LOS ANGELES – American Idol isn’t going anywhere.
The top-rated singing series has maintained its stranglehold on the reality ratings war continuing to top surging competition from The Voice and Dancing With The Stars. Despite losing almost its entire judging panel from a few seasons ago, the inclusions of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have actually made the show better.
The best way to describe the show is by its own admission. Namely, that it is attempting to discover the country’s best undiscovered superstar without the frills of battle rounds and blind auditions.
While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the finalists from the 10th season of the show last year, 2012 has been a renaissance for the program and any of the remaining 6 finalists could conceivably walk away with the win.
I had the opportunity to check out the show live for the first time last week, and I was excited to see what would happen especially because it was the first time the finalists would truly be singing for their lives with the judges’ save being used on the previous episode to save Jessica Sanchez.
When I arrived at CBS Television City (that is where the show is taped despite it airing on FOX), for the performance episode, I received the news that Dick Clark has passed away and given his mentoring of Ryan Seacrest, I was curious to see if the show would have time to adjust its lineup to include some sort of tribute.
As I suspected, Ryan opened the show on a somber note and said that without Dick Clark, a show like American Idol wouldn’t exist. I wholeheartedly agree with the assessment.
The host also said that the remaining contestants would sing two songs each. The first would be a recent hit (from 2000 to today) and then would return to the stage to take on a soul song from “back in the day.”
Let’s get to my live take on the performances.
“Rollin’ In The Deep
– Hollie had the misfortune of being the first to perform and given that I felt like she was the most at risk for elimination, I thought that her starting the show would allow for viewers to forget her after seeing everybody else
– In my opinion, Hollie is the most underrated performer left in the competition and one who really hasn’t had a bad performance thus far
– Hollie’s problem is that she just doesn’t have the universal popularity that Skylar and Phillip do
– Her Adele cover was phenomenal once again
– The silent acoustic opening was chilling and immediately commanded the entire audience’s attention
– Judge Steven Tyler said that she finally did what America was waiting for her to do
– Jennifer Lopez said that she was “so happy” with the performance
– Randy said that it was well done but “not perfect”
During the commurtztial break, Colton’s sister Skylar was moved up from her seat to the mosh pit so it was clear that Ryan would be referencing her before Colton took the stage. I was right because when the show resumed, Seacrest asked her to join Colton on stage and teased her about whether she would return next season. While she said that she wasn’t sure, I don’t think there is any question that she will be a finalist on the show’s twelfth edition.
– When Colton revealed that he would be singing “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga, I thought that it would either be a massive hit garnering him his first standing ovation from the judges, or that it would be an epic fail subjecting him to ridicule
– I was wrong as it was basically a combination
– The performance looked cool live, but definitely didn’t highlight Colton’s potent and signature song and I would have liked to see him tackle something else
– He probably figured that he would rock a ballad with his next song so he wanted to do something memorable with his current pick
– The judges seemed like they also thought it was average, but interestingly enough, J-Lo revealed that she was excited to hear Colton’s second song which she had already sampled during rehearsal
– I am not an Elise fan and thought she should have been nixed in week one
– Out of all the performances that I wanted to see live, shockingly Elise’s was the one that I wanted to see the most, primarily to see if she sounded better in-person versus how she did on TV
– My opinion didn’t change at all
– While the judges consistently compliment Elise on her “insane” runs as Randy Jackson usually describes them, I actually feel like he is the insane one if he actually thinks that they sound good
– The song was a screechy mess
– Steven told her that she “sang her little tushy off” in another eyebrow-raising comment from the Aerosmith singer
– After the song, Elise discussed her dog being sick which I thought might have been a smart play for sympathy votes
– Then again, I am a conspiracy theorist
“You Got It Bad”
– What kind of alternate universe are we living in when Phillip Phillips sings an Usher track?
– This cover was ridiculously good and easily in contention for one of the best performances on Idol ever
– I would have never thought about putting a bluesy rock undertone to Usher’s R&B anthem but Phillip’s creativity in this case was genius
– Sounded great and a song that I’d actually purchase
– Very commercial
– Judges gave him a deserved standing ovation
– Randy: “You’re Phillip Phillips and you’re the bomb!”
