As I'm sure you all assumed, I am still recovering from the devastating dismissal of my gal Skylar Laine last week. Bulllllshit. America is dumb. Needless to day, the show lost a great deal of sparkle with her departure. Fortunately, Steve Haruch raised my spirits with this link. Get thee to Nashville young lady. You're gonna be a big star.
This week's double theme is "California Dreaming" (vague) and "Songs You Wish You Had Written" (vaguer). Let's get to it, sugar dumplings.
Phillip Phillips is up first singing "Have You Ever Seen the Rain." (Cut to John Fogerty; who do you think builds all those swimming-in-money rooms?) In some ways, I don't even have the energy to comment on Phillip anymore. Remember when he was my boyfriend? Sigh. Anyway, there is just no range in his performances. You could hear something better in any dive bar across America, and then afterward, a drunk dude would stumble up to PP and say, "Like, hey, dude, you sung good tonight." This performance was no different — it was inoffensive, middling and had no arc. Steven says, "You're living proof that the road to success is always under construction," which sounds sort of like a backhanded compliment. Let's be serious: Even he doesn't know what he means anymore. J-Lo loved it, of course. In this moment, I miss Simon Cowell.
Holly is up next, singing Journey's "Faithfully." Is anyone else incredibly over Journey? When did we, as a country, decide that this would be our national quasi-ironic sing-along band? I object! This is a song about being on the road, feeling world-weary and alone — I don't know if Holly has the maturity to pull those emotions off. She does nail a big note or two at the end. Randy says, "You're peaking at the right moment." J-Lo looks surprisingly emotional. Relate much? Steven loved it.
Joshua is dedicating his first performance to his father. In his pre-performance video package, we get to see his season 10 audition, which he bombed. That's kind of interesting. He's singing Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up." Hooooh, boy. Am I supposed to take this seriously? "You raise me up / so I can stand on mountains." God (zing!), this song is terrible. Also, they are literally raising him on a platform. J-Lo says she loved the drama. The judges are saying they dug it, but the enthusiasm isn't really there. Agreed. Joshua better pick it up in round two (foreshadowing!!!), since he is my new favorite.
Now we have Jessica, and more videos of her singing as an infant. God, this girl is so boring and practiced. She talks like a professional athlete in all her interviews. And I don't mean Ozzie Guillen. It's all platitudes. She's chosen Etta James' "Steal Away." This type of gritty blues-inflected song sounds so much better on her voice. That said, her outfit is ridiculously stupid. The performance was interesting, but felt like another hat she was trying on. I don't know how the Idol faithful will respond to it. The judges praise her vocal. Though, again, they don't seem that excited. (It's like an Idol version of the game I play during Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, where I try to figure out how much Guy Fieri actually likes a dish via tone, body language and the relative ludicrousness of his puns.) Randy says he loved that she's 16 and singing Etta James. To me, that was sort of the problem.
Joshua and Phillip duet on Maroon 5. Do I need to talk about this? No. Then Jessica and Holly duet on "Eternal Flame" by The Bengals. They are on swings. That's all I have to say about that. (Dear Idol: Next year, please can the duets and shorten the show. Thx.)
More filler! The cast saw a preview of Rock of Ages. And LOOK! Special guest visitors! Yes, how did they possibly get FOX employee Adam Shankman and Ryan Seacrest's girlfriend Julianne Hough to stop by?! The best part of this advertorial is when Shankman makes Phillip kiss a picture of J-Lo. This is all followed up by a group performance of a song from the movie. In an act of anti-corporate rebellion, I fast-forward through it. I am an American hero.
For his second song, Phillip is singing "Volcano" by Damien Rice. It's an interesting choice and the performance has a nice, laid-back energy. BUT, if only the judges knew this song, they would know that this was pretty much an imitation — same arrangement and everything. That said, this is my favorite Phillip performance in a good, long while. The judges love it, of course.
Holly is singing "I Can't Make You Love Me," a song about SEX! And a song that Allison Iraheta sang spectacularly. I don't know if she's mature enough for this song. She hit some pretty notes, but couldn't really nail the right tone (this is obviously a chronic problem for Holly). Steven Tyler agrees with me. J-Lo makes the argument that she could have mentally framed her performance as a plea to America, and that might have worked better. It's actually a pretty astute point. Randy criticizes the song itself. Shut up, Randy.
Joshua has chosen "It's a Man's Man's World" by James Brown. I am excited! He looks great in that black tux. There's an all-chick band, which is awesome. This performance is downright thrilling. I loved the moment when he almost went nuts in the middle, and then reeled it back in. Growth! And then, Oh, God, he hits a CRAZY note towards the end. J-Lo pushes her chair back in disgust (in a good way). I need to go see this guy in a club. Standing ovation alert! J-Lo is geeking out. This was so much better than that Groban shit. (Also, really? This guy is in competition with Phillip Phillips?!) Joshua really has gotten so much better throughout the last few weeks. Steven says that no one has ever sung with that much compassion on this show, ever. Now he wants to go home. J-Lo adds, "That was sickening." Randy calls it "One of the best performances in the history of any singing show." Shut up, Randy — even though you might be right.
Skinny Minny is closing out the show with "And, I Am Telling You," because of course she is. Eye roll. Has she ever made a choice that wasn't the most obvious one? Yes, as a singing robot she is stupendous, hitting huge notes and making some interesting choices, BUT, just go watch this. It makes everything clear. The judges eventually rise for a standing ovation, but it feels more like a contractual obligation than a spontaneous expression of joy and appreciation. Steven says, "Another winning performance." I miss Skylar.
I think it is finally time for Holly to walk the plank. Or Phillip could go in a SHOCKING elimination. See you next week!