We’re back! With little to no dumb banter, Seacrest jumps almost right into the singing and so will I: Songs about/from California and Songs the contestants wish they wrote themselves. I’m rolling my eyes as the semi stupidity as these themes get longer and weirder but hey: I’m just happy no one needs to find out what songs were “hip” in the 50s to pick something out for this evening. That said, we find out tonight is also the “let’s reflect on their road here” evening as Idol fills those full two hours basically with nothing we haven’t seen before. I consider tonight to be like that penultimate episode before all dramas finales where they recap the greatest moments and add about 5 minutes of new material- in this case the singing- to squeeze a whole nother episode to make advertisement agencies happy.

My cynicism aside, today seems like it might be a reasonable one: we get current songs and the kids get to pick basically anything they want so I’m hoping a few of the brain-using singers show us something new and unique. Last week’s screen death of Skylar Laine left me blown away and particularly devastated tonight as I just know that she would have picked something awesome to offer us. So, it comes down to the two remaining kids I can stand: Phil Phils and Jessica Sanchez to prove there’s still relevant talent left in this pool as Hollie Cavanagh and Joshua Ledet tread water in the shallow end and wear awful clothes doing it: let’s get to it!

Phillip Phillips – “Have You Ever Seen The Rain

Well, I’m assuming with all the sun talk and use of surfing boards in the background of the growling cutie’s performance that this was the cali tune but I’ve never heard of it before. Yes, yes, call me an inept music reviewer know: let’s get the anger out of the way. Phil was apparently rough at the start- the way both him and I like it by the way- but Randy informs us he fell right into it soon enough. Phil sounds like Phil with this IMO and of course the girls go crazy for it. The song isn’t quite what I’d pick for him as I’d like to leave the night with a tune that won’t get out of my head and that typically equates to something a bit more well known but hey: he growled, did his lip curl and showed a little chest… I doubt that the American girls and gays will complain 😉

Hollie Cavanagh – “Faithfully”

A Journey song!! I know this stuff!! And, no, not just from “Glee“! Hollie takes to the stage in sunburnt orange and what’s become iconic of her aged outfits as she struts around in a stiff pair on unflattering pants: can you say camel toe? This performance did NOT impress me and I’m even more pissed that Skylar isn’t here as she would have never offered up such a slow and boring piece like this. The entire point of the song comes down to her final notes as she of course hits them perfectly- there’s no doubt this girl has actual skill. However, it’s not just about high and well-hit notes: it’s about keeping our attention and Christ I thought I fell asleep twice during this thing. Randy and the rest of the them go overboard in my mind judging here and saw deep emotion where I saw laziness and the back of my eyelids as I nodded off time and again. Maybe it’s just me but this song was so damn slow-paced and irrelevant that I couldn’t connect a single bit to her tonight and doubt the voters will either given the other options to vote for.

Joshua Ledet – “You Raise Me Up”

Good gravy this kid is awkward on TV. After his very closeted push away from Phil’s hug weeks ago, we got to see that Josh is not the most comfortable on the main stage. As Seacrest interviews him and he can barely look at the camera I’m wondering how that’s gonna work with this “connect with the contestants” episode but in a good way as I’m ready for this kid to go! Dressed SO much more appropriately in just a simple jacket and jeans I’m happy that Idol have started to take notice of my articles and correct the oft-stuffed blazer wearing queens outfit direction. Oh, but then you look closely and you realize it’s a woman’s shirt underneath with some douchey scarf-esque neck thing that turns the tee into a blouse and I’m laughing my ass off once again. Why I am I discussing his outfit and pre-singing appearance so much? Because his song was wayyyyyy too religious sounding to me and I honestly didn’t love it. He of course- like Hollie– sings well and in key and (unlike her) with emotion but I just can’t connect as A) It sounds like a hymnal and B) he avoids looking at the camera AGAIN the entire time. It’s an odd evening for him as he seems to be locked staring at the ground/the judges and I wonder if this won’t hurt how the audience at home sees him. The judges give a happy review but thank fudge don’t jump off their seats. The reservation in their accolades make me think they’re starting to see the fallibility of this one: most importantly, J La calls the whole thing dramatic and I’m smiling at the less-than subtle implications haha. He’s SO odd today every time we get to hear him speak as it seems he’s just plain full of nerves and I wonder if his boyfriend didn’t just break up with him or something.. Hmmmm.

Jessica Sanchez – “Steal Away”

Grrrr Jessica, must it sound so old school again? As the singer I see coming out of this whole thing with what will be the most club/gay/dance mixable sound and style, I hate hate hate when she ends up with these dated songs that no kid under the age of 17 has ever heard of in their right mind. She busts out her diva persona as she looks like a sultry chess board in blue accented black and white patterns of sexiness, and does a pretty damn good job. Again, this song ain’t for me but there’s just something about how she turn.it.up. once she takes the stage and you forget she’s sweet 16. Lopez loves her as do the other two thankfully and she turns into the girl next door as she very humbly accepts their nice words. It’s hilarious seeing her go from the soulful growler into a shy little thing by the end of it. I am happy they’re finally off her back and not so critical this night around as she’s back in line for my pick to win it.

Phil and Josh take the stage (still with the boy/boy girl/girl singing Idol? Didn’t you see how much Josh hated the touch and sound of my boy last time they were on together?) and I won’t even waste time judging how the kids did, but just watching their versions of performances makes it perfectly clear who’s wearing the pants and who’s wearing the panties in this relationship. Thankfully, Phil didn’t try to hug him this time. Jessica and Hollie are up next in- oh god- swings and they sound horrific together. Their individual styles clash more than Josh’s typical outfits and I can’t wait for this duet to end. Two big voices together doesn’t double the fun, it doubles the chance they won’t mess and it comes out like crap which this did to me. Hell, even Randy called it crap. Let’s get back to the real stuff! Oh, Seacrest gives Phil and Josh some celebrity couple name: Jillip is it? Stupid and I’m sure Josh is tense the entire bit.

