Top 4: California Dreamin & Songs You Wish You Wrote - May 9, 2012
1. Philip Philips - "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" C
(originally by CCR)
I love this song so much and this version of "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" did not do the song justice. I suppose it was a competent cover but in a singing competition like this, everyone's looking for more than just competent. Philip was solid but forgettable on this track, which sounded strained at points. It was a boring performance overall and not one I would download. Philip's going to have to do more than this to win American Idol (at least I hope so).
2. Hollie Cavanagh - "Faithfully" B+
(originally by Journey)
A pretty and restrained cover of this gorgeous Journey classic. I wanted to see her a bit more intense at the end and lift her voice even higher than she did. However, the end was lovely. I was a bit puzzled by the fact she said she didn't understand the lyrics at first. I wouldn't call them extremely complicated - don't we all know too well how lovin' a music man ain't always what it's supposed to be? (The blog post I never wrote was going to compare Kid Rock's "Cold and Empty" to Journey's "Faithfully. I better write that eventually!)
3. Joshua Ledet - "You Raise Me Up" B-
(originally by Josh Groban)
Joshua started off this song by really reining it in. Overall, he delivered what I'd call a restrained cover for Joshua's interpretive style. It felt a bit low for his voice in several places which made me wonder why he chose to sing it in that key. There were a few unpleasant moments in an overall snoozy performance and song choice. I've never really liked this cheesy empowerment anthem (which is somewhat shocking, I know) or Josh Groban songs in general. Joshua's performance was good but not great here.
4. Jessica Sanchez - "Steal Away" A+
(originally by Etta James)
Jessica dug deep within herself here and really inhabited this song. I was INSANELY impressed. I've never fully understood judges' criticisms that young contestants can't possibly have the life experience or past relationship experience to really understand/relate to/connect to certain songs. COME ON. Being in high school has got to be the most dramatic, overwrought time of one's life. You fall in love with every drop of blood in your being, your triumphs are mystical, your failures are life-threatening.
The lyrics of this song are all about sneaking out in the middle of the night to see a lover your parents don't approve of. I think the absolute right person to sing this song is a 16 year old! Anyway, back to Jessica's performance: It was gritty. Amazing. Captivating. An absolute must download!
Don't make me start thinking
‘Cause I might change my mind
My folks are sleeping
so please don’t waste no time
I know it's late but please don’t make me wait
So come on steal away
Please let’s steal away
5. Philip Philips - "Volcano" A/A-
(originally by Damien Rice)
I have loved this song desperately since I first heard it in 2002. The second I heard Philip was going to sing Damien Rice's haunting ode to knowing your love could destroy someone else, I was a bit apprehensive. But I'd have to say this was one of Philip's best performances on the Idol stage, right up there with "Nice And Slow", "Give A Little More", and "U Got It Bad". I loved that they kept the duet style of the song intact with a female vocalist to accompany Philip. I also loved the abrupt ending to the song.
Do yourself a favor and go listen to Damien Rice's unbelievable song here (it made my Top 100 Songs of My Life list):
6. Hollie Cavanagh - "Can't Make You Love Me" B
(originally by Bonnie Raitt)
Tender and pretty. Little know fact: Carrie Underwood sang this song in her original American Idol audition. I would have loved Hollie to sing an acoustic guitar rendition of this song and just let all the emotion out in a stripped-down setting. This was a nice song for Hollie but I feel like she needed a bigger moment.
7. Joshua Ledet - "It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World" A
(originally by James Brown)
What a tour-de-force performance. WOW. I love the emotion he threw in here so effortlessly. I loved when he let his voice go deep and then brought it back up. I loved the cry in his voice. I loved the ominous tone to the performance like it was going to go off the rails at any moment. I loved the grit. DUDE! YO! (OK, that's enough quoting Randy Jackson.) I also love that the performance was allowed to be 3 minutes and 10 seconds, when most of them are condensed.
And because we will not forget, Elise's Top 42 performance of the same song:
8. Jessica Sanchez - "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" A+
(originally by Jennifer Holliday)
HOW ON EARTH DOES SHE SING LIKE THAT? She brought a world-weariness and intensity to this performance that was so unbelievably compelling. This was just insane!! I loved how overcome she was by emotion and I love that she infused that into her performance so believably.
Best of the night: Jessica
Worst of the night: Philip (only because Hollie was B+/B consistent over 2 and he did badly on one song and great on the other)