'American Idol' Top 6 step up their game for Queen week
Why is Jennifer Lopez dressed like MC Hammer's genie? And boy, does Searcrest have some big hair tonight. Oh! We had not spotted Randy's "YO" pin yet. Goodness. Steven Tyler is the most normally dressed judge, which is weird.
And then we kick things off with the Top 6 singing a medley alongside Brian May and Roger Taylor. Huh. Elise and Skylar sound great on their "Another One Bites the Dust" solo lines. We aren't sure anybody else really pulls this off.
1. Jessica Sanchez, "Bohemian Rhapsody"
The opening is certainly gorgeous for her voice. The creepy backup heads are not OK, though. Holy crap. Those things must be two stories tall. When the fast part kicks up, Jessica is still vocally strong, but her stage presence isn't quite big enough, though. She's just standing there. Also, this song really loses a little in the translation when you truncate it to 90 seconds. Not our favorite Jessica, not even close.
J.Lo totally agrees with us - Jessica isn't quite rocker dudette enough to pull that number off, but vocally, she always sounds beautiful.
2. Skylar Laine, "The Show Must Go On"
Wow, this is perfect for Skylar's voice. It's building so nicely - quiet opening, big chorus, building bridge and then the big ending - she's getting those big notes without sounding like she's just screaming. Man, Skylar has really come on so strong in the past few weeks. That was outstanding. We bet it was even better in person.
Stop trying to make "gotta have it" happen, Randy. Stop it.
3. Joshua Ledet, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"
The old-fashioned microphone is a wonderful touch. Joshua has the stage presence for this song, so it's a little disappointing he's not showing off more moves. Also, for a repetitive song that isn't much of a vocal showcase, he's doing all he can with it. It's not the best Joshua we've ever seen, but other Idols have really biffed this song in the past and he's pretty strong on it.
The judges are more over the moon about it than we are - what do you think? Were we too harsh on it?
4. Elise Testone, "I Want it All"
We love this song and it's awesome for Elise. Really good for her raspy, rocky voice, plus the tambourine is fun. She's never seemed more Janis Joplin-y than she does tonight. Hopefully the voters respond to this, because that's definitely a more obscure number and that can be hard.
5. Phillip Phillips, "Fat Bottomed Girls"
We were hoping this is the one Phillip would pick. His performing tics are on full display with this song because he doesn't have a guitar and is just kind of doing the two-steps-to-nowhere my theatre professor Dr. Orchard would speak of. However, if we close our eyes this is a lot of fun. It lets him do his growly thing and it doesn't require a ton of vocal gymnastics, which aren't Phillip's forte anyway.
J.Lo says Phillip gives us different flavors every week, but we would not agree with that assessment. Not that we're criticizing Phillip because he knows who he is as an artist, but he does much the same thing every week.
6. Hollie Cavanagh, "Save Me"
Great choice for her, she's such a strong ballad singer. Now let's just hope she shows off that personality we saw during Adele last week. It starts off quietly, which is OK as long as she builds - and then she does. The chorus is nice, but the key change and ending are pretty. Still, she's kind of back in the singing robot territory. There's just no passion there. It's perfunctory. Really great, but perfunctory.
The judges are complimentary, but are not exactly jumping out of their chairs.
J.Lo declares Round 1 winner Skylar, which is a solid pick. Randy also name-drops Josh and Elise, both of whom were also great.
7. Jessica Sanchez, "Dance With My Father," Luther Vandross
Oooh, beautiful choice. This is 1000x better than "Bohemian Rhapsody." See, on a song like this, with the dynamics and big notes and emotion, all she just has to do is sit there/stand there and it still bowls you over. We may be a little emotional this week due to some personal stuff, but this song totally made us cry.
Hopefully that was enough. You know, Jessica's not in the pimp spot this week - she's first, which is easy to forget, and she's smack in the middle, which can easily get lost. Plus, her first performance wasn't that strong. The judges are very effusive in their praise of this one, so hopefully she doesn't get lost in the shuffle like the week she went home.
8. Skylar Laine, "Tattoos on This Town," Jason Aldean
The steel guitar is nice. This is a good follow-up for her, since her first song wasn't really country, even with her twang. However, it's a little low for her on the verses. But it's originally sung by a man and that can be tricky. The chorus gets a lot better - we like how the first chorus is big, she quiets down on the second one and then she opens back up. That was strong, though it didn't blow us away. But very solid. It's a shame for Skylar that they didn't do Queen songs second.
9. Joshua Ledet, "Ready for Love," India Arie
Oooh, this is smooth. It's so great to hear Josh sing in his lower register because he really is good down there. And he uses the high stuff on "heart" but it's great when he uses it sparingly. This is our favorite type of Josh performance - so restrained, so quietly powerful. That last run on "ready," where he went from really high to really low, was goosebump-inducing. Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.
Randy sets us up nicely with, "I don't even know what to say anymore." (Then just sit there quietly! Ba dump ching.)
10. Elise Testone, "Bold As Love," Jimi Hendrix
OK, this was not a good choice for her. Don't get us wrong, we loved it. But here's why - Elise has struggled on weeks where she does the more low key songs. The voters like her in her rock box and this song is rock, but it's weird - it's not a big song and she needs a BIG song. Plus, nobody has heard this song before. We're familiar with it, as in we've heard it before, but we don't know it and we guarantee most of the voters have never heard it and find it weird.
This is going to be trouble of for Elise. Steven Tyler does point out that it's important to sing something the people know. And it is important. Also, Steven Tyler, you are NOT a child of the '70s. You're like a 40-year-old of the '70s. J.Lo sticks up for her by saying she slayed it (and she did) but that may not matter. Randy also says this was not the right song for this stage of the competition and we totally agree. Elise could be in trouble.
11. Phillip Phillips, "The Stone," Dave Matthews
We've been waiting for Phillip to bust out some DMB and this does not disappoint. He also did not punk out and pick an easy or a well-known one. This is obscure and in its 6/8 time signature, it's not easy. As DMB fans, we enjoyed this immensely. It's a little quiet for this stage in the competition, but unlike Elise, who needs to really blow our hair back every week, Phillip is (we suspect) so popular with the ladies that it barely matters. Either way, we liked this a lot. The baritone saxophone and violin were a great ensemble with him too (we love to see a woman on a sax that big, it's not something you see every day).
The judges are not jumping up and down, but they realize this is exactly what Phillip does and this is who he is and that's it. J.Lo points out that it's a little too obscure and artsy for this stage, but again - we aren't sure it matters.
Crazily, Randy is in our heads - 6/8 time signature, bari saxo, violin. Get out of our heads, Randy!
12. Hollie Cavanagh, "The Climb," Miley Cyrus
Hmm. We kind of hate this song, but it is a good fit for Hollie's voice. She definitely has more emotion and more connecting with the audience on this one than her first number. And the big notes are beautiful - we do always love her tone. And there's the big money note at the end.
OK, so Hollie really benefits from the Queen songs being first. Her Queen number wasn't the best, but this one was a typical "Idol" ending number. That's great for Hollie, but it may mean Elise is in trouble.
We don't see Skylar, Phillip or Josh being in trouble this week, so we would not be surprised if Jessica (who was a little lifeless this week), Elise (who picked a terrible second song for this show) and Hollie (whose first song wasn't that strong) are the Bottom 3. Who's going home? It really could be any of them, but we have a feeling Elise didn't do enough this week.
What say you, "Idol" fans?