– Couldn’t agree more
– Big performance for Jessica considering how she was technically eliminated last week
– Outstanding vocal once again
– In terms of raw singing talent, Jessica does not have an equal on the show and could be the best singer that the show has ever produced which is shocking considering her age
– Another spectacular performance
– While I like the twists and the fresh nature of The Voice, there is something to be said about pure and unfiltered natural talent like Jessica’s
– After the show, when Ryan asked her about how she felt when the judges took the mic away from her she said that she didn’t think that they liked her and this innocent act is something she needs to lose
“Born This Way”
– The most improved contestant in the competition, Skylar went from being a fringe contender to one of the competition favorites
– The key to her success is two-fold: her amazing ability to perform and her song choice
– Like Colton, she also chose a Lady Gaga song, but performed the country version of “Born This Way” and made the song suit her which was a marked difference from what Dixon did
– Great performance, which I think wasn’t as good as Hollie’s and Phil’s, but still above average
– Decided to go with a Fantasia single
– Fantasia is easily my least favorite idol and I was never a big fan of this song, but Joshua’s talent is undeniable
– One of the clichés that reality show judges use the most is that the singer they are so good that they can sing the phone book but Josh actually can
– Phenomenal performance, imagine what he could do with a good song (I kid, but not really)
Commurtztial and its time for the second performances!
“Son Of A Preacher Man”
– Not nearly as good as her opening song
– Hollie is a contemporary singer so I think the old school song unnecessarily aged her
– Performed it well but would have liked to her tackle another Adele song
– Jennifer Lopez said she was looking forward to this performance, and I was too when they wheeled in a tree as a backdrop for Colton’s piano-playing
– The song was an improvement from his first attempt, but definitely not worth the J-Lo hype
– Colton needs to pick songs that are more relevant to the audience and to himself as an artist
– For the first time, I thought Colton might be in danger, strictly because of bad song choice
– While his “Bad Romance” might have been too much, this ballad was definitely too little
– If the judges faces could speak, they would say ‘ho-hum’
“Let’s Get It On”
– I would preferred “let’s get it over with”
– Another disjointed and discombobulated effort from Elise
– The song is sexy, but I didn’t think the performance particularly was
– While I think there is a market for Elise’s music, I just don’t think Idol is the right platform for her
– I am sure that if I went to a small stage somewhere in Venice and Elise was the featured act, she would sound spectacular
– I think her appeal is niche, not commercial
– Wasn’t a fan
“In The Midnight Hour”
– Another perfect song selection and a nice change of pace from his opening slow song
– Really felt like tonight seemed like the coronation of Phillip Phillips as he was light years better than everyone else which is a great compliment considering how good the remaining talent is
– It is absolutely hilarious to see him dance
– Because he did only press scrums after the show, I couldn’t ask him to give me a dancing lesson but hopefully I will get the chance to talk to him at the finale when I can ask
– It didn’t matter what support signs fans were holding inside the venue, everyone left as a Phillip fan
“Try A Little Tenderness”
– Not as great as her opening performance either
– Thought it was one of her less than stellar performances but that’s only because her standard is so high
– Her “I Will Always Love You” and “Turn The Beat Around” are still my favorite BBChez performances
– My criticism is the same that I had for Hollie, the theme didn’t work in her favor
“Heard It Though The Grapevine”
– Another amazing song choice from Skylar
– Her style, while not unique, is so memorable that you can immediately tell who is singing it and I think this quality, coupled with her amazing stage presence will serve her well long after the show is over
– Easily one of the top performers of the night and I especially like how she can turn any theme that isn’t country into her own style
“A Change Is Gonna Come”
– Another beautiful performance from Josh
– A great week for him, but like Jessica, he has set such a high standard of expectation that he is now only competing with himself
– Unfortunately, I don’t think Josh has the universal appeal that some of the other contestants do and since Idol is also a popularity contest, I think that is where he will have the toughest time
– In terms of sheer singing ability, it wouldn’t even be a competition because of how good Josh is
So there you have it. I was also at the results show and saw Kris Allen and LMFAO perform live, but I was a little distracted. My Idol tickets were stolen from the parking lot but luckily, since I was covering the show, they had noted my seat number so I was still able to check everything out. Part of my wanted the guy who stole the tickets to actually show up just so I would have known who it was. Alas.
With that being said, I was a little more frazzled at the results show than I usually am but that didn’t take away from the absolute shock of Colton going home. My regular readers and viewers will know about my pristine record of predicting reality show winners and when the live shows began, I thought that it would come down to a Jessica/Colton final two. Suffice to say that with Jessica still here only because of the save and Colton now going home, it hasn’t been my best week for prognostication.
In any event, I now believe that the show will likely come down to Phillip (who will pick up Colton’s votes), Skylar and perhaps Jessica with Elise, Hollie and Josh being the next to go.
I will be back at Idol for the finale!
American Idol airs Wednesdays 8 p.m. on FOX and CTV and on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on FOX and CTV Two.
Tags: American Idol