American Idol’s Top 9: Standing Ovations Galore

It’s “Personal Idols” week and Ryan Seacrest threatens us with trio performances. I refuse to acknowledge them, save Elise’s vibrant Edge of Seventeen in the Fleetwood Mac medley. Overall, this was a night chock-full of winning performances, so let’s just get started, shall we?

Colton Dixon – “Everything” – Lifehouse
We get it, Colton. You picked your favorite worship song of all time. Colton has found his niche and he’s sticking to it, Goddammit! He certainly has a clear vision of who he wants to be as an artist. Yes, that’s an Idol cliché, but it’s true. But on the flip side, everything about his performances are so thought out that there’s no room for freshness or spontaneity. And do the judges dare point out his nasally pitch problems? When a contestant weeps for worship, you know the answer is no.

Skylar Laine – “Gunpowder and Lead” – Miranda Lambert
Skylar! Skylar! Skylar! Our little firecracker is back! I have been waiting for weeks for Skylar to let loose again, and now the time has finally come. Granted, this spunky, up-tempo country slammer was fresher the first time around, but man, is it ever something. By the end, I was definitely pumping my fist along with Skylar.

American Idol's Top 9

Heejun Han – “A Song for You” – Donny Hathaway
A STANDING O? Just because he didn’t make a fool out of himself? HELL-TO-THE-NO! While I do think this is most sincere Heejun has been with a song this season, going back to snoozy ballads to prove you’re back in it just won’t cut it. And neither does the garbled enunciation. This “new Heejun” is simply old and limp. But brilliant. By putting his buttery tone front and center, Heejun secured raves from the judges and will sadly live to see another week, much to the chagrin of the female contestants.

Hollie Cavanuagh – “Jesus, Take the Wheel” – Carrie Underwood
A song with Jesus in the title? Your move, Colton. Alas, this performance is just more of the same from Hollie. But now, with snow! And less robotic-ness! And better fashion sense!

DeAndre Brackensick – “Sometimes I Cry” – Eric Benet
I tuned out halfway through DeAndre’s performance. When you’ve heard the falsetto once, it feels like you’ve heard it all. Next thing I know, DeAndre wails an intensely high run and the judges are ON THEIR FEET. WHAT?!

Jessica Sanchez – “Sweet Dreams” – Beyoncé
I was mesmerized throughout the entire performance. It’s great that we’re seeing Jessica re-arranging songs, slowing down “Sweet Dreams” and tailoring it to her strengths. But unfortunately, Jessica is not a guy, so naturally there’s no standing ovation for this performance and no commendation for her “artistry.”

Phillip Phillips – “Still Rainin'” – Johnny Lang
Ok, Eventual Winner Phillip Phillips, I can finally see your appeal. The stage lit up with such an easy energy, that you can’t help rooting for him tonight. The whole affair was so smooth. And so was the look. Definitely a step up from gray on gray on gray on gray.

Joshua Ledet – “Without You” – Mariah Carey
Without a doubt, when Joshua is feeling a song, you are too. More than any other contestant this season, Joshua takes you on a vocal journey, from start to finish, building up to a searing, rafters-shaking climax, then another, then another.

Elise Testone – “A Whole Lotta Love” – Led Zeppelin
Now this is what I want to see. Elise commanding the stage by simply letting go and having a blast. Stand up, judges. STAND UP.

Five standing ovations tonight?! No matter how strong the performances were, this simply should not have happened. Perhaps the judges were distracted by this inexplicable requirement for over-sized set dressing in every performance? As always, the judges are quick to give the males of the competition effusive praise, but fight the urge to stand up for a woman. That being the case, I’d say Hollie is for sure in the bottom three this week, joined by DeAndre and Heejun.

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