COMMENTARY | You might have thought the talents would be tickled with glee this week, since they had the freedom to choose songs they actually knew from 2010 to today, but the show opened with Tommy Hilfiger telling them even their down wardrobe had to be “Idolized.” Producer/artist Akon accompanied Jimmy Iovine in mentoring the seven singers this week, and it was easy to lose count of how often they said, “I’m not really familiar with that song.” The talents gave a lesson on the current trends and diversity in music, and made themselves modern, but it didn’t always make the best impression on the judges.
Skylar Laine shot out of the gate for the night with a stellar choice, and a take no prisoners performance of Kellie Pickler’s “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You,” her pick in hand, strumming her own guitar, but not a note was missed, as even Jennifer Lopez praised, saying Skylar had “perfect pitch,” while Randy Jackson called it a “crazy good” performance, raving “I felt you the whole song” before Steven Tyler offered a compliment the country girl could really appreciate, along with her Brandon, MS, hometown, saying “The roosters may crow, but the hens deliver the goods,” before saying he was “enamored” with the ladies this season.
Colton Dixon rode on the clouds playing his white piano like a pop Prince this week, choosing Skylar Grey’s song, “I Love the Way You Lie,” with delicate violins instead of thumping guitars, and the move to different strings pulled perfectly on heartstrings, too. Steven Tyler touted that Dixon “hadn’t found your [his] top,” and Jennifer Lopez said he gave the song the unique “signature to you,” as Randy Jackson called the performance particularly “stellar at the break.” As long as ladies locate their cell phones in time, Dixon is in no danger of departing for awhile. Elise Testone and Philip Phillips feigned fatigue at singing another duet, but the duo dished out one of the pleasures of the night with Australian songwriter, Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” with their perfect balance of love to hate, hit or hug tension. Randy Jackson rightly teased that Elise got “more notes” this song, and begged for the next duet to balance them out. Jennifer Lopez said the duo “sang the mess out of that” and Steven Tyler said the song was already “looped on my iPod.” Love it or not, these two need to keep their musical harmonizing, because they create something hot and heavy.
Jessica Sanchez was as sensational as ever with Jazmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering,” stunning enough on the original, but even improved, by the teen’s spectacular sense of inflection and timing. Her mentors have little work to do, as Akon pegged “she’s the one” after an early look, and Randy Jackson agreed, saying she took the song to “the highest degree” and giving her the ultimate “Dawg” approval, “Dude.” Jennifer Lopez loved that she “kept digging” deep for her best performance, and Steven Tyler spotted that she even had the courage to “wear Jennifer’s shoes” with no aversion to the highest heels.
Joshua Ledet got a special 20th birthday shout out from Fantasia, and Westlake, Louisiana’s boy brought his repertoire current with Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby,” and baby, he was the whole package as performer, sizzling with energy, and getting the night’s singular standing ovation from the panel. Steven Tyler said he “sold the song like art” and Randy Jackson simply said he was the one who’s “gotta have it.” Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine again dared the dating teases, and a very big song, singing, “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” and having a hard time filling the big shoes of Clarkson and Aldean. Steven Tyler teased that the two “already made love in the song, so it don’t much matter.”
Hollie Cavanagh has been getting loads of Texas-sized support and even from across the pond in native England, but it was a hard night again for Hollie, as she chose Pink’s “Perfect” as her song. She gets the notes right, but the heart of the song feels hollow, as the little smiling sprite of a girl has hardly lived enough to bring the hurt and pain of real emotion in her notes. Jennifer Lopez said she could feel this girl “fighting” and Randy Jackson said she redeemed herself from last week, but Steven Tyler simply said “it wasn’t perfect” so she will be fighting to stay on that sofa.
Philip Phillips made Maroon 5’s “Give a Little More” his selection for the night, and got a little more critique than he’s used to, despite his look of “got this” toward the audience. Steven Tyler loved that Phillips continues to be an amalgamated “Steve McQueen and Johnny Cash,” but Randy Jackson said he was disappointed that the performance didn’t fulfill his hopes of “the first eight or 10 bars,” and Jennifer Lopez said Phillips still needed to find the performance to really “break out.” Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, and Hollie Cavanagh came together to perform Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger,” and pleased the panel and the crowd like an estrogen sandwich with soul in the middle. Randy Jackson raved that this was the performance of the “big ol’ voice!”
Elise Testone went for gusto with Lady Gaga’s passionate, “You and I,” and grabbed another moment, even getting praise from her Hollywood crush, Jason Segel, before taking the stage. There was a touch of reminiscence for Haley Reinhart’s performance of the same song last season, but with very different results. The panel praised that it was the “perfect song, perfect moment, and perfect vocal” for Elise, who this time, mastered her emotion to artistic perfection. Steven Tyler said that she made “genius” from Gaga’s song, and Jennifer Lopez said she was “the closer” and she closed the night in sultry, soulful, and sensational style.
See who will be the six to stay after the vote! “American Idol” airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.