I might be shallow, but the first thing that struck me about last night’s performance was each contestant’s individual style. If Tommy Hilfiger had anything whatsoever to do with it, I gotta give the man props. But since he hasn’t shown his face for weeks and weeks, I’m guessing it was the Idol stylists. I know Simon would say “This isn’t FASHION idol! It’s a singing competition!” But since we’ve spent loads of time on the music, humor me, okay? I recently cut America’s Next Top Model out of my life, and I’m looking for a new outlet.
- Hollie looked fresh, fashionable, age appropriate, and radiant in her orange multi-edged top/pant combo. I loved the accessories and her hair/make up was done in a way that would have made Carrie Underwood’s stylist proud. In fact, her whole look reminded me of Carrie and she always looks impeccable.
- Joshua has settled into this “wear a cool and filmy shirt” gig that really suits him. It looks relaxed and casual which makes HIM look cool and collected. Plus, fashionable without looking like he spent hours in his closet putting together “the perfect oufit”. I could be wrong, but I don’t think boys do that as a general rule.
- Jessica left her super mini skirt at home to please “middle America” this week and instead went for a black, blue, and white color-blocked pant combo that made her look like the diva she is.
- And Phillip. Dear Phillip. He was definitely the weakest link because he channeled his inner JTT from the Home Improvement era. But he was wearing his signature color (gray) and really all he needed were those sparkly blew eyes and the now infamous vein to make an appearance.
And the theme for the night is…California Dreamin’. Which is, as explained by our faithful host Ry-Ry, songs or artists about the state of California. They’re really digging the bottom of the barrel after 11 years, aren’t they? Why even have a theme anymore?
The second round will feature songs that the contestants singing songs that they wish they would have written. And despite the fact that I just made fun of the loosey goosey weird themes, I actually like this one. I’m always thinking this about books.
And, as if they haven’t played the reel back enough during this whole “journey” we’ll see each Idol hopeful’s path tot the top four. Hey, they gotta kill two hours somehow, right?
In addition, my own personal theme for this blog will be “one word/phrase”. I’m going to come up with one word or a phrase for each contestant that I think really captures their performances for the night. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. Or, doesn’t really HAVE to, but I thought it’d be fun.
Each week, Phillip lets the Idol experience kind of roll off his back. Jimmy hates his performance? He’ll get up and do something similar the next week. Judges give him a harsh critique? You never see him exude any sort of major emotion except for when he’s singing. It’s all about the music, man! He’s just a go-with-the-flow guy in a pressure cooker environment. But heck if it’s gonna change him!
His path to the top four: He’s going to go as far as he can and utilize the fact that he’s got a fun seriousness about him. Plus, his family will always be there to tell him the truth…even if it’s not good news.
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by CCR
I liked a lot about this performance. First of all, he seemed looser and like he was having fun so that’s a great start. I only noticed half way through that he was sans guitar, so I didn’t feel like he was missing an appendage without it. He really had a light touch to his performance of this song, which I liked.
Too bad it was boring.
You know what wasn’t boring, though? J.Lo’s 80’s bangs and her antics of interrupting a perfectly lucid SteTy moment.
“Volcano” by Damian Rice
The instant I heard about what the second theme was, I knew Phillip would succeed at this challenge. He’s a singer/songwriter guy that’s probably put hours of thought into this very subject. I can just seem him sitting in a rocking chair on a southern porch somewhere, chewing on a long piece of grass, and gazing off into the sunset contemplating what song he wished he had written.
Before I watched this, I got a text from Renee and when I called her she said that she loved this song and loved Phillip Phillip’s version EVEN MORE THAN THE ORIGINAL and would be downloading it posthaste. Since (to my knowledge) Renee has never ever downloaded an Idol performance, I was shocked. And proud.
What a haunting, minor song with a gorgeous delivery and in this case the staging really went Phillip’s way. The performance was moody (in a good way) and he managed to infuse emotion into the lyrics without escalating the volume towards the end.
This was definitely one of my favorite Phillip Phillips performance.
Hollie has not had an easy time of it this season and for good reason! While it’s understandable that it took her a while to find her sea legs in this competition, it was kind of painful for us to experience along with her. However, I think she’s found them now! Tonight showcased the very best version of Hollie. At ease, confident, and delivering performances that didn’t make me feel like her song choices were big and over sized…like a little kid wearing their mother’s high heels.
She still has a ways to go in connecting with a song and really allowing the emotional piece of the puzzle to fall into place. But still, I gotta say. I’m surprised she’s still in the competition, but last night she proved that she was just as good as the remaining contestants.
Her path to the top four: She was rejected the first time around, but J. Lo believed in her and now she believes in herself and her life will never be the same.
