'American Idol' Top 9: Stevie Nicks' mentor week is pretty strong

idol-top-9.jpgStevie Nicks is the "American Idol" guest mentor for the Top 9, which is seriously awesome. Diddy schmiddy. Stevie Nicks rules.

The theme is sing anything we have the rights to songs by their personal idols, so that should go significantly better than Billy Joel week, which was a bit of a trainwreck save for a couple performances. Theoretically.

We find out that tonight the stars are not only performing solos, but they are performing in trios as well. Oh, that should be interesting. Hmm. Do you think the show has very clearly put them in trios based on who's better and who are the people they don't care about as much?

1. Colton Dixon, "Everything," Lifehouse

Colton whips out the church talk this week. We've read things online about how people think that will hurt him, but we disagree. Faith talk seems like it will only help with the voting demographic of this show. Anyway, the song starts off very milquetoast. Breathy, boring, kinda whiny. Singing quietly doesn't mean you have to sound unsupported and it bugs. Also, the song has about four notes. We've practically lapsed into a coma by the time the chorus does anything interesting and even the "interesting" isn't that interesting.

We have a feeling Simon would call this a self-indulgent mess. And the passing-a-stone faces and being down on the knees? Bit much. Our least favorite Colton performance so far. Not saying he should go home, but that just wasn't great. The judges are nothing but complimentary, because how could they not be? If they criticize, it looks like they are criticizing his faith. Which is not what we're doing here. We like some Christian artists. But that performance didn't do it for us.

2. Skylar Laine, "Gunpowder and Lead," Miranda Lambert

Skylar definitely has a Miranda-esque voice. Oh my god, Stevie sang with Skylar! She's so lucky. You know what we would have actually liked to hear better from her? "White Liar." But anyway, this one goes OK. It's definitely fun, but Iovine was right about it not having a huge melody. It's a little repetitive and doesn't show off her voice to its full potential. And Skylar needs to stop with the manic fits onstage - it's not good stage presence, it makes her look insane. Plus, why is she dressed like she's hiding a baby bump from her motorcycle gang?

3. Trio No. 1: Colton, Elise and Phillip, Fleetwood Mac medley 


Oooh, this is a great grouping on this song. Colton's verse is nice and the harmonies aren't bad on "Landslide," THEN - oh my god, Elise sings the you-know-what out of "Edge of Seventeen." Oh my lord, I want to download this. Also? Phillip's facial expressions watching Elise tear this up are so delightful. What a cutie pie. Phillip gets "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" and that's pretty decent too. Thumbs up to trio No. 1. We just had a thought - it would be awesome to hear Elise do "Rhiannon" at some point.

4. Heejun Han, "A Song for You," Donny Hathaway

This is surprisingly good. We were firmly in the camp who was not amused by his performance last week. So it's nice to see him come back with something real. We really don't have much to say - it was just very nice. Also, the bit afterwards with the knock-knock joke was actually kind of adorable.

Watch his performance here.

5. Hollie Cavanagh, "Jesus Take the Wheel," Carrie Underwood

Stevie gives some very intense advice to Hollie and cries. It's a lot. So, as far as voters' wheelhouse song, this is pretty solid. The verses sound too low for Hollie. It must be so she can hit the big notes. If we had been doing the arranging and she could handle the high stuff, we would've raised the key a step or two so the verses were a little cleaner. However, that hardly matters because Hollie gets all the big notes out on the choruses, which means the votes should come pouring in, since voters like big notes. The last note is a little shaky, but it might be because she's starting to get choked up. Not my favorite Hollie, but not bad by any means.

Randy correctly says her lower range had problems, which is 100% true. The audience boos because they are stupid. Or their chairs are shocking them, "Matinee"-style.

But hey, did you see - Carrie Underwood was honored Hollie did her song.

6. DeAndre Brackensick, "Sometimes I Cry," Eric Benet

We tried a new thing this week - we closed our eyes for DeAndre, so as to judge him only on his singing. And honestly, it wasn't any better. He hit some of the notes. He missed others. He's just not that strong of a singer, guys. But he blurts out a few really high notes and apparently voters' panties just burst into flames or something. His sticking around is kind of mystifying to us. And the judges are not helping. A standing O? Are you guys high?

Steven Tyler, DO NOT compare him to Prince. Don't you even dare.

7. Jessica Sanchez, "Beautiful Nightmare," Beyonce

Slowing this down is a great creative choice and it's very good, but she keeps breathing very obviously right in the middle of "nightmare," which is really distracting. We've also seen that Jessica has the vocal chops to make that jump in the melody without taking a breath, so we're kind of befuddled about why she is. She also decides not to do Stevie's thing and end it with a repeat of the hook, which is a shame. We liked that piece of advice quite a bit. Anyway, that was really good because Jessica is a really talented singer, but the breath thing really bugged.

Listen to her performance here.

8. Trio No. 2 - DeAndre, Heejun and Joshua, Michael Jackson medley

"Lady in My Life" kicks things off and .... hmph. But it gets way more awesome on "Rock With You." We mean, DeAndre's moves are actually kind of fun, the hat throw was great and Joshua MOONWALKS. Seriously, why couldn't they just sing that whole song? We would've watched that all night. "PYT" is pretty good too, though.

Vocally, this wasn't as good as the Fleetwood medley, but it was a ton of fun. Jennifer Lopez actually has the gall to say it's a good thing they aren't here for "So You Think You Can Dance." Um, look Fly Girl. We enjoyed it and you just back off.

9. Phillip Phillips, "Still Rainin'," Johnny Lang

Stevie tells Phil he would've been asked to join Fleetwood Mac back in '75 and he manages not to just faint dead away, like we would have. And he does look like Lindsey Buckingham circa 1975. Wow.

Anyway, vocally this is the best Phillip has done in the competition. It's so raw, the guitar is wailing. Jessica Sanchez better watch it - we smell a Lee-Crystal upset thing going on here. We have nothing else to say. 

Watch his performance here.

10. Joshua Ledet, "Without You," Mariah Carey

We don't love this song choice for him, but he actually does pretty well with it. The verses are quiet and beautiful, it's nice to hear his voice without him getting all yell-y. And he certainly hits the big notes on the chorus, though then the yelliness comes in at times and we don't love that. Man, it'd be nice to just hear him sing the big notes sometimes without screaming.

We are not jumping out of our chair the way the judges did. But it was good.

11. Trio No. 3 - Jessica, Hollie and Skylar, Madonna medley

It's kind of a bummer for Skylar she got put with the two big songbirds. But anyway, "Like a Prayer" is a great way to kick things off and the harmony works, plus their outfits are SO cute. "Borderline" is a fun one, but Skylar definitely cannot keep up with the other two, vocally. She takes the lead on "Express Yourself" and it's pretty weak.

Eh. Least favorite of the trios, though they looked super cute. We think the Fleetwood trio wins.

12. Elise Testone, "Whole Lotta Love," Led Zeppelin

Oh, this is a great choice. We are salivating the minute she announces it. And she sings with Stevie! Awesome. They should duet for the finale. Anyway, Elise finally legitimately throws her hat in the ring on this one. If she's in the Bottom 3 this week, something is wrong. This was awesome. She could also duet with Glambert in the finale, come to think of it.

Who's in trouble? Well, probably three girls who don't deserve to be because that's what happens now, but we honestly thought Colton, Skylar and DeAndre were the weakest. DeAndre has more than worn out his welcome, so maybe he'll finally go home.

What say you, "Idol" fans?

Photo/Video credit: FOX