Hollie Cavanagh opened the show with her version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” She obviously knows this song well as for once she was much less robotic and she actually looked somewhat at ease of stage. Steven Tyler called the song “perfect.” “No. Beautiful,” said Jennifer. Only Randy disagreed, pointing out that a couple of notes were pitchy. True, but in terms of a performance, I thought this was a bif step up for Hollie.
Hollie did even better with Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.” Her money note at the end was amazing. “Drive your car!” cried Randy after Steven told Hollie to push it even further.
Colton Dixon was thankfully back on his rock vibe last night with the modern rock classic, Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” It was a little frenetic and there was a bit too much screeching and I was glad when the judges all called him out for singing the verses too low in order to make the choruses sound better. Steven loved it, though, and said a whole bunch of weird stuff which may be explained by the fact that he really does have personal experience of how you have to get low to get high.
Colton’s second song was Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September.” I got a bit annoyed with the judges here. They are always telling contestants to make the song their own. Colton certainly did that as it was basically unrecognizable from the original. “If you’d have taken a Lil Wayne song and flipped it, people would have been like, whoa,” said Randy. Yes. Quite. So their criticism and obvious unfavourable comparison to Phillip Phillips hardly seemed fair, did it?
Elise Testone had a rough ride from the judges last night.After Elise’s second performance, “Let’s Get It On,” claimed that fans weren’t connecting to Elise because they can’t see her heart, her soul, that she feels things, or that she’s a person. Now, since I think Else wears her heart on her sleeve more than anyone else in this competition except maybe Steven Tyler, I really didn’t get that. I loved her growl, even if she did seem to be trying a bit too hard on this song. Elise really seemed to take on board Randy’s advice that the song “needs to breathe; let it marinate and be sexy.” Elise pointed out how difficult it is to do justice to a six-minute song in 90 seconds.
The judges seemed to like Elise’s restraint in sticking to the melody of Alicia Keys’ “No One,” though. But ironically I was a bit bored by her doing that.
Phillip Phillips gave one of his best performances to date on Usher’s “U Got It Bad” I believe. He go the first standing O of the night from the judges. “I love it that this year, guys, we have a true artist on the stage,” said Randy. Things got even better on Phillip’s second performance: Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour.” “Mmm! MMMMMM,” declared Jennifer, while wriggling around in her chair and continuing her love affair with Phillip. Steven said it was “brilliantly awkward, man. I love your character.” That sort of sums Phillip up, doesn’t it?
Jessica Sanchez tackled Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’” in a performance that was technically good but emotionally lifeless. It was clearer than ever that Jennifer rates Jessica as a singer but wants her to give more of a performance when Jennifer finished Randy’s sentence for him. When Randy told Jessica her talent was “so otherworldly to me on this show,” Jennifer finished his sentence with “Vocally.”
Jessica seemed did better with Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness,” even if it did get a bit shouty toward the end. The judges pointed out that she needs to connect with the audience better. She does. But that critique applied more to her first song than the second.
I absolutely loved Skylar Laine on Lady Gaga’s country version of “Born This Way.” “A more perfect song for you does not exist,” Jennifer said. I’m not totally convinced about that but I thought it was a really, really good song choice and she handled it well. “A lot of people with a drawl out there love you to death. A lot of fans like country music,” said Steven Tyler. But it was Skylar’s rendition of “Heard It Through the Grapevine” which just capped the night for me. I would never have envisaged her doing that. And she is so comfortable on stage interacting with the band. I loved it.
Joshua Ledet, on the other hand, seems to have hit something of a tricky patch. He was in the bottom three last week and this week he failed to bring anything new to the party, as far as I can see. He was technically spot on as usual, though, with Fantasia’s “I Believe.” Steven called this song “a stepping stone to winning this whole thing.” Joshua also did some impressive vocal gymnastics on Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” “Your voice just climbs inside of everybody and changes them for that moment,” said Steven, Alien-like, presumably. Jennifer wanted more and so did I, somehow, although Joshua tried to save himself by complimenting her abs.
We know the judges have used their save this season, so tonight, whoever America votes for the least will leave the competition for ever. Who will it be?