American Idol- The Magnificent 7

Guys, I’m baaaaaaack! Sorry for taking SUCH a long hiatus with the Idol blog, I forgot how busy spring semester is for the college student. However, I am back and in FULL SWING and ready to finish up this Idol season with my expert criticisms and praises.

We have endured week after week of cuts and cuts, mostly completely necessary and always the right choice, and now we are starting to get down to the nitty gritty where anyone could go home, and I have my picks of who the next three should DEFINITELY be in order for the right four contestants to remain on top.

This week was one of my favorite themes ever- music from 2010-2012. My main complaint with Idol is ALWAYS that the songs seem so dated, and while contestants do those songs justice, they simply wouldn’t hold up in today’s music world. However, by doing this week of modern music, we were able to see what contestants could have radio hits, and who would be lost among the vast ocean of vanilla singles flooding the iTunes store.

Another part of the night was that we were to see how life was carrying on back home without the contestants. Pretty much everyone had the same story- their hometowns are crazy about them and want them to come back so they can be treated and have foods or drinks or babies (probably) named after them by this time. It was pretty sweet to see people crying and cheering for their hometown heroes, but let’s be very honest: it was a time-filler. I cannot imagine why Idol went to solely two-hour Wednesday shows this year. Actually, I know exactly why- FOX has nothing else to fill that other hour with. As much as I love Idol, I’m a busy college student; it’s hard to find two hours to sit down in front of the TV and watch. I miss the days when we crammed in all of the contestants in one hour, not worrying about video packages and too many judge comments, but just let em sing and got on with the next one. Oh well, maybe next season.

Skylar Laine was up first, and by george she is HITTIN’ IT lately. I have always really liked Skylar, but starting last week, she has truly hit her stride and is flying past the rest of the competition. She chose to sing Kellie Pickler’s not-so-well-known “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You”, a perfect choice for her. Despite Jimmy not being quite so sure of her choice at first, once Skylar took off with the song, he and Akon (this week’s celebrity mentor) were both floored. I was ALSO floored once she hit the stage. Skylar opted to play guitar along with singing this week, and I think it truly helped her performance. Her voice absolutely soars on big notes, and she has this control that allows her to flip notes and add ornamentation that will translate so well into a pitch-perfect country album. I love how different she is from other past country Idols. We have the Carrie Underwood, the Kellie Pickler, the Lauren Alaina, and NOW the Skylar Laine. She is so much like Miranda Lambert, I cannot wait to see what kind of debut album she kicks out. The judges praised her as well. Randy told Skylar that this was the first time he’s really felt her in awhile. I assume he must have had his memory wiped since last week because last week was the week she absolutely came to life with “Wind Beneath My Wings” and tore everyone else to shreds. Whatever, Randy. Go drop some more names. Jennifer praised how perfect Skylar’s pitch was on a song like this, and noted how much she felt her soul in the song. Steven told Skylar that anytime she sings it is a “complete sentence”. I completely agree, Steven.

Keeping the momentum going, Colton Dixon was up next, kicking the show up to yet another level with his haunting rendition of “Love the Way You Lie (Part 2)”. Now, I LOVE both parts of the “Love the Way You Lie” songs, so I was automatically excited, and Colton again showed America that he is ready to release an album, go on tour, and sell out huge crowds. In my notes there are such notes as “TOO PERFECT”, “ALL THEY CREYS”, and “PERFECT #1 ARTIST EVER”. Needless to say, I feel a lot whenever Colton hits the stage because he has that ability to bring us into his world. Even better, he has a perfect voice, so the emotion matched with that voice sets him so far above most of the other contestants that he should go ahead and pick out his outfit for the finale. I am so glad he played the piano during this because it again showed a great deal of versatility without making him seem like a lounge singer. I believe if we took all of Colton’s performances thus far and watched them back to back to back etc, it would feel like a Colton Dixon concert because he has shown great versatility each week. He knows how to play this Idol game. The judges were absolutely floored, Jennifer noting that he is always Colton no matter what he sings, Steven telling him that he hasn’t even FOUND his top yet and he is still blowing everyone away, and Randy praising the subtlety and sensitivity of the performance.

