American Idol: Top 9 - March 28, 2012
Top 9 - "Songs From Your Idols" - March 28, 2012
One of the BEST episodes of American Idol I have EVER seen, top to bottom - and I was just discussing how I haven't missed an episode since the Season 7 finale in May 2008. (I am still upset about that by the way.) Everyone ranged from amazing to pretty damn good.
1. Colton Dixon - "Everything" B+
Colton packed a preternatural amount of emotion in to this performance which just bled with feeling. This song by Lifehouse has been a favorite of mine since approximately 2003 when I remember listening to the Smallville Soundtrack with a dear friend of mine, driving around endlessly, which is of course any high school student's favorite activity. Clearly this is also a favorite song of Colton's, and I love how he shows his religion through his music.
2. Skylar Laine - "Gunpowder & Lead" A
Skylar had so much fun with this song. It is clear she is a huge fan of Miranda Lambert and she really did this song justice. She added a few vocal inflections here and there that made it just noticeably different from the original ("six paaaack in"). I love her energy and that she literally just CAN'T hold back all of her enthusiasm. She is an amazing country singer and I have a feeling that genre will wholeheartedly embrace her.
3. Heejun Han - "A Song For You" B+
The commentary before Heejun's performance - throwing his "repentance" down our throats - was unnecessarily heavy-handed and detracted from my enjoyment of his performance. He has a gorgeous, textured tone. It drives me crazy how he clips a lot of his words and phrases however. Overall, pretty but not a standout of the night.
4. Hollie Cavanagh - "Jesus Take The Wheel" A-/B+
Finally, Randy is right about something! It is extremely challenging for current Idol contestants to take on past Idol greats. (See: Chelsea Sorrell - "Cowboy Casanova", Lauren Alania -"Flat On The Floor" - both examples of performances of Carrie Underwood songs that fell short. For an example of an AMAZING Carrie Underwood performance, see Matt Giraud's version of "So Small" from Season 8. Wow.) However, Hollie did a great job with this song. Most puzzling was the way the verses were chopped together so the cohesive storytelling of the song no longer made sense. Yet, Hollie brought a lot of emotion to it that I was not expecting. She has a big voice!
5. Deandre Brackensick - "Sometimes I Cry" A-
Instantly, Deandre reminded me of D'Angelo and his seminally sexy song "Untitled (How Does It Feel?) which is undoubtedly the best slow jam ever written. Deandre brought it 100% tonight. Oh God, I sound like Randy again! I couldn't believe the notes he hit. Deandre, at his finest, has an amazing 60's Motown R&B style that I would die to hear again in today's music.
6. Jessica Sanchez - "Sweet Dreams" A-/B+
I was extremely impressed with Jessica's ability to breathe new life into this song, which I must begrudgingly admit is probably one of Beyonce's better singles of the past 5 or so years. Jessica started off this performance a bit shaky and I honestly wasn't sure how this would end up. However, I really enjoyed it overall - it wasn't my favorite of the night by any means but it was unexpected from her. She is a true powerhouse and brought these lyrics to life.
7. Philip Philips - "Still Raining" A-
This was a very cool take on a song I had never heard before! It had an undeniable 90's sound which of course I adored. Again, Philip was able to bring a subversive and foreboding tone to this song. It really sounded like it could be Philip's own song - it seemed like he really connected it and delivered it wonderfully. The kind of song you can rock out to.
8. Joshua Ledet - "Without You" B-/C+
Maybe I have heard way too many covers of this song, originally by Badfinger. I've previously reviewed many of the cover versions here on this blog. Joshua's version fell flat for me. I could see that he became emotional with his performance, but I could feel no emotional connection to it. I felt a few of his notes were a bit unpleasant and when compared to stellar versions by Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, and Carly Smithson, it could not compare on any level.
9. Elise Testone - "Whole Lotta Love" A+
This performance literally got me off the couch to stand closer to the TV. When I heard Elise was going to sing Led Zeppelin, I was expecting something epic. After all, Haley Reinhart singing "What Is And What Should Never Be" was one of the best moments of Season 10.
I can not say enough about the passion and intensity that Elise sang with. She seemed to be having an amazing time and just every ounce of her breathed rock 'n roll music. As a lifetime rock 'n roll believer, I could just feel how genuinely she had this song pound through her veins.
I could listen to this over and over again and I suspect I will. I've already listened to it 3 times since I downloaded it approximately 20 minutes ago. I am headed to iTunes right now to see if the studio version of this track is available for download. (Sadly I can't find it right now, but it should be available soon.)
I am not exaggerating at all when I say this performance made me believe in rock 'n roll again (as if there was ever a moment where I could not).
Best of the night: Elise
Worst of the night: Joshua
Best group performance: Colton/Elise/Philip with their Fleetwood Mac medley