American Idol Journal – Week 9 (Top 5)

Steven Van Zandt

Just five remain now. Tonight is 60’s and British Pop night.  It’s an opportunity for the contestants to show their originality by bringing fresh interpretations of the songs they pick to the stage.  We want an American Idol not a good karaoke singer.

Steven Van Zandt of E Street Band and The Soprano’s fame was the guest mentor.  This guy is part of rock and roll history and a great guest to have at this point because he doesn’t mince words.  The contestants need that so deep in the competition.  He gave Hollie the best advice I’ve heard all season, but is especially good advice now that the judges Save is gone.  He told her to forget about anyone’s opinion and do her own thing now.  Rock is about the “Who are you? I don’t give a rats ass about what you think of me.” attitude.

Hollie Cavanagh started off the night singing an upbeat song that she seemed very confident doing.  Randy and Steven gave her a standing ovation.  Hollie is getting better each week at this point although I still consider her the weakest link.

Phillip Phillips got to follow Hollie in the number two slot.  This is a great position to be singing at this point, in fact the middle three spots are good because the tone has already been set.  Hollie was ok for me, not great and that sets the stage for Phillip to own the night early.  Phillip picked The Letter by The Box Tops.  This was a good song for Phillip and a crowd pleaser.  Randy thought it was a fresh version of the song.  Jennifer admitted to not knowing the song!  OMG, that has been a hit for a number of singers.  Steven wanted more melody but liked it as much Randy.

Skylar Laine sang Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater RevivalCreedence is southern rock so this one should wear well on Skylar, she does have the gritty voice for it.  I thought it was karaoke, I didn’t think she changed the song much and frankly it was more yell singing than anything elseJennifer thought she was good, Steven loved it and Randy complimented CCR first and then said she was born to be on stage.  I don’t hear any serious criticism yet from the judges.

Joshua Ledet and Phillip Phillips sang a duet.  They sang The Righteous Brother’s You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.  Individually they were just ok but when they harmonized it was very… sad.  Not good.  This has to be a mulligan for both of these two.  If I’m being fair here the song was better suited for JoshuaThe judges gave them high marks… again reaffirming my belief that we aren’t getting credible feedback from themPhillip seemed to have fun with the whole thing but Joshua appeared genuinely uncomfortable. If they were both joking then it was lost on me tonight.

Jessica Sanchez is singing Proud MaryVan Zandt doesn’t like the song and hoped to talk her out of it.  This is a very tired cover song and she has to bring something new and fresh to it.  Forget for a moment that she is too young for the message of the song.  I liked how she started the song, it was in fact fresh, then she hit the chorus…ouch.  She can’t channel Tina Turner and shouldn’t try.  I think it was a train wreck.  Sure she was a ball of energy, but that was just a smoke screen.  Jennifer thought she was doing a bit of Janice Joplin.  It’s clear Niffer wants Jessica in the final.  Steven liked it and thought it all sounded great.  Randy wasn’t terribly impressed.  I still miss Simon Cowell.

Joshua Ledet sang a MoTown classic, Ain’t To Proud To Beg by The TemptationsJimmy and Steven liked the rehearsal session with JoshuaJoshua is a good singer, to say otherwise is ridiculous so at this point I want to see originality and consistency.  This was another karaoke performance.   Steven thought Joshua is one of the top two American Idol contestants ever.  Jennifer raved as usual and Randy said thinks he could bring back that style of soul and blues.

First round over now I think Hollie and Phillip were the best of the first round while the judges all said that Hollie, Joshua and Skylar were the best.  Hollie is on a roll it would seem.

Hollie Cavanagh chose Bleeding Love.  She was advised to keep it personal, this is her blind spot.  I liked how the song started out, it felt personal to me.  The chorus sounded rushed but otherwise solid.  Good outing for Hollie and a great night to have two solid performances with the others sounding average.  Steven thought she did it well.  Jennifer thought it was intimate.  Randy recited how many folks have had big hits and thought she was unbelievable good.

Phillip Phillips is following Hollie again only this time he knows she’s had two wonderful performances, perhaps not the best spot to be after all.  I thought Phillip won the first round in any event but not by much.  He took it on originality.  He chose Time of the Season.  I loved it when he sang the line…”who’s  your daddy”.  He handled the falsetto’s in this song too, something we haven’t heard from him yet.  This was a great outing for Phillip.  Randy was impressed he could sing a melody and liked it.  Jennifer thought the verses suited him well.  Steven said he was glad he chose that song and did the melody.  They didn’t seem overwhelmed at all.  Too bad, it was a wonderful performance.

The trio of Skylar, Jessica and Hollie came next. They sang You Love Is Lifting Me Higher.  It would be hard to do worse than the male duet earlier and they didn’t disappoint me.  I don’t think these group songs hurt anyone because they are supposed to be fun, this one was fun.

Skylar Laine sang You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Dusty Springfield.  Great song for Skylar because it is not over the top country and is still in her zone.  The song was going great until she started with the the yell singing and growls.  Growls?  Ouch.  Up to that point it was a home run.  Randy thought it was great and she is peaking at the right time. Jennifer was trying to sell us on her performance.  Yes, she was good but Jenn… not great.  Steven gave her high marks too.

Jessica Sanchez picked You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker.  Jessica could knock it out of the park or tank on this one.  So she appeared on the stage laying down with lots smokey mist around her.   This is the first song in awhile that I thought could be age appropriate, a 16 year old singing about her lover.  Solid outing for Jessica and I think she put some emotion into the performance too. Steven thought she was going to be number one.  Jennifer reminded the crowd about her amazing save of Jessica by saying “How could American send her home?”.  Poor form Niffer.  Randy thinks she has topped everyone tonight.

Joshua Ledet chose a Bee Gee’s chart topper.  The Bee Gees were the epitome of the disco era but few realize their roots were blues and R&B so their songs are quite easily converted to that style.  Joshua was on his A game for this second song.  He was the only one to get a full standing ovation tonight.  I think, considering the night, he deserved it.  Randy gave a shout out to the Bee Gee’s, then gave Joshua his props saying that to NOT KNOW the song and deliver this performance is amazing.  Jennifer said that Joshua is the best singer in the past 50 years.  Niffer, just go home…. can we vote her off?  He’s good, not best of the best good though.  Steven is flying below the radar with his comments, they are all good and certainly well heeled tonight.

The best former of the night was  Phillip Phillip but frankly a toss up with Hollie.

In the middle is just one, Hollie Cavanagh is a second placer tonight.

And finally, the bottom three contestants will be Skylar Laine, Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet.  These three get this honor because they each had one average performance and one very good one.

If my bottom three actually make it to the cheap seats then I’d say goodbye to Jessica.

Thanks for reading this far.