Thursday, April 19, 2012

American Idol: Season 11 - Top 7 perform (again)

This is one crazy season folks.  I think we can genuinely say that this is the most talented group of contestants they've ever had.  I'm not saying they're the most appealing group, but definitely the most talented.  I have never seen this when we have 7 contestants that could each genuinely win this thing.  Obviously, there are some that I definitely don't think have a shot, but it's purely based on popularity.  (and well, Hollie is still not seasoned enough)   As annoying as the judges were last night with their soapbox speeches on 'EMOTING' I kind of feel their pain.  They are all technically good singers, what else is there to talk about?  There are some out there that bring it every week and make a connection with the audience.  While, some technically sing the "i dunno what" (you're welcome Randy) out of a song and wow people's socks off.  Sure, that may translate to a good chunk of votes, but is it enough to make legions of fans swoon and vote time after time after time? I don't know.  But, I think I have a pick for who I think may win the title this year.  Or at least who I think has the best shot at this point.  And since I am no longer on a perfect streak of Idol winner picks anymore, I may just go for it by the end of this post!   And with's recap time!

Okay, I'm not going to rank our performers this week (well sort of am, sort of am not).   I'm categorizing them into how America is probably perceiving them and voting for them.  And then somehow I'll pluck a bottom 3 out of it and pick someone to be booted!

Awesome Singers with Emotional Cores
  • Skylar Laine - "Born This Way"/"I Heard it Through the Grapevine" - Is it me or is Skylar our most consistent contestant?  Sure, I busted on her early on for her Miranda Lambert obsession and I still find a way to mention that name every time Skylar is brought up.  (see what I did there?)  But, she is just a little fire ball!  She rocks the stage every week, she twangs the stage every week and she is just flat out awesome.  No, she doesn't have the vocal ability of a Joshua, Jessica or even an Elise.  But her likability is off the charts, and she knows how to use her vocal instrument.  And don't get me wrong, her voice is AWESOME.  But there are just some INSANE vocalists in the competition this year.  But as a performer, I think I'd want to see a Skylar Laine concert the most.  Loved the "Born this Way" country version.  I may have heard it before.  It sounds less like "Express Yourself" that way.   And Grapevine was a good time too.  Skylar should be in no danger tonight.
  • Joshua Ledet - "I Believe"/"A Change is Gonna Come" - It took me 20 seconds to start wondering if Joshua was singing one of the Idol Winning songs of the past.  It may have taken me a minute to remember it was FANTASIA (Barftasia)'s winning song which led to me almost self-inducing a vomit attack.  The thing is, Joshua made me forget for awhile that it was a Fantasia song (penned by Season 1 alum, Tamyra Gray of course) and just had me enjoying it.  Such a crazy singer.  As for song 2, I LOVE that song.  Joshua had me on the edge of my seat waiting for a big moment.  And while he did tell a story and did have me fully engaged, I thought it kind of lacked a bit big moment.  A moment that, say, may have earned him that standing O from the judges.  I felt like THEY felt they were almost required to do it.  He certainly left people wanting more.  The judges viewed that as a good thing, but I think he could have packed a punch in those final phrasings to absolutely floor the crowd.  These categories I've placed the contestants in may not be the greatest.  Because, Joshua most certainly brings an emotional element that should be connecting with fans.  But, I'm not so sure his appeal has hit the maintstream voters, which could explain the bottom 3 appearance last week.  We'll see if more votes come his way after the scare.
Awesome Singers that may be Lacking Some Kind of Appeal
  • Hollie Cavanagh - "Rolling in the Deep"/"Son of a Preacher Man" - Hollie definitely stepped up her game again this week.  She let go of all her worries on song #1 and just sang a great vocal.  Most definitely her best of the competition.  Preacher Man wasn't bad either, but I didn't think it was better like the judges.  Hollie was spared from the bottom 3 last week, but I think that situation may be rectified this week. I mean, I guess she has an outsider's chance at winning this thing, but it's not a very good chance. 
  • Elise Testone - "No One"/"Let's Get it On" - This one is painful for me, obviously.  She's probably my favorite singer of the bunch (a bunch of really good singers).  But she definitely has a likability problem.  I can see why J-Lo would be suggesting that she smile more.  More smiles, less wind machine would be my suggestion.  If I closed my eyes and just listened to "No One" I would just sit there with my jaw open and say "WOW.  That was one amazing vocal," which is most certainly was.  She does things with her voice that any normal human can not do.  But, those things are very subtle and I don't think everyone cares about the phrasings she chooses or her awesome vocal tone.  Add that to her likability factor, to her "ho him" rendition of "Let's Get it On" and she might be in trouble tonight, I'm sorry to say.   I mean, in one of the most steamy songs in existence, she can't show an ounce of excitement or passion?  Come on Elise!!  Technically though, she hit those notes! 
  • Jessica Sanchez - "Fallin"/"Try a Little Tenderness" - We just can't place what the problem with Jessica is, can we?  She absolutely nailed both of these songs.  You could see her trying to EMOTE and CONNECT with the audience.  I'm stumped so, I consulted the Mrs.  She thinks it has to do with her song selections vs. her age.  That maybe people think it's weird that she's singing such grown up songs.  I had to remind her that we complained about one Kara DioGuardi not too long ago for consistently harping on that.  But, there might be some merit to her comment.  Jessica is very young, but she seems so grown up.  She may have lost some kind of key demographic of voters along the way.  But, I think that last week's scare will also scare up some votes as it normally does.

