'American Idol' Top 8: Duets surprisingly great on '80s night

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idol-top-8.jpgTypically, an '80s night of any TV show would have us very excited, especially one that is musically-inclined. However, considering how poorly Billy Joel night went, we have our reservations about this batch of "American Idols" tackling '80s mus- oh dear God in heaven, what is Steven Tyler wearing tonight? He's like Josephine, the Amazing Technicolor Drag Queen. And Randy looks like he's attending a clown funeral after the show wraps.

Seacrest welcomes us by saying this music will take some of us back to our high school prom. Well, sure. And for some of the viewers, they're at home asking their parents what the "eighties" are.

1. DeAndre Brackensick, "I Like It," DeBarge

We're running out of ways to critique this guy. He picks boring songs, his falsetto is not as good as everybody acts like it is and he's so milquetoast on stage that we need toothpicks to prop our eyes open. Now, when he gets to the "I like the way you comb your hair, I like the stylish clothes you wear" part, he's singing in a full-bodied lower register and it sounds like there's some actual fire and spirit. He really should not lean on that breathy, falsetto crutch so much, because he's much better when he loosens up and actually sings, instead of just shrieking indiscriminately.

Randy says the lead singer of El DeBarge is somewhere being all blown away. Uh, no, he probably isn't. Also, we don't need a modern-day version of an act whose one big hit was "Rhythm of the Night."

2. Elise Testone, "I Wanna Know What Love Is," Foreigner


Um, this is on our list for Top 5 Power Ballads of All Time, so we are very pumped about this performance. Also, who remembers when Anthony Fedorov did this in Season 4? So good! Anyway. This song is actually very difficult - the verses are very low, especially for a woman (even in a higher key), while the chorus is pretty high. It's gonna take some range on Elise's part.

The electric guitar on stage is fun and Elise is handling the low stuff very well, but of course the money part starts with "in my life, there's been heartache and pain." Oooh, she gets to the chorus and we get goosebumps (we refuse to call them "goosies"). She's a very expressive singer. The key change! Nice. And then when Elise goes off the melody line and sings her own stuff, then the run at the end? Gorgeous. We think we like that better than her "Whole Lotta Love," not going to lie. Also, she looks beautiful. A+.

Tyler says he's not sure that was the right song for her. But then he also babbles about how "80s songs are 80s songs." Whatever that means. Randy says she was underneath the pitch all the way through, but we didn't hear that at all. We're going to have to watch it back. Huh. What did you guys think, more with us or more with the judges?

3. Colton Dixon, Skylar Laine, "Islands in the Stream"


OK, we just have to get this out of the way because we can't stop giggling - the opening says he set out to get you "with a fine-tooth comb," which always makes us think he's like, looking for crabs or something. Also, we kind of hate this song. Sorry if it's one of your favorites.

However, Skylar and Colton can actually harmonize, which is not something you see on this show every year. Good for them. They look super weird together, like if your Cracker Barrel waitress got dressed up and brought home the local panhandler for the prom, but they seem to be having fun, so that's cool. Strangely, this totally works.

4. Phillip Phillips, "That's All," Genesis

In rehearsal, Phillip seems to ... not have any sense of the melody. Hmm. Luckily, his performance goes much better. The way he builds is really great - starting so quiet, with his sly little smiles, ramping it up with each passing repetition. And we're glad he took the mentors' advice on the bridge, that was a nice break down. And the stops on his final repetition were fun. That was really good. Not the type of performance that has you jumping out of your chair, 'cause it's not that kind of song. But very solid.

5. Hollie Cavanagh, DeAndre Brackensick, "I'm So Excited"

So, this has some real trainwreck potential. This song is kind of insane, it's way too big for DeAndre and he and Hollie probably aren't going to sound very good together. Let's see what happens!

DeAndre is predictably weak on his verse, but Hollie actually sounds fantastic on this, plus her outfit is awesome. The harmonies on the chorus aren't terrible either. Huh. Not as bad as we thought it would be, but they're no Hot Fudge Sundae.

6. Joshua Ledet, "If You Don't Know Me By Now," Patti LaBelle/Simply Red

We didn't type a word during this, that's how enthralled we were. Not only were we already fans of this song, but Joshua really nailed it. The shrieking was at a minimum, the beginning was so beautiful and then when he let loose, he kept it mostly controlled.

7. Jessica Sanchez, "How Will I Know," Whitney Houston

Bold move, choosing Whitney again, though after you nail her biggest hit, you've kind of climbed that mountain, so what is there to be afraid of? It's also nice to see her go upbeat. Anyway, when she starts - wow. She sounds just like Whitney! And she is totally owning this stage, like a little pint-sized diva. She's adorable. Very good.

8. Elise Testone, Phillip Phillips, "Stop Dragging My Heart Around"

Those is a great pairing for a duet, though we would've loved to hear "Free Fallin'" from these two instead. But this is still great. Really solid harmonies. Also, we like to pretend these two have a romance going on behind the scenes. No, we don't care that she's seven years his senior. Shhh, don't ruin it for us.

Also, that was SO Fleetwood Mac, with their voices. You know what these two should do? "Go Your Own Way." That would be amazing.

9. Hollie Cavanagh, "What a Feeling," Irene Cara


Nice choice for her. The slow opening is beautiful, Hollie has a gorgeous tone to her voice, every week. On the fast part, she bops around kind of awkwardly, but we appreciate the effort. This song just doesn't quite get fast enough, you know? It's a fake-out - it sounds faster, but it's actually still kind of plodding. And she's not on pitch all of the time. Luckily, the big notes really save her and her twirly flapper dress is a lot of fun. Still, not her best.

10. Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, "I Knew You Were Waiting For Me"

Interesting song choice, but once we hear it, we're really on board. They actually really blow it out on the chorus and sound great together. Also, they both look amazing. So smooth. Doesn't trump Elise/Phillip for us, but definitely the second best duet. Those two duets are quite a bit ahead of the other two.

OH MY GOD, RANDY - SHUT UP ABOUT WHAT SONGS YOU WORKED ON. Dawg, dawg, nobody cares, dawg.

11. Colton Dixon, "Time After Time," Cyndi Lauper

Umm. Hmph. This is one time when a song didn't need Colton's Coldplay-Maroon-5-Third-Eye-Blind emo treatment. You know what would've been so much better on this? Just Colton and a piano. This version has lost all the tenderness this song's lyrics have. Also, this song really emphasizes how nasally and whiny his voice can get. Honestly, this is one of our least favorite Colton performances yet.

We do not agree with Steven Tyler that Colton's voice could do a record right now, though we do agree that his band was awesome.

12. Skylar Laine, "Wind Beneath My Wings," Bette Midler

OK, first of all - this song makes us want to heave. Secondly, Bette Midler has such a distinctive voice and Skylar is so country. Hmm. However, she starts singing and we are pleasantly surprised at how good it is. Skylar's been so busy running around like a maniac that she hasn't shown off this voice yet and we're glad she finally did. The key change and the ending were total goosebumps, we almost started crying. Good for her.

So, who's in the Bottom 3? Honestly, we think it should be Hollie, DeAndre and Colton, with DeAndre going home? Now, with the pimping he keeps getting from Jennifer Lopez, we highly doubt he's going to leave yet, so we think Hollie may be in some trouble. And if Elise goes home? Heads will roll.
Photo/Video credit: FOX