Skylar gets a hug from Jessica.
First to be called to center stage was Joshua Ledet. In taped comments, music mentor Jimmy Iovine predicted that Joshua would be a tough one to beat. Jimmy thought he was fantastic the previous night and that, when he sang "To Love Somebody," "the sky opened."
Joshua began smiling before Ryan read the results, apparently because of something that happened off camera (the camera was on a tight close up of Joshua at the time). He was safe!
In this week's Ford video, "Dream Life," the Top 5, sans Phillip, go around the countryside in dramatic costumes after going through a magic door. Phillip's absence is probably due to his persistent health problems.
After the break, Coldplay performed "Paradise." It was refreshing to have an act play on "Idol" who didn't require a lot of pageantry but just played a melodic song and focused on the musicality. There were some glow-in-the-dark shapes projected all over the stage, which must have been especially magical for those in the auditorium. To use a Steven Tyler term, beautiful. [COLDPLAY'S 1ST PERFORMANCE]
Next to hear results were Hollie Cavanagh and Phillip Phillips. About Hollie, Jimmy said that she did a good job with the first song but only a competent job with the second one. It wasn't magical, he said. But he thought she killed the first song and should be safe. Afterward, host Ryan Seacrest asked Hollie where her newfound confidence came. She said she'd finally internalized the positive comments she'd been hearing from the judges and the mentors. About Phillip's night, Jimmy said that Phillip had been coasting and did two very bland songs. He said that Phillip should be in the bottom two but probably won't because of his previous performances.
Perhaps surprisingly, Hollie was in the bottom two, and Phillip was safe. I guess Jimmy was right and people were voting based on previous performances.
Next, season four winner Carrie Underwood performed the title track from her new album, "Blown Away," dressed in a white column dress, surrounded by smoke and bright white lights, with a little wind going. The song was a ballad that sounded more pop than her usual country wheelhouse.
Then it was time for Skylar Laine and Jessica Sanchez to listen to their results. About Skylar, Jimmy said that Skylar is a fighter and had great energy on the first song. He didn't agree with Jennifer that the second performance was a show-winning performance. In order for her to get to the finals, "She's going to have to find that crushing song that wins the night." Ryan asked her what she needs to do if she stays in. Skylar said she needs to do a rocking song and maybe choose a bigger ballad. About Jessica, Jimmy said that "You Are So Beautiful" was beautiful, that she took the audience on a journey. He took issue with the first song. He believes that Jessica is the best singer in the competition, but the dress was too mature for her, and she shouldn't have sung the popular cover song "Proud Mary." He talked to styling: "You're torpedoing the girl." Ryan asked Jennifer about the dress. Jennifer agreed that it might be a bit much for middle America. She said, though, that people should judge the performance.
Jessica learned she was one step closer to the finale: she was safe. Skylar was in the bottom two. There blows my predictions.
After a commercial, Jennifer was caught in the audience talking to Jimmy. Ryan made her stay to introduce Coldplay for an encore performance, "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall." I have to say: their songwriting is just amazing. At the end of the performance, confetti falls from the ceiling. Cut to Ryan, also under falling confetti, which actually was staged, since the performance was taped earlier this week. [COLDPLAY'S SECOND PERFORMANCE]
Asked to respond to the bottom two, Randy said that "they both sang their faces off." Jennifer also said that they'd put on an amazing show and that "it's hard to lose anybody." Steven said that "the Top 5 has never been better than this" and "thank you for letting us feel the music."
After nearly 60 million votes, the person going home, Ryan said, would be Skylar. The judges gave her a standing ovation, as did the other three safe contestants. Hollie gave her a long hug and got sort of teary.
Skylar gets coolness points for singing along with Scotty McCreery's good-bye anthem as her good-bye montage rolled. She'll land on her feet.
For her swan song, Skylar sang a country song, of course, "Gunpowder and Lead." Shot of Jennifer at the table crying, and another of Hollie crying. Skylar made her way to the second stage and touched the hands of some of the people in the front row, but stopped short of doing so with the judges. For a second, at the end, as she was pumping her fist in the air, it seemed she might drop the microphone to the stage, but instead, she walked center stage to receive another big hug from Hollie, as well as from the rest of the Top 5.
Why was it Skylar's time to go home, especially when Phillip had had one of his worst weeks? Let's look at her strengths and weaknesses.
With her spunky country-girl personality, Skylar stood out from the rest of the contestants. She also represented a sizeable portion of the voters for "Idol," who often keep country singers in for a while. Lately, she'd been expanding her repertoire past upbeat country songs, performing ballads that showed her range.
On the negative side, though, Jimmy was right that she didn't have a moment this week. Her performances were competent but ultimately forgettable. This is often the most dangerous place to be in: voters tend to vote for outstanding performances, as well as to save contestants who are perceived to be in trouble. This means it is often the good-but-not-great performances that fail to get votes. I think that's what happened to Skylar this week, with Phillip's fans voting to keep him in. Plus, Hollie had stepped up her game and edged her ahead of Skylar. But as one of the most charismatic performers this season, Skylar is almost certain to do well in the years ahead.
You've got to have a "moment" every week.