American Idol’s Top 5: To Love Somebody

With these five fairly evenly matched contestants left in the competition, it’s gonna be a dogfight to stay alive. Tonight, it’s 60’s/British Pop night. Let’s get into the performances.

Hollie Cavanagh – “River Deep Mountain High” – Ike & Tina Turner
Aiming to please the judges is Hollie’s aim and meeting the audience’s lowered expectations is her game! Hollie certainly has the force and the attack needed to sell the song, but still lacks the charisma. But for a show that likes to reward growth, she is miles ahead of where she has started. The ascension of the non-polarizring threat known as Hollie Cavanagh continues. As Randy surprisingly and astutely noted, Hollie is “peaking at the right time.”

Phillip Phillips – “The Letter” – The Box Tops
Eventual Winner Phillip Phillips doesn’t need a melody! He just needs to exude those cool vibes and look like he’s having a good time! [Insert eye roll here] Sure, J.Lo may find him compelling, but do I? No. And will Randy ever shut up about Phillip being an original artist, which he never does for anyone else? The answer, sadly, is also no. The real question is how the reveal of Phillip’s girlfriend will affect his voting bloc. (Kris Allen’s wife didn’t hurt him his season, despite what Simon Cowell thought.)

Skylar Laine – “Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
This performance began perhaps four notches too frantic for me and I feared this country locomotive would run off course. Fortunately, halfway through the song Skylar found her groove and a killer breakdown and brought her country bounce back down to Earth. That and her boot scoot. Loves it.

Joshua Ledet & Phillip Phillips – “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” – Righteous Brothers
Oh boy. This tragic paint-by-numbers duet was a master class in uncomfortable. It exposed Phillip’s limited range and there was no chemistry or even teamwork, for that matter. But never you fear: that disruptive arm fakeout finale just earned Phillip more votes.

American Idol’s Top 5: They’ve gotta have it, Ryan!

Jessica Sanchez – “Proud Mary” – Ike & Tina Turner
While I loved the confidence and the hairography of it all, Jessica’s performance of “Proud Mary” didn’t amount to anything more than a watered-down impression of Tina Turner through the eyes of a 16-year old girl.

Joshua Ledet – “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” – The Temptations
From the opening horn notes, you just know that this performance was going to be successful. And it was. I’m not sure how’s Joshua’s vocal stylings will fit into today’s radio landscape, but he can sure kill a Motown groove onstage.

Hollie Cavanagh – “Bleeding Love” – Leona Lewis
This stripped-down and intimate performance colored safely within the lines of Leona Lewis’ original phrasings, but Hollie wisely avoided Leona’s highest of notes. Hollie gets major points for continuing to pick songs familiar with teen girls (see: “The Climb”).

Phillip Phillips – “Time of the Seasons” – The Zombies
It’s ok, Eventual Winner Phillip Phillips! Don’t worry about hitting only half your notes and your weak falsetto! You picked a self-proclaimed “sexy song,” so you’ll still get all the votes! Oh you are too shrewd, too too shrewd!

Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh & Skylar Laine – “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” – Jackie Wilson
I honestly have nothing to say about this trio performance other than it was better than the boy’s. This is just what you would expect from the three big-voiced ladies.

Skylar Laine – “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” – Dusty Springfield
A brilliant song choice and a near-perfect translation of a Brit-pop classic into Skylar’s passionate and emotional country rhetoric.

Jessica Sanchez – “You Are So Beautiful” – Joe Cocker
Oh snap. Jessica is singing on the floor. From Fantasia Barrino’s “Summertime” to Katherine McPhee’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” when an Idol singer is on the floor (not you, J.Lo), you know she means business. Jessica delivers a beautifully subtle performance complete with soaring glory notes. But I’m worried about Jessica’s song choices these past couple weeks. Jessica can do better than her treacly ballads of late. Take notes from Hollie.

Joshua Ledet – “To Love Somebody” – Bee Gees
Joshua going from zero to wailing is just as predictable as a standing ovation from the judges, but there is no denying that when he bares his heart and soul, it is simply thrilling. His emotional journeys are so immense and palpable, despite always bordering on overkill.

The voting this season has been unpredictable at times, but not wholly unsurprising. I think Hollie’s Idol run has come to an end, but the contestants that will join her in the bottom is a wide open field. It could be Jessica and her mediocre song choices or Skylar and her lost-in-the-shuffle, under-the-radar status. Or it could even be Phillip and his firm unwillingness to play outside the box. Nah. (but my fingers are crossed…)

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