This week’s throwback theme once again shows how Idol feels a bit stilted against the contemporary feel (and song choices) of “The Voice.” Theme weeks are what rule Idol, but the argument can be made that some of the contestants are suffering because they can’t show who they want to be as modern artists and–due to format–are stuffed into songs that aren’t a good fit. Someone like Elise would have fared better being able to pick and stay directly in her genre.
- When I heard that Hollie wanted to rock “River Deep, Mountain High,” I did a squee followed by an “oh no.” I wonder if Elise had originally picked this baby and it became a freebie once she was gone. Now she would have brought some grit. One of my favorite Tina Turner songs, Hollie has the voice to be able to do it. But—big but—like she was coached by Little Steven (Steven Van Zandt) and Jimmy Iovine, bringing pageantry to the stage with no soul and feeling makes it all showgirls. Part of Hollie’s issue is being too married to technical training that she wanders into her head while performing and doesn’t make it down to her heart. I so wanted to love this, but unfortunately she was a little showgirly to me. I will cautiously listen again.
- Phillip does “The Letter.” Of course. The. Same. Way. He. Does. Every. Week. No, Randy, he didn’t “make it new” or “his own.” I know me giving out his door prize can’t override all the teen girls voting for him.
- Skylar went for “Fortunate Son,” per the push of the mentors. No, Jimmy, Skylar is not the “voice of rebellion” in this group. Rebels know for what they fight or sing. By screaming and smiling while singing about sending folks to war, obviously Little Miss Tassels does not. Here’s your door prize.
- Joshua and Phillip were quite funny babbling an answer to Ryan’s question on what they thought when they heard they’d be singing together. Now the two of them singing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” was funny. As they sat on stools side by side, Joshua kept semi-glancing at Phillip then stopping when realizing he didn’t want to be singing to him. Heh, heh. The duet was okay, but awkward, and their voices were too different to blend well. Steven picked up on the body language and said they needed to just embrace, look in each other’s eyes, and go for it. Yep, Steven. Meh.
- Oh, lawd. Jessica decided to sing “Proud Mary.” Each vocal “ha” and turned head glance she did to the camera made me roll my eyes. I think my left one might be stuck in an upward position. This was cabaret, post dinner cruise ship worthy. When Jessica moves around the stage, her fake factor ratchets up a notch. Thank you, Randy, for stating it didn’t sit well with you either. Somebody catch her long enough to deliver the door prize.
- Joshua aimed for some Motown love via “Ain’t To Proud To Beg.” Hallelujah, somebody cue the church bells. I think he finally gets it. With his throwback-styled, old school voice, and new-found restraint, the performance was child’s play. I closed my eye and it felt like I was listening to a Motown review recording. Randy actually gets a bonus point for mentioning Terrence Trent D’Arby (high school girl squee!) and that Joshua could find success doing modern songs like him. I saw Terrence at the concert for his first album and still have the t-shirt upstairs. I’d listen again.
- Hollie picked “Bleeding Love.” She sure does love her power singers. On paper, this is another song that Hollie’s voice should be able to tackle with no issues. She delivered a more connected performance than round one and her stellar voice was on display. That is what she should have shown all season. As a minor complaint, I did feel a little cheated by the sky-high notes she failed to go for throughout and at the end. I’d listen again.
- For round two, Phillip picked “The Time of the Season.” He’s still here? They didn’t axe him during the break? Bummer. What has he done with the song that is different? The arrangement here was the same as was his guitar strumming and cooing. Here’s your door prize.
- Hollie, Jessica, and Skylar brought a trio touch to “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” Boring. Oh, and Jessica forgot the intro to a line. Zzzzzz…door prizes for whoever did the arrangement.
- It is madness that Skylar had to sing “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” This doesn’t remotely fit her style. They’ve been pushing “sassy kitty” and then first round “rebel,” but then handcuff her with this schmaltz? Here’s your door prize.
- “You Are So Beautiful” allowed Jessica to provide us with an example of how there is so much more that goes into being a great singer and connecting beyond just having an outstanding voice. The staging with Jessica surrounded by a bed of candles and her quieter approach were a push to have a “moment” and force-feed the viewers. While I watched her sing, Will Ferrell’s line from “Elf” popped up: “You sit on a throne of lies.” Mega meh.
- I know the soul and R&B genre isn’t a big vote getter on Idol and doesn’t top the current Hot 100 charts (Usher’s new song, “Climax,” just cracked the top 20). That is too bad because Joshua shut it down tonight with “To Love Somebody” and deserves to make it past this week and beyond. I don’t know where he digs down to, but he found passion to give to a song he didn’t know before Idol and one about love that he, at 20, admitted he doesn’t know much about. Amazing vocal skills? Check. Emotional connection? Check. Approachable? Check. Get out of my way! I have a song to download. I’d listen again.
- Best of the night: Joshua and Hollie.
- The rest in order of performance quality: Jessica, Skylar, and Phillip. Send any of them home and I’m good.
- Shouts out to Carrie Underwood. I was not a fan of hers during her Idol season. While she had a beautiful voice, she came across a bit robotic to me (pick up mic, sing the notes, hit a big one at the end, smile to the judges). I can now give praise where it is due because her performance style is much improved and enjoyable to watch.
- Squee! Coldplay performed too. Their music is so every person, if that makes sense.
- The bottom two was Hollie and Skylar with Skylar going home. I’m okay with that because Hollie did out perform her and has shown more growth and connection. Skylar has a good voice, but I think she’s been directed wrong with just tossing songs at her that are her style or sound country enough without a care for the lyrics or meaning. She sang us out singing “Gunpowder and Lead,” which while it is straight up country, it doesn’t relate to her life experience. It is like when I see kids in pageants singing Billie Holiday. All it is is pretty notes spurting out of a vocal piece with no connection.
Image source: Fox American Idol
Did the Idols help you find that loving feeling? What are your thoughts on the judges’ feedback? What would you sing from the ’60s or Brit Pop genre?