Wednesday's episode of "American Idol" had it all: something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
The first three adjectives refer to the "Idol" song catalog. The final adjective refers to Colton Dixon's mopey version of "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire. Seriously, dude...brighten up.
This week had a "now and then" theme, so the top seven contestants each performed one current song and one classic soul tune.
It was a night of redemption for some singers. Hollie Cavanagh regained her confidence and Phillip Phillips, who seemed complacent in previous weeks, wowed me with a cover of Usher's "U Got It Bad."
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Things weren't nearly as bright for Elise Testone, whose two average performances will likely send her home this week. That's my elimination prediction. Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Here's a full recap of Wednesday's show.
Hollie Cavanagh, "Rolling in the Deep": Despite my belief that "Idol" should ban all Adele songs, I like this performance. It's the strongest we've seen Hollie in quite some time. She starts the song a cappella and seems to deliver genuine emotion on stage. Her vocals are solid, with a good collection of her signature big notes. It's not exactly a risky effort, but I'm a fan. Way to go.
Steven: "It was perfect. It was beautiful."
Jennifer: "You felt every word of it."
Randy: "It was close to perfect...You had feeling, you had emotion."
Colton Dixon, "Bad Romance": Colton's Lady Gaga cover kicks off with...fire on stage! He delivers a punk rock/emo version of the dance tune. This reminds me of a James Durbin performance. And not exactly in a good way. It's, um, OK. I'm just not going crazy about the arrangement. This is one of the weeks when I feel like Colton's trying too hard. I'm a bigger fan of his vulnerable (but not whiny) side.
Randy: "You are so in the zone right now."
Jennifer: "It was an exciting, exciting performance."
Steven: "Keep taking chances and risks."
Elise Testone, "No One": Add Alicia Keys to my list of artists who shouldn't be covered by "Idol" hopefuls. Elise's song choice surprises me. I wish she would've gone with a rock tune. There aren't any major problems, but Elise kind of bugs me. She over-sings parts of it and tries a little too hard at times. And that strange bobbing up and down dance? Um, no. Elise is a good singer. I just think she needs to be more consistent.
Jennifer: "I got my first goosies of the night right there."
Steven: "You have such a beautiful voice for a better chorus."
Randy: "It was a great lesson in restraint for you."
Phillip Phillips, "U Got It Bad": I have big expectations for this performance, since Phillip has seemed way too complacent in recent weeks. I'm impressed with what he does with this Usher tune. Sure, you can argue it's basic Phillip Phillips: guitar, gritty vocals, angry facial expressions. But what separates this from previous weeks is that Phillip actually gets creative with the arrangement. He could have taken the easy route and opted for something like Dave Matthews. Instead, he went the creative route and I appreciate that. The judges give him a standing ovation.
Steven: "It was great tonight."
Jennifer: "That was sexy, baby."
Randy: "You don't need to listen to anybody because you know who you are."
Jessica Sanchez, "Fallin'": Again...can we please ban Alicia Keys from the "Idol" cover list? Thanks. Anyway, after being saved last week, Jessica is back on the "Idol" stage. She delivers her signature big notes and as usual, this song is spot-on from a technical standpoint. BUT...I feel like I've seen this performance 1 million times on "Idol." She doesn't demonstrate too much uniqueness, which is arguably what put her in jeopardy last week.
Steven: "Everybody in America knows that you can sing."
Jennifer: "I'm so glad that you're still here with us...You did a great job tonight."
Randy: "I hope America shows up and supports you this week."
Skylar Laine, "Born This Way": Skylar does the country version of this song, which basically consists of the same lyrics but with the addition of a few fiddles. I'm skeptical at first, but this is one of Skylar's strongest performances. We get tons of attitude, plus some really good vocals. I'm impressed. Skylar really brought her "A" game this week. She exudes genuine personality -- enough to show why she has the edge over Jessica and Hollie.
Jennifer: "A more perfect song for you does not exist."
Steven: "You're so good...I really enjoyed it."
Randy: "That was amazing."
