Top 9: Standing Ovation Edition

I think in my old age I’m getting harder and harder to please. So, if any part of this post seems cynical or not quite glass-is-half-full in tone, I’m sorry. Really! I know there is a lot of negativity in the world and adding to it is not my first priority, but sometimes I can’t help it. We all have our alter-egos. Just like Beyonce. And apparently, Jessica Sanchez.

As our esteemed judges stepped on the stage it appeared, at first glance, that Randy Jackson was single-handedly trying to  bring back candy necklaces. I know you’re trying to seem younger, Dawg, but please draw the line somewhere…further back. MUCH further back. Once he got closer it became clear that they were beads, so crisis averted. We won’t be seeing RaJax snacking on little candy discs throughout the show. Phew! (But still.)

Ryan seems to think that we’ve all locked in our favorite contestants. I guess I kind of have…I’ve liked Phillip Phillips from the beginning. But I don’t know that I’m to the blindly-support-the-person-and-vote-for-them-no-matter-what stage. Like I said, I’m getting less and less easy to please.

As the Top 9 came down the Staircase of Stardom, none of them tripped. So, good. As Ryan greeted them at the bottom of the stairs, Hunger Games references abound…for no apparent reason. Mmkay, moving on!

We were treated (and I’m using that term loosely) to the video of a quick session with Tommy Hilfiger and all of the contestants. As TomHil waxed eloquent on finding their personal style, the young hopefuls couldn’t even keep the look of boredom out of their eyes. And is Tommy wearing lip gloss? I wouldn’t put it past him. I wonder what flavor?

Since tonight’s guest mentor is legend Stevie Nicks and she and Jimmy go way back, we got to see some OLD footage of the two of them collaborating. And, here’s the deal folks, that baseball cap comes from way back. And here I was holding out the hope that someday I’d see his head without it. Hey, a girl can dream, right? And now my hopes have been dashed against the cruel rocks of reality. But somehow, I’ll pick up the pieces and keep plugging along.

Colton Dixon – “Everything” by Lifehouse

Okay, guys. Now, I think you know how I feel about Tim Tebow (hang with me here). I just finished watching the Jets press conference where he spent over half an hour gamely answering queries from all directions. The press lobbed him a lot of questions, several of which were about his faith. One reporter asked him how he goes about sharing his faith with his teammates. His response? That the best way to share what he believes is to live it out. Then another bold reporter asked him to explain his beliefs. Whoa. Tim’s answer? He’s not ashamed of what he believes and will share it with anyone…he gave a basic description of his faith and then gently reminded the reporter that this was a press conference for football and for the Jets and directed the questions back to the reason they were there. And that’s why so many people love him and thinks so highly of him! (78% of which want him to be starting QB for the Jets in 2012 instead of Mark Sanchez…just sayin’.)

Now, let’s segue into the Colton situation. At the beginning of the season, Colton drew some press because some American Idol peeps advised him not to share that he was a Christian. Colton came out strong and said he was not going to change who he was. Which, I can respect. But now it seems like he’s really pushing the whole thing. A Not of the World t-shirt? Singing his favorite “worship song” this week? I don’t know. I think an “actions speak louder than words” approach might be best in this situation.There have been a lot of Christian contestants on American Idol, but I’ve never felt like it was so manipulative. Maybe it’s just me. And I know it can’t be an easy thing for someone in Colton’s position. Am I alone here?

Plus, just for the record, I don’t think that song is technically a “worship” song. Lifehouse is not a Christian group. I texted my friend (and Lifehouse fan) Katie last night after Colton’s performance and sheslashWikipedia confirmed it.

But let’s talk about Colton’s actual performance:

  • This is a super hard song to sing without going flat. And he managed to put emotion into it without sacrificing pitch. Bravo!
  • Needed more power when he hit the chorus. It seemed like he was singing full blast but it wasn’t coming through…I think it was the other instrumentalists and him not being able to project.
  • That ending was SUPER strong, but dropping to both knees at the end? Well, that wasn’t my favorite.
  • Cut to the crying Grandpa. Nice move, Producers. Nice move.

[Sidenote Rant: Are you kidding me? Now we’re going to pretend to be “The Voice” by putting Twitter handles up for each contestant and asking people to tag their Twitter posts with #MyIdol?!? DEAR REALITY SINGING COMPETITIONS: STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME USE TWITTER. And where is Facebook in this whole equation? This just feels icky. And I swear, if this show decides to employ a Social Media Correspondent, I might just claw my own eyes out. Which would be gross. But effective.]

Skylar Laine – “Gunpowder and Lead” by Miranda Lambert

I really love Skylar’s spirit. So much so that I’m willing to overlook the ankle fringe garnishing the cuff of her pants. And the fact that she sings country music.

