Last night on American Idol, the five remaining contestants sang songs from British Pop era and songs from the 60’s era. An interesting choice that if given the right song choice, could really help a couple of these guys. Of course, the opposite is just as true as the wrong song choice could be devastating at this point.
This week, we were treated to the musings of guest mentor Little Steven Van Zandt (lead guitarist of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and Silvio on The Sopranos), as he helped guide our young idols through their paces. Between his mental sparring with regular season mentor Jimmy Iovine and his spot on comments to the contestants, Little Steven proved to be one of the best guest mentors of the season. Please bring him back soon. He was a joy to watch and listen to.
Hollie Cavinaugh: Like Jessica did last week with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Hollie started the 60’s era portion of the show with an absolute monster, singing Ike and Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High. It was one of her most inspiring performances. She stepped out of the box like she never has before and while we have certainly seen her demonstrate some serious vocal ability and control, this was a different side of her. Parts that could have easily been screaming were handled with ease. I don’t think anyone else in the competition could have done this song as well.
Phillip Phillips: Phil-Phil chose The Letter, by The Boxtops. And while he wasn’t nearly as good as the man who he is often compared to, Joe Cocker, who made the song very famous in his own right, it was still a very good rendition, although maybe a little too slow for my taste. It had typical Phil-Phil runs in the chorus, with no melody whatsoever, and usually that’s ok in his songs. But this particular song kind of needs it. Even Joe Cocker’s version had it. No matter how much he wants to, you can’t just ignore a major segment of a song.
Skylar Laine: Skylar clearly has the full understanding of how important song choice is. She chose Credence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son, and John Fogerty’s vocals fit her like a glove. She started running into some problems toward the second half of the song as she started losing pitch and began screaming more than singing. This is a consistent problem that Skylar has.
Jessica Sanchez: Jessica went with a Tina Turner classic as well, choosing Proud Mary. She started off slow, and jumped up the tempo quickly. She sings it, no doubt, and even well. But she’s missing the stage presence that Tina Turner always had, and there’s no denying that Tina had that. Jessica has a way to go to find hers. Overall, the song just proves to be way too big for her. As good as she is, sometimes she has to remember that she is still only 16.
Joshua Ledet: Joshua stayed in his wheelhouse with the very soulful Aint Too Proud to Beg, by The Temptations. He continues to select songs that enhance his abilities and make him look good. He knows exactly how to work a stage when he’s in his comfort zone like this. I think Steven Tyler’s assertion that he is one of the two best American Idol performers ever is ridiculous. I wonder who of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Kathryn McPhee, Kimberly Locke, or David Cook he is ignoring, since all are better than Joshua.
Hollie Cavinaugh: Hollie started the British Pop portion of the show singing Leona Lewis’s Bleeding Love. Picking up where she left off in her first performance, she continued to be just as good, despite the fact that it was the same type of song that she’d been singing the past couple of weeks. What is different this week is she has some confidence that she’s been lacking, and a certain air about her that says, “You’re going to put me in the bottom three anyway, so here it is.” It seems that she is finally comfortable on stage, and ironically, it may actually keep her out of the bottom three this week.
Phillip Phillips: For his second song choice, Phil went with The Zombies hit, Time of the Season. It was quiet and subdued, much like the original. Not a great song to start with, not a great song to go with for a competition . In fact, it was probably one of his worst performances. He had a lot of trouble hitting the high notes, and the whole song sounded very flat, even for him. As this progresses, I find that I’m actually enjoying Phil-Phil less and tolerating him more. This is not a good thing.
Skylar Laine: Skylar went with one of her slowest songs to date with Dusty Springfield’s You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. It was as close to a ballad as we’ve heard from her this far. She had a real problem with overmodulating (again) and it turned into screaming (again). The runs in her lower register were good, but as soon as she moved out of that, it started to get ugly. She needs to stay with up-tempo songs that have her bouncing around the stage. You don’t notice the screaming as much there because it’s almost supposed to be there. In a ballad, when she goes for the power notes, you hear it loud and clear.
Jessica Sanchez: For Jessica’s second song, she chose the odd choice of Joe Cocker’s You Are So Beautiful. Can someone, somewhere, please tell this young waif that she is 16 and not 42. This is just ridiculous already. How much more fun would it have been to hear her sing some Etta James? I know it’s been done already, but if she wanted to really impress us, show us some I’d Rather Go Blind. Jessica is really, really good when she goes Blues. While Beautiful is a fantastic song, I’m not sure it’s a great song choice for a 16 year old girl to sing, at anytime, anywhere. Did it show off her vocals? Sure. She even showed great range and flare in her runs at the end. But it was still weird. And I think that the young voting population is going to agree.
Joshua Ledet: Joshua took the Bee Gee’s To Love Somebody, which was already a pretty good song, and infused some serious heart and soul into it. He modernized it and guess what? He got another standing ovation. When he puts a record out, this should probably be on it. It was that good. But Holy Hyperbole!!! Jennifer said he was one of the best singers she’s seen in the past 50 years!!! I don’t know about all that. I think we need to take a deep breath here and reevaluate the situation. I don’t even think he’s the best American Idol singer in the past 3 years, never mind one of the best singers in the past 50 years. All that said, if he keeps making these fantastic song choices, he should find himself in the finals in a few weeks with no problem.
BOTTOM THREE: PHILLIP PHILLIPS, JESSICA SANCHEZ, SKYLAR LAINE
GOING HOME: PHILLIP PHILLIPS