Wednesday, May 2nd 2012
The Brits and the '60s
by The AI Insider
The Top 5 competed in two categories on Wednesday night: songs from the 1960s and Brit pop, with a guest mentoring from "Little Steven" Van Zandt.
Hollie Cavanagh was up first, with Tina Turner's "River Deep - Mountain High," which she chose because "people want her to come out of shell more." Little Steven was concerned that it was a "very difficult song," and he urged Hollie to stop trying to please people. "You gotta get rid of that. You gotta act like you don't care what anybody thinks. You don't care what these judges think; screw them, what do they know?" he joked. However, the judges were impressed.
"This is the first time I really heard you step out and use your blues," Steven said. "You just did it, and you showed me you got it in you. Thank you, Lord." Jennifer said, "I could feel you attacking the song. It was a different type of Hollie out there tonight. Really good job!" And Randy "loved it," too, saying, "That second verse, you wore it out! Very nice."
Phillip Phillips followed with "The Letter" by the Box Tops, and he changed it up a lot, despite Jimmy's nitpicking (Little Steven urged his pal to "leave him alone. He's good"). The judges thought he pulled it off.
"This is what I'm loving in this moment," Randy said. "There are five people left, the show's down to the wire. You came out and made it your own. Maybe it didn't have as much melody in the chorus, but you made it new for me in your jam band-y Phillip Phillips way. I loved it, dude." Jennifer said she didn't know the original song, so she thought Phillip's version "did lack a little melody," but it didn't matter. "You're so compelling to watch, I want to start clapping when you're done," she said. Steven offered bad news and good news to Phillip, saying, "Bad news: I miss the melody. Good news: you get away with it. You should be so proud. Rarely does someone come around and actually waves his freak flag. You do that, and you do that so well."
Skylar was planning to sing "Knock on Wood," but Little Steven told her, "It just wasn't quite working." So she switched over to Credence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," which Jimmy called "a real song of rebellion" for a "girl of rebellion." Plus, he added, since Skylar was in the bottom three last week, she needed to "put a jet pack on."
The judges enjoyed Skylar's performance. "You run out there and give us all this energy, it's amazing!" Jennifer told her. "It's like you attack every single song, it's so natural for you. You're fearless out there, and that's what it takes." Steven added, "You love music, and music loves you. It was just fabulous, your dress, your voice, I love it." Randy said that Credence would be proud, adding that Skylar was "born to be on the stage."
Next, Phillip and Joshua Ledet paired up for a duet of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin,'" even though they jokingly seemed reluctant to touch each other. Steven thought it was "perfect" anyway.
Jessica wanted to sing "Proud Mary," and though Little Steven "hates" that song, he said, "She blows your mind by how good a job she does." Jimmy added that Jessica has the notes and the range, now she's "just gotta come to the party."
Well, she won over two of the three judges. "With Elise gone, I thought we'd be missing Janis Joplin, but you brought it out, a little bit of Tina, a little bit of Beyonce," Jennifer said. "I love seeing you move. Soul and R&B are more your lane, and it shows right there." Steven said, "The only thing that gives experience a run for its money is a 16 year old. That's the blues, man." Randy wasn't as impressed. "The performance was barely OK for me," he said. "Here's why: You took on the biggest dragon of the night. Tina worked the stage, sweated the stage . . . the thing that pulled it out for you is your voice. You can sing anything, but it didn't quite sit with me."
Joshua took on the Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," and Jimmy said he "showed us he has a gift." The judges were equally blown away.
"You gotta be one of the top two best Idols of all time," Steven said. Jennifer told him, "You're like a throwback from another era, you are so sick — I don't even know what to say to you." And Randy said that Joshua could "bring R&B back in a different sort of way."
So who "won" the first round? Randy and Steven agreed that Round 1 belonged to Joshua, Skylar, and Hollie, with Jennifer singling out Joshua and Hollie.
Onto the "Brit pop" round. Hollie kicked things off with Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," and Little Steven urged her to "keep it intimate." "Don't sing to the world, sing to one person," he advised. Jimmy added that if she could do what she did in rehearsal, she "should stay on the show." The judges had nothing but raves.
"I loved it," Steven said. "It forced you to sing the way you did when you first came in here, that beautiful ballad voice, and you nailed it!" Jennifer thought Little Steven gave Hollie great advice to sing to one person. "That beautiful run right before the end was breathtaking to me — it felt like you surprised yourself toward the end. That was amazing," she said. Randy said he knew Hollie was a "fighter" when she didn't quite make it last season. "You've been the dark horse all season. To me, you're two for two tonight, and that was unbelievable. For the record, you're peaking now at the right time. Stay right in there, Hollie, you're doing an amazing job."
Phillip followed with "Time of the Season" by the Zombies, and the judges were happy that he finally sang the melody. "It was more relaxed and subdued," Randy said. "We were like, 'Yo, he really can sing the melody.' It was a nice performance. I don't know if I'm jumping up and down about it, but it was nice." Jennifer thought it was "very mellow" but good, and Steven said he "sang it really well."
Next, the three remaining ladies performed "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" as a trio, and Steven thought it was "great" despite the "weird arrangement." Jennifer called it "so cute."
Skylar chose Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" for her second song. Jimmy said she "needs to make the magical transition into country." The judges thought she did that and more.
"You're definitely peaking at the right time, that was flawless," Randy raved. "Every time you get up, I believe you, I'm transfixed — that's the mark of a great singer." Jennifer asked Skylar, "You want to win, don't you?" When Skylar said she does, Jennifer continued, "With performances like that, you just might. You're winning over the hearts of America as we speak." Steven called the performance "just more proof that it works when you work it. You just took that song and brought it into the 21st century."
Jessica chose Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful," and Jimmy said the arrangement would be "very, very important — more the Joe Cocker version than the lounge version. It can't sound like Muzak." The judges loved what she did with it.
"You once showed America just how beautiful your voice is and what a great singer you are. You're gonna be #1, girl," Steven said. "How could we have let this girl go home?" Jennifer asked. "It was so beautiful." Randy added that even though he was "whatever" about Round 1, in Round 2, Jessica is at "the top of the leader board right now." He told Jessica, "If you can continue to tap into the feeling like you did there, you are off to the races. Unbelievable! So good."
Finally, Joshua closed the show with the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody." Even though he'd never heard the song before, he learned it in 15 minutes in rehearsal — and Little Steven called it "one of the greatest performances I ever heard in my life." The judges gave him a standing ovation.
"To take something you never heard and deliver with that much passion, you have to be born to do that," Randy said. "I've been doing this 11 years — you are one of the best singers ever on this show, that was incredible." Jennifer went one step further. "There are so few people who can perform that way, bring so much passion to it, and also have the voice. It's been years since we've seen somebody like this," she said, adding that she'd like to "go beyond the show" and say he's "one of the best singers we've seen in 50 years." Steven was also impressed by how quickly Joshua learned the song, noting that it "would have been a hit record."
With talent like this, it's nearly impossible to predict who's going home! Nevertheless, you'll get your results on Thursday night, when Coldplay and Carrie Underwood perform.