Time for a big time filler- a duet between Elise and Phillip. I’ll get more into my criticisms of Elise later, but let it be known I need her to be gone as soon as possible. The pair sang Gotye’s current smash “Somebody That I Used to Know”. FOX must LOVE this song because it was also covered on Glee the night before. As excited as Elise was about this song, Phillip seemed just as unexcited. I think Phillip is tired of being on Idol to be perfectly honest. The song wasn’t even that good. It started out not horribly, but it really began to falter as it went on throughout the chorus and second verse. The voices weren’t blending well, Elise’s gross warble was gross, and Phillip looked miserable. We should have cut this duet, but Nigel (executive producer) was just so excited about it all week, constantly telling the Twitter world that this song would be on Idol. The judges seemed to love it, specifically telling Elise she “sang the mess out of the song.” Maybe they meant she sang the song and it was messy.

Pop star in the making Jessica Sanchez was next, and she certainly brought the show back to where it needed to be after that lackluster duet. She opted to sing Jasmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering” this week and WHOA. She understands song choice. Jessica is such a mystery to me because she is 16 but when she is performing she is definitely in her 20s. If you have never noticed this, take note next time she steps onstage. She has this confidence and aura about her that she has been doing this forever, then when she is done she transforms back into a smiley, sweet 16 year old. It is wonderful because I feel a pop star should possess that quality. I really think Jessica will have a big career in pop if she is marketed correctly. To be honest, she doesn’t need to win American Idol. The worst thing about American Idol winners is the marketing team they are stuck with. Idol relies too much on the fact that these contestants were on the show, and don’t work hard enough creating an image for them in the real world, often having them release super generic singles and pop records for a debut, making no one care; by the time they get to the sophomore record, they are completely forgotten. Anyway, JESSICA sang the absolute MESS (to borrow from the judges evaluation of Elise) out of this song. I have nothing bad to say about it. She knows how to captivate with the voice, as she wasn’t running around the stage and had no wild lights or anything. She took us on a journey with her voice and that’s all that she needed to do. Plus, that run at the end with the vocalizing was a fantastic way to wrap the song. The judge praised Jessica for always digging deeper and performing to her highest degree, slaying the performance every time.

Wailer of the season, Joshua Ledet, took to the stage next. This week, Joshua sang one of my favorite Bruno Mars songs, Runaway Baby. I am really ready for Joshua to not be on the show anymore because he just always does the same thing, but the producers seem to be shoving him down our throats. This week, they showed a video of Fantasia encouraging him and telling Joshua how much she loves him. Whatever, you can’t fool me. I will admit, I did not hate his performance this week because it was a fast song, which didn’t give him so much time to dwell too much on big notes. His voice carried the song very well, and he really owned the stage. However, the backup dancer and the JAMMIN’ band were the things that really caught my eye in this performance because they were just so entertaining. At the end, Joshua of course had to wail some notes Lambert style. The judges were falling over themselves again. Joshua is apparently a “work of art” to them, always knowing what to do and being unbelievable. I don’t know Idol; I’m not buying into Ledet, and I’m certainly not buying any tickets to his concerts in the future.

Blah blah blah another Duet had to happen. Yes, it was between Skylar and Colton. Yes, it was Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean’s hit “Don’t You Wanna Stay”. Yes, they performed it well. I just cannot justify weekly duets just to make the show two hours long. While both of the contestants carried their own weight in the verses, I felt the blend was not there on the chorus, much like with Elise and Phillip’s earlier duet. I strongly believe no one on Idol should sing anything Kelly Clarkson sings, but Skylar did very well with her part of the song. Colton is no country singer, but he proved he can sing a nice duet about being in love. Apparently people think the two of them are dating? I’ve never thought so, but the judges didn’t do anything to discourage it, Steven telling them they “made love in song”, which seemed to thoroughly embarrass both Laine and Dixon. Not bad, but not incredible.

Tiny Hollie Cavanagh was up next, and I’m afraid she is nearing the end of her Idol journey. She picked a perfect song, P!nk’s “Perfect”, and did a very nice arrangement of it, and looked great while doing it. Unfortunately, this song requires a certain depth of emotion and pain that I didn’t get from Hollie. She had the big vocals needed for the chorus, but I don’t feel that Hollie has ever gone through anyone ever telling her she isn’t good enough or won’t make it or is too average, based on how she sang the song. We all know that P!nk is all about being a rebel and was held back by people and told she was a freak and all of those things she always talks about, so when she sings the song we feel all of that come through while she tells us we are great and not to let that hold us back. I just didn’t get that from Hollie. Her pitch was one and she seemed confident, but I needed more. I do love her voice though, and think she can have a good career in music if she finds a good niche and good songs for a debut. The judges told her not to fight too much because she could overdo it, that it wasn’t perfect, but that she redeemed herself from last week.

