American Idol 11: Fifth Final (Round of 8)

It had been a long day for Ryan Seacrest, as he added his third network to his growing portfolio of jobs with the announcement that he’d have “a role” on NBC’s prime-time Olympic coverage this summer.  Add in his annual ABC appearance on Zombie Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and, of course, his little gig on FOX, and all that’s left is perhaps co-hosting The Talk* on CBS… and keep in mind that the NBC announcement was live.  In New York.  12 hours before showtime in Los Angeles.  He pulled it off… without even a hair out of place.  Is he human, or android?  We’ll never know…

Of course, at some point – especially if NBC pulls the trigger on replacing Matt Lauer on Today – something  has to give.  Will it be Idol?  Or will it even matter?  The way this season is going, maybe not… anyway, we’re down to 8 singers, so it’s time to see which of the girls gets voted off this week!

THIS! … is American Idol!

It’s ‘80s night on Idol, as all of the singers get to sing songs that were oldies when they were born…

The opening montage contrasts Heejun Han’s elimination last week with the need to “bring your A game” each week – which, frankly, the singers haven’t done.  Time to see if they really understand the clichés they’re spouting…

We start with Randy Jackson – with not only hair, but bad hair – in a still shot from his days as a recording artist way back then… but quickly move into the competition…

Tonight, the time-filler songs will be guy/girl duets, with mentoring by No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani and That Other Guy… um… Tony Kanal

DeAndre Brackensick – “I Like It” by DeBarge (1982)
Jimmy Iovine predicts DeAndre’s heading to the Bottom Three – BEFORE the song…smart move, having DeAndre start in the cheap seats with the screaming girls *and* high-fiving Nigel Lythgoe on his way to the stage… while I’m not a big fan of the somewhat-affected falsetto, this was definitely DeAndre’s best performance of the season.  Too bad it was buried in the opening spot – looks like VFTW have their work cut out for them tonight… and Seacrest actually asks about going first… DeAndre even says “I don’t want to be forgotten”.  I think this is the first time Idol has ever addressed the Death Spot…

Is it me, or is J-Lo into the male singers in a “high school teacher who gets busted” kind of way this year?  I know she’s single, but really… it’s almost as creepy as Tyler’s leering… oh, right, back from break…

Elise Testone – “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen “I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner (1984)
Good move to dump the overused Cohen track… Hmm… I really want to like Elise (just because any woman who wants so much to be a rocker deserves the support), but something’s just a little off.  I think whoever talked her into this slower and sparse arrangement didn’t do her any favors.  “Whole Lotta Love” worked last week because of the high energy – this song had no energy.  I think it’s going to hurt her with the voters who, as I remind you every week, hate women.

Break… the time-fillers duets start next…

Duet: Colton & Skylar – “Islands In The Stream” by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton (1983)
The Christian kid and the country girl – makes perfect sense.  And the song worked, too… faithful without being karaoke.  It’s another song I think you’ll see on the tour this summer… and I hope it generates a few votes for Skylar because, as I remind you every week, the voters hate women.

Break… Phillip does Phil… next… after Skylar goes out of her way to say she’s NOT dating Colton… which will only fuel whatever Twitter rumors she’s denying, of course…

But first, another reminder of the Product-Placement Song Lyric Challenge…

Phillip Phillips – “That’s All” by Genesis (1983)
I’d really like to see them make him do a song without the guitar… no, who am I kidding, he’s the official WGWG… and they even let his brother play as his sideman?  Whoa… lyrical failure mid-song (that’s the problem with doing ‘80s hits, we’re all singing along)… if Simon were still part of the show, Phillip would have been raked over the coals for that… but other than the missed line, it was another solid, professional performance by the prohibitive favorite…

The two most-likely Bottom Three performers get to duet… of course they do…

The long-form Nike commercial that ran in this break is about as surreal as it gets – poor guy barely survives “running to her”, but her Nikes not only allow her to run across the country, but jump him (probably to death) in his hospital bed.  Wow.

Duet: DeAndre & Hollie – “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters (1982)
A good performance, but I don’t think they meshed as well as Colton and Skylar – it came off more like a The Voice battle round than a duet.  OK.  Not really memorable.

Break…

A bit of honesty from Steven: “The ‘80s weren’t a great time for me musically because I wasn’t all there”.  I’m sure there are… “salesmen”… who can testify to this.

