The American Idol 11 Top 8 sing the songs of the 80’s tonight. Jimmy Iovine will be joined in the studio by No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal to take the kids through the retro paces.
I’ll be live blogging all the action at Entertainment Weekly. Join me there, will you? After, I’ll be back with a recap. Watch this space for photos and videos.
This week was a bit of a letdown from last week. I would have loved to take a look at the song list. Because some of these picks? Ewwww. The best songs of the night were duets. Jessica and Joshua singing “I Knew You Were Waiting” and Phil and Elise singing “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”
Jessica’s Whitney cover was surprisingly good, but unfortunately, Elise? Not so much. I’m praying she stays in this week. PLEASE USE THE SAVE ON HER JUDGES.
Randy continues to annoy with his dumb catchphrases. But at least his ramblings aren’t nonsensical like a certain rocker judge.
Gwen Stefani was pretty useless as a mentor, although No Doubts bass player gave a couople of really solid tips.
I think Hollie is in BIG danger tomorrow night.
The finalists will be paired up in guy girl duets. The contestants will reveal what they miss the most from home.
The show opens and we relive the sad, but inevitable goodbye to Heejun Han. Jennifer Lopez says on camera that she tried to save him—which makes me believe she probably didn’t. “I hope none of you win,” Heejun jokes to his fellow finalists. And finally, a big bro hug with Phillip Phillips, as he leaves the mansion forever. Aw.
Top 8! It’s time for everyone to put on their A game!
Tommy Hilfiger is in the audience, instead of scaring the contestants on camera this week. Hooray. The judges touch hands with the mosh pit peeps on their way to their seats. Naima Adedapo is in the house! BOOM FIAYAH!
Ryan rattles off fun 80’s pop culture touchstones like “The Miracle on Ice”, stonewashed jeans and neon tube socks. One of these things is not like the other? Ryan should have dressed to fit the occasion. I wonder what his high school prom photo looked like? Heh.
As soon as Ryan made the move to flash up some 8o’s style photos, I KNEW the wack photo of a young Randy Jackson with his triangular Jeri curl would be flashing up on the screen. His fashion sense was a horror then and it still is! Some things never change.
Each of the finalists will perform their individual selections and then will be paired up in guy-girl duets. Gwen Stefani and bassist Tony Kanal from No Doubt will be lending Jimmy a hand tonight with the mentoring. The contestants will also share what they miss most from home.
Deandre Brackensick – “I Like It” by Debarge – Really misses driving his car! He just got his license before he left for Idol. – Ha ha ha. Can I admit that I—ms cool punk rocker—secretly loved this song back in the 80s? I had so many guilty pleasures back then! Gwen thinks Deandre should look more confident. But personally, I think he’s got the opposite problem. Deandre is too confident—often biting off more than he can chew, vocally. Jimmy declares Deandre a bottom 3 dweller before he even has the chance to sing. That’s not cool, Zeus. Why you be throwing DeAndre under the bus, Jimmy? As it turns out, Deandre’s performance is pretty good, as he works the stage with swagger. He switches back and forth between his chest and falsetto voices easier than I ever remember. He’s got a ton of hairography going on. He’s still a bit strident on those top notes, but he’s staying on pitch this week. Jlo: I liked it! I liked it a lot. That was really great baby! She loved his hairography. Steven: Totally captivating. I forgot where I was. You’ve become who you are. Randy: El Debarge is somewhere saying “Oh my God! This kid has arrived.” Likes the way DeAndre switches between his natural and falsetto voice—could be an updated version of Debarge. DeAndre not worried about singing first. He KNOWS he brought it! Swag. – 1-866-436-5701
Some crazy chick is holding an “Obsessed with Seacrest” sign. Eep.