It was really fun to see Stevie harmonize with her in rehearsal. Ms. Nicks might not be as funny as Will.i.am, but I think I like her approach a lot better. Here’s the thing, though, Skylar really needed to pull a Phillips and inhabit this song fully. She jumped around a lot (which I’m not convinced was a good move based on her super flow-y shirt), but I don’t know if it really added much to the integrity of the performance. And at the end of her phrases when the note dipped lower, she kind of lost her control. But I appreciate her authenticity and pink hair (not necessarily in that order), and she sang the song well.

Colton/Elise/Philip Trio: Stevie Nicks Medley
What a great grouping! Boy, Phillip looks uncomfortable without a guitar or microphone stand. Without it his other hand not holding his microphone looked like an unfortunate claw contracting involuntarily.

There were a few pitch wobbles, but all in all an entertaining performance. Elise decided to get into the game with waist fringe. And some Phillip Phillips fan in the audience was waiting a “Gray all day!” sign. Awesome. Sauce.

Heejun Han – “A Song for You” by Donny Hathaway

Okay, so last week I did an abridged version of this recap, so I didn’t really mention Heejun’s performance. My thoughts? I think that Heejun was finally being smart with his performance. Utilizing his personal energy and personality was the wise thing to do in a season with so many powerhouse vocalists. That’s what sets him apart and it only make sense that he should try to leverage it. HOWEVER, I don’t think he pulled it off. On the plus side, he managed to run all across the stage and not lose his breath support or pitch, so we know he can do it. But the performance came off as cheesy, hokey, and every other word used to describe such an awkward rendition of the song. I did not for one second think that Heejun wasn’t taking the competition seriously, though. I actually thought he was headed down a good path. So you can imagine my dismay when he picked a super old time-y song this week.

QOTN: “In rehearsal we got a HeeNEWjun.” – Jimmy Iovine

Last season we saw full-of-life-and-zaniness Lauren Alaina deflate before our very eyes. She still is not back to her initial sparkle if her performance a few weeks ago can be believed. And now, Idol is sucking the fun out of Heejun. I get that it is a singing competition. And I honestly DON’T think that Heejun has the strongest voice. But I think he’s got a unique tone and a fun personality and he’s blowing his chance by trying to conform to some boring version of a contestant that the judges/producers want.

He also has a touch of the Stefano Langone syndrome. Open your eyes, dude!

A few little pitch problems sprinkled throughout but that last note = ew and double ew! CRINGE. Still, in oblivious judge-y fashion J.Lo, SteTy, and RaJax gave him a standing ovation. This, my fair readers, is what one might call “positive reinforcement”. He behaved how they wanted him to, and they rewarded him for it. I like Heejun. I DO! But he didn’t deserve a standing ovation for that performance.

The only redeeming part of that performance was the Heejun/Ryan interaction at the end of it. Heejun tried to turn a knock knock joke into a transition to the commercial break before Ryan could give out his numbers. Which, of course, Ryan called him on in the roll-with-the-punches kind of way that we love.

[Side note: Was anyone else concerned about how much Jason Derulo was moving his broken neck? Here’s a tip, guy, just because your neck collar has bling, doesn’t mean it has super magical properties that will keep you from harming yourself or others.]

Hollie Cavanagh – “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood

Hollie took on a Carrie Underwood song, which seems weird since we haven’t heard her sing country yet. But, I will say this for her: she started out her performance with a Carrie Underwood level of fashion, so she started off on the right foot. She looked GORGEOUS!

I think it’s pretty undisputed that Hollie can sing the heck out of any song and has a huge voice, bu I still don’t know who she is or what her album would be. I really want to root for her as a person, but I’m kind of bored with her lack of originality. She doesn’t do enough to these songs to make them HER.

Sigh.

DeAndre Brackensick – “Sometimes I Cry” by Eric Benet

While watching the rehearsal footage, I started to get a bad feeling. This premonition proved to be true: it’s the return of the falsetto overdose. And no amount of fancy foot movement or fog will not change my mind on this.

NO. JUST NO.

Not only is it an obnoxious performance but it’s a boring song. And at the end when he hit the high note and then peeked to see how everyone was reacting. I’m pretty sure I put my head in my hands. C’mon, guy! Have more self-respect than that!

This is what happened at the end of DeAndre’s performance in my parent’s family room:

Dad: “[The Judges] stood up for him!”

Mom: “Oh, gag me! Brackensick makes me sick.”

Seriously, Judges! Why the raves? It makes me full of rage. And yet another undeserved standing ovation. Blech.

Jessica Sanchez – “Sweet Dreams” by Beyonce

I’m not really familiar with this song, but if anyone can sing Beyonce on this show, it’s Jessica Sanchez. And I thought she was every bit as powerful as the original artist.

