WE DID IT FOLKS! Clearly, the good/awful people at American Idol listened to our barking and decided to opt out of “Songs of the 20s” and leave “Rock Around the Clock” at home and this week gives us: “Songs From This Decade“. As much as I don’t believe my articles per se had anything to do with this choice, I definitely believe that the unified bitching of online fans everywhere actually got to the gold-stuffed ears of the Idol producers and they decided to listen to us little people. With such an odd sounding theme (seriously, “Songs From This Decade”, we’re TWO years in people), it sounds like they threw together the name of the week as quickly as they did change their mind to try out actually offering recent songs.

BUT, we got what we wanted, so no complaining about the fact that they couldn’t think of a better title, instead let’s just appreciate the gift and not stare the horse in its mouth. Bringing in Akon to mentor and “guide” the contestants I have to wonder if that was really the best choice given this man’s sketchy past having faux sex with 15-year olds on stage as well as more than a few different known baby mommas… maybe his time is better spent with HIS plethora of kids and not these ones? Hell, at least we’re getting a contemporary artist… just keep an eye on him around the younger ones is all I ask. Like last week, we’re gonna be getting the main song by the performers and then a duet that doesn’t technically count though the viewers are always there to judge it all and dial in accordingly. Let’s pray the singers show us they can be relevant and that it’s been the show holding them back with hackneyed themes and songbooks until this point!

Skylar Laine – “Didn’t Know How Much I Loved You”

Skylar will always have a special place in my heart for being that perfect little southern girl with a heart of dixie, a twang to write home about and a genuine and blatant desire to be on and win this show. That said, I think this has been a bit of an uphill battle for her this year. Not only is she competing with the near impossible to conquer task of directly preceding another country winner from the year before who basically bombed in the real world the second the show ended, but she’s never really been the spot light. She’s a great singer who puts country into everything she does- and I say go for it, that’s your thing, own it- and she’s talented, but she’s up against some fine-tuned maturity as well as some real power house voices. Tonight, she got real cred from the judges who appreciated her beautiful sound and her effort to stand up and declare she’s a contestant in this thing. I don’t know the song- Kellie Pickler wasn’t even a blip in my radar until she was on last week’s episode to be honest- but it didn’t matter because Skylar put a shit ton of emotion into this performance and killed it.

Colton Dixon – “Love the Way You Lie”

Well, he’s continuing with the faux-hawk blond skunk thing and I hate it but will accept the things I cannot change and focus on the performance: subtle and sweet. Finally, he gets to draw from a pool of songs that truly demonstrate who this kid is: contemporary as hell and emo/rock to the extreme. He’s my little Dashboard Arcade Fire one-man band and I value that no matter how this competition turns out he’s gonna have one hell of a following. This song definitely makes me happy with this week’s theme- and we’re only two kids in- as it allows the kids at home to sing along for once and hear a new twist to a contemp classic. He’s at the piano as usual but maintains his cool and resists the urge to kick back and jump around a la “Great Balls of Fire” and he’s the better for it. The judges are thrilled to see a chill Colton who relies on voice and musicality as oppose to pandering to the screaming crowd with high fives etc- at least that’s how I read their criticism ha. He’s without a doubt continuing to fly through this competition and into next week.

DUET – Elise Testone and Phillip Phillips – “Somebody That I Used To Know”

Now, this I appreciate. Not only is this “indie” track getting some play on huge shows like “Glee” (click here to see last night’s episode’s version of it), but now Idol is accepting that we don’t just need huge name bands to sell performances. Though we’re not speaking right now because he’s a terrible person, fellow writer Nic recently covered this band- Gotye– and brought this gem of a song to my attention. Phil is my boy until the end but isn’t quite the voice I would have placed for this one, rather Colton would have been the better choice IMO. But, that said, Elise killed it with her unique sound that added an un-before heard layer to this great track and I’m so happy to hear her singing something that the audience might jump all over. Again, the fact that this was a huge blast from last night’s Glee only serves to better ingratiate these two great contestants in the hearts of voters who likely watch both these shows.

Jessica Sanchez – “Stuttering”

Personally, I’m gonna say this wasn’t my favourite Jessica show of all time. That likely has to do a bit with the phrasing of the original song which sounds a little plaintive to me and too diva-trying-to-be-diva as oppose to just a great song. HOWEVER, Jessica can very nearly do no wrong in my eyes and she slays the piece as best she can. She looks great- size zero eat your heart out, bitch is neg one- in her tight, low-cut diamond dress and sounds dead on like always. Her voice is huge and strong and the judges love it once again. I think this girl only needs a bit of direction in song choice and there’ll be no chance whatsoever for anyone to take the gold: at this point, it’s hers to lose.