Elise Testone – “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner – Elise really misses her band. Oh. Dear. God. Elise wants to sing “Hallelujah” but the trio talk her out of it, thank God. No more “Hallelujah” on Idol please. But unfortunately, the second song she brings in isn’t such a great pick either. Although Gwen and Tony claim Elise gave them “goosies”, her live performance is lackluster. The verses are underpitch while the chorus singing behind her is drowning her out on those “explosive” choruses that are supposed to be her money. Not a good song choice for her, at all. I hate this lame song so much, but I was hoping Elise could flip it around in some way. But she sings it like a straight power ballad, and that’s just not her thang. Steven: He agrees with me. He doesn’t think it was the right song. “80s songs are 80s songs,” he explains–which makes no sense, of course. Jlo: Takes a page from the Paula Abdul book of criticism, by telling Elise she looks beautiful before agreeing with Steven. She fumbles around for words, but basically calls the performance pitchy. Randy: “It’s a tough song to sing…one of the toughest….you never quite hit the pitch right, until the very end…out of tune all over the place.” – 1-866-436-5702
#totallyidol is a hashtag. Really?
Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine– Island in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. – A perfect song choice for Skyler—not so much for Colton. Like Elise, Colton has some pitch problems although he improves toward the end. Skyler just belts away on the song, and actually has a strong performance. But–whoops. This ain’t a solo. There is no chemistry between these two. They sing at the same time, but not together. Randy: It was very sweet and very nice. Skyler you sounded beautiful, Colton you sounded great. Jlo: Skyler, you know exactly when to bite into a song, you don’t overdo it. Colton you were the perfect partner. Steven: A match made in heaven—beautiful.
Skyler makes sure we know she and Co.
Phil Phillips – “That’s All” by Genesis – Misses his brother-in-law, who has taught him a lot about music. Gwen and Tony thought Phil would kill the song. And he did, but not in the way they anticipated. Even Phil knew he wasn’t ready to do it. Tony suggests that Phil not play the guitar on the bridge, and that helps a little. Phil’s brother-in-law is on stage performing with him. But despite that bit of support, Phil never seems comfortable singing this song. His limited vocals can’t make the tune work, especially on the verses. He sorta growls his way through a song that needs some melody. He botches the bridge. Steven: He babbles on about individuality and how it makes Phil great every time he sings. Jlo: Felt like the he wasn’t all the way into his comfort zone in the beginning, but brought it home at the end. Randy: I loved it. A good song choice for you. Thought Tony’s advice about the bridge was brilliant. Brother Ben says all the folks back home are rooting for Phil. – 1-866-436-5703
DeAndre Brackensick and Hollie Cavanagh– “I’m So Excited” by The Pointer Sisters – Hollie’s outfit makes her look about 12 years old. It’s nice to see her go uptempo for a change, although she does not look entirely comfortable moving around the stage. DeAndre, on the other hand, is becoming bolder by the minute. Good vocal from DeAndre. Steven: That was a beautiful duet man. And Holly, I liked that you let go a little bit. You need to get so excited—OK? Jlo: Hollie you really need to let go—find the soul in what you are doing. Deandre, you sounded good. Randy: Very, very, very very nice…from two youngins. You both can really sing. Impressive. Ryan wonders what it’s like singing a song that’s not really being critiqued. But isn’t it? I see lips flapping after the performances. Hollie says it’s more fun, and she feeds off the other person’s energy. “I have fun no matter what,” insists DeAndre.
Ryan asks the judges if the kids are upping their game this week. Steven is having a hard time judging, because the 80s were kind of a blur for him. “I’m always a little estranged by the fact that if they don’t pick the right song, because I love their voices for what they do. If they can step outside of that? Then they’re winners.” Wut? Jennifer thinks DeAndre is standing out tonight, like “a little shining star.” Randy thinks DeAndre is standing out as well, and then goes off on that “Song choice doesn’t matter if you sing it great.” Meme. Wait a minute, I’m sure Randy will contradict himself. “We need some powerhouse, we need some juice in here,” declares Randy. “Ryan, do you know what I want to know? Who’s got to have it! Ryan! Do you have to have it!” And another lame catch phrase is born!
