American Idol 11, April 11: Perfect?by Jenn Brasler -- 04/12/2011
You guys wouldn’t believe what I went through to recap this episode. And I still missed the first 50 minutes! And yet I only missed four performances. That’s pretty sad.
The theme this week is songs from this century. Yes, just from this year and the two previous years. At least we’re sticking with current stuff. Akon is the guest mentor.
Like I said, I missed the first 50 minutes, but thanks to Rickey.org, I got to see the performances later and see the judges’ most relevant remarks. Just pretend I saw it all on TV and the judges were surprisingly untalkative.
Skylar starts things off with Kellie Pickler’s “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You.” She plays guitar. There’s fire all over the stage, for some reason. She sounds good. Oh, I guess the fire symbolizes Skylar’s rage at the guy she’s supposed to be singing to. This is a great performance; she’s at the top of her game here.
Randy thinks Skylar could have a hit with this song. She was totally on pitch. Jen agrees, saying Skylar nailed it. Steven says Skylar’s songs are complete sentences.
Colton gets smoke, possibly from Skylar’s fires. He’s singing “Love the Way You Lie” by Rihanna and Eminem. Wait, hold up. What? I never would have expected Colton to sing anything remotely connected to Eminem. I also never would have expected to actually like it. It’s very passionate, and a beautiful arrangement, with Colton on piano, playing with a string nonet (I feel all fancy using that word). It’s really, really good.
Randy says the performance was subtle and stellar. It was like a lullaby. Colton’s an artist. Jen wishes there had been more of a song. Huh? Steven says Colton is a “rare talent.”
You knew sooner or later someone had to sing Goyte’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” and it’s Phillip and Elise. Looks like the pairs from last week are still in play, though Hollie lost her partner. I like this. The song doesn’t seem like something that would fit them, but the arrangement works for both of them.
Jessica does Fefe Dobson’s “Stuttering” while sitting on a piano. It’s a good song choice for her. She sounds great, but as I’ve thought many times in the past, her performance chops aren’t up to the level of some of the other singers’. Some of her movements are distracting. But like I said, she sounds wonderful.
Randy loved the arrangement. Jessica set the bar high. Jen thought it was beautiful, but Jessica was “digging” in the middle. She needs to be more like Joshua, who takes the audience on a ride. Steven forgets where he is when Jessica sings.
This is where my TV decides to start cooperating. Joshua just had his 20th birthday. Ryan surprises him with a video from Fantasia, wishing him a happy birthday and good luck tonight. Joshua’s hometown in Louisiana also loves him. A bunch of people have shirts with his face on them, but he’s not going to be wearing one. Yeah, that might be weird.
Joshua’s singing “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars. He wants to “boogie out.” Jimmy wants him to lose the band for a bit and do his thing. Akon likes that Joshua’s quiet and listens. Jimmy asks if Joshua’s connecting with him. Akon says yes, so Jimmy says Joshua can connect with the “urban world.” He thinks Joshua’s humility will carry him far.
It’s a fun song, and though it sounds like something from the ‘50s or ‘60s, Joshua makes it a little modern. This was a great song choice for him. He’s showing off his voice well and having fun with it.
Steven says Joshua’s voice is a work of art. He tries to set Joshua up with a really tall backup dancer. Jen says he’s going to get a ton of numbers soon enough. She loves his performances because they’re dynamic and get the audience’s attention, but they’re also laidback. Randy thinks this was unbelievable. He likes Joshua’s whole look. He’s “got to have it.” Oh, we’re still doing that, are we?
Joshua’s dad is in the audience for the first time. Ryan brings him up onstage to hug his son. He also asks if Dad approves of the go-go dancer.
Skylar accidentally walks through the background of Ryan’s intro of her and Colton, which is kind of funny. She and Colton are dueting again, this time on Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay?” They keep denying that they’re dating. Colton says it’s because Skylar has a gun.
The duet isn’t all that great. Colton actually sounds better than Skylar. She’s not completely on pitch. Steven thinks it was pretty, though. Jen notes that Kelly and Jason sang that song on the show last season, and it’s not easy. Colton and Skylar did a nice job. Randy loves both singers but thought the performance was just okay. Both were much better on their solos. Ryan asks who was better. Randy says Skylar had more stand-out moments, but she was sharp on some notes. Jen doesn’t want to answer the question, so she doesn’t.
Backstage, Colton and Skylar say “no” ten million times in re: their relationship. So… yes?
Hollie’s hometown in Texas has “watching parties.” Someone’s made “Holliepops.” Okay, that’s cute. Hollie’s dad says there are also watching parties in England. Her cousin brought her a bunch of fan mail. Hollie’s mom still can’t wrap her head around her daughter being on the show.
Last week’s bottom-three results scared Hollie. This week she wants to sing Pink’s “Perfect.” “The only thing she’s missing is a certain type of experience,” Jimmy says. Okay. What? He wants her to turn up the gas and make a leap to being natural. Akon tells Hollie not to worry about what other people are saying. She needs to just own it. They all say the word “perfect” a lot. Got it, guys.