Male Hearthrobs with Talent and Teenage Voters
  • Colton Dixon - "Bad Romance"/"September" - Yes, Steven, you do have to get low to get high. But that "Bad Romance" rendition was a disaster.  The choruses were way too low, just so he could sing higher notes later.  He totally lost me on the performance.  In my notes I called the rendition of Gaga's tune "INVENTIVE but maybe TOO inventive".   It was just flat out weird.  Now, I didn't share the same harsh feelings that the judges did on his rendition of the Earth, Wind and Fire classic "September".   The song is certainly not one of my favorite songs, it may be even on my Bottom 10 songs right there with 8 Red Hot Chili Pepper songs and Collective Soul's "SHINE".   But, I will say this.  Colton's rendition of the tune was the best rendition I ever heard.   Does that make me like it?  Eh, I dunno.  But he should have gotten more credit for it than the judges gave him.  The bigger question is, does it matter?  As we have seen over the past years, the vote for a male hearthrob has dominated.   The good news for us this year is that there are 2 fighting for those votes.  So, they may cancel each other out.   
  • Phillip Phillips - "U got It Bad"/"In the Midnight Hour" - Okay, so Phillip gets feedback from Jimmy last week that everything sounds like Dave Matthews (and as we all know, Jimmy isn't the only one that has been saying that).  So, he does a wise thing and goes to R&B to find his next song to change-up.  He takes a well known Usher song and goes for it.  The bad news?  He made it sound just like a Dave Matthews song again.  It's not bad to listen to, but it's just very similar each week.  At least he dropped the guitar for song 2 and rocked out to a little Midnight Hour.  I preferred that song to song #1.  Not a vocal powerhouse, but the man can rock the stage.  I think he will have a decent career coming out of this.  But, I still am hoping he won't win.  
So, I hyped it up earlier.  Based on the feedback given above, it shouldn't be any surprise who I think has a really good shot of winning this year.  It's none other than Miss Skylar Laine.  She's consistent, she has the southern vote in her corner (we saw how well that worked with Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery last year), and she has crossover appeal to the masses of non-country fans.  She is just a solid performer and I would say pretty deserving of the title.  She always seemed like a bit of a dark horse in this competition.  Always performing well, and laying low under the radar.  A Skylar/Joshua showdown in the finale would be a good time.  But is there any conceivable way that Colton or Phillip won't be in that finale?  Just too soon to tell.  I hope not, but to be consistent with the last few years, it seems like almost a guarantee.

So, let's get to the elimination pick!

Bottom 3: Elise Testone, Hollie Cavanagh, Colton Dixon Wildcard: Jessica Sanchez

Elimination Pick: Elise Testone - In all honesty, she has made it much further than I thought she would.  There was a point where I thought she had the momentum to keep getting better and better, but the fan support is just not there.  This could be a reverse psychology attempt at getting Hollie booted tonight, but all signs are pointing to Elise. 

So that's it. I'm sure people have differing opinions than me.  And I'd love to hear them!  Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and I'll see you next week!


Leslie said...