Joshua Ledet – “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” – by Simply Red – Josh is the youngest child and is spoiled a little bit. That’s why he cried during his performance last wee–because he misses his family. Gwen marvels at his incredible vocal gymnastics, but sometimes, but thinks it’s too much at times. “It needs to be simpler!” says Jimmy. They put a break in the song. “Every note of that song I felt,” says Jimmy, “he stays.” Joshua is back in the zone this week, for the most part, although the big note at the break is pretty cool, he unfortunately oversings the last part of the song. But it’s only the last third, or so. The judges give him the first standing ovation of the night. Jlo: We asked for a powerhouse performance, and that’s what we got. She likes that he held back at first. “Spectacular”. Steven: How can somebody sing like you at your age? The choir just nestled you and you sat right into it. It wasn’t too over the top. Then it was way over the top. Perfect. Randy: It was so mature—you were so in your zone. “Ryan, I think we’ve found someone tonight whose gotta have it! Joshua’s got to have it America!” Randy? Can you go back to that “In it to win it” thing? Joshua says it’s hard to get into songs he’s never heard of before. “At 19, I’ve never had any love problems.” – 1-866-436-5704
Jessica Sanchez – “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston – Oh noes. More Whitney. Gwen calls Jessica “shockingly good” but tells her to move her body in ways that are more unique rather than typical, lounge singer style moves. Jessica promises that BB Chez will come out to play tonight. Ha ha! There’s a dude on stage with a Keytar! I wish Jessica had changed up the arrangement a little this week. The song doesn’t depart much from the original stylistically. But I’ll give her a pass because she does one important thing—she proves once and for all that she can go uptempo without a problem. I’d love her to tackle some modern female pop artists, eventually. It’s another great, mature vocal from Jessica. She could be unstoppable. Jlo: Your choices are so natural. You’re a woman but a little girl at the same time. I can’t believe what’s coming out of that little body. Steven: Your voice is so fantastic. Everything you do is beautiful. Randy: He makes sure to point out that he worked on the original. You did an amazing job, because that’s big shoes to fill. “RYAN SHE’S GOT TO HAVE IT TOO”. Please shut up, Randy. When Ryan marvels at Jessica’s youth and maturity, Randy says, “Some say she might be an OLYMPIC performer—an allusion to Ryan s announcement earlier that he would be covering the Olympics for NBC. “Interesting you should mention that, Randy,” says Ryan. Yes. FASCINATING. – 1-866-436-5705
OMG #gottahaveit is a hashtag. Please. Make. It. Stop. Naima says HI from the audience. And so does Tommy Hilfiger. Hi Nigel! Sitting in the audience.
Elise Testone and Phil Philips– “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty- Thank God for this duet because it totally gave the duo the opportunity to redeem themselves. Especially Elise, whose effortless delivery is BACK. Phil is a comfortable counterpart. He can’t match her vocally, but they, surprisingly, work well together. There’s chemistry here. Both of them are right in their wheelhouse. Where they belong! I’m relieved the last impression Elise will leave will be a good one. I still fear she’ll be in the bottom 3, however. Randy: Elise! Welcome back baby—that was hot! That sounded amazing. Jlo wanted to be up on stage with them. Steven: “A Tom Petty moment wrapped up in Elise and Phillip. Couldn’t have been better.”
