American Idol 11: Eighth Final (Round of 6)

We start with the word that Ryan Seacrest was under the weather last night – apparently, he’s got a touch of the stomach flu, and almost had to give the microphone to Nigel Lythgoe.  Fortunately for us, Seacrest rallied, so the show must go on…

Idol is celebrating Queen this week (which probably has NOTHING to do with Queen’s plans to do some shows this summer with Adam Lambert as lead singer)… so once again, the Idols will have to do songs older than most of them.  To make it up to them, the second hour of the show will be Contestant’s Choice round.  Given the insipid choices we’ve seen this season, it was mildly surprising to see Jimi Hendrix and India.Arie on the leaked song list.  To make things interesting, one song was leaked simply as “The (Blank) – (Blank) (Blank) Band”.  Speculation that this was Phillip Philiips the Phillipsest’s song, and that two of the blanks were “Dave” and “Matthews”.

No montage tonight… instead Seacrest reminds us that everyone is at risk… and then… he finally says…

THIS! … is American Idol!

The judges enter through the crowd tonight, and Seacrest starts the show at the judges’ podium (and open-collared)… which means there must be something set up on the main stage…

If you didn’t already know that Seacrest was ill, you figured it out when he didn’t voice over the Queen montage that officially opened the show… Randy Jackson did.

And we did have something big set up on stage – Queen (featuring Brian May and Roger Taylor) backing the Idols in a medley: “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Another One Bites The Dust”, “We Will Rock You”, and “We Are The Champions”.  I enjoyed it – I mean, if you’re going to have filler to pad the show to two hours, why not fun filler?

Break… to clear the stage for the competition to start… we open with the Queen round…

Jessica Sanchez – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975)
This’ll be interesting, to see if the Pinoy Princess can connect with the song… they shoot the first part of the performance in black-and-white as an homage to the video… unfortunately, fitting such a massive song into the 90-second format Idol uses kills any chance to really connect, but she did put on a good (if somewhat robotic) performance.  Going first might hurt tonight… we’ll see.

Break… there’s some country Queen next…

But before Skylar sings, she gets a trip through the Product Placement Zone, after a pitch for the sponsor’s “Perfect Harmony” contest to write a song for Jason DeRulo to sing at the finale…

Skylar Laine – “The Show Must Go On” (1991)
One of the last Freddie Mercury singles, it’s a good choice for Skylar – a lot of Queen’s catalog would’ve been rough for her, but this anthem fits her like a glove, and she flat-out kills it.  I think it was her best performance in weeks, if not of the season.  But did Steven Tyler hint at some autotuning?  What was he rambling about “putting a shine” on her vocals?  And why is Randy still trying to get #gottahaveit over?  Stop… back to Skylar, I hope this was enough to put her through… it should be.

Break…

Joshua Ledet – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (1979)
Joshua is another singer who might have had a rough go of the Queen catalog… but this song has a groove to it that Joshua can kind of plug into… sadly, I think he overdid it… he was trying to go for power, but came out sounding kind of shrill at times.  He did what he could with it, I think… it was good, but he might have done better with just a little bit of restraint. 

Elise Testone – “I Want It All” (1989)
Now this makes sense… Elise is the rocker of the bunch, and this gives her a chance to show it… which she did, complete with fireworks at the end – both vocal and literal.  It was the right song for her, and it worked out very well.  Very solid performance.

Break… as VFTW gets ready to pound the phone lines for their designated WGWG… who is, reportedly, also under the weather – fighting the stomach problems that plagued him all season.

Phillip Phillips – “Fat Bottomed Girls” (1978)
Some of the wags were pitching this song for Skylar… tsk tsk… Phillip is out from behind the guitar, and that may turn out to be a mistake… his indie-rock style doesn’t work with Queen’s anthems, and I suspect he’ll regret the song choice.  The song overwhelmed him, and he came out sounding thin and lifeless for most of the performance.  Because he’s the only white guy left, he’ll probably get through, but he could visit the Bottom Three if he doesn’t salvage this with the Contestant’s Choice song…

Break…

Hollie Cavanagh – “Save Me” (1980)
She’s going to need a big night to save herself… and scaling back a bit to do a Queen ballad may be the right answer… I enjoyed it, but I don’t know that it was enough to make up for the fact that she is clearly sixth in a six-player field.  Again, “good but not great”.   Her best hope for survival is that she’ll have the Pimp Spot in about an hour…

Break… they all did well… to me, this feels like “The Weakest Link”.  We need a voiceover saying that “statistically, Phillip was the Weakest Link, but will the votes follow the statistics?”  Because they probably won’t… Phillip and Hollie were at the back of the pack, and Skylar shone… Contestant’s Choice round starts… NOW…

And it starts with Jessica in the Product Placement Zone, shilling for votes by telling us her father is active-duty US military.

