Last night on ‘American Idol’ season 11, Jessica, Joshua, Phillip, and habitual bottom-ender Hollie took on “California Dreamin’,” and “The Song I Wish I Wrote.” Basically, they could pick any two songs they wanted to. Which is kind of how I like it.
First up was Phillip Phillips. Even his brother-in-law thought his performance last week of “Time of the Season” sounded pretty rough. Last night, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” was better, but for me, not one of his best, despite Jennifer saying it had a “Joe kinda Cocker quality” to it that she hadn’t heard before. And I thought she’d listened to Phillip before. Obviously not!
I preferred Phillip’s stripped down second performance of Damien Rice’s “Volcano.” Vocally, it wasn’t perfect but the dark setting made it really dramatic. The judges were full of praise and Jennifer even went so far as to say it was “one of the most beautiful, poignant moments” in the show’s history.
“Few people could have pulled that off on a competition show like this,” she raved Jennifer.
I think they could have, but it was still fun…and cute to see Jennifer’s Phillip crush continuing.
Hollie Cavanagh sang next, but not until we’d seen footage of her audition from last season. Boy has she improved. I thought she did pretty well on “Faithfully.” The verses were solid and then she really woke up the crowd. “I’m still yourrrrrrrrs” ..*cough’…um…that was Hollie. Not me saying that *to* Hollie. My heart belongs to another…who’s no longer in ‘American Idol.’
I felt for her on “I Can’t Make YouLoveMe.” She doesn’t seem to be able to make the voting public love her. Or Jimmy Iovine, who may hav e just sabotaged her chances by telling her not to oversing it. That’s what she does best! This was so the wrong song for her. Hollie was clearly overcome with emotion during the song, but the song couldn’t provide the dynamic range that Hollie needs to belt it out. As Randy said, the song gave her nowhere to go. He reminded her that at this stage in the competition, “you need moments.” There weren’t any here.
Joshua Ledet has also come a long way since auditioning for last season. He had been so shy! His first song was Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up.” Sigh. I feel bad I didn’t like it. It’s one of my favorite songs and it’s emotional enough; it doesn’t need the gospel choir and it definitely didn’t need the elevating platform. But before I get carried away with the staging, which is really not Joshua’s fault, can I just say I think his singing suffered because he was thinking about what he had to do in the performance, which probably is his fault! But Randy told him,
“You’re an amazing artist with a ginormous career ahead of you,”
His second song (James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”) was better in every way. He really felt that one so his audience could too. He got a standing ovation for this quasi-religious experience and Jennifer said she “saw the lord.”Jacksoncalled it one of the best of any singing show in history, while Steven Tyler screamed,
“I can go home right now! I’ve never heard anything like that in my life.”
He even had Jennifer babbling in Spanish.
Jessica Sanchez “literally can’t do anything but sing,” she told us. Oh, when you sing that well, who cares! First she sang “Steal Away” by Etta James and gave us a great performance with plenty of growl. “That showed the other side of your voice. You’re shaking off the old you and changing. That’s a good thing,” said Steven Tyler. “Secretly, I’m 65 years old and I’ve been singing all my life.” She was stunning on “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” prompting a standing O from all the judges.
This is the kind of power ballad that Hollie should have had. But it went to Jessica, the Golden Child.
“I don’t know where you find the experience,” Randy marveled, “but dude, you are phenomenal.” I guess she listened to the song a lot and copied what she heard. But iut was cute that she cried.
Once again, Jessica and Joshua stole the show. So who do you think is going home tonight when the votes have been counted and verified?