Joshua Ledet, "I Believe": Oh man, I did NOT need to hear Fantasia's coronation song again. Joshua obviously has a personal connection to this song...he gets incredibly emotional throughout the performance. Still, even with his big vocals and emotion, the performance comes off a bit boring at times. It's not an incredibly recent song and despite the judges' praise, Joshua might enter "forgettable" territory. The judges give him a standing ovation.
Randy: "Love you...well done."
Jennifer: "I feel blessed that you're in this competition and we get to watch you."
Steven: "You could sing the phone book."
Hollie Cavanagh, "Son of a Preacher Man": Once again, Hollie seems much more confident than what we've seen in previous weeks. Her vocals are pretty much spot-on and she has fun on stage while performing this Dusty Springfield song. Is it incredibly unique? Not exactly The performance doesn't dramatically change my opinion of Hollie, but I don't see any major flaws. That hardly means she's safe, though.
Randy: "That was crazy, dude...You worked it out."
Jennifer: "I really think that you're showing a new composure."
Steven: "I think you can push it even more."
Colton Dixon, "September": OK, now this is the Colton that I know and (sometimes) love. He sits at the piano and makes an emo version of this Earth, Wind & Fire song. He changes it from a party tune to something you blast in the rain after a breakup. OK, suddenly I became really depressed. Yeah, the arrangement is a little weird...but I slightly prefer this song over Colton's first tune of the night.
Steven: "I think your voice is a lot more powerful for that song."
Jennifer: "I couldn't understand what he was saying...You sounded really good, but I'm not sure that it was the perfect performance."
Randy: "It's not as exciting as we would've liked."
Elise Testone, "Let's Get It On": Once again, I feel like Elise is trying too hard. She over-sings portions of this Marvin Gaye song and just seems kind of, well, awkward on stage. I still think Elise is a good singer, but there isn't anything too memorable about this performance. Like Jessica's earlier effort, I feel like we've seen this performance 1 million times already on "Idol."
Jennifer: Wants to see more emotion from Elise
Steven: "I think that song showed your versatility...I think you need to take it up a notch."
Randy: "That song choice wasn't really right for your voice."
Phillip Phillips, "In the Midnight Hour": Shocker! Phillip takes the stage sans guitar to cover this Wilson Pickett tune. Don't worry: The gritty vocals and strange facial expressions are still intact. This is a good performance. I liked Phillip's first song better, but he has fun with this one...and having fun on stage counts for something during this stage of the competition. Pretty good overall.
Randy: "That's what it's about."
Jennifer: "It's great."
Steven: "Brilliantly awkward...beautiful."
Jessica Sanchez, "Try a Little Tenderness": Oh, man. This is one of my favorite songs ever. Luckily, Jessica channels Otis Redding pretty well. I think the arrangement gets too fast too soon, but I guess that's necessary with time constraints. Jessica delivers big, soulful vocals...plus a good share of personality. It's one of her stronger performances, though I wish I could've heard a longer version.
Steven: "You've done it again."
Jennifer: Says she showed good emotion
Randy: "You can sing like nobody's business."
Skylar Laine, "Heard it Through the Grapevine": Predictably, Skylar sings a country version of this song. We get fiddle accompaniment on stage. There's tons of attitude, but the performance doesn't really change my opinion of Skylar one way or the other. I'd summarize it as "cute." That's not an insult. It's fun and entertaining, yet not a total game-changer.
Randy: "That was brilliant right there."
Jennifer: Loved it
Steven: "You're like a wild horse who refuses to be tamed."
Joshua Ledet, "A Change Is Gonna Come": Yes, yes, yes. Joshua is all over this Sam Cooke song. We get the two standard elements of any Joshua performance: big notes and tons of emotion. There you go. It's not my favorite Joshua performance ever, but he does a good job with it. This is a good way to end the night. I'm struggling for something else to say about Joshua, since it seems like we've seen two nearly identical performances from him tonight. The judges give him a standing ovation.
Steven: "You just did it again."
Jennifer: "Please, America, don't send this boy home."
Randy: "This song was, like, perfect for you."