What’s with all the elaborate sets tonight, Producers? Nigel clearly borrowed the doors from the So You Think You Can Dance set. And it wasn’t nearly as cool as this was:

That first low run didn’t work…it was clunky, but Jessica got it together and did a good job with the song. However, I’m not such a big fan of the touille bustle on her dress. I didn’t love it, or anything, but it’s hard to deny that she’s got star power and an amazing voice, so I can’t be too critical.

Annnnd then, Ryan comes through the door. He’s so brilliant.

DeAndre/Heejun/Joshua Trio: Michael Jackson Medley

Another great grouping! DeAndre pulls off a convincing MJ, but it was really Joshua that held down that trio. And the weakest dancing link goes to HEEJUN. Oh, boy. And yikesamola.

Three words: Joshua Ledet ROCKS.

Phillip Phillips – “Still Raining” by Johnny Rain

Well, all the musical mentors seem to universally agree on Phillip Phillip’s talent. Stevie joined their ranks with some amazing compliments for our dear Phil Phil: that he was going to be really famous and could have been in Fleetwood Mac. Wow. Nothing like a little positive feedback from someone who really knows what she’s talking about, eh? 🙂

This was a classic Phillip Phillips performance, so I don’t have a lot to say about it. That left me time to make some additional observations:

  • First of all, the guy background vocalist was wearing the mother of all scarves. Clearly, he didn’t get the memo that it wasn’t REALLY raining.
  • Sheesh. That forehead vein of Phillip’s is really starting to make me uncomfortable.
  • He’s got the sound, the passion, the musicality. Now, he just needs to work on pushing himself.

Joshua Ledet – “Without You” by Mariah Carey

Okay, these sets are starting to really crack me up. Oh, look! Here’s a tree for me to rest my hand on! Yes, I just so happen to be wandering through a barren wasteland in Arizona as I sing this song. Give me a break.

I was all set to love this Joshua performance, but I think he was his own worst enemy here. His vibrato killed the runs and the whole vocal came off as being forced. Dude has a killer voice, so I hope he can pull it together next week!

P.S. Randy, stop name dropping. We know you know Mariah. Calm down.

Hollie/Skylar/Jessica – Madonna Medley

Wow! Hollie really stole this show. See what happens when she’s not standing behind a microphone stand and sings a fun song? She really needs to move more in her actual performances.

Skylar is the weakest link on this…not really her fault. At least Scotty and Lauren had each other.

Elise Testone – “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeplin

Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. Elise not only stole SteTy’s pants, she stole his genre of music!

The girl’s got rock! Who knew? I thought she’d choose an Alicia Keys song. So, color me wrong. And what a BRILLIANT ending!

This performance was authentic, natural, and kind of blew me away. 3 out of 3 Haddocks watching this one gave it the “best of the night” vote. Finally, a performance worthy of the standing ovation.

So, we’ve finished another week. Performance count: 9. SteTy’s use of the word “beautiful” to describe said performances: 8. We’ll be down to 8 finalists after this week’s results show. Who do you think should go home?

Haddock out!

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2 thoughts on “Top 9: Standing Ovation Edition

  1. Webmaster Aaron says:

    Elise was the best last night by far. Singing Led Zep is no easy task. Not to mention is was probably one of the coolest song choices EVER done on the show.

    Phillip has talent, but I’ll say it again… he’s a complete copy of Dave Matthews. Same style, same dance moves, same vocal intricacies. And yet none of the judges will say it. Randy went so far as to say Phillip is original and unique last night. I was surprised that when asked to sing a song by his idol, Phillip didn’t do a DMB song.
    Watch Dave here and tell me if you agree: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNgJBIx-hK8

    Skylar is turning into a one-trick pony. Her strong country twang and obnoxious bouncing around the stage is getting old.

    DeAndre’s performance reminded me of Tiny Tim. In case you don’t know who that is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_bljefIsBc

    Skylar and DeAndre are going home soon.

  2. Webmaster Aaron says:

    Elise was the best last night by far. Singing Led Zep is no easy task. Not to mention is was probably one of the coolest song choices EVER done on the show.

    Phillip has talent, but I’ll say it again… he’s a complete copy of Dave Matthews. Same style, same dance moves, same vocal intricacies. And yet none of the judges will say it. Randy went so far as to say Phillip is original and unique last night. I was surprised that when asked to sing a song by his idol, Phillip didn’t do a DMB song. Watch Dave here and tell me if you agree: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNgJBIx-hK8

    Skylar is turning into a one-trick pony. Her strong country twang and obnoxious bouncing around the stage is getting old.

    DeAndre’s performance reminded me of Tiny Tim. In case you don’t know who that is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_bljefIsBc

    Skylar and DeAndre are going home soon.

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