They’re doing the annual “Idols joke about each other” montages, which I’ll gloss over for the most part…

Jessica – “Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross
As always, if you do Luther, you better bring it… and we run directly into what will be Jessica’s problem going forward.  You’d think she’d be singing to her frequently-absent father, or channeling the spirit of Vandross’ tribute to his late father, but no, she just went out there and did a song.  There was no obvious connection at all – although she will have a strong showing from her Pinoy fanbase, that might not be enough.  Two very stilted performances might get her voted off.   The judges gushed, of course, but don’t they always…?

Skylar – “Tattoos on this Town” by Jason Aldean
She’s behind a guitar… and she’s doing a song I’ve heard a lot at the radio group where I spend my weekends… she did a different take on it… Aldean sings it as a party single, but Skylar’s take seemed a little more wistful… I liked it, but I think we’ve established that I like Skylar.  A very solid performance, and one that’ll bring the country vote out (if they’re watching)… and Seacrest feeds her a chance to bring God into it (hey, Colton’s fundie former fans have to vote for someone)…

Break…

Joshua – “Ready For Love” by India.Arie
Frankly, he needed to soar covering the Songbird… and I don’t think he did.  If the first performance was too big, this one may have been too small.   There was nothing wrong with it, but I don’t know that it’ll touch the voters – it’s a song they may not know, and a performance that was technically good, but missing something…

Break… it appears the mystery song is in the next segment, and it’s Phillip doing a Dave Matthews Band song (wow, is ANYONE actually surprised?)…

Elise – “Bold as Love” by Jimi Hendrix (John Mayer version, perhaps?)
OK, she’s taking on an Experience album track… it’s a bit quieter of a track than I expected… then again, Hendrix did have a lot of shades to him… and, it seems, so does Elise.  She did a really nice job on the song, but even with two very good performances, I wonder who’s voting for her… and Steven has a point, that the voting audience doesn’t necessarily know the song… even the John Mayer cover… so she may have kept her artistic integrity and put herself in the Bottom Three at the same time…

Phillip – “The Stone” by the Dave Matthews Band
Well, since Phillip Phillips the Phillipsest has been compared to Dave Matthews all season, you knew they were going to license him a DMB song… but instead of one of the singles, they went for an album cut from Before These Crowded Streets… and put him back behind the guitar.  For me, it fell flat, partially because I’m not a big DMB fan and partially because it seemed like a less-than-inspired performance.  I think P2 has put himself right in the firing line tonight.

But Seacrest got a chance to show off Julianne Hough, whilst she was blushing a bit at Phillip, so hey, there’s… um… that…

Break… with a Pimp Spot song that has a bit more background than you might think… MJ’s Big Blog turned up a YouTube clip of Hollie doing her song… which is surprising, because aren’t all Idols’ previous work supposed to be scrubbed off the Internet?

Hollie – “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
Well, if you’re making a last-gasp pitch for tween votes, you sing their (lower-case) idol on (upper-case) Idol… it’s a good choice, as this is a song that can frame Hollie’s style better than most of her choices… not sure it’s enough to save her, but if this is her last stand, it’s a nice way to go out.

Montage time…

Brilliant, Randy… “vote for all of them” – isn’t that the same as voting for none of them, and shouldn’t you have figured this out after 11 seasons?  Geez…

We see the problem with the two-hour shows with the extended segment of Seacrest bantering with the judges, as it highlights just how shallow and pointless the judges really are…

My bottom three: Phillip, Hollie, Joshua
America’s bottom three: Elise and Hollie definitely; either Joshua or Jessica (too close to call)
I’d send home: Phillip, who was basically invisible
America’s sending home: Hollie (yes, I predicted it last week, and won’t be surprised if I predict it next week, too)

Tonight’s results show features Stefano Langone, Katy Perry, and a Queen tribute.  I’ll see you tomorrow morning with the recap.

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

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

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