Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Last week on American Idol the Top Ten performed Billy Joel songs. It was a vast improvement on the previous week when they sang songs from the years they were born. However, the night still had many moments of mediocrity, which is a bit surprising seeing that the Billy Joel songbook is, well, the Billy Joel friggin' songbook!
Billy Joel wasn’t actually there to mentor the kids, so Idol got the closet thing: Diddy (Puff Daddy) and Tommy Hilfiger. Puffy gave some singing advice and Tommy gave style tips. Of course, pretty much no one took the fashion advice.
Phillip Phillips was told not to wear gray. What did he do? He wore TWO gray shirts!
His reasoning for ignoring the Hilfiger: "I don't care about image. The music has to be noticed first." We get what you’re saying, Phil, you groovy hipster, you. But listen, you’re on a pop star talent show not a competition to put together a Dave Matthews cover band. This isn’t the early 90s. Nowadays, no matter the genre, looks and style matter. Notice Dave Grohl no longer looks like he’s in Nirvana.
The two contestants that did listen: Erika Van Pelt and Hollie Cavanaugh. Erika chopped and colored her hair and donned a more rocker, predominantly black getup. While according to Best Week Ever she resembled Kris Jenner, she looked great overall and seemed more confident.
Young Aussie-Irish-Southern Hollie adorned sparkles in a more age appropriate outfit. Bravo to both Erika and Hollie. You’re only on Idol once. Take advantage of the entire experience!
Shall we discuss the singing?
Colton Dixon covered “Piano Man.” Perhaps it was the emotive lighting or the bangin’ red piano, but this was quite the performance. Colton made the song his own, appealing to the masses of young girls adorning black eyeliner for the first time and reading YA dystopian fiction. America (including the Judges) must all be rocking eye liner and reading Divergent because it would seem we all have Colton Fever.
Did you know everybody has a dream? Jessica Sanchez does. Of course, her dream might be grander than others as proven with her heartfelt rendition of “Everybody Has a Dream.” That girl just keeps bringing it. She definitely has the “it” factor—stage presence and immense vocal talent. Lots of people swear she’s going it win it all. Sure, she has a solid chance, but so did Jennifer Hudson, Melinda Doolittle, and Pia Toscano. Let’s hope the odds continue to be ever in Ms. Sanchez’s favor.
Elise Testone has a raspy voice, and it’s growing on us—in a good way. She is a natural performer, and while her singing isn’t flawless, it has a quality that is lacking from modern pop music.
Erika Van Pelt is from Rhode Island, but she still sang “New York State of Mind.” And with her new Kris Jenner meets Pink look, she sang it with confidence. Of course, she didn’t take any risks with the song and it was a bit lounge singer-like, but all in all, she did well. The judges seem to genuinely like her, or they’re just really desperate for a woman to win.
Idol’s soul man, Joshua Ledet, let us down a bit this week. Performing “She’s Got a Way,” Joshua laid it out with tons of gospel, but very little soul. He hit all the notes, did some runs, and probably gave America goose pimples, but—as pointed out by J. Lo—he didn’t seem to connect with the lyrics. In order to truly have a moment, as he has in previous weeks, Joshua has to connect emotionally with his songs. It is very difficult to pull off gospel if you’re not fully immersed in the melody, lyrics, and mood of a song.
While he ignored Mr. Hilfiger’s fashion advice and Puff Daddy’s recommendation to sing without his guitar, Phillip Phillips still did fine. He did a very angst-filled, rock rendition of “Movin’ Out,” and the judges ate it up like a hot fudge sundae. We’re not so easily convinced, though. America will keep voting for him because he’s easy on the eyes and fun like Taylor Hicks. But does anyone remember Taylor Hicks? Phil, listen, you do not want to end up like Taylor Hicks.
Phil needs to start taking risks. In addition to his fans, he needs to appeal to the music industry, too. Challenge yourself, Phil. This is a once in lifetime opportunity. Learn something from this experience.
Wow, there are so many. Let’s start with poor, sweet Hollie. She’s a doll, really, she is. The outfit, while more youthful, was distracting, and Hollie seemed uncomfortable wearing it. To top it off, she sincerely struggled through “Honesty.” Her voice is powerful, but her rendition was uber pitchy.
Skylar sang country? Plain, ol’ simple, safe country? Ya don’t say. We didn’t see that coming at all. She sang a Garth Brooks version of “Shameless.” That’s all we can really say. We’ve pretty much forgotten it entirely at this point.
Oh boy, DeAndre needs to get the boot. To quote Best Week Ever, “He’s a sweet kid with a good heart but I’m kind of over the whole hair down Carlton dance move, which funny enough, is his only move.” He also has yet to blow us away with any performance. And his cover of “Only the Good Die Young” was awful. It was like DeAndre was performing at Disney World in the 1990s and he actually was trying to perform “Under the Sea” from the classic animated film The Little Mermaid. Give it a rest, DeAndre. You can’t even compete with Sebastian and he’s a talking lobster.
To round out the supremely awful: Heejun. What a silly guy. We agree with Steven Tyler—it's time to get serious. Heejun started off with a ballad and then told the pianist to stop because he wanted to dance. Even though the whole thing was planned, it was awkward. Still, he owned the song. Owned the whole horrible thing. Did he sing? Scream? Grunt? Did he even really dance like he wanted to? We’re not sure. We averted our eyes half the time.
Based on this summation you’d think Heejun went home, right? While he was in the bottom two, the guillotine actually fell upon Erika Van Pelt. America couldn’t connect with her old look and they didn’t embrace her new one, either. At least she got a free makeover out of the whole thing.
The Top Nine now move into the haunted Idol mansion (it's probably a different mansion than last year, but let's hope this one is haunted, too) where they will prepare for tomorrow night. They’ll be singing songs by their own musical idols. Producer Nigel Lythgoe has hinted that the contestants will be covering songs by such artists as Beyonce, Mariah, Miranda, Lifehouse, Daughtry, and Led Zeppelin. Can you guess who is singing which artist?