Hollie Cavanagh – “Flashdance” by Irene Cara – She’s never been away from home so long. She misses her puppy. Steven turned down the Flashdance soundtrack, because he thought it was the corniest thing in the world. His bad. Hollie admits that she’d been singing the song as if she were feeling sorry for herself. WUT? How could she lack such a basic understanding of this song? The mentors all agree she has to be less technical and just let it go. When it cuts back to the live show, there’s a technical problem. But Ryan handles it as he always does. He turns to Hollie for a little chat, until somebody taps him on the shoulder to tell him they’re ready. That’s why they pay him the big bucks. I’ve got to give Hollie credit for trying. She sounded beautiful until she started moving around. She’s not used to working the stage, and it shows. Awkward, mechanical, and stiff–a performer doesn’t necessarily have to work the stage in order to come alive. She’s better off staying put. And why is she dressed like a flapper? Steven: “Your songs are always great at the end. Your pitch was all over the place.” Jlo: “At the end of the day, you do have to let it go.” Randy: You have the talent—you have to stop thinking. – 1-866-436-5706
Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet – “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael – WHOA. Now we are talking. That was terrific. Joshua at his charismatic best. I love him on these uptempo R&B numbers. And Jessica was simply fierce. These two were a perfect match because they are both such wonderful performers. Best duet of the night, for sure. The judges are standing. Randy: Two of the greatest singers to ever hit this completion. Yet another song that Randy worked on! He knows everybody! “This is one of the greatest performances I’ve seen on this show.” Really Randy, the performance can stand on it’s own. Hyperbole unnecessary! RYAN THEY DEFINITELY GOT TO HAVE IT” Jlo: It’s a dream pairing. And I’m thinking ‘Final, maybe?” Jlo just cursed any chance of that happening. Steven: “That performance was so over the top, it defies judging, only to be enjoyed.”
Oh look. They shipped in the cheerleaders—up on stage with Ryan. It’s a giggle fest.
Colton Dixon – “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper – Colton’s family owns a face painting business? That’s random. Gwen loves his song so much, she sings harmony with him. Jimmy thinks Colton is golden. “There’s no way he’s out this week,” he says. At this point, Colton would have to take a giant dump, or kill a puppy on stage to be in trouble. It was with much trepidation that I anticipated Colton’s performance of one of my favorite songs of all time. And it turned out I didn’t hate it! But it might have had more to do with the band and the arrangement—and my absolute love of this Cyndi Lauper all time classic. Even Colton with his hitchy little whine and his angsty rock-lite scream couldn’t screw it up. The way Colton carried on about his hair cut on twitter, I was expecting something crazy. The cut is different and he dyed it blond. Steven: You could do a record right now. You nailed it. Steven really liked the drummer and a drum breakdown that the mentors suggested. Jlo: You were really in sync with the band. I felt so many different things while I was watching that. Randy: He says Colton, Phil and Joshua all made their songs their own. “That drum breakdown was sick.” After, Colton cops to “ripping off” the arrangement from Quiet Drive. Smart to admit that it’s not “original” up front to avoid covergate. We can ALL use the internet, you know. – 1-866-436-5707
Skylar Laine – “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler – Skyler really really misses her guns. Apparently, the producers were telling the kids that the mentor was Shalimar. Oh Nigel. When Skylar entered the room, she was wondering why this Shalimar person, or whatever, looked just like Gwen Stefani. Initially, Tony and Gwen think Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 would be a good song pick for Skylar. But once they hear her big voice on “Wind Beneath My Wings”, they are sold. Truth be told, after being criticized last week for not singing a song that highlighted her vocals, Skyler really needed to find a big song that would do just that. She turns the tune into a real country weeper. The vocal has some spotty moments but she brings a lot of character and emotion to her performance. A big note at the end brings the judges to their feet. Skyler will be staying out of the bottom 3 this week. Randy: This is your best performance on the show to date. I think this girl wants it too. Jlo says Skyler told America that she can sing with the best of everyone here. Amazing. Steven: That’s the best song you could have picked for your voice and the end of the night, and the beginning of a great career, girl. – 1-866-436-5708
Ryan asks the judges, if they were at home watching, how would they vote? Randy thinks people should vote for the finalist who can “really win this”. Whatever that means. He namechecks everyone but Elise and Hollie (her eyes are cast down to the ground. She looks upset). Jennifer thinks we should vote for the full package. Steven thinks the era is a tough one to sing. “You’ve got to vote for who makes you feel good, and delivers the whole package.”