Thursday, April 12, 2012

American Idol: Season 11 - Top 7 Perform

Hello Idol enthusiasts!  Well last night marked the first time where everyone in the competition truly impressed me at one point or another.  I really have no idea who is going to win this thing this year.  And that's a good thing!  The other interesting thing is, I really don't think I'd be upset with who wins (unless maybe it was Hollie).  Everyone in the competition is very talented and unique in their own way.  I gotta give props to the Idol producers for doing a "MODERN MUSIC" theme (2010-Present).  It definitely does paint a relevant picture of what these contestants could be doing in the music industry.  And I have to say one more thing before we move on.  I have enjoyed The Voice and The X-Factor, but when we get to live shows, I don't think anyone does it better than Idol.  Sure, I'm still annoyed that we have to sit through a 2 hour show for 7 contestants, but it's just a well executed show.  With the other 2 shows, I have found myself losing interest at this point, but with Idol the interest only intensifies.  So the aging talent show still has that to its advantage.  Anyway, let's get down to business!

No really "AWFUL" categories to put these folks into tonight.  The fat has been trimmed and good talent remains.  So, if you see me splitting up contestants below it's only by the slightest margins.

Super Fantastic (like 10 out of 10)
  • Jessica Sanchez - "Stuttering" by Jasmine Sullivan - Never heard of the song, but she made me a believer.  Sure, I may have been the only one who flashbacked to my college days when we'd always be blasting a little Joe and his song "Stutter" but woa.  Jessica's vocals are ridiculously ridiclous.  For a girl of 16, for a girl of 40 or whatever.  She is just an amazing talent.  She and Joshua bring the madness every week.  I guess if you want to try and decipher J-Lo's analysis, we could say that she is a notch below Joshua in terms of "taking people on a ride" but with chops like that, it's going to come.  And, I thought she did just fine in telling a story or what not. 
  • Joshua Ledet - "Runaway Baby" by Bruno Mars - This is the moment I have been waiting for with Joshua.  He needed to prove he could do upbeat and apply his fantastic soulful sound.  And he did it very successfully.  He was working that stage, he still brought the crowd to church, but one helluva rockin' church!  And, it totally reminded me that I love that Bruno Mars song since I first saw him perform it on the Grammy's.  So, it will probably be on my download list very soon.  Now, that Joshua has shown he is a ballad master and a bonafide rocker, I think he can be looked on as a certified favorite.  But, can he compete against the teen texters!?  We shall see.
  • Elise Testone - "Yoü and I" by Lady Gaga - I've made it no secret that Elise is my favorite this year.  There is just something about her voice that I really dig.  And she showed it again on the Gaga tune.  Of course, I had to get past the nightmares of reliving the fact that Haley Reinhart graced (terrorized) this Idol stage only a year ago.  I'm still trying to get over the fact that she had a ridiculous amount of fans.  But, you put Elise next to Haley, there is no contest.  Elise has got a crazy amount of maturity and soulfulness to her vocal style.  And that raspy tone is unmatched.  It doesn't hurt that she got the Pimp Spot again on the show.  I was actually surprised that J-Lo actually OUTED the Idol production team for intentionally putting the best performance last.  Of course, I don't know if we can really say it was better than Joshua or Jessica last night, but it was on par.  And definitely an improvement over her mis-step last week!
Amazing (9 out of 10)
  • Sklyar Laine - "Didn't You Know How Much I Love You" by Kellie Pickler - So, I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was that Skylar didn't decide to go with Miranda again!  Instead she took on Season 5's Kellie Pickler, and she did a very good job.  I love seeing her stick to her guns with her song choices.  And she nailed it again.  As my wife pointed out, if Skylar was on the show last year no one would even know who Lauren Alaina is.  Very true.
  • Colton Dixon  -"Love the Way You Lie" by Skylar Gray - I kept expecting Colton to break away from the piano and say "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome our special guests Rihanna and Eminem!!!"  but alas, we were just treated to the songwriter's version.  I was worried we were going to see "Colton does his 'Piano Man' performance to another song!" but I was pleasantly surprised to just see him using some mad vocals, piano skills, and incorporating an entire string section to give one really solid performance!   The crazy thing is that at least one of these 5 above will have to be in the bottom 3 this week.  That's how good the talent is this year.
Really Good (8 out of 10)
  • Phillip Phillips - "Give a Little More" by Maroon 5 - I really do enjoy Phillip doing his thing every week, but as the judges did point out, it's pretty much the same thing every week.  I've often referred to it as Phillip "Dave Matthews-izes" a song.  And it does sound awesome, and you can tell that he loves what he does.  But, when you see these other guys shooting for the stars, it does get a little repetitive.  So, on any other season of idol, I'd say this guy would be the stand-out every week.  But, I think he needs to up his game.  Plus, I've already stated how I don't want him to win because of the whole teen hearthrob angle that has plagued Idol over the years.  That kind of applies to Colton too (although, if I had hair, I don't know if I'd be doing THAT to it!)  I also don't think Phillip's "I don't care about anything" attitude is helping him much, and I don't think he cares about that either!
Most Improved (7 out of 10)
  • Hollie Cavanagh - "Perfect" by Pink - Ohh, poor Hollie.  Remember when I thought she might be a favorite to win the whole thing?  But, alas, her age/maturity has shown now.  This was a thousand times better than the last couple weeks, but I think she's just a notch or 2 below the others in terms of experience and it shows.  She has to be in most danger of going home this week or any week.
DUETS/TRIOS (or should I say, "The Kelly Clarkson" hour?)
  • Elise/Phillip - "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye - This song is on heavy rotation on my iPod/iPhone as well.  Love it.  Never really saw it being a good Idol performance though.  They did their thing though.  Elise definitely got the better end of the deal with it, but once again, Phillip doesn't care.  I also think it's strange that FOX featured this song in prime time 2 nights in a row.  (It was also on the ever devolving GLEE 2 nights ago.  It's almost like I'm being punished for liking this song!) 
  • Skylar/Coloton - "Don't You Wanna Stay" by Jason Aldean/Kelly Clarkson - Really gutsy for anyone to take on Kelly Clarkson unless you have proven you have the vocal range to take it on.  She hits some crazy notes in this country duet and Skylar did not.  When stuff like this happens, it reminds me how cool I think it would be to get all of the Idol winners and have an All-Star Idol competition to see which one would reign surpeme.  After one more season, you could have a 12 contestant competition.  Though, I don't know if all of the winners would be game for it.  Plus, it would just be another chance to crown Carrie or Kelly in the end!   
  • Hollie/Joshua/Jessica - "What Doesn't Kill you (Stronger)" by Kelly Clarkson - How hysterical was it that Joshua sounded the best on this out of the 3 of them?  Lots of pitchiness going around, but Joshua held it all together.  And by the way, have you all picked up Kelly's latest album, STRONGER?  It's fantastic, as all of her stuff is.  She truly has been unmatched by any winners since.  (though, Carrie is pretty awesome too and probably the most successful as Simon had predicted all those years ago) 