“Faithfully” by Journey
Whoa. HOLD. THE. PHONE. AND. SHUT. THE. FRONT. DOOR.
This song actually has dynamics!!! I can’t believe it. Week after week she’s delivered performances at the same volume and with the same power-ballad intensity, but this performance showed some range! Good for her.
Now, it wasn’t as effortless as I’d like and she whipped her microphone around too much to punctuate the end of her phrases. But I was still taken with her rendition. And her earrings.
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt
Again, loved the dynamics but this performance was a little rough. I think the judges were right–the emotion wasn’t all the way there. At least not in the way it should have been. Honestly? I think she confuses dynamics for emotions.
[Stupid Jason Derulo – I think this contest is so stupid. They should let a songwriter submit the full song rather than just “help Jason” finish the lyrics. Stupid.]
Joshua dedicated this performance to his dad, which I thought was touching.
When you see Joshua close up, you get the sense that he’s super shy and would rather not have any attention directed his way. And then…he sings. I haven’t enjoyed all of his performances, but I have to admit that he’s owned each and every one of them. He transforms every time he takes the stage.
His path to the top four: He was rejected last year, but he recognizes that the judges were right…he wasn’t ready back then and was going through a lot.
“You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban
Joshua started with a very appropriate beginning that was heartfelt and rich…a great gospel version of this song. He took care to not over sing, which is his natural tendency. Just this week on “The Voice” finale, Christina Aguilara’s contestant Chris Mann sang this same song. And apparently this song cannot be sung without a choir in attendence, no matter who sings it.
Still, who sang it better? I leave it up to you:
Chris Mann’s Performance
“It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” by James Brown
I loved that section in the intro package where Jimmy told Joshua to call him if he needed anything and Joshua started laughing. When questioned, Joshua told him that he didn’t have Jimmy’s number. Ahem. Maybe you had to be there. 🙂
I think he gave a masterful performance that had just the right amount of emotion. It was clear that the song enveloped him, body and soul, and it rightfully earned him a standing ovation.
But…once again, he did a song that was recently sung by a contestant on “The Voice”, so take a listen and see who’s version you prefer. I’d be interested to know…
Juliet Simm’s Performance
Back when Jessica was singing to the boxes in her room, I guarantee you that she practiced her ‘I’m so sweet please love me’ expression. She’s been whipping that out all season and mascarading herself as a Joshua. AKA someone who is shy and demure but just can’t help but sing powerfully. But the truth is, she’s not that way. She’s a total diva and a little calculating in her approach to this competition.
Not that she doesn’t deserve to be proud of the way she sings, because she’s a powerhouse to be sure! But, I’m just saying.
Her path to the top four: She’s been singing and performing pretty much since the womb and can’t imagine doing anything else. This competition gave her the chance to find her people–other contestants who love music just as much as she does.
“Steal Away” by Etta James
Now, call me crazy but I thought Jimmy was going to keep her from singing these more mature songs?
I thought it was a very good performance, but came off as a comfortable one. Without that strong ending, it wouldn’t have been memorable to me at all.
“And I Am Telling You” by Jennifer Holiday
I remember crying my face off when Jennifer Hudson sang this in DreamGirls. She made you feel like your heart was being ripped out, for goodness sakes! And it wasn’t pleasant! But it was iconic. And Jessica tackled it with every inch of her diva-ness.
I’d say she conquered the dragon and rocked her performance! But what I kept marveling at was her breath control. Some of those phrases were SO LONG I would have been gasping for air. Not Jessica, though. She completely took up residence in that song.
Joshua and Phillip sing “This Love” by Maroon 5
It made me laugh that even while sitting down, Phillip can’t keep his legs still. And Joshua’s improvs were really well done. All in all, I agreed with the judges that the song was a perfect choice for both of their styles and they carried it off without a hitch.
[When Ry-Ry made fun of Randy’s jacket by telling him that all he wanted to do was buy ice cream from him? Loved. It.]
Jessica and Hollie sing “Eternal Flame” by The Bengals
These two girls are deceptively powerful and this was actually a perfect pairing. I know they didn’t really have a choice, but it was almost like it was meant to be. Out of the two of them, Jessica seemed more in command of the stage. But they had great harmonies even though Jessica’s vibrato was a little much in parts. Hollie’s pitch wasn’t the greatest all the way through, but I thought they did a beautiful job. (Oh no! Someone stop me before I turn into SteTy and go over the top!)
At the end of the girls’ performance, Phil and Josh came out on the swings that they used as props during the song and humor abounded. I love that the group is so comfortable now with whole Idol gig that these moments can happen more spontaneously.
Whelp, that’s the end! And next week we’ll be down to three. Do you think this is Hollie’s week? If not, who’s going home??