We are down to four contestants left in the running for season 11 of American Idol. Where did the time go? And what in the heck is that jacket Randy Jackson is wearing? Well, at least he is colorful. And why are Ryan, Randy and Steven wearing lapel pins with a "6?" What's that for?
Tonight's line-up introduction of the contestants looks like Idol is trying to be the poster child for diversity in the music industry: Caucasian guy in his twenties, blonde late teen girl, mixed race mid-teenage girl, African American late teen guy. Very interesting to say the least. Phillip is the only white guy with guitar left in the competition. Is it just me or have we not heard if the other three play an instrument?
As we get rolling, we find out the themes for this week are "songs with California connections" and "songs you wish you had written." Interesting ideas, but we will see how this works out. Before each song we get another retrospective on each contestants Idol journey.
Phillip- Creedence Clearwater Revival- "Have You Ever Seen The Rain"
This just so happens to be a song from one of my all-time favorite groups. I hope Phillip can do well with this song. I like it. The song fits his voice well. He hits his stride in the first chorus. Interesting syncopation makes it his own. Nice job.
ST- You're living proof that the road to success is always under construction. You are something else.
J- You had this Joe Cocker quality I hadn't heard before. It was perfect for that song.
R- You started a little rough. When you hit the first chorus, your vibe lightened up and it was sensational from there on out. If you have a good time, then we (the judges) have a good time, and they (the audience) have a good time.
Hollie- Journey- "Faithfully"
Now this could be a tricky song since Randy used to play with Journey. This is one of my husband's favorite bands so I know this song too.
She sounds good. I like it, but something about the look in her eyes isn't right. Her eyes look puffy or irritated. I think that wind machine is the cause. Not the first time this season that machine has been blowing someone off the stage.
R- You are peaking at the right time of the competition. You did Steve Perry proud. Hollie wants the have the whole thing.
J- It's emotional watching how much you've grown. It was very beautiful.
ST- I've watched you blossom. Creativity is a very delicate flower and you can make it bloom by giving it positive affirmations as Jennifer did. Your choice of song was over the top again. Beautiful.
Idol lets us know that Jason DeRulo is still working on that new Coke sponsored song he will be performing at the finale. I hope it turns out better than some of the old song contest entries of past seasons. At least the winner won't be saddled with it.
Joshua- Josh Groban- "You Raise Me Up"
This is my favorite Groban covers. (No, JG did not write it or first record it.) It is also the song that I most want to hear David Archuleta cover on his next album (entitled, "Begin." due out August 7, 2012).
Joshua is dedicating this to his dad because he supports so many people. Very nice.
Joshua is center stage on some sort of platform (it has a back support) I don't like the beginning of the song. Kind of weird phrasing for me. Much better by the chorus. Now the Idol gospel choir joins him and he kicks into screaming at me. This song is so powerful, you don't need to scream. The choir encircles him and, yes, you guessed it, the stage rises. Very corny effect. And Joshua screams at me some more.
J- Another great performance from you. I loved the "dramma" with you raising up. Really, really great. Keep it consistent til the end.
ST- You sang your little tush off. I can't tell you how much I love the way you sing.
R- What you are doing now is validating what we say. if you are a great singer, a great artist, you can sing anything. I think you are an amazing artist with a Ginormous career ahead of you.
Jessica- Etta James- "Steal Away"
In her intro Jessica tells us that since singing is the only thing she has ever concentrated on for her whole life "I can't do anything but sing." IMO, that is not a great plan. The child is 16 and has no other interests? Oops
Didn't Jimmy tells us a couple of weeks ago that he would make sure she sang age-appropriate songs? It's not happening. At least she is dressed better this week. I saw Etta James perform and Jessica is definitely not Etta James.
J- Jen babbles about the growling as seen on the intro clip from when Jessica was 7 yrs old. "When I think about all the great female singers out there today, your contemporaries, you're one of the best. (She never really says anything about This performance.)
ST- I loved it. I'm currently doing an Etta James song myself (well at least he is the right age group) and you nailed it. You're shaking off the old you and changing. Good for you.
R- I loved the whole vibe of that. She's 16 and she's singing Etta James. The blues is so much soul and so much heart in it and all that pain and for you to be able to tap into that your vocals were ridiculous.
Phillip and Joshua- Maroon 5- "This Love"
They actually sound much better as a duo this week than they did last week. the judges love it and compliment Nigel for the song selection.
