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Current Sounds

At the top of "American Idol," host Ryan Seacrest reminded everyone that the finale is only a month away. Then he introduced the Top 7, who entered to the cheers of the audience.
This week, Tommy Hilfiger stopped by the mansion to try to take them to the next level with their stylistic choices. From the videotaped segment, though, it didn't look like he was pushing too many of them to leave their comfort zone.

The Top 7 chose songs from this decade, and the videotaped segments showed the fan support from their hometowns (though they didn't get a chance to visit over the weekend, except via videoconferencing). Guest mentor Akon contributed very little to the rehearsals, it seems.

The Top 7
The Top 7

1) Skylar Laine chose a Kellie Pickler song, "Didn't Know How Much I Loved You," and Jimmy was concerned it wasn't big enough, but when Skylar sang it, "she owned it." Jimmy told her she didn't need to take a guitar up onstage, because she should concentrate on singing. For her performance, she opted to take the guitar up anyway. She wore a black and white dress with an uneven hem, and she was surrounded by four barrels with fire in them. Throughout the song, she pretty much belted it, and there were some pitchy parts. The pyrotechnics did not save it.

Randy Jackson said that she was in her wheelhouse and could have a hit with a song like that. He thought the pitch was almost picture perfect. Jennifer Lopez also thought it was perfect pitch. She thought it was a perfect way to start the show. Steven Tyler said he's enamored by the women on the show this year: "The crows may crow, but the hens deliver the goods." [SKYLAR'S PERFORMANCE]

2) Colton Dixon was doing "Love the Way You Lie" by Skylar Grey. Jimmy challenged him on it, telling him that he needed to stand out. Colton agreed with Jimmy's assessment that it will come down to him and Phillip at the end. Do you? You have heard that "Idol" voters like humility, right? Colton predicted that this song might be his game-changer. He performed at a white Steinway on a stage covered with smoke, wearing a red jacket with black stripes and a black hood. A group of violinists in chairs accompanied him. It was one of his best efforts: focusing on the melody, which was difficult with a lot of shifts up and down the scale. The lighting was strange: not sure why they kept his face in darkness.

Jennifer said that she's always surprised by his approach to the notes. She likes that he makes every song his own. She wished it would have been "more of a song," though. Steven loved his jacket. He said that he's so good that, when he's recording, he won't have to do overdubs (translation, please?) Randy said the jacket is "crazy fly." He liked the subtle performance, which he felt was stellar and showed sensitivity. In addition, he liked how it started almost like a lullaby. [COLTON'S PERFORMANCE]

3) Elise Testone and Phllip Phillips did a duet, "Someone I Used to Know" by Gotye. There was a cute video opening where the two of them were mock complaining about working together. Phillip started out the song, wearing a gray oxford shirt and black pants. There was a black and white op-art background on the screens. Elise wore a sparkly tank minidress with a gold and black striped skirt. Her performance was at odds with the meaning of the song, smiling at him as she sang about him screwing her over. "Glee" just did this song in this week's episode, and it was much more emotionally intense.

Steven said he has that song looped in his iPod, listening to it for hours. He said that Phillip should sing with her more often. Jennifer liked the feel that they brought to the song as a duet. She acknowledged there was a bit of an imbalance in the song, with Elise singing "the mess out of it" and Phillip a bit less of a good fit. Randy said that he would give it to Elise, that she'd outsung Phillip. So he said that next time they do a duet, Phillip should choose a song he wants to do. [ELISE AND PHILLIP'S DUET]

4) Jessica Sanchez was next with "Stuttering" by Jazmine Sullivan. Jimmy said that she has a lot of power, and Akon praised her control. Jimmy predicted that, with the right song, there's no stopping her. For her performance, Jessica sat on a piano while an accompanist in shadow played. There was a small flight of steps that rose to her, which made it easier in the middle where she stood up and moved around. She wore a silver and white striped fitted jacket with big shoulders. As she sang, she told the story of the lyrics, channeling the emotion, not smiling until the very last moment. Her nuanced performance was masterful.

