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American Idol: Stevie Nicks coaches and the top nine shine
American Idol: Most of the remaining nine
contestants had their best performances ever, with
guidance from Stevie Nicks. They delivered
passionate performances that kept the American
Idol audience and the judges on their feet.
The American Idol format may be getting tired, the judges irrelevant, and the iconic host
may be jumping ship at the end of the season. But after the performances of the final
nine on Wednesday night, American Idol proved that despite its flaws, this show can still
find and cultivate amazing talent.
Randy Jackson knew, in his heart of hearts, that if he kept repeating, season after season,
that this was the best season EVER – one of these times he would be right. On
Wednesday night Randy Jackson was finally right.
Even the American idol contestants who were bad were only bad in comparison to great
– and there was greatness on the stage more than once. Not surprisingly, the premiere
of the season's trio of trios did not quite make it into the stratosphere of greatness,
although they are a vast improvement over the larger group performances. Perhaps the
best of the three, and no – it's not just because Phillip Phillips was in the group – was
probably the compilation of songs by Fleetwood Mac by Colton Dixon, Elise Testone, and
RECOMMENDED: Are you a real American Idol fan? Take the quiz
Later, Jessica Sanchez, Skylar Laine, and Hollie Cavanagh's performance of Madonna
songs fulfilled its intended purpose – to pass the excess time left by the ever dwindling
talent pool. Finally, Heejun Han, Joshua Ledet, and Deandre Brackensick made the
strongest argument for a 90-minute show (instead of 2 hours) when they performed a
Michael Jackson tribute.
But thankfully, these trios were flanked by individual performances and therefore were a
bit easier to endure. Kind of like when you wrap a dog's medicine in bologna - masking
the offensive portion with meaty flavors. Speaking of meaty goodness - let's recap the
performances of the best season ever, dog!
Colton Dixon: Colton made claims a few weeks ago that American Idol advised him to
tone down his religious rhetoric. So this week, Colton chose to sing his favorite "worship"
song, Lifehouse's "Everything," and performed the rock band's song with all the fervor of
a preacher, falling to his knees. Afterward, he was near tears when he told Ryan Seacrest
that "my God is my everything." Hmmm, apparently the tone-it-down suggestion got as
much traction with Colton as Tommy Hilfiger's suggestion last week that he change his
hair. What Colton's performance lacked in melody and range it made up for in passion.
Skylar Laine: Following Colton must not have been easy for Skylar but she took to the
stage with the same fire in her belly that she's demonstrated since week one with her
performance of Miranda Lambert's, "Gunpowder and Lead." But the fire, that was so
exciting earlier in the season, is burning a little less bright as the weeks wear on. Just as
the decision by other performers to sing ballads week after week gets old, so too do the
country-infused anthems that Skylar delivers each week. Yes Skylar, we know you have
spunk, we know you love country. Time to show the audience something we haven't
seem from you. How about some vulnerability and softness? B-
Heejun Han: It was obvious that Heejun knew he looked a gift horse in the mouth last
week with his almost disrespectful antics. This week, he was on a quest for redemption
and surprisingly, Jimmy Iovine was rather quick to grant it after listening to Heejun's
rehearsal of "A Song for You," by Donny Hathaway. The past couple of weeks of
foolishness had erased the memory of the smoky depths of Heejun's voice, and hearing it
again reminded viewers how he became a finalist in the first place. It would seem that
Phillip might have given Heejun some of his advice: It should be about the music first. B
Hollie Cavanagh: Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks earned her mentor's seat next to Jimmy
when she immediately zeroed in on what has been Hollie's weakness from the start:
believability. In a poignant moment, Stevie explained how her mother had passed two
months ago and said she wanted to hear the same level of emotion from Hollie's
rendition of Carrie Underwood's, "Jesus Take the Wheel." The advice struck a chord with
Hollie who came out and delivered her most moving, believable performance to date.
JLo appreciated Hollie's emotion, Steven Tyler and Randy disagreed, saying that Hollie
was pitchy and should have chosen another song. B
Deandre Brackensick: Deandre chose, "Sometimes I Cry," by Eric Benet. The lyrics twere
easy to identify with by the time he finished whining out the song in a falsetto that is
reminiscent of nails on a chalkboard. Apparently nails on a chalkboard sound infinitely
more appealing when heard in person (a theory I have been attempting to test but one
obviously needs to possess a great deal more clout to score Idol tickets) since the judges
gave Deandre the first standing ovation of the night. C
Jessica Sanchez: Up until this week, Jessica's talent was always begrudgingly accepted in
this blog. While there was no denying Jessica had the vocal abilities of an angel, her song
choices vacillated between predictable and ill-advised. When she announced that she
was a long-time Beyonce fan and began singing a slowed-down version of "Sweet
Dreams," something clicked. Suddenly Jessica had the edge that she had been sorely
lacking. The song, imbued with an almost haunting lull, was even better than the original.
Phil Phillips: Stevie should be the next American Idol judge. Heck, she should be the next
American president! Her appreciation of both Phillip's talent and devastatingly good
looks prove that she has impeccable judgement. But just when you think there may be a
rival for Phillip's affections, Stevie signed an autograph and spelled Phillip's name wrong.
(Dear Phillip-with-two-"L's," please note that I, who write your name multiple times a
week, always spell your name correctly. I always remind myself that the extra "L" stands
for love. <3 ) Phillip sang "Still Raining" by Jonny Lang and brought his some-kind-ofwonderful to the song. Here's hoping that Phillip can bring another kind of wonderful
eventually: Predictability can be a dangerous thing, even if you're predictably great. A-
Joshua Ledet: When Joshua chose Mariah Carey's version of "Without You," the
expectations were set very high. To pull it off he had to bring both perfect pitch and an
emotional connection that would make you believe that the words meant something to
him. Joshua pulled out his gospel gusto toward the end of the song, which helped to
drive home the emotional aspect. But despite the judges standing ovation and
unfettered adoration, he did hit a few flat notes in the early portion of the song and
failed to reach the heights of some of the other contestants. B
Elise Testone: American Idol saved the best for last on Wednesday night. Surprised? You
shouldn't be. Despite being woefully under-appreciated, Elise has always had the
potential to do really great things and that's exactly what she did with Led Zepplin's
"Whole Lotta Love." As Stevie pointed out, Led Zepplin is not easy to sing but one would
never guess that after hearing and seeing Elise's performance on Wednesday. Not only
did Elise hit every single note with perfect pitch and conviction, she completely owned
the stage. A+
Well, there you have it, a recap of one of American Idol's best nights – at least in terms of
standing ovations from the judges. Five in total . . . and three of them actually deserved
it! You might be asking yourself who in the world could be in the bottom three after such
a strong showing? Well, you've come to the right place.
This week, some contestants transcended not just their own personal best, but the best
of the best. Still, personal bests may not be enough at this stage of the contest. So
despite some good performances, the bottom three will likely include:
And, if there is any justice, the universe (or America) will correct the mistake of the
previous week and say goodbye to Deandre. If not we can all make pacts to boycott the
show and never watch again. Or at least until Wednesday of next week . . . at the