Here we go again, Cream-ophiles (Cream-opheliacs? Cream-onators? Oy, too much bourbon.) Tonight, our remaining eight contestants are singing songs from the '80s, which should give them plenty of room to roam in terms of song choice. The best part of the night's intro is an insane photo of Randy Jackson from back in the day. J-Lo is so delighted that she shakes her breasts from side to side.
The Hair is up first. Tonight, in the mentor chair, we have Gwen Stefani and that guy she wrote "Don't Speak" about (Tony!) from current recording artist No Doubt. I am sure you are shocked to hear that Gwen does most of the talking. Deandre is singing Debarge's "I Like It." It's a high-energy performance, and he seems to have shaken off at least a few of the nerves that tend to plague him — he even high-fives Idol producer/dictator Nigel Lithgoe! It's definitely much better than last week. He actually lays off the falsetto, letting a little gravity and depth into his voice, and it sounds great. Plus, this song apparently inspired that Nelly tune — "I like the way you brush your hair / I like those stylish clothes you wear" — that reminds me of my senior year of high school. (Kyle Andrews also riffed on that construction on his jam "You Always Make Me Smile": "I like your messy hair / I like the clothes you wear.") Steven Tyler says that it was so good "I forgot where I was." Does that happen often, Steven? J-Lo continues to love this kid in a borderline creepy way, especially since we know she likes 'em young.
Elise is up next. At first she is planning on singing "Hallelujah," a song that has been done to death, well, everywhere. Instead she gets steered towards Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is." The performance is meh. The song is a big, cheesy power ballad and I am immune to them (this will become important later; re: I am a huge phony.) The whole thing just doesn't work, including the horrendous "clocks" screensaver they have going behind her, and she sounds a little shouty. Steven agrees — he says it might have not been the best song choice. Randy calls "I Want To Know What Love Is," "one of the greatest songs ever." As punishment, I cull the rest of his comments from the record.
The contestants are doing coed duets tonight. Local boy Colton Dixon, and his new blonder hair are singing "Islands in the Stream" with my gal Skylar. It was cute. The judges loved it.
Now it's time for my boyfriend. Phillip has chosen "That Song" by Genesis (a song I have never heard). He blows it in the mentoring session, but Gwen et al. assure us that they have limitless faith in his handsome face. The performance ... well, his forehead vein is more intense than ever. Phillip sounds like such a bar singer sometimes that I feel, like, "Why am I watching this on TV?" Besides the obvious, wink, wink, visual incentives. The judges are middling, though they refuse to actually say anything negative about him. This kid needs a moment sometime soon. That said, we all know he's not going anywhere.
Holly and Deandre sing "I'm So Excited." Holly looks terrified, but she actually sounds great on upbeat songs. I have a question: Why do all women need to wear stripper heals now? Even 16-year-olds? And moms? When did that happen? When did we, as a society, decide that? The judges liked it. I will now fulfill my contractual pop-culture-reference-rubric duty, and link to THIS.
Joshua Ledet is up next. He's singing "If You Don't Know Me By Now." Gwen is worried about it being a bit "too much." Aren't we all. Joshua gets the full treatment: choir and flickering candle graphic. The performance is too much, but I still sort of love it. Joshua is really creative and emotive when it comes to his phrasing. He just gets it. The judges get on their feet for the first time tonight. Randy says he wanted to stand up from beginning to end, and adds, "That's a great song, but you sang it." Yes, Randy Jackson is a person who makes a whole lot of sense.
Now it's time for Jessica Sanchez. In her pre-performance package, she talks about being a "regular teenager" and singing to the boxes in her room. Yes, all regular teenagers are on multiple national television programs. I love how Idol refuses to acknowledge that they were scooped on this little powerhouse. She's chosen "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston. Gwen is awed by her voice, and says that Jessica should make an effort to move less like a lounge singer. Good advice! The performance feels a little off to me — her lower register seems weak and there's no emotion in the performance. No ebullience. No exuberance. That's what you need in order to pull off these big, cheesy dance songs. The judges give loads of compliments, but their energy is low. You can tell they weren't wowed.
Phillip and Elise duet on "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," and it's a pretty good combination. My boyfriend does look a little awkward on the harmonies.
Holly is up next. She's singing "What a Feeling" from Flashdance. Fun fact: Jimmy Iovine says he passed on the soundtrack back in the day (and that it was a huge mistake), but that he thought the song was the "cheesiest thing in the world." This performance is a mess, and it's all in her stage presence. She is so awkward and uptight. There are lots of those "I am a robot having fun" moments — like Mitt Romney at the county fair, trying to keep the poor people breath from compromising his exterior casing. This performance made me think back to her original audition in season 10, when she dissolved into a quivering mass of jello. Maybe she just isn't ready for all this. The judges aren't too happy either.
Jessica and Joshua duet on "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me," and they kill it, earning a standing ovation from the judges. JLo says, "I'm looking and thinking 'finale,' maybe?" I doubt it, sugar plum, but time will tell.
Murfreesboro's own sexy broom handle, Colton Dixon, is up next (and it dawns on me that Skylar has earned the pimp spot; huzzah). In the pre-performance package, Colton talks about his face painting gig at Predators games. Apparently it's a family business. He's going to sing "Time After Time." It's a great song that was (probably) not originally written with Jesus in mind. (Let's take a moment to remember that magical Allison Iraheta/Cyndi Lauper duet during the season 8 finale.) Colton is performing a more upbeat version of the song — apparently it's an arrangement cribbed from the band QuietDrive. It's OK, but kind of saps all the beautiful melancholy from the original. Colton adds his usual emo tics and yelps. Also, he's is in a T-shirt tonight and his arms look like spaghetti. The judges enjoyed it, but it didn't really produce that big an emotional reaction.
Time for my gal Skylar Laine. In her interview, she says she misses guns, four-wheelers and summer sausage (enough about your love life, young lady!). There is a great moment when she recognizes Gwen Stefani, but thinks it's just someone who happens to look a lot like Gwen Stefani. She is considering singing "9-to-5," but then gets pushed towards "Wind Beneath My Wings." Commence eye-roll. Three minutes later: woman, interior apartment, weeping quietly, as Skylar reaches for one of the most incredible emotional crescendos ever heard on this show. You see, because it's a song, about, like, people who support you and love you. And saying thank you to them. I don't think I ever got that before. I mean, the line "I can fly higher than an eagle" still makes my entire body shiver in horror, but the rest ... oy. Yes! Fine!! Bourbon! I admit it. "Wind Beneath My Fucking Wings" moved me to tears. Are you happy?! Are you?!! I watched it twice. AND I'VE NEVER EVEN SEEN BEACHES!!!!!!
Deep breaths ...
Until next week! In danger: Holly, maybe Elise.