Randy liked the arrangement. He found the performance "superb" and "at the highest degree." He said that "you slayed the biggest fish of the night." Jennifer said that Jessica was digging deeper emotionally with the song. In the next few weeks, she wants to see "some Joshua-type performance" in terms of impact. Steven said that every time he hears her sing, "I forget where I am." He pointed out that Jessica was wearing the same shoes as Jennifer. Jennifer quipped, "She's got good taste. What do you want?" [JESSICA'S PERFORMANCE]

5) Joshua Ledet has just turned 20, and there was a special surprise for him: a videotaped message from Fantasia. Alluding to the nickname bestowed upon him by fans, she said, "From Fantasia to Mantasia, happy birthday" and threw him a kiss. He was thrilled. Jimmy observed that one of the most difficult things to find with talent is humility, and if Joshua can do that, "he could be king some day." Wearing a white jacket with hot pink button down, black pants with pink socks and black shoes, he sang a sort of updated soul song, "Runaway Baby" by Bruno Mars. The best part of it was that, even with all of his moving around the stage, he didn't lose track of either the lyrics or the melody. Nicely done. The judges gave him a standing o.

Steven told him, "You can sell a song like a work of art." Then he asked him how tall he was. He observed that the dancer who was with him was 6 foot tall. "Get her number," he advised. Jennifer said that it was dynamic and had energy. She feels that he's a great performer. Randy thought it was an unbelievable performance for him, and he loved the jacket. [JOSHUA'S PERFORMANCE]

6) Skylar and Colton would be singing another love song for their duet, "Don't You Wanna Stay" by Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean. Colton wanted to make it clear they were not dating: "And that is because she owns a gun." Wearing a black zippered jacket with high collar over a long white shirt, Colton began the song. Skylar wore a ruffled red sleeveless dress with uneven hem. Her portion of the song was a little harsh at times. They didn't have much chemistry, but that's partly because they kept closing their eyes instead of looking at each other as they sang.

Steven embarrassed them both by saying that they just made love singing to each other. He liked the harmonies. Jennifer liked the harmonies, too, and said they'd done a nice job. Randy said it was just OK for him. He pointed out that it was a little pitchy here and there. [SKYLAR AND COLTON'S DUET]

7) Hollie Cavanaugh, wearing a short white showgirl dress with a lace bodice and short feathered skirt, sat on a stool with a guitarist, the two of them surrounded by smoke and lit with gold light. Her performance of "Perfect" by Pink was less halting than her performance the previous week, but she still had some problems with enunciation. More important, she didn't connect emotionally to the song.

Jennifer said that she feels Hollie fighting and wanting to be perfect but "it's not always about that." She said that she's rooting for her. Steven agreed that it's not about being perfect and "it kind of lay there tonight for me" but "you look good tonight, girl." Randy said it wasn't perfect but a lot better than last week and helped to redeem her. [HOLLIE'S PERFORMANCE]

8) While working with Phillip Phillips this week, Jimmy urged him to take on Colton for the girl vote. But Phillip seemed willing to concede that Colton gets the girl vote because "he's a good-looking guy." He wore a black shirt and a gray jacket, playing an acoustic version of "Give a Little More" by Maroon 5. I don't know if he was really trying for that female vote, though, because he wasn't working either the camera or the audience. I don't know the original song that well, so I wasn't sure how much he'd changed it up.

Steven liked the performance and likened Phillip to Johnny Cash and Steve McQueen. Jennifer agreed that he looked like a love child of Steve McQueen and Johnny Cash but found the performance underwhelming. Randy agreed that it wasn't his greatest performance and that it wasn't a "wow" moment. [PHILLIP'S PERFORMANCE]

9) Hollie and Joshua, along with Jessica, were singing "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)" by Kelly Clarkson. Joshua started out the song, strutting out in a blue button down with a black vest. Both Jessica and Hollie then joined him, each of them having some trouble with the melody. Jessica wore a white pants suit, and Hollie wore bright pink pants and a blousy white top and long blue feather earrings. While the song wasn't that strong at the beginning, it got stronger towards the end. Most of the time, Hollie was a mess, and it seemed like they were just trying to outsing each other.

