Wednesday, April 11, 2012

American Idol Season 11 • Top 7 Perform

Tonight, American Idol is finally getting around to doing what I thought was impossible this year, and that is to sing songs one could actually consider current. The theme for the week is songs from this decade, 2010 to today. We have had week after week of songs from the day the contest wants were born and before, and I wasn't holding out hope at this point. But, somehow, this came about and I can't wait, even if the list of spoilers isn't the most exciting. But here is my recap of the action, with reviews by me, and some music from the original artists.

American Idol Season 11 Top 7
Lady GaGa Jazmine Sullivan Kellie Pickler Pink Bruno Mars
Skylar Grey Maroon 5 Gotye Kelly Clarkson Kelly Clarkson & Jason Aldean
Top: American Idol Season 11 Top 7. Clockwise below: Lady Gaga; Jazmine Sullivan; Kellie Pickler; Pink; Bruno Mars; Kelly Clarkson & Jason Aldean; Kelly Clarkson; Gotye; Maroon 5; and Skylar Grey.

After a review of DeAndre leaving last week, and many tears being brushed away, the judges are introduced, followed by Crusty. The crowd goes wild, until Crusty soothes them with the thought there is another six weeks to go - which certainly gives me pause. But they scream again when Crusty brings out the Top 7. Speaking of which, Tommy Hilfiger is back to try to guide the Idols to dress better, both on stage and off. And Jimmy I is joined by Akon, as the group tackles the music from 2010 to now. The first up is Skylar, who will be singing Didn't Know How Much I loved You by Kellie Pickler. She does a nice job with the song, which is pleasant enough. She takes the opportunity to soar on the chorus, and stops just shy of shouting. I was not overwhelmed by her, but not disappointed either. I do kinda wish it was a better song. That said, the judges loved it, and thought she was amazing. Before the break, we lean that Colton will be up next, singing Love The Way You Lie by Skylar. Well, Skylar Grey. Apparently, Jimmy I and Akon want to stir something up, and pits Colton against Phillip now, like they are fighting for survival now. This is to push him to step out of the box, so they say. I can't tell the difference between the before and after, so whatever. I find his performance odd, for I often lose words, especially in the last quarter. The song became a bit of a nasal muddy mess. However, the judges see it differently, and find it to be brilliant, and raising the bar for the competitors. After a break, we learn that Elise & Phillip will sing the somewhat overused Somebody I Used To Know, written and performed brilliantly by Gotye.

Now, I love this song, but with covers flying everywhere, including on Glee last night on the same channel, and on The Voice last week, I fear a bit of burn out. When they start out, I just fear I was right. Phillip starts out the a bit lumbering as he is wont to do. The arrangement also has this odd reggae influence that comes and goes that mystified me. I guess I found it to be lackluster and disjointed, for their styles are so different and never gelled for me. Of course, the judges loved it, only giving Elise the upper hand in the duet. After another break, we get to see Jessica once again, and Akon and Jimmy I are just over the moon with her. She will be singing Stuttering, the 2010 hit for Jazmine Sullivan. She sings the heck out of it, and sounds wonderful. However, I am not all that sold on the song. But she continues to deliver strong vocals week after week, something that cannot be denied. As expected, the judges fall all over themselves to stroke her, and tell her how amazing she is. Following another break, it is time for Joshua to sing a contemporary song, so he picks Runaway Baby, a song by Bruno Mars that never cracked the Top 40.

I am not surprised by the choice, for it is Bruno giving a nod to the soul of the greats like James Brown. And it is not contemporary at all. When he comes out on the stage, he got a video message from Season 2 winner Fantasia to Mantasia, wishing him a happy birthday. He delivers a performance that is expected, and my only thought is that this is not current at all. I am disappointed, but not really surprised. He wears Pop like a Broadway production from Disney. And also not surprised the judges offer him a standing ovation, the first of the night. Crusty invited Joshua's preacher-father to the stage, and it was the slowest, most meandering walk I have seen for some time. And that is the impression I am left with. After yet another break, Colton and Skylar will be singing a duet, pulling out Don't You Wanna Stay by Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson. It was first performed on the 2010 Country Music Awards.

I have no idea why this duet works, for it could easily be a train wreck. But they play nicely off one another, and really make the other bring a different quality to their singing. This was quite nice. Not perfect, but way above my expectations. Steven loved them, Jennifer was kinda warm, and Randy was unimpressed. Yet they were impressed by the first duet? Okay... So another commercial break means a new performer, and it is time for Hollie, who will be taking the microphone to perform Perfect by Pink. See, in the Idol version, there is no F***in'. While Jimmy I and Akon think she can sing the notes, they think she lacks the experience to understand the song. She does a nice job with the song, although I am not sure it is the right song for her. Jennifer is polite and non-committal, while Steven is direct and not impressed. Randy thinks it is much better than last week, but far from perfect. I am not sure, but they seem to be setting her up for leaving. Another commercial break, and it is time for Jimmy I to once again bring up to competition between Colton and Phillip, on this time with Phillip. This week he will be singing Give Me A Little More, misrepresented by Crusty as a huge hit for Maroon 5, making it to #38 on the Billboard Pop chart.

Okay, he sang it. I don't get it. That was a weak vocal, even by Phillip standards. He mumbled his way through the song, swallowing half the words before the are offered. Soon, the cacophony of sounds coming to my TV made more white noise than music. I was not surprised when Steven loved it, calling him a cross between Steve McQueen and Johnny Cash, but I was stunned when Jennifer and Randy both thought it lacking. Might they finally start listening to the performances? We are treated to yet another commercial break, to be greeted by Hollie, Jessica and Joshua singing What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger), the huge current hit by the original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson. Joshua kicks off the performance, and is quickly joined by Jessica and Hollie. At least for me, this trio allows Hollie to disappear, Joshua seem out of place in Pop, and Jessica shine, kinda. In truth, this is a bit of a mess. Oddly, the judges love them, but in a throw away kind of way. And Randy gives the edge to Joshua. Whatever... And we finally arrive at the final performance of the night, and it will be Elise singing You And I by Lady Gaga.

Jimmy I and Akon pull Elise from behind the drum kit, and make her just settle on the piano and sing the damn song. They think she is amazing, and should do well. Once she gets off the the piano, the song really soars. She sounds great, and delivers the best of the night. It is scary, and the judges agree with me. They think she has returned, and is brilliant. Time for a recap, and I get to think of who would be my bottom three. I would say Hollie, Phillip and maybe Joshua. Over the next two weeks, the judges save has got to come out of the pocket, and I don't see them using it on Hollie. When asked, the judges refuse to commit to who might be in trouble. Just vote for your favorite, they implore. Hell, I came up with who I thought should be worried, and I ain't getting paid millions. To find out who will be in jeopardy, tune in to Fox Thursday at 8PM for the results of tonight's vote.


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