Another night. Another ridiculous two duets to save time. Another week of my intro hunger strike against the ‘Idol’ producers for failing to find a more competitive way to round out the show. I think this will be the last week of this nonsense; however, so you should be getting much more of my musings next week. Be afraid.

And…on with the show!

Phillip Phillips’ First Song: “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Steven Said: You’re living proof that the road to perfection is always under construction.

J-Lo Said: You did a great job and it was a great way to start the show.

Randy Said: It started a little rough, but by the time you hit the first chorus you fell in right on the money.

The Verdict:

Tell me something. Somebody please tell me in the comments how Phillip is anything special. I really cannot figure it out for the life of me.

He’s got a half-decent tone and doesn’t go off pitch, but that’s about it. Where in this song did he do something interesting or skillful with his voice? He was just singing along to the track. He didn’t sound any better than 900 different people sitting around a campfire with a six-pack jamming out while some CCR plays in the background. That’s all this performance was, just a pleasant little rendition with nothing original and nothing that seemed unique or particularly impressive.

Really, it was just kind of dull.

Grade: D+

Phillip Phillips’ Second Song: “Volcano” by Damien Rice

Steven Said: You just sang like you dug the way you sung. I could listen to that on headphones over and over and over.

J-Lo Said: Very few people could pull that off on a competition show like this. It was one of the most beautiful and poignant moments a contestant has ever had on this show.

Randy Said: That’s what’s up right there. This is what it’s all about. Right?

The Verdict:

OK. Here’s a Phillip that I don’t hate seeing win.

Yes, his vocals aren’t astounding by any measure, but he’s so raw and connected to the song that they fit just perfectly. The honesty is so present that it is almost like he wrote the song that he’d wished he’d written, and this is saying something considering it’s one of my favorite songs.

Also, whoever decided to light him in silhouette was just about brilliant. It added such an atmosphere to the performance that sort of improved Phillip’s vocal. Of course, he didn’t need much added as he sold this song about as well as it could be sold.

Grade: A-

Prediction: He said he deserved to be in the bottom two last week, and wasn’t. After what may have been his best performance, he certainly won’t be there this week either.


Hollie Cavanagh’s First Song: “Faithfully” by Journey

Steven Said: Creativity is a delicate flower and you make it bloom every night.

J-Lo Said: It’s a beautiful thing to see how far you’ve come.

Randy Said: You’re peaking at the right time in this competition.

The Verdict:

Wow. I’m not sure I’ve ever hear Hollie sound this bad. From the beginning she wasn’t enunciating clearly, her pitch was all over the place and she just seemed flat and underneath the melody. It’s weird for her not to be technically perfect, but this had as many rough spots as good ones.

Oddly, she actually seemed a little more connected to the song than usual. I actually believed what she was singing. Another shocking bit of rarity for her.

This was almost not a Hollie performance. Our technical wonder suddenly became all emotion in a bundle of pitch issues. So I liked what normally wasn’t there and hated the other thing that normally wasn’t there. Very confounding.

Grade: D+

Hollie Cavanagh’s Second Song: “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt

Steven Said: It felt a little short in terms of a dynamic range of how you can sing.

J-Lo Said: The emotion got the better of you in your vocal.

Randy Said: This is a great song, but you’re a different singer than Bonnie Raitt. This gave you nowhere to go.

The Verdict:

And here’s just the opposite from her first performance. This one was all technique and no soul. She didn’t hit a bad note but she didn’t hit a real note either. The emotion was simply not present.

This is a problem of song choice here. As Jimmy said, Bonnie Raitt put so much soul and heartbreak into this song and the melody is so tiny and simple that it gets kind of blown out by a big-voiced singer. It’s there to be sung by a bluestress. Somebody with that delicacy and vulnerability in their voice.

Hollie is just all power and turned what should be a blues ballad into a Broadway show-stopper and it just didn’t work.

Grade: D

Prediction: She’s the first person in what seems like weeks to really get ripped by the judges. That could spell the end for this spritely singer.


Joshua Ledet’s First Song: “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban

Steven Said: You sang your little tush off today.

J-Lo Said: It was another great performance. I loved the dramma (sic).

Randy Said: You showed that if you are a great singer, you can sing anything.

The Verdict:

This is a really weird song choice for Joshua. The soul guy goes for one of the least soulful pop songs ever written. It’s more of an aria or hymn than it is anything else.

They try to inject some soul into it with the chorus and, of course, Joshua’s dynamite vocals, but it never quite connects to where it should. I just wasn’t buying the performance as a whole – seemed all out-of-context.

Of course, this is Joshua so the vocal was still spot on, but it wasn’t the normal tenacious Joshua that seems him absolutely slaying a song. Here, he just wounded it.

Grade: B

Joshua Ledet’s Second Song: “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown

Steven Said: Neither man nor woman has ever sang that good on this show ever.

J-Lo Said: I think people maybe thought we’d seen everything you have. We hadn’t.

Randy Said: You delivered to us and America tonight. I think it’s one of the best performances in the history of any singing show.

The Verdict:

Joshua? James Brown? Yeah, that was never going to be anything but awesome.

Grade: A+

Prediction: Please please please. He has to be safe after that.


Jessica Sanchez’s First Song: “Steal Away” by Etta James

Steven Said: You just nailed that.

J-Lo Said: When I think of all the great singers that are out there, you’re just one of the best.

Randy Said: Your vocals are ridiculous. Amazing again.

The Verdict:

All season, I’ve somehow managed to ignore my hatred of the under-18s with Jessica. She’s kind of transcended that for me, and never really looked like a youngster or novice on stage.

Well, tonight, she kinda looked like a sixteen-year-old trying to sound like Etta James rather than a real singer just delivering a vocal. She just seemed a bit teenybopper up there. I don’t know what it was about tonight, but this was the first time I really thought she showed her age.

That’s not to take anything away from her vocal. Because she absolutely slammed her voice into that song, delivering soul runs that I didn’t even know she had in her. Some real down-and-dirty ferocity on some of the notes that really worked the song out.

I just didn’t think she had the presence to back that vocal up, and it made it seem kind of weird. Still, the voice was there.

Grade: B+

Jessica Sanchez’s Second Song: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” by Jennifer Holiday

Steven Said: Another winning performance. Just over-the-top.

J-Lo Said: Your vocal ability is just not something you see all the time.

Randy Said: You are really in it to really win it.

The Verdict:

This was the perfect song choice for her and it should have been…better?

I don’t know. There just seemed to be a little bit too much there. A few too many runs? Over-emoting? Trying too hard? I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it just seemed a bit too gaudy.

This song, for all its grandeur, is a very simple story and a stirring emotion that comes from telling that story. It didn’t need all the flourish and flash that she gave it. Jessica was fully capable of running over this vocal without all that extra bit of pizzazz. It just didn’t need it.

Grade: B-

Prediction: To most of America, that was probably Killing it in the Pimp Spot. That should make her safe for next week.


Final Thoughts:

Joshua’s second performance was such a standout, that the rest of the show almost seemed like window dressing around that masterpiece. Really, if everyone just got voted off and Joshua was handed the crown this week, would anybody be upset? I know I wouldn’t be.

Of course, that’s not the way this show goes and only one contestant will go home on the slow drag to the finale, and that contestant is Hollie. I’ve predicted it many-a-week running but on a show where three of the performers absolutely killed at least one song and Hollie got savaged by the judges on her last performance, I just don’t see how she sticks around another week. It’s just that simple.

What did everybody else think of last night’s show?

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