Jennifer said that this season of "American Idol" is the season of the big voice. Seeing them up there makes her proud, she said. Steven said they should get together and call themselves the "Hollie-ock-olas." Randy thought they made a great trio but would give the edge to Josh. [JOSHUA, JESSICA & HOLLIE'S PERFORMANCE]

10) In an interview with Ryan, Elise said that she watched a Jason Segal movie with her mother over break. She's a fan, so Ryan surprised her with a taped message from Jason, wishing her luck. Doing a Lady Gaga song "You and I," Elise originally wanted to start out on the drums, but Jimmy and Akon talked her out of that. Instead, she started it at the piano, wearing a little black dress. Then she stood up and rocked it. The song choice was a great one for her, as she imbued it with a bluesy soul.

Randy announced, "Elise is back!" He thought it was the perfect song for her, adding, "America, please know, this girl is very talented." Jennifer said that Elise did exactly what she'd wanted to do: let go but maintained control. Steven said that she took a song that's simple and effortless and made it genius. [ELISE'S PERFORMANCE]

Kudos to Jessica, Joshua and Elise, with a nod to Phillip. The ones most in danger are Skylar, who is starting the reach the limits of her abilities; and Hollie, who has been unable to connect emotionally with her songs. Whoever else will be in the bottom three is likely to cause controversy, since the remaining contestants all have been receiving lots of praise from fans. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Phillip may find himself in the bottom three this week. If either Skylar or Hollie is sent home, the judges may or may not use the save, but they almost certainly would for Phillip.

Current songs give the contestants a chance to show what they'd do on the charts.

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( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 12th, 2012 03:32 pm (UTC)
I had some issues with Colton's song choice because he took a song that is about the dangers of romanticizing abusive relationships and...romanticized it? Which was pretty creepy to me.

I thought Hollie was by far the weakest of the night, followed by Phillip. I don't see Skylar so much as reaching the limits of her abilities as being in a specific niche, much like Scotty was. She's great at what she does and I don't think I expect her to do different or more. But because she's a woman, I think she'll be judged more harshly for this. Phillip is much more of the "reaching the limits of his abilities" in my mind. He really doesn't show a lot of variation, while Skylar really has.
Apr. 12th, 2012 03:42 pm (UTC)
Don't get me wrong: I like Skylar. But this wasn't her best week.

My problem with Phillip is that he seems to think he's above any criticism. The "aw shucks" mannerisms don't cover up for the fact that he consistently has turned aside the mentors' advice.
Apr. 12th, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC)
I don't read Phillip as thinking he's above criticism. I read him as having auditioned for the show on a whim, not really being sure why he's there, and being like, okey doke, I'm just here to have fun, so I'll keep doing what I think is fun. I don't think he's ignoring advice because he thinks he's better than it. I think he's ignoring advice because he's goofing around.
Apr. 12th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
I think this is probably close to the truth...It may also be why he and HeeJun clicked, because that's a lot of the reason HeeJun auditioned, too.

I also think he thinks some of his fellow contestants are a little full of themselves (I'm looking at you, DeAndre and Joshua), based on the "I don't want to go around touching everyone's hands" comment he made last week. He just wants to play and sing music, without all the "show biz" trappings, I think.
Apr. 12th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
There's an explanation for the "touching hands" comment - he misunderstood Jimmy. He thought Jimmy was saying he needed to start moving around on stage and interacting with the audience more, whereas Jimmy was making reference to him staying stuck in a groove and not moving forward (=advancing). Sadly, it is what's happening now.
Apr. 12th, 2012 08:26 pm (UTC)
Ahhh...okay I may have missed that a bit. Our DVR kind of rebelled against taping the results show last week. That makes sense.