The cross-over through executive producer Nigel Lythgoe shines through brightly as very out “So You Think You Can DanceAdam Shankman shows us some awful “Fame” lookin’ preview for some new show and it’s all boring ad filler except as Shank only grills Phil on how hot the female actresses are and completely ignores Josh and I’m VERY happy to see at least one respectful voice on this show not force the poor gurl into “loving the ladies” and I’m happy to a break from the typical “boys need to like girls and girls like boys” attitude from the show and offer thumbs up for once. What I DON’T thumbs up is the crap group medley they throw at us next that I won’t wast words on as it sounds like something not a single person would spend a single iTunes dollar on and I’m yelling at Seacrest to get back the real, individual singing.

Phillip Phillips – “Volcano”

Damian Rice? [email protected] YEAH!! Now this is a song choice for this kid. One of the man’s lesser known songs, I’m so excited by this offering. Not doing the over-growl he usually gets called out for, Phil is instead sincere and emotional- like Rice before him. I’m dying watching this and bet this’ll be my pick for the night. The song is relaxed but tragically beautiful and Phil pulls it off without a question. That there’s no “performance” needed beyond beautiful sound for this is exactly the right choice for him as the bouncing around the stage gets old for all of them. Steven rightfully says: “I hear the musician for the first time; I could listen to this over and over” and I couldn’t agree more. Even more pointed is J Lo saying that this was a HARD song to pull off in a big production talent show and says this is one of the most poignant moments she’s seen on television. Thank GOD she didn’t ruin this moment for me and declare him the ultimate greatest ever and instead just say ONE of the better. Good to balance it Lopez!! I loved it and am gonna be looking for the studio version of this one!

Hollie Cavanagh – “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

Jimmy Iovine calls.her.out. as she practices for this one and rightfully announces this girl is NOT connecting with the crowd and coming across as emotionally cold to the folks at home. In too-high wasted vice principal pants, she (I’m sorry to say) once again bores the hell outta me. While Phil had an arguable equally slow and simple song before here, there’s just something not working for me with this girl. She’s been looking like she’s about two seconds away from crying this entire night but somehow it doesn’t equate to an emotional display for me: it just looks desperate. The song is without big notes- her thang’- and I think it misses the mark even more than her first. I’m worried I’m going to get called a jerk for trashing her so much tonight but I just don’t see it in her. Steven shockingly agrees with me and sees this one as a miss as the depth of it is too outside what she’s experienced and has gone through. The rest of the judges sum it up right and say it was emotional but without emotional connection… sounds weird but I totally agree. I think the girl is in TROUBLE.

Joshua Ledet – “It’s a Man’s Man’s World”

HOW easy is this joke: Josh, singing about “man’s man’s” anything? Hahaha, nah, that’s the low road. Oh god, he’s wearing another one of those ridiculous flowers on his lapel again. Maybe this time he actually knows what kind it is. As he “saunters” down the stairs and holds his wrist limply to the audience I start to worry that this sassy soul singer is gonna start finally seeing the loss of some of his more right wing voters. His performance is back to his usual 120% effort as he stuffs a bit too much scream into it for me. He’s all show and no connection in my eyes and I worry this kid is going to continue to make it through on tricks and flourish alone as the judges (way for it) jump out of their damned seats. YES, this kid is great at grabbing attention on stage but good god the extent that they go overboard describing him KILLLLLLS it for me. I’d likely be a lot nicer to him with this description but as Steven Tyler says: “I’ve never seen any talent and singing like that ever ever in my life” or something equally fucking stupid I have to be here to “keep it a bit more real”. He was without mistake and had a great time on stage but Randy saying: “Best singing on any show in history”, you need someone to say bullshit and shut up Idol. I’m not going to sit here and site moments from “The Voice” or “X-Factor” or even decades worth of Idol that have offered songs just as good if not better to prove them idiots but come on judges: get your hear out of your ass before you ruin well-done performances like this with impossible complements.

Jessica Sanchez – “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”

NOT an easy song, big voice Jessica stands alone on the stage and depends fully on her skill rather than her size -1 sexiness to sell this one and I think she does a very good job. Vocally it seems amazing to me, but I wish it would be a little more sweet and young than she approaches it. The song comes across as more mature and diva than I’d prefer from her at this point- did you see those angry lady faces she made? Still, this is one bad-ass song choice and she ends the show full blast by proving she’s the strongest voice still left in this show. The judges are a bit dumbfounded as they critique but they did offer her a standing joshua standing ovation and offer some sweet words. I’m wondering why they seem so hard-pressed to be kind to her as Josh seems to elicit the biggest and greatest words from them and they stumble on their comments for her. Can you say favourites? I loved it.

Adam’s Loser Picks for Thursday:
Hollie Cavanagh
Jessica Sanchez

Going along the assumption they only have a bottom two: these are my picks. Only because the judges so stupidly declared Josh as the greatest thing in the world since penicillin to I think that he’ll miss the bottoms, and Phil just seems untouchable. Jessica is only bottom as the judges aren’t good enough to her and I think that affects voters more than we think. In the end it’s Hollie going home and I can almost say that without ANY worry whatsoever. I think Thursday’s elimination is gonna be a smooth one as it’s the blond’s turn to leave and personally, I’m not too surprised. As the show closes and J Lo announces all three of them did great tonight you notice Hollie isn’t mentioned and you can just feel the girl lose votes. Tune in!

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