At this stage of the game, it really is make or break. We know these contestants. We know what they’re capable of. They’ve each got their strengths and weaknesses. One of them will become the next American Idol. So, who did Nigel recruit this week to guide them on their way to pop stardom?
Gwen Stefani and that other guy from No Doubt! For the first time, I’m beginning to see how crucial the mentors are. Stevie Nicks was an absolute genius who guided the contestants with a clear goal in mind: give a solid performance. This week, Gwen Stefani was…well, Gwen Stefani. As such, there was no consistency. Some contestants absolutely floundered, while some soared. You can’t really blame it on the theme either. This week, the contestants took on the songs of the 80’s, which offered a wide variety, and some solid songs. Oh well…after last week’s stellar round of performances, anything was going to be a let down.
Deandre Brackensick – I Like It
Deandre goes first with a mid-tempo RnB number. Maybe it was just his terrible Milli Vanilli hair, but this performance really seemed like it was being performed in 1986. He used his lower register, which sounded really nice, especially on the chorus. He did some nice runs with his signature falsetto, which I’m still torn on. He clearly has a gift and a skill, but my main concern with him is that he just doesn’t connect to any of his song choices. At this point, Deandre is a nice boy with a nice voice singing nice songs. Not a star. I really need to see something mind blowing from him, because even thought this was clearly one of his best performances, he never really seems to make it past the middle of the pack.
Elise Testone – I Want to Know What Love Is
Elise is sticking to her new found rocker persona and singing some Foreigner this week. Its a song choice that should have been solid, and yet…it left me a little cold. She started off rough, and didn’t really recover until the bridge hit. One the raw tone and pure power of her voice came out in the chorus, Elise sounded great. As the song continued and the key changed, Elise tried to really belt, and add some runs, but overall, there were just too many off moment to really sell the performance. It was a bold song choice, but ultimately, it didn’t pay off. Unfortunately, a middle of the road performance like this could kill Elise’s momentum.
Phillip Phillips – That’s All
Oh look, Phillip has his guitar again. And he’s wearing grey. And singing another mid-tempo blues song. I started off liking Phil, which turned to loathing, which slowly built its way back up to liking. Now…I’m just bored. This song blended perfectly into each of his last three performances…except that, you know…it was probably his worst. The melody isn’t really that complex or difficult, and yet, Phil really floundered. It was like he was fighting the song and its arrangement. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…Phil is not a star. Phil belongs in small venues, with a blues band behind him. Unfortunately, contestants like him (white, humbly attractive, plays guitar) do very well on this show even when it isn’t deserved. In this case…its not deserved.
Joshua Ledet – If You Don’t Know Me By Now
Joshua took on a soul classic, and did just as I thought he would…it was a near perfect performance. For the first time in the episode, someone connected with their song choice. The song might have taken its time in building up, but once the second half hit, and key went up a bit, Josh really let loose, and it was beautiful to hear. His voice has such a range…he can belt, he can growl, he can wail, but most importantly…he has genuine soul. We saw all of that tonight, and it was spectacular.
Jessica Sanchez – How Will I Know
Jessica has a comfortable hold on this competition, and so he has much more room to try some new things and make a few mistakes. This week, Jessica did exactly what she needed to do, which was show some youthful energy, turn in a solid performance, and come just shy of a standout moment. She came out looking like a teen pop star, but sounding like a polished pro. She worked the crowd, she worked the stage, and put on a fantastic show. As I said…she came just shy of having a stand out performance, but thats ok. She has a great strategy of giving an epic performance, followed by a solid yet less stellar performance that shows off her other sides. Jessica knows how to play the game. Right now, she is the one to beat.
Hollie Cavanaugh – Flashdance (What a Feeling)
Hollie is one of the best vocalists in this competition. With that out of the way…she’s in the same boat as Phillip. I’m officially over her. This performance was supposed to be an opportunity for Hollie to finally go uptempo, work the stage, and show off some youthful energy. While she did show us that she really does have some stage presence, she exposed her biggest weakness. Hollie Cavanaugh has no idea who she actually is. Hollie is a pageant singer, capable of singing ballads and not much else. That does not sell an album. Just ask Leona. Her terrible fashion, and soulless delivery are also holding her back from greatness. This performance had some moments of vocal greatness, but it also had just as many agonizingly bad moments. It was a lopsided misstep, that I think will land Hollie in the bottom 3.
Colton Dixon – Time After Time
Unlike Hollie, Colton knows exactly who he is as an artist. I don’t think that anyone is quite as radio-ready as Colton. He chose the Quietdrive arrangement of the song, which was a nice choice. Unfortunately, this performance didn’t work on the whole. Colton is a contestant that I really like, but shouldn’t. I have a huge problem with emo-rockers who sing with that nasaly and whiny tone, but for whatever reason, I have found Colton to be bearable up until tonight. He sang the choruses like he had a nasal infection. I cringed each time he said the word “time,” and that word comes up quite often. Overall, I felt like it was one of his weakest. The vocals weren’t as strong as usual, and the arrangement hindered any sort of emotional connection. Still decent…but not great.
Skylar Laine – Wind Beneath My Wings
This is a song choice that absolutely should not have worked. First of all, its not a country song. Second, its a ballad. However, Skylar came out of the bottom three, looked America in the eye, and said “Don;t count me out yet!” Skylar connected tothe song in a way that I didn’t think her capable of. However, the real surprise of the evening? She belted that song out! She hit notes that I never thought I would hear from her! Skylar has been making it through on grit and her country vibe, but tonight…she put all of that away and displayed her talent. It was a total winning moment for miss Laine.
And so…this week, the countdown order is quite obvious.
8. Phillip Phillips
7. Hollie Cavanaugh
6. Elise Testone
5. Colton Dixon
4. Deandre Brackensick
3. Jesica Sanchez
2. Joshua Ledet
1. Skylar Laine
However, the bottom 3 will be Hollie, Elise, and Deandre.
Seeing as how the results show is less than an hour away, we will find out shortly.