I think Phillip is the better musician...I just hope that's enough. It'll piss me off if Joshua lasts longer than Phillip because he kisses the audience's ass better.
Apr. 12th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
He actually wrote an apology on FB right after the show with that explanation.

OT: Is that your cat in your icon?
Apr. 13th, 2012 12:47 am (UTC)
I missed that.
Apr. 13th, 2012 12:42 am (UTC)
He ought to watch comments like that, though, because he doesn't want the audience to think he doesn't care about them. Voters can be fickle.

I think Jimmy put his finger on it tonight when he called Phillip a singer-songwriter who needs the original songs as part of his appeal. But they're never going to allow that on "Idol," right?
Apr. 12th, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
I think it's going to be Hollie going home this week. She improved over last week, which was pretty awful, but there seems to be a disconnect between her and the songs/audience. Plus, if you match her up as against Jessica, Jessica outdoes her every week.

As for pitting Phillip against Colton, I wasn't sure if they were trying to encourage a little competition between them or just point out that they're marginally similar artists who are both after the same voting base (young girls). I don't think you'll get them as the final two in the end, but I do think they're competing for some of the same votes.
Apr. 13th, 2012 12:44 am (UTC)
It's always about playing up the drama!
Apr. 12th, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
Overdub is when you rerecord bits that are out of tune rather than having to do the whole song or verse again. You can just record a couple of notes if you need by hitting record for that bit on the track you already have and then stopping again the second you get it right. It saves a lot of time (and therefore money) only redoing snippets, but if you don't have to do it at all, even better.
Apr. 13th, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
Thanks for the info. I wish that Ryan had asked him to define it, but maybe there wasn't time.
Apr. 13th, 2012 08:57 am (UTC)
I think people assume that there's common knowledge of these terms. I know I'd think that everyone knows what it means - when you work in an industry where that's everyday parlance, you forget that it's actually quite specific terminology.
Apr. 13th, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, I totally know why Steven Tyler thinks it's common parlance: he's been in that industry for decades. But Ryan is usually pretty good about asking people to clarify themselves, and this time he missed it. Then again, who knows what sort of director chatter was in his ear bug at that time?

Bah, now I've got to write about last night's results, and I'm still so angry I don't know how I can do it. Just got to focus, I guess.
Apr. 13th, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
It's used in TV as well though - they sometimes have to rerecord bits of dialogue if they didn't pick up properly - so he probably didn't pick up on it because it wasn't specifically music jargon and he knew what he meant.

Oooh a controversial result! I don't want Idol, although we do get it here, so I have no emotional investment - but I do love reading your recaps!
Apr. 13th, 2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
I don't know why I still let it make me emotional. I guess it's because I pay such close attention to it. Kind of like a sports fan whose mood rises and falls based on her team's fate. I'm working on last night's recap now.
Apr. 13th, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
Oh I totally get sucked in by shows that I am able to follow. I am loving the UK's "The Voice" and get so upset when they don't turn around for someone I feel deserves it - they've had a couple of former successful group members on and not all of them were selected, which I found a little sad when it was a guy who was in a band I enjoyed. I've even been known to vote in SYTYCD finals and for Eurovision...
Apr. 13th, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
I watch nearly every competition reality TV show I can, whether it's music, cooking, fashion, art, or modeling. I love learning more about what it takes to do those professions well. For the shows that allow viewer voting, I always try to vote, except for "Dancing with the Stars," since I can't watch the performance show on its air date. It's against two other shows I want to watch!
Apr. 12th, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC)
he sang a sort of updated soul song

That's what Bruno Mars does - he does retro soul, like Janelle Monae. This is his version of the show at this year's Grammys. The reason for the link is so you can see his whole look (the band's too!) Last year he performed with Janelle also at the Grammys, with B.O.B.
Apr. 13th, 2012 12:44 am (UTC)
Yes, I should have updated that. I had that phrase in as a placeholder before I confirmed the actual song he sang by Bruno Mars. My bad. But I think I really ought to look for more Bruno Mars; he would be up my alley.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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