Joshua Ledet – “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes (supposedly the Simply Red version, 1989)
Joshua wasn’t doing the 1989 version – he was doing the 1972 Harold Melvin/Teddy Pendergrass version… a bit too faithfully for my tastes, at least until the screech in the middle.  Too dramatic, too affected, trying way too hard.  He’ll get through because he’s a guy, but I didn’t buy into it as much as the Idolbots (and the judges) at Television City did.

Jessica Sanchez – “How Will I Know?” by Whitney Houston (1985)
Enough with the “alter ego” crap, please… at least they let her dress like a teenager this week, that’s a good sign… this was probably the most obvious song choice of the night.  This is the kind of music Jessica will be doing post-Idol, so why not make her run to the top two with it?  I know I’ve kidded (maybe) about the whole “Pinoy Princess” thing, but tonight she won’t need that help.  This performance stands on its own – she was finally able to just cut loose on a song rather than being held back by song choices.  I’m glad she decided to enjoy herself this week…

A little bit of unsubtle pimping for Seacrest’s new job with NBC as Randy asks if Ryan will be “judging” the Olympics… and Ryan quickly changes the subject…

Off to break… while I beat myself over the head with a brick to try to get rid of Randy’s latest attempt to force a catchphrase down our throats… I don’t gotta have it…

Duet: Phillip & Elise – “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” by Tom Petty & Stevie Nicks (1981)
A Jimmy Iovine song?  BIG surprise… oh my goodness… PHILLIP ISN’T WEARING HIS GUITAR!!!  And he can still sing!  Elise is a natural fit for this song, Phillip isn’t, and it showed… she came off very well here.  This might get her a few votes.  We’ll see.

Hollie Cavanagh – “What A Feeling” by Irene Cara (1983)
Iovine passed on the song originally?  No wonder it was a hit… and we come back from the B-roll to the interview, as they’re having Live Technical Problems… but a hand reaches in from offstage to let Ryan know it’s Go Time… I wonder if the hand gets union scale… it was good to see Hollie do something uptempo, but I feel like something was missed here.  She went through the motions of using the stage and interacting, but it didn’t seem like she really wanted to.  Technically sound, but might not make a major impact.  If she comes back next week, she really needs to listen to J-Lo and just let go.  She may not come back because, as I remind you every week, the voters hate women.

Break…

Duet: Joshua & Jessica – “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” by Aretha Franklin & George Michael (1987)
I don’t think the producers had much faith in this duet – a dozen backup singers and an orchestra the size of the New York Philarmonic testify to that.   I can’t really judge the performance as the backup singers pretty much carried the choruses… again, I’ll leave it as technically sound but… off.

Colton’s not doing a Christian hymn this week?  Will wonders never cease?

Colton Dixon – “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper (1984) [Quietdrive version (2006)]
Why is Iovine claiming it’s such a big deal to “gender-flip” the song?  I have The Hooters, Sugar Ray’s, and Quietdrive’s versions of the song on my iPod… and the Hooters’ Rob Hyman co-wrote the song… and I have to admit, Colton’s version did remind me of the Hooters’ version.  That’s not a bad thing – it wasn’t really karaoke, it’s just how the song plays out – and it showed why he’s a good singer when he’s not pandering to the fundies.   While Phillip seems to be the Designated Favorite, Colton has a really good shot to win this.  Wow… he admitted to using the Quietdrive version of the song as an inspiration… that’s rare…

Break…

I’m glad to see Skylar in the Pimp Spot… let’s hope she holds up there…

Skylar Laine – “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton “Wind Beneath My Wings”, Bette Midler version (1989)
There’s something oddly endearing about hearing a country twang on this classic pop ballad… unfortunately, I’m not as convinced that this was the right song for Skylar.   She gave it her best shot, and as she turned the corner into the power-ballad part of the song, she really did get into it.  I’m still not convinced this was the best choice, but in the end, it turned out to be a good performance.   Yes, she needed to show she’s more than a “country girl”.   This could either be a huge moment or a huge reminder that you need to stay with your strengths.  I’m a bit worried because, as I remind you every week, the voters hate women.

My bottom three: DeAndre, Joshua, Hollie
America’s predicted Bottom Three: DeAndre, Elise, Hollie
I’d boot: DeAndre
America will boot: Hollie

See you Friday morning for the results recap, with Kellie Pickler and The Wanted singing.



#gottahaveit

DAMNIT!!!!

*EDIT: Yes, I originally called the CBS show The View.  It might as well be… 🙂

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), improv tech guy, generally nice person (if you ask me).

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