This week is 80’s week on American Idol. Amazingly they are not really having an 80’s music icon to assist the contestants this week, no, it will be Gwen Stefani and tag-a-long associate of hers, Tony Kanal. Included in this week’s show will be male/female duets, in past years you could see some of the performers at their best when the pairing chemistry was right.
Deandre Brackensick will be singing a De Barge tune that featured… wait for it… wait for it… HIS FALSETTO! Who would have guessed that, right? Gwen’s advice was to “own” who he is, I’m not sure I really even know what that means. In recent weeks when Deandre has fully depended on his falsetto he ends up being pitchy. Jimmy expressed reservations. Nice start to the song though, Deandre was in the audience and this was fun and effective. Well, some of the pitchiness was evident but to his credit he sang with a normal voice for much of the song. This is not a great way to start the show. I think his performance will be memorable for all the wrong reasons by the end of the night. Jennifer was generous with the praise. Steven Tyler said he forgot where he was…? Randy thought it was the perfect song for Deandre. All in all, no surprises here.
Elise Testone sang a hit song by Foreigner, I Wanna Know What Love It. Gwen said Elise was one of her favorites this year and thought singing this song could become an ‘Idol Moment’. I’m a fan of Elise too. During her performance I heard some pitchiness during the chorus when she amp’d up her vocals. I also think she wasn’t dressed for the part this week, she was singing a rock anthem and was dressed for a prom. Steven wasn’t impressed with the performance, Jennifer started out complimenting how she looks (never a good thing). Randy lived the 80’s with Journey. He never thought she found her pitch. Ouch. This could be a setback considering the great progress she made in recent weeks.
DUET ONE: Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine are the first duet to grace the stage. They sang a Dolly/Kenny song from the 80’s, Islands in the Stream. I wasn’t sure how Colton would do on this style but I like the pairing. Skylar is all country so she was an easy fit for this song. At least the show had it’s first solid performance. All the judges like their duet.
Phillip Phillips decided to throw his talents behind a Genesis tune, That’s All. The guitar he was using this week, a Gibson, was not his normal Taylor guitar. I think he struggle this week, a first for him this season. He clearly wasn’t comfortable. Steven gave Phillip high marks. Jennifer was mixed in her review. Randy thought it was the perfect song. I hope they are all right. It was a nice touch that American Idol allowed his brother, Ben, to join him on stage this week.
DUET TWO: …Paired Deandre and Hollie Cavanagh. They sang I’m So Excited by the Pointer Sisters. Deandre didn’t have the edge this song needed but Hollie, on the other hand, was spot on and edgy too! This is the first time I’ve been listening to Hollie that I came away impressed. Good for her too, she’s having a rough ride on the show. Steven like the performance, Jennifer had fun too, Randy said, ‘…very very very nice”.
Joshua Ledet sang a Simply Red tune, If You Don’t Know My By Now. This is one of my favorite songs during the 80’s. Jimmy thought this would be a great song for him. This is the best I’ve heard Joshua sing in weeks and his signature ‘scream’ was perfect for the song and the style he brought to the performance. This was clearly the best outing of the night up to this point! The judges gave a standing ovation but it seemed a big forced, although I think their praise was completely earned by Ledet.
Jessica Sanchez was up next, singing How Will I Know by Whitney Houston. This is a good song for JChez, she brought the edge the song needed. I’m not so sure her ‘look’ was right for the night but that’s forgivable. Niffer sang her praises, Steven Tyler thought it was amazing and Randy thought it was equally amazing and acknowledged he actually worked on that song with Whitney.
DUET THREE: Phillip Phillips and Elise Testone did a Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks song Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around. The song really worked well for both Phillip and Elise. I’m sure the fans will remember this performance when it comes time to vote. The judges thought it was great and wanted more.
Hollie Cavanagh sang What A Feeling from Flash Dance. This a good song for Hollie, it’ plays to her strength which is an edgy sound. She looked the part too, unlike most of the artists this evening. I think the song started out a bit too low. When that happens it is usually because another part goes very high later. At one point during the ending part of the song I thought she was yelling more than singing. Steven thought her pitch was problematic. Jennifer wasn’t happy with the performance. Randy said echoed the other two judges. Not a great outing for Hollie and for the first time the judges gave her solid and honest feedback.
DUET FOUR: Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet sang I Knew You Were Waiting For Me by Aretha Franklin and George Michael. Both Jessica and Joshua were on their game tonight and this duet went very well. Standing ovation, praise and predictions of both being in the finals.
Colton Dixon chose a Cyndi Lauper song, Time After Time. The mentors all like this selection, in fact, Gwen sang harmonies with Colton during practice. It was a solid performance for Colton although he seemed to slur his vocals a bit at the end. All the judge gave high to Colton… and the drummer too.
Skylar Laine had to follow Colton and they did a duet together too. Hmmm. She sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler, this is a tough song to do well. She picked this over singing “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton. I think it was a great chance too, I agree with the mentors this week, Skylar was outstanding. Again, she reached an standing ovation by the judges and high praise followed. Lots of ‘wow’s came from Randy. He thought it was her best performance this season.
The standout singers tonight were Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez and Skylar Laine. I thought Joshua led the pack this week with Jessica close on his heels. Skylar had her best showing thus far, absent was the ‘Skylar strut’, I think that helped.
In the middle of the pack is Phillip Phillips and Colton Dixon. This is new territory for Phillip, to be average and nervous even. Still he’s an amazing performer and show survive without spend the results show on one of the three chairs. Colton is always on the verge of being great, he’s a good showman but gets a bit sloppy on his pitch. Still a good outing for him, on balance.
At the bottom and at risk in my view are Deandre Brackensick, Elise Testone and Hollie Cavanagh. This is becoming something of a regular for me, to pick Deandre and Hollie so often. I don’t see much hope for them going the distance on the show, at some point their lack of execution will catch up with their voters. Elise has been on a roll and I view this week as a serious setback. I see Elise as the likely one going home on the results show.
Thanks for reading this far!