American Idol: Top 8 - April 4, 2012
Top 8 - Songs From The 80's - April 4, 2012
1. Deandre Brackensick - "I Like It" (by Debarge) A-
This was the perfect song choice for Deandre, who got to show off his "regular voice" and his falsetto. Upon repeat listenings, his version of "Sometimes I Cry" from last week, which was sung entirely in falsetto, comes off shrill and hard to listen to. If I could, I would definitely reduce his letter grade from last week. This song was a bit cheesy and that's probably why I enjoyed it! I found it odd that he started the song sitting down between two audience members; the staging of that is inherently a bit awkward. But Deandre really had a "comeback moment" this week with a midtempo song that was awesomely fun.
2. Elise Testone - "I Want To Know What Love Is" (by Foreigner) B+
The intriacies of her voice brought new meaning and emotion to lyrics I've heard a hundred times. I am not a big fan of this song and I am still scratching my head as to how Randy could have named this "one of the greatest songs ever". I would have loved a new arrangement or acoustic style for this song, which would have really emphasized her voice and the lyrics. I can't imagine the music she will record in her "real life" would ever feature a gospel choir and something about that just didn't work.
Elise was originally deciding between this song and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Obviously "Hallelujah" has been done to death on the Idol stage by contestants as widely varying as Tim Urban (pretty but empty), Jason Castro (a game changing performance by him), and Lee Dewyze (I don't actually remember this performance which maybe says something?) But I would have died to see Elise cover that song with all the grit, emotion, and gravity that it deserves. Here is a fascinating article by a blog called Killing The Buddha on the subject of this song and its performance by Idol contestants.
3. Philip Philips - "That's All" (by Genesis) A
I instantly loved this performance by Philip and it was the one that stuck in my head long after the show was over. This was my favorite performance of Philip's since "Nice And Slow" in the Hollywood Final Solo rounds. There were a few shouty moments which weren't perfect, but overall his voice fit this song like a glove. I loved the fact that his brother-in-law came out to play guitar with him. When his voice got a bit softer on the line "But I loved you, more than I wanted to", it just solidified this performance for me.
4. Joshua Ledet - "If You Don't Know Me By Now" (by Simply Red) B
I liked the different arrangement, which was clearly tailored to suit his voice more. Much like "I Want To Know What Love Is", I have never really enjoyed this song. Joshua's performance started out really strong, but he lost me with the unnecessary vocal acrobatics at the end. Overall, it was a good performance but I could not get excited about it.
5. Jessica Sanchez - "How Will I Know" (by Whitney Houston) C+
Something was off about this performance from the very beginning. I felt like she was a bit behind the tempo and pacing of the song, which bounces along very quickly. I didn't feel that Jessica expressed the plaintive emotion behind the song. Overall, not a version of this song I would download or listen to again.
Maybe in my mind I was comparing it to Whitney Houston who as Randy would say "sang the I don't know what out of that song". Please never let me quote Randy again. Frightening. Here is the to-die-for vocal only track of Whitney Houston singing this phenomenal song.
6. Hollie Cavanagh - "What A Feeling" (by Irene Cara) B/B-
I loved all the 80's elements of Hollie's performance: her teased hair, blue fringey dress, and best of all, the KEYTAR! Hollie looked great and sounded great overall. There were a few moments where it sounded like she was struggling a bit, however. This may not have been the right song choice for her in practice, although on paper it looked perfect. I loved the way she ended the song differently than the original.
7. Colton Dixon - "Time After Time" (by Cyndi Lauper) B/B-
For some reason, this entire performance reminded me of the Smallville soundtrack and how I could see Colton's version of it on that soundtrack, or maybe Supernatural or Roswell. I liked the breakdown and emphasis on drumming toward the end of the song - right after the line "the drum beats out of time". How literal! A good version of Cyndi's classic, but not a great one.
8. Skylar Laine - "Wind Beneath My Wings" (by Bette Midler) A-
Skylar originally was deciding between this song and Dolly Parton's "9 To 5". I was happy to see she picked this song, which is not originally a country song, but clearly lends itself to being transformed into one. I loved the passion Skylar put into the lyrics, especially in the second half of the song. She has a beautiful voice and will certainly go on to have a great country career after this. Skylar ended on such a strong note.
Best of the night: Philip
Worst of the night: Jessica
Best group performance: Philip and Elise's version of "Stop Dragging My Heart Around"