Phillip Phillips took to the stage next, and if I’m being quite honest he’s falling down in my opinion. He’s my 4th place right now. I really don’t think he likes being on Idol, as evidenced by his comment last week that he isn’t here to grab people’s hands and run around the stage. Yes, there are artists like that for sure, but this is not the platform for that. The American Idol needs to be someone relatable that wants to be someone and is willing to be grateful to the MILLIONS of people voting for them. It’s just very interesting to me. This week Phillip sang Maroon 5’s “Give A Little More”. I felt this more than the past couple of his performances. There was more umph in this song because Maroon 5 is good with energy even in slow songs, so good song choice Phil. There was a sense of growth in this song, as Phillips strayed from his usually stand on the stage and growl out a song. However, it wasn’t enough for me to want to vote for him. The judges praised his evolution and use of melody this week, but called it a bit underwhelming and told him to showcase all he has because while the song started great, it normalized in the middle throughout the end. I couldn’t agree more.

The worst moment of the night was next, as the trio of Hollie, Joshua, and Jessica took on (I seriously knew I should have just fast-forwarded this moment) Kelly Clarkson’s current smash “(What Doesn’t Kill You) Stronger”. There were a few good moments. Joshua sounded ok again because it was a fast song. Jessica had some great moments on the chorus because she is Jessica. Hollie really faltered on this song; it just isn’t her style. When the three of them sang the chorus together OH IT WAS JUST BAD. Sorry, caps attack. It was just a bad song for them to sing. I don’t know what the judges heard, but it was not what I heard. They called this the “season of the big voice”, “dope”, a “great trio”, and said that Joshua had the edge on this one. Disagreed. Jessica had the edge, and this was the weakest showcase of the night…

Well, it was the weakest UNTIL Elise came on and made me want to cry for all of the wrong reasons. I don’t even want to write about it. She sang…….she sang Lady Gaga’s “You and I”. Who is voting for her? I am really hoping she gets eliminated this week. I could probably handle her weird, gravelly, sounds like it is constantly on a tuner voice; I might be able to take her constantly horrible wardrobe choices; I cannot take her attitude, ego, or her rude looks anymore. I’ve never seen a contestant on Idol before who I personally disliked so much. I usually just have a problem with the voice or see an attitude problem, but this girl is a SERIOUS attitude case and I can’t have it anymore. Plus, her rendition of You and I was so beyond average I can’t even remember what it sounds like; I know it sounded like her voice was really tuned because that is just part of her odd voice, but I will not accept the praise the judges threw at her, telling her it was the perfect time for that vocal, that “ELISE IS BACK”, and that she turned that song into genius. I have so many problems with that: First- That is arguably Lady Gaga’s best song EVER. No, it doesn’t have the smash success of ones I love more, but as far as writing and lyrics and feeling and vocal power, it is Gaga at her best. ALSO, Gaga allowed Haley Reinhart to perform that song on Idol last year BEFORE IT WAS RELEASED! I cannot believe the judges didn’t even bring that up. Whatever, they put Elise at the end so everyone would see her right before voting started so they vote for her. I know the tricks.

Needless to say, the first hour of the show tonight far outweighed the second hour. Skylar, Colton, and Jessica deserve to be the top three, and the rest can all go ahead and leave for all I care. We have to stop doing duets and trios, but I know it will continue.

My bottom three:

1. Elise Testone

2. Hollie Cavanagh

3. Joshua Ledet

My Elimination Pick is:

Elise Testone

If America has the personal problems I have with Elise, I could see her going home; however, I am very afraid that the judges would use that stupid save on her, only to have her eliminated next week again because she just isn’t as good or as personable as the rest of the contestants. I fear that it could be Hollie going home this week, but we can always hope right?

What were your thoughts last night? Did you approve of the song picks? The theme? Who is your bottom three and elimination pick? Tune in tomorrow for a recap of tonight’s episode!

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About Josh McCoy

I consider myself an expert on all things American Idol, Harry Potter, and food. Living this wonderful part of my life in Oklahoma, but excited to see where I am headed to next! Oh yeah, I'm also in school. I forget that all the time.

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