So, I think that SAVE can only be used over the next couple of weeks.  Once they're in Top 5 or 4 territory, it becomes null and void.  Which, I still think is hysterical because some of the most shocking exits have happened in the Top 5 and Top 4 rounds.  I do think the save will be used this year just because of the sheer talent left.  Then again, because everyone is so talented, they can afford to let people go and still have a solid show.  Anyway, in terms of this week, I think if anyone was booted before Hollie, they would save them.  So with that, let's pick a bottom 3!

Bottom 3: Hollie, Phillip, Skylar  Wildcard: Colton

(I only picked Skylar for bottom 3 because she went first)

Elimination Pick: Hollie Cavanagh - Well, I mean, she's kind of British anyway, right?

So, I guess we'll see what happens!  Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and I'll see you next week!


Leslie said...

Once again, I agree with you! I have not had an overall favorite yet, but last night, it was Elise. She does better when she has fun and isn’t so serious. I even liked her duo with Phillip and their interaction. Their voices are a good match. And, this was my favorite performance by Joshua because he was so upbeat and working it, but also, not as much screaming which I don’t care for. Jessica is definitely a talent, for her age or any age as you said, but there’s something about her personality that I can’t put my finger on that I don’t like as much as some of the others. I agree that Phillip is good, but he’s sounding the same every week. I really liked Hollie in the beginning, but I agree with you that it’s probably her week. Of the remaining contestants, she is the weakest in performance, and while she hits some great notes, she also misses a few. I think she will be better given some time, but this year is not her time.

Mike V. said...

Hi Leslie! Not much to debate about since we pretty much agree on everything this week. lol

But yeah...I can see your point with Jessica. When she's not on stage, her personality is about as exciting as a brick wall. But, I feel like she really turns it on when the music is blasting. Yeah, Joshua is definitely on another level. He was awesome last night.

The funny thing with Hollie is that last year their feedback was that she was so great but she's just not ready yet. She could win the competition, but she still needed some life experience or whatever. It would seem like it's the same issue this year. It's a shame, but she's definitely gotten 2 years of exposure from American I think she'll be just fine.

