2012

American Idol Season 11 • Top 9 Perform

Tonight the Top 9 will be taking on the songs of their own idols, and it is rumored we'll be hearing songs from Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Miranda Lambert, Lifehouse, Daughtry and Led Zeppelin. The mentor for the evening will be the great Stevie Nicks, and I look forward to her thoughts and advice to the Top 9. The show opens with a montage of clips showing us the sweet and sensitive side of Idols, all to the music of Stevie's Landslide. I am grateful, for this most likely means no one will butcher it this evening. Crusty babbles on a bit, and then bring out the Top 9 to thunderous applause.

American Idol Season 11 Top 9
Top, l to r: Colton, Elise, Phillip, Heejun, and Deandre. Bottom, l to r: Jessica, Skylar, Hollie, and Joshua.

Somewhere in Crusty's meandering, I think he says something about the Idols will also be singing in trio's tonight, which loses me on several levels. Do we need more last-minute group numbers, and does it every make us change our minds? And, Tommy Hilfiger is back, helping the kids with their outfits, and mocking Phil for his gray t-shirts.

Colton tells of finding music through church, and will be singing his favorite worship song, Everything, by the band Lifehouse. This is just the type of song he wants to be singing, but I just wish it didn't take so long to kick in. And the sound mix isn't very good - hope it is better in the studio. On my TV, the song started getting a bit of a jumbled mass of sound. The judges are unanimous in their praise, and Randy is looking for Colton in the finals already. Soon Crusty is chatting with Colton, and he is crying for Jesus. After a commercial break, we come back to Skylar, and it is no surprise that her idol is Miranda Lambert. She is singing Gunpowder And Lead, a song right in Skylar's wheelhouse. Stevie warns her to remember she is telling a story, something Skylar strays away from at times. The song screams out from the beginning, with the blaring guitar.

She gives a patented Skylar performance, high on octane, but low on nuance. The judges loved it, all three giving high praise. To me, she left Stevie's advice in the rehearsal studio. Colton, Elise and Phillip are the first trip, and dammit, they are singing Landslide. Colton sings first, and is really beautifully on key. Then Elise takes over, singing The Edge Of Seventeen. That is great. So it is not really trios at all, more of a mash-up for three. Phillip is soon singing Don't Stop!, and, well, his vocals pale in comparison, with his muddy, congested tone. Then we move back to the solos, and it is time for Heejun. His idol is Donny Hathaway, and he is singing A Song For You, the great song written by Leon Russell. It is less joke than he has so far, but there is still issues with enunciation. He still strays off-tune from time to time, and it didn't really sound all that original, but that might be asking too much... The judges all drool over him, and seem to think he was near perfect. I sign and move one. There is an odd competition sponsored by Coke and Idol, and the audience will help Jason Derulo write a new song for Coke. I am entranced by his neck brace, and miss the rest. Soon it is time for Hollie, who has picked Carrie Underwood, and is singing Jesus Take The Wheel.

They took off the Country edge, and made it more Pop. It is a bit saccharin to me, and I understand when Stevie told her to really feel it. Randy and Steven thought it was just okay, and Steven thought she should have picked a different song. Jennifer loved it, thought it was filled with emotion and power. After a break, it is time for Deandre, who picks Eric Benet as his Idol. He loves the fact he is a strict R&B singer, and proceeds to sing Sometimes I Cry. Stevie suggests he slows it down a bit, so he doesn't have to rush. He delivers it almost entirely in falsetto, and it is surprisingly better than I would have expected. The judges give him a standing ovation, and think it was great, which might be a bit of overselling to me. I think Deandre lacks a bit of control, and sometimes forced the notes a bit shrill. Jessica is up after the commercial, and it is no surprise she will be tacking Beyoncé song. She sings Sweet Dreams for Stevie and Jimmy I.

Stevie loves her, and slows it down to a lovely ballad. She does a wonderful job, and really makes it her own. I am starting to believe in this girl. I am shocked the judges don't greet her on their feet, but they do meet her with great praise, which is well-deserved. Crusty warns us about what to expect after the break. It will be Heejun, Deandre, and Joshua with a tribute to Michael Jackson. There is a compilation of his songs, and they do sing it as both a trip and as soloists. Oddly, it does show me the weakness of Heejun's tone, and Joshua proved to be quite the showman. Jennifer spoke for the panel, and they loved it, save the dancing. Soon we are back to the reason for the show, and it is time for Phillip, who will be singing a song by his idol, Jonny Lang. He will be singing Still Rainin', released in 1998.

Well, I don't know if I should bother commenting at the point. Stevie loves him, and says he reminds her of a young Lindsey Buckingham. That irks me, for I love Lindsey Buckingham. His idol, Jonny Lang, was noted for his spectacular guitar solos. While I am glad he didn't pick Dave Matthews, for that would have been a bit too incestuous, at least for me... The judges give him a standing ovation, and I just sigh. We learn that next we will have Joshua singing a song by his idol, Mariah Carey. He is singing Without You, and I am immediately annoyed, for it isn't a Mariah song, it isn't really a Harry Nilsson song, it was originally by Badfinger, back in 1970. He starts off nicely, but loses me along the way. Somewhere along the way, his vocal performance ate the song alive, and forgot to deliver emotion. I know what is coming, and the judges are on their feet, and falling all over themselves in their adoration. After a break, there is the third and final trio of the night. It seems Hollie, Skylar and Jessica will sing a Madonna medley. This suites Jessica well, and Hollie is sweet, but it shows that melody is not really a strength for her. Of course, Randy just loved it. And after the what is looking like the final commercial break - at 9:46? - we will have Elise, who will be singing my all-time favorite band, Led Zeppelin. If she does Since I've Been Loving You, I will be a happy man. Well, she is singing Whole Lotta Love, which is also a great song.

Elise delivers a wonderful performance, my favorite of the night. She is big, bold and bodacious, just what she needed to be. She put the rock, rhythm and blues in the song, just the way it should be. Well, they get to the recap, and it is time for me to put my prediction for the bottom three. So, I think Heejun, Deandre, and Hollie will hit to bottom, with maybe Joshua as an alternate. First to the Randy, he is noncommittal, and Steven refuses to answer as well. And Jennifer won't answer either. So the judges once again refuse to do their job, and judge the contestants.

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