Hollie and Jessica- The Bangles- "Eternal Flame"
Total opposite of the guys performance. Who on earth arranged this song for them. This is too low for Hollie and too boring for Jessica. They both look so uncomfortable sitting in these dumb fabric swings, going back and forth. Hollie's shirt gets stuck in the contraption to make it even more stressful for her.
R- It's weird. J- It's fine. ST- it didn't match the guy's performance. (No Steven, it didn't. it was awful.)
Adam Shankman and Julianne Hough drop by to promo their new movie "Rock of Ages." Shankman tours the Idol mansion with the kids. He makes Phil kiss Jennifer in a poster of the judges hanging in the house. We all get a preview of the movie. it stars Tom Cruise, Julianne and a bunch of other stars. I must remember to MISS THIS TRAIN WRECK.
Now all 4 contestants must perform together to Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl (guy) Like You.
Wrong song for Joshua, Works fine for Phillip, Hollie sounds better than Jessica.
Thankfully we don't have to hear from the judges on this one.
Next round- "Songs you wish you wrote" and Jimmy is mentoring.
Phillip- Damien Rice- "Volcano"
Jimmy says last week he was nervous about Phillip but this week he came in with his voice in a different place. Volcano sends a message that he can record something like this and not sound like anyone else.
I actually know this song. Phillip sounds amazing. Just Phillip with his guitar, a cello, and a female backup singer. Awesome performance. Yes!
ST- I agree with Jimmy, I heard the musician that time. I never heard you sing like that before. That was beautiful.
J- Very few people could pull that off on a competition show and it's a real testament to who you are. it was one of the most beautiful moments a contestant has ever had.
R- So Yo! That's what's up right there. I love you because you're your own guy. Amazing. Great.
Hollie- Bonnie Raitt- "I Can't Make You Love Me"
Jimmy says you can't get a girl with more soul and more feel than Bonnie. The problem people have been having with Hollie is she comes without emotion. Then he tells her, "Don't over sing."
I think she is holding back too much. There are yellow stage lights blinding us and Hollie. Hollie looks very sad. She is singing ok but I think she needs more power. This is in the wrong key, too low for her in parts.
ST- it felt a little short in dynamic range and how you can sing. Sorry baby.
J- You should have used the hook to sing to America "I cant make you love me" not been so literal. Emotion got the better of you and you had too much vibrato.
R- For me it wasn't so much the maturity of the song, to me now, you need moments. You need things to give big vocal moments. the wrong choice at the wrong time. for me.
Joshua- James Brown- "It's a Man's World"
Joshua says this is for Mom because she is the backbone of the family.
Jimmy tells Joshua to save his voice and then relates a silly story when he worked with James Brown one time and someone came in between songs to comb Brown's hair for him.
Joshua needs to stop talking about the weird faces Phillip makes while singing because his are just as weird. Time for some screaming. I knew that was coming. I have never cared for this song and still don't. Why is Joshua singing through clinched teeth? Well, it's a Standing O from the judges, surprise, surprise. Get ready for the over the top praise.
ST- neither man nor woman has ever sung that good with that much compassion, ever. i never heard anything like that in my life.
J- I think people at home thought like I did that they've seen everything you have to give, we hadn't.
R- I think that's one of the greatest performances in the history of any singing show. if you want to know what singing is really about, please watch Joshua Ledet.
Jessica- Jennifer Holiday- "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going"
Jimmy says he was disappointed when Jessica sang "Proud Mary" but when you challenge her, she comes back ferocious. If she hits it on this performance, "It could be game over."
Jessica is wearing a really weird outfit. Daughter called it her circus clothes.She is standing in just one spot. Looks like they glued her there. Probably because she looks awkward moving around the stage. She is screaming and growling at us. She really can hold a note for a long time. Standing O from the judges. Here comes the OTT praises again.
ST- Another winning performance. Just over the top.
J- it seems like its gonna be a real race to the finish. This is crazy. There's nothing to say. You just let out so much.
R- I don't know what's going on tonight but with this performance, and Joshua's last , and Phillip's, you guys are in it to win it. this is one of the hardest songs in the world to sing and you got up there and slayed it.
And Randy lets us know that Julian Lennon (I wondered who that guy they keep showing is) is in the house tonight. (Let's put him on the spot and see what he thinks of Idol tonight. Thumbs up from Julian.)
And that's the end of this week's pressure cooker, I mean performances.
I have a terrible feeling Hollie will be leaving us this week. Of course, fourth place isn't bad. it might actually be good. Not as long a contract to fulfill with Jimmy.