When we talk about Elise, Joshua, Jessica, Colton, Phillip, Skylar....I just think this thing is anyone's game right now. Each one of them has stepped it up from one week to another. I would probably agree that in the end, Jessica's appeal will most likely lose out. But I could probably come up with a story of how any of the other ones could win this thing. Really tough to call!

Unknown said...

I agree with you about Hollie, she isn't quite as good as the others. However, I would switch around some contestants in your categories.

Even though I LOVE Colton, he really didn't do it for me this week. I would drop him down to "Really Good."

Elise should go down to "Most Improved" with Hollie. I really haven't liked her style very much through this whole season.

Jessica should drop down to "Amazing" she was good but not that good.

The overall best (the ones who did the best this week and should all be under "Super Fantastic") are Phillip, Skylar, and Joshua!!! I loved seeing Joshua get upbeat like that for the first time too (even though I'm not super into his style and think that Phillip and even Colton are a step above him)!

Mike V. said...

Computer master - yeah Elise is definitely a personal preference of mine. I know that she isn't resonating very well with the Idol fans. And clearly we saw that last night with her in the bottom 3again.

And even if you thought Jessica was "not amazing" probably didn't expect to see her as the lowest vote getter last night!

Pretty crazy who the bottom 3 were last night. But, when everyone is good, the votes probably get split up in a crazy way. People are already crying out that the show is RIGGED. Of course, I did hear via Twitter right before the results show that the producers were scrambling to get the judges to use their save last night. They knew that the results would send a favorite packing. The judges probably didn't know who it would be, but they probably had received instructions to save her.

You had to love how Steven kinda spoiled the "surprise" by saying (early) whoever went home they'd be saving her. lol Good job Steve!

Crazy to think that Colton, Skylar, Hollie and Phillip were the top 4 though. Of that group, I'd hope Skylar wins. But, I can be swayed if Phillip or Colton do some more evolving. Plus, with the shocking jolt to the system this provided...I could see Joshua and Jessica getting a boost in the votes. It could go either way with Elise. She needs to continue to sing like crazy to stay alive!

Should be an exciting ride to the finish! Hopefully, all will be righted next week and Hollie will be sent packing. She's a sweet girl, but she's been around enough. lol

Leslie said...

Wow! I was sure surprised with the bottom 3 last night! I guess maybe other people aren't warming up to Jessica either even though she sings well. Of course, it's happened before when the judges drool over someone like they have Jessica, people don't vote for them because they assume they will be safe.

It was kinda anti-climatic on using the save after Steven let the cat out of the bag! I wonder if that's why they all cut it short and just went up on stage. It's not like there was any mystery at that point. :)

Mike V. said...

Yeah, I guess we should never be too naive to think that this isn't a popularity contest. Sometimes that rules over talent. Jessica may technically have a fantastic voice, but she may not appeal to everyone. But happens every year that people will assume the best talent is safe.

Steven spoiling things was hysterical, but I'm not sure it changed their intentions of running up on stage. I only say that because the twitterverse was a blaze prior to the elimination show discussing how the producers were trying to convince the judges to use the save (even if they didn't know who was being eliminated). But yeah...they may have decided they had to do something dramatic because Stevie ruined things a bit. lol

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person who does not like Jessica's voice quality? Yes, she performs well and seems to have no pitch problems, but the sound of Hollie's voice is much nicer to my ears than Jessica's!
The personality issue with Jessica is not a problem for me, just her voice!

While I am not a diehard fan of Hollie's, I think her performances have been good and this week I thought she did very well!

Elise has the most interesting voice and my favorite. I think she does not "look" the part and maybe does not get the votes because of that. I think her voice is amazing!

I also like Phillip, Colton and Skylar and it will be difficult to decide who to support in the following weeks.

Joshua's voice often sounds shrill to me. Would Simon say that he shouts through some of his songs?
I like him very much as a person.

Mike V. said...

It's definitely nice to hear some different opinions, so we can see that these votes may not be very random at all! lol

But I can't agree about Jessica. She has a great voice. I guess I can see how it might not appeal to everyone. I never really expected her to win the show though, so maybe we're not so far off on our opinions.

I thought Hollie was good this week too, just in comparison, I think she's a notch below everyone else in terms of experience that's all.

Couldn't agree more with Elise. She definitely doesn't have the look of a star, but her talent is ridiculous!

I personally think Simon would be gushing over Joshua as well. The man is a rare talent. The screaming that Joshua does is much different than the Adam Lambert screeching of a few seasons back. It's controlled and at least to me, it shows pure soul and love for music. But it's not for everyone!