Only Hollie could turn what was pretty much already a ballad into even more of a ballad. It’s an unplugged version with just her and a guy on guitar. That guy looks a lot like James Durbin, by the way. The song is slowed down way too much; it feels like it’s dragging. And though Hollie sounds good, I don’t think this is enough for her.
Jen feels Hollie fighting. She sang beautifully and should be proud of herself. That sounds like a goodbye to me. Steven says it’s not that important to be perfect. That also sounds like a goodbye. Randy laughs nervously, saying it’s very quiet in the auditorium. The performance wasn’t perfect, but Hollie redeemed herself from last week.
Ryan asks Hollie what she was thinking just before she started singing. “Don’t mess up,” she replies. Makes sense to me.
Everyone loves Phillip. Enough said. He misses his family’s pawn shop, but he’d rather be here.
Phillip’s song is “Give a Little More” by Maroon Five. Jimmy doesn’t like his arrangement at first. I think Jimmy’s still bitter about… everything, really. He doesn’t want Phillip to be different just for the sake of being different. Jimmy tells Phillip it’s between him and Colton, and Colton may be ahead. Phillip really, really doesn’t care.
I thought I didn’t know this song, but when Phillip hits the chorus, I realize I do. It’s perfect for him. It doesn’t really sound current, though. Not that Phillip’s been known for doing current songs or current arrangements of songs.
Steven thinks that the more Phillip takes things seriously, the more he hits the notes. Or something. I think that’s what he said. Phillip looks like a Johnny Cash/Steve McQueen-type guy. Jen agrees with that part, but she thinks the performance was underwhelming. She wants to see Phillip break out and show all that he is. This wasn’t everything she knows he can give. Randy’s with Jen; this wasn’t Phillip’s best performance. He liked how the song started, but not when it got normal. Heh. Don’t be normal, Phillip!
Hollie, Jessica, and Joshua team up to sing “Stronger” by the original Idol herself, Kelly Clarkson. Their video package is all about how close Joshua and Hollie are. Jessica says it’s strange. I think she feels a little left out.
The song is… Okay. Joshua sounds good. Jessica sounds off. Hollie sounds like Hollie. The harmonies sound awful. It’s surprising, since Joshua and Jessica were great together last week. Their voices just don’t blend well here. Things don’t come together until the bridge.
Jen tells us what we already know: This is “the season of the big voice.” The performance was amazing. Steven thinks it was beautiful. Randy likes this trio; they all sounded good. Give me what these guys are on. Randy would give the edge to Joshua.
Ryan chats with Elise about Easter, the gang’s first day off. She and her mom went to see Jeff Who Lives at Home. She wondered if Jason Segel ever watches her. Well, of course. He greets her in a video. Ryan claims that Jason just sent that in a few minutes ago. And he was sitting around in a tux, apparently.
A friend of Elise’s made a tutorial video on how to vote for her, and we get to see part of it. The bits we see are funny. She’s singing “U and I” by Lady Gaga. Good choice. Akon’s frustrated by her in rehearsal since she wants to play drums. He tells her to just kill it. Jimmy notes that Elise did well but landed in the bottom three. She thinks she let go too much. He wants her to improvise in rehearsal because something could happen that she decides to do in her performance.
Instead of drums, Elise plays the piano on the first verse. It’s a pretty good performance, but I feel like it’s lacking something. Maybe she’s trying too hard. Parts of it feel rushed. It just seems a little messy. I don’t think it’ll keep Elise out of the bottom three.
Randy says Elise is back. But… where did she go? He thinks this was the perfect song for her and the perfect vocal. He wants America to know that Elise is talented. We know, Randy. Jen says Elise did exactly what she wanted to do – she let go but also kept control. No one can sing like her. There’s a reason she got the finale spot. Steven says this was genius; Elise did it again.
After the recap, Ryan asks the judges if these are the “lanes” the singers might take in their careers. Randy approves of that. Skylar could have a hit with her song. Basically everyone was good. Jen likes that they did current songs. Steven says they’re falling into their own niches. The songs picked them this time.
Ryan asks how the judges score the singers now: on tonight or their whole run? Jen says people have favorites and will probably stick with them, unless someone had a spectacular night. That’s why the judges push them to have bigger moments. Randy notes that consistency is really important now. A song doesn’t have to be really popular; the singers just have to perform it well. It’s about being great in every performance. Steven says they need to crawl into America’s hearts. That sounds dangerous and creepy.
Who are the judges worried about? Jen worries about everyone. Steven doesn’t answer. Randy says it’s impossible to know what will happen, so people need to vote for their favorites.
Predictions: Hollie and Elise in the bottom three, maybe with Jessica, if her fan base lags.
Tomorrow: James Durbin (hey, what a coincidence!) and Jennifer Hudson. Ooh, good lineup.
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Jenn Brasler, an associate editor of Reality News Online and a writer/book enthusiast/secret spy from Falls Church, Virginia, has e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org),Twitter (@jennb47), and a blog about ‘90s YA books and TV shows (‘90s Flashback). She wishes Jason Segel would send her a video message.
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