Wednesday, April 18, 2012

American Idol Season 11 • Top 7 Perform Again

Taking a cue from one of Shakespeare's best lines from Macbeth, we discovered that last week that Idol was "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." That is right, while we endured 7 solo performances, 2 duets, and one trio, the same seven contestants return to sing once again, only this time, one will be going home for sure. Last week, the judges used their save on Jessica Sanchez, and to keep the schedule on track, only one will be sent packing this week. Including this evening, there are six performance weeks to go before the winner of Season 11 is announced. Tonight there will be 14 performances on tap, as each of the Top 7 will sing two songs; one released between 2000 and today, and the other from anytime prior to 2000. Yikes.

American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Again
Left to right: Hollie, Joshua, Colton, Jessica, Elise, Phillip, and Skylar.

We quickly see a silent recap of last week, and Jessica getting the the save. The judges are introduced, as is Crusty. He gives a nice nod to the passing of Dick Clark, the father of music programming. Hollie is the first contestant up, and she will be singing Rolling In The Deep by Adele. I am beginning to hope Adele takes the rights back on all her songs, for they seem to pop up on a regular basis. That said, Hollie is better than I thought she would, her best performance of the season. It was solid, and good. She had good tone, and I actually felt what she was singing. Good for her. After a commercial break, Colton is going to sing Lady Gaga's Bad Romance. He rocks it up a bit, and I think he gets lost in the chorus just about every time. There was a costume, which looked a bit court jester, if he only had a hat with bells on it. But I will let that go now. Volume levels fell off, yet the judges let that go, and think he was amazing. I let it go, and an grateful that next up we have Elise, who will be performing No One by Alicia Keys.

Elise looks beautiful, and sounds even better on the song. Not many should try to sing Alicia Keys, but she did it with ease. Jennifer loved it, and Steven loves her, but not the song for her. Randy loved that she learned restraint and stayed with the melody, so people could sing along. I am confused. Boys can play with melodies, miss notes by a large amount, and not get called on it. The girls, they seem to have more rules. And speaking of that, after a break, we learn that Phillip will sing Usher's U Got It Bad.

Not surprising, he takes Usher's song, and gives it a Dave Matthews remake. His voice, as usual, has a sound of standing congestion, with the edge of bourbon and cigarettes. He ends the song with that self-satisfied look on his face, and the judges leap to their feet, the first standing ovation of the night. They love him. Steven loved the melody, and Jennifer thought it was sexy. Randy celebrates that there is a true artist on the stage with Phillip Phillips, reminding us he thinks the rest are rank amateurs, I guess. He always comes out and does something original. I guess Randy has never listened to Dave Matthews. Guess we might as well send the other six home tonight, right? (shaking my head) Poor them. Next up, we have Jessica, who was singing for her life when the judges saved her. She will be singing the second song by Alicia Keys of the evening, Fallin'. She spent some extra time working with Jimmy I this week, trying to get the performance just right. She does a nice job, that is for sure. The judges fumble all over themselves to talk about how they love her, and how rare her talent and her voice is. After a break, we find out Skylar will be putting a Country twist on Lady Gaga's Born This Way. She does a great job, with a great deal of spunk and power. That was something pretty special. The judges love it, of course. As well they should. The final singer in the "Now" portion of the night is about to perform. Mantasia meets Fantasia, it seems, as Joshua will be singing I Believe.

Seems Fantasia is his Idol, and it was great he finally got the chance to sing a song of hers. Now, while he does a nice job, I thought it sounded very much like Fantasia singing it, more imitation than honest emotion. I was surprised by my modest reaction. The judges, on the other hand, are on their feet once again, and Randy tells us that Joshua is the most talented singer the show has seen. Randy thought he just outsang Fantasia? So that concludes the current song portion, and we find out the second half is dedicated to Soul Train, and the creator, Don Cornelius. And we start back at the beginning, with Hollie singing again. After a nice message of support from the Liverpool Soccer team, we learn she will be singing Son Of A Preacher Man, sung by the brilliant Dusty Springfield.

Hollie's voice is rich and deep, and this was an excellent choice for her. She remained in good voice throughout the song, and was fantastic. The judges loved her, and gave her high marks. Next up was Colton, who will be putting his own spin on September by Earth, Wind & Fire. Well, this was an interesting try, but I wasn't overly impressed. He sounded a bit whiny, and fairly contrived. I am stunned that the judges don't give him a pass, and call him on the mediocrity. After the break, it is time for Elise to give her final performance of the night, taking on Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On.

There is no time to for too much, so we go right into the performance. I have to say, I am surprisingly underwhelmed by that performance. She was taking that on a Jazz-fueled leisurely trip, instead of the big-note infested Idol tour. Well, the one that is expected of the ladies, for the next contested isn't weighed down by issues like pitch and paying attention to the song. Yes, Phillip is up next, singing In The Midnight Hour by the great Wilson Pickett. It is lazy, predictable, and fairly soulless. It leaves me completely at a loss. The judges, of course, loved every minute and missed note of it. I accepted their ineptitude and move on. After a break and a chat with Season 8 winner Kris Allen, we learn he will be singing a new single tomorrow night. But first we have Jessica back out there, belting out Try A Little Tenderness, the iconic song by Otis Redding.

Jessica was really good on this, and it might have been the best of the night so far. She reached down deep, and came up with a bold performance. Surprisingly, the judges managed to make her good critique sound like a missed performance. But it is time for Skylar to come out, and she sings Marvin Gaye's amazing Heard It Through The Grapevine. Skylar does a good job with it, but that is not surprising. Country is not that far apart from Soul music, really. The performance did get a little frenetic for me, a bit over-amped. I could have used a little less running, and touch less shouting. The judges, on the other hand, loved it, and love her. They feel only she and Phillip connect to their songs. Really, Randy? Even over Joshua, who you said was the best in the Idol history, or Jessica, who you said last week was the best singer in America. Jeeze, Randy, get a grip. After a break, we have the final of the night, the incredibly predictable A Change Is Gonna Come, by the great Sam Cooke.

This song has been done several times on the show, most recently by Adam Lambert, I believe. Now, we hear Joshua at the microphone. I am again underwhelmed by this. There seem to be a bit of laziness at the top, all pointing to the big end. And that is what happened. For me, Joshua is all explosion, with no glowing ember to light the fire. Of course, the judges are on their feet, and love him. Again, we are greeted by the call that he is the best, like a few others earlier tonight. So there is the the recap, and I can quickly see if it happens like I remembered. It comes across pretty much as I thought, and I am at a loss. If I were to go with my gut, I would have Phillip, Colton, and Elise in the bottom. However, I don't think that will happen. I think it will be Elise, Hollie and Joshua in the bottom. I think Jessica did enough to escape the bottom. But I have been fooled before. We will have to see who America votes through tomorrow night, at 8PM on Fox.

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