Joshua Ledet – “Runaway Baby”

Ugh, another white blazer, really? Josh is officially my new pick to go. I need to disclaim my bias before I review him as there’s no more “bad” singers on this show (as DeAndre and Heejun finally got the boot), so now it’s all about talent and sales. And, this kid will never see true sales and his “talent” is limited to metro performances with a church voice. The closeted choir boy went excitement and volume today (surprise surprise) and did well but just didn’t do it for me as the other singers have so far. Likely I’m gonna get more than a couple eye rolls at that statement but the thing is that the kids up until now have been really connecting with their pieces and showing themselves as vulnerable on stage and I almost start to see THAT as the true theme of the night until Josh does his jump around performance. He sings great, his pitch is awesome and his sustained notes are perfect but it’s honestly my least favourite so far having seen depth in the others I didn’t out of him. The judges rise reluctantly out of their chairs as they always do for him (it’s his birthday today, so you KNOW that’s gonna help with the votes) and of course love it. The only point I can make to solidify my misunderstanding this whole show and dance is perfectly personified by the insane woman in pink dancing in shadows as the cameras zoom in and out like a road runner which confused more than it did intrigue… in.my.opinion.

DUET – Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine – “Don’t You Wanna Stay”

From note one you know this isn’t going to be Colton’s song. It sounds like some pseudo-country epic (Disclaimer: I have NO clue what song this is) and you just know it’s Skylar’s to rock… and she does. Her first solo takes over the direction of the piece and you just wish Colton could match the twang cause his Seattle-sound just seems out of place for the rest of the piece. She looks gorgeous in red and he looks awful in a way-too-long black/white cuffed and bottomed dress shirt (come on Tommy H!)- and the performance gets decent reviews from the judges but “this doesn’t count” right…?

Hollie Cavanagh – “Perfect”

Attempting to curb that “old lady” image she’s unfortunately been anchored to, Hollie takes on a the very youthful and punk hit “Perfect” by Pink. Unfortunately, she returns to being matronly as she super slows the song and looks like a Housewive of Beverly Hills attempting to hang with her daughter in-law in some unfinished feather skirt thing that would get a contestant kicked out of “Project Runway” on the first day. However, her voice is always a treat. She puts us to sleep for most of this until the very end as she cannons a huge and pitch-perfect final note that wakes everyone up and attempts to hide the rest of the boring show we just endured. The judges themselves seem lost to properly criticize her and give her confusing idioms and compliments on her outfit (wow, really J LO?) so you know they’re as conflicted about this as we are. Not her best and I wouldn’t be surprised if this cost her as there’s no longer “bad kids” left to hide behind.

Phillip Phillips – “Give a Little More”

Dang… there’s so many songs I would have rather seen Phil attempt than this lesser Maroon 5 “hit”, but he sounds real good and slays without even trying. I’ll admit he loses his breath a bit in this one and his tone wobbles for a line or two but he returns to his quintessential Phil Phil sound as he wets both man and woman around the world tuning in. It’s hilarious that this boy nearly every time plays hidden behind his mic and guitar and barely moves or reveals so much as a nip slip and yet he’s pulling in throngs of fans with just his smile and sound alone. I don’t know if that’s brilliance and true talent or laziness but I still do love to see him sing. Lopez reads a bitch and does not let him get away with this less-than original showing (maybe he’s too old for her??) and I’m happy to hear actual criticism but still cannot help but remember the unending praise she had for crap singers like DeAndre who only left a WEEK ago that she would call perfection and amazing. Where was your critical eye then Jennie?

TRIO – Hollie Cavanagh, Jessica Sanchez, & Joshua Ledet – “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”

I looooves me some Kelly Clarkson so was very happy to see this one on the song list tonight and was pretty damn disappointed in the “big voices” of the show doing such a lame job with it. Kelly is a real performer and kills with the original of this, so to hear some kids attempt it and be so poorly matched in tone and sound, just hurt. This bordered on those terrible group performances we’ve grown to absolutely hate from this show that slap together disparate sounds just to fill time in between commercials. Once again we see idiot Lopez who feels this was brill-balls (christ) and have to wonder where the hell her judgment is if Phil was way off the mark and this high school performance was awesome. I’ve given up trying to understand this panel.

Elise Testone – “You and I”

BRAVE girl taking on a singer like Gaga: but I’m excited to know it’s the original sound of Elise trying it out. Combining some sweet piano skills with her typical strong stage presence moves, Elise stays true to herself with this one. She squeaks a tad on the first bout of the chorus but reins it in and pulls her scratch all out and performs the hell outta this piece and honestly owns it in such a way that someone hearing of the first time would assume she wrote this one all on her own. This song was a great pick for this unique beauty and I loved hearing it. I know that Haley Reinhart attempted it last year with her equally special brand of sound and I loved her as much then too. Maybe it’s prophetic as these two amazing girls did/are likely to go home much earlier than they should. Elise killed it in my books, though the see-through black dress thing wasn’t quite what I would have chosen and I’m just left hoping the voters stick to acknowledging the power of this performer.

Adam’s Loser Picks for Thursday:
Elise Testone
Hollie Cavanagh
Skylar Laine

I’m QUITE sure I’m going to be off in these predictions- all girls??- but, I just have the feeling that this is the year of the men to dominate the last few weeks of voting. Phil and Colton are just too damn commercial and cute not to get girls dashing to their iPhones and Droids and Joshua has been having too many strong performances (according to the judges!) to not stay in. No matter the results (please oh please keep Elise in, I just don’t trust that her age isn’t going to kill her), I’m please as spiked punch to see the show attempting CURRENT tracks that appeal to the actual crowd who watches this show and not just the cronies who produce it. Come back tomorrow and we’ll see what happens!

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