You’re right . . . the ones left can all sing, so now performing and likeability start to count even more. For me, Skylar, Phillip and Joshua are all the most likeable and the best performers. Those 3 seem the most comfortable up there. I have to say I liked Hollie the best last night. I know she’s not up there with the others on her performance level, but she did a lot better this week. Elise did much better in her first song because she seemed to be enjoying herself and that’s when she really shines. I think she did over sing the second song, but I think she’s figured out her own problem. She said she is used to singing in clubs where she has time to build a performance and show different sides, but here she tries to do it all in a minute and half so it loses something. I’ve already said I’m not into country, so it was hard to take Skylar doing “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, but you can’t help but enjoy watching her no matter what she’s singing. I would enjoy Joshua better if he didn’t scream as much, but that’s just my personal taste. He definitely connects with the emotions in a song.

I kind of hope your power of reverse psychology works again this week (like with DeAndre, thank you), and Elise stays. Personally, I could do without Jessica or Colton, but my tastes are often not the same as the voters. I hope it’s not Hollie going because she might have made a turn this week and will gain a little more confidence even though she’s not strong enough to win.

Unknown said...

I think Colton and Phillip were the best. Colton will never make it to the bottom 3, he's too good for that. The bottom 3 are more likely to be Holly, Elise, and Jessica. I can't believe they chose to save Jessica and they didn't save Heejun or Deandre before (who had way better styles than Jessica, and who knew how to have way more fun on stage)

Mike V. said...

@Leslie - Yeah, it's really a tough call. Every elimination will be somewhat shocking from here on out. Everyone has their favorites. But that makes for good television in my opinion! As much as I love always being right and easily guessing the right ousted contestant each week (i.e. other seasons), it's more fun to have no idea! lol

I would agree that Skylar, Phillip and Joshua are the most likable of the remaining contestants and most comfortable on stage. That will definitely go a long way. The fact that you don't like country but still enjoy watching Skylar goes exactly into my point that this might be her competition to lose. We'll see!

@Computer Master - You may be right that Colton may not be in the bottom 3 this week. (i wouldn't say never just yet because that implies he'll win. lol) I do think Colton is very talented, but I really think it's mostly the teenage female texting voting contingent that is keeping him "THAT POPULAR" in the competition. Plus the 2 years of Idol publicity doesn't hurt much either. But it all comes down to taste. You prefer Colton and Phillip and that's your right to do so! I think Colton and Phillip present more of the same of what has won recently, so I'm hoping for a bit of a change.

But come have to be kidding about Heejun and Deandre!! They were the weakest links of the Top 12 and had no chance of ever winning. In fact, they often showed up in my recap as "I think they may use the save tonight if it's anyone but Heejun or Deandre"....I don't think they ever had a shot of being saved.

There's a difference between having fun on stage and being a good performer and having fun on stage! :-)

Mike V. said...

I know hasn't been very accurate this year, but it looks REALLY interesting for tonight. lol One person in particular that I just declared safe forever! lol

Mike V. said...

Well the reverse psychology worked out!! Elise stays! Sorry you lost colton computer master but I just felt it was gonna happen eventually. Crazy stuff.

Leslie said...

Mike, you must be feeling your power! Your reverse psychology has worked twice! In my opinion, the right person left in both cases. Colton is talented, but just not my taste.

Mike V. said...

It is a pretty powerful tool to have in my arsenal. I was happy to have the bottom 3 pegged right and definitely happy Elise stayed in it.

I also thought it was hysterical that Jimmy agreed with my wife on the whole "Jessica is singing songs too old for her" thing....she definitely gave me the "I told you so" look. lol Good times.

It'll be interesting to see if a younger song will make her more of a competitor. But right now, I'd love for a Joshua/Skylar showdown in the finale. I just don't think Elise will cut it but I'd be thrilled if she did.

Another thing to worry about is Phillip, now that Colton's gone. I think those votes get combined and give Phillip a boost. Plus, he's Vote for the worst (.com)'s candidate too. They'll think they succeeded if they ride him all the way to Idol victory. lol

Leslie said...

LOL! It's funny that when I heard Jimmy say that about Jessica, I said, "Hmmm, Mike's wife was right." Honestly, I'm not sure that's gonna fix her problem. I think she's just not as likable as some of the others, but we'll see. I kinda cringed a little at Elise's comment about feeling "discredited" by the judges. She doesn't want to come off as thinking she's better than everybody else. That won't help her likability factor. I'm thinking Skylar, Joshua and Phillip will be the top 3.