We’re halfway into this season’s finals and one thing is crystal clear. Give this group of finalists young songs and they shine. On old songs, they’re liable to resemble the Keystone Kops and fall over the place. The first hour was an entertaining, above average show that Idol could be proud of. The second half… was an hour of TV that I would like to have back.
Let’s go over the first hour, best to worst.
Hollie Cavanagh’s song choice could have gone wrong in so many ways. Like Elise last week, it could have suffered from Season 10 comparisons. If there’s one artist that has been overdone this season, it’s Adele. And yet… this was Hollie’s best performance in a long time. She sang it pretty damn well, and she wasn’t the Amazing Emotionless Singing Robot we’ve seen of late. It was good, but there really wasn’t a standout moment that elevated it from good to great.
I’ve talked in the past about how good Skylar Laine is at country-fying songs. She did a very good job with Born This Way. It was odd at times, but given how far a departure this was from the “normal” version that couldn’t be helped. It was also a song that played perfectly into her great performance abilities. Again, no standout moment, but overall it was good.
After last week’s events, Jessica Sanchez needed a showpiece song that would show the obvious: she could sing really damn well. That she did, but she always does. Fallin’ was something of a “safe” choice, but she sang it quite well and – like Hollie earlier in the night – she sang with emotion. Good way to bounce back from last week.
I’ve given Phillip Phillips a lot of criticism in the past few weeks, but I try to be fair. U Got It Bad was a very inspired song choice, and so was his arrangement. When a song fits Phillip, it really fits him. By a fairly good margin, I’d say this was his best performance all season long. Did it deserve a standing ovation? No, but the value of that has been severely devalued all season long.
Jimmy got Elise Testone’s situation right. She’s being judged on a week-to-week basis. Everyone else gets some credit for previous performances, but she doesn’t. It wasn’t terrible – Elise is a good enough performer that short of her flirtations with Big Ballad songs (Whitney and Foreigner), he generally sounds at last competent. However, that’s as far as I’d classify Elise this week.
Colton Dixon doing Lady Gaga was… appropriately staged. Lady Gaga has a tendency to let her over-the-top showmanship overshadow the actual singing. The same thing happened with Colton. The singing itself was so-so, but he dressed it up in his typical Colto style. He is as guilty of sticking to his own style as Phillip is; the only difference is that he’s infinitely better at showing different facets every week so it doesn’t sound the same every week. Oh, and if Simon Cowell was around, this would have received the I word: indulgent.
Worst in the first hour… Joshua. It was the worst song choice in the history of Idol. Coronation songs are all completely terrible; so picking one of those to sing is a ridiculous move. The only way this decision could have been worse would have been if Joshua sang No Boundaries.
As far as the second hour…. can we all just pretend it didn’t happen? Where the top 7 was at ease with new songs during the soul songs the all looked uncomfortable. Colton was exceptionally awful; some songs just sound awful given the emo touch. The only person who did better from the first hour was Joshua, but even his later effort was marred by oversinging. The second half was just so bad that I really don’t want to go through the hassle or reviewing that many bad performances.
Very Even Top 7
This year’s top 7 boot is going to be tough to call. This week’s performances will have very little to do with the results. No performance was good enough to send normally unaligned voters running out and voting for somebody. So it’s a straight-up test of fanbases. Which means we have too look at previous fanbase performance. That suggests something like this will happen:
Bottom three: Joshua Ledet, Hollie Cavanagh, Elise Testone
Going home: Elise Testone