What’s been really good about American Idol the last two years is that for the most part, all the performances on any given night have been solid. On the other hand, there haven’t been as many showstoppers. I don’t know if it’s because the contestants spend more time doing stuff outside of rehearsing their songs, or if the cautious approach of Jimmy Iovine and his team create less risk, and therefore less chance of something exciting happening. I think it might be a combination of both. There were a couple of great performances tonight, and some interesting style choices.
Deandre Brackensick: “Only the Good Die Young”. While Deandre was smart to go uptempo again, he once again missed any connection to the song lyrics. His look was great, but there was an air of him just trying to make it through the song, which isn’t going to bode well for him. He gave a solid vocal, but he really needs to step up showing who he is musically, or he’ll be gone in the next few weeks. B-
Erika van Pelt: “New York State of Mind”. I loved that she went for broke and completely changed her hair. While I wasn’t a fan of the styling, it definitely made me pay attention to her, and gave her a boost. Her vocals were almost effortless, and unlike the judges, I liked her restraint. I do hope she goes uptempo next week, but this performance could be her turning point. B++
Joshua Ledet: “She’s Got a Way”. Confession: I love this song. I think Joshua needs to take a note from Erika, and just dial it back one week, and show us that he isn’t just a church/torch singer, but someone who can infuse a song with his gorgeous vocals. There was no way he was going to repeat last week, but I think this performance was enough to keep him. B-
Skylar Laine: “Shameless”. What I’ve liked about Skylar is that she hasn’t been obvious with her song choices. This week, I can’t blame her, because the Garth Brooks version of this song is tailor made for her. It didn’t quite work, the beginning was a little shaky, and the end was a little shouty. I don’t think she’s in trouble. And what happened to the boots idea from her styling session? This became a trend over the night, which made me wonder what Tommy Hilfiger was there for, if nothing he said was going to appear on stage. B-
Elise Testone: “Vienna”. I’m not sure how this is an unknown song. Then again, I have eclectic tastes, so maybe it is. I’m glad Elise stuck with it, because her performance was simply amazing. I also loved the dress she wore, she looked comfortable and confident. If I could give her one note, I’d tell her to ditch the hat from her mentoring session. I hope people voted for her, because a competition without her just seems wrong. A+
Phillip Phillips: “Movin Out”. Hmm. I like Phillip, and definitely think he has a career somewhere in the music industry. That said, there was something about his performance that felt almost stalkery and not in a good way. I can’t fault his ptich, because he delivered a solid vocal. And I can understand his resistance to a makeover, but I hope he opens his mind a little, because unfortunately image does matter. I didn’t love love the performance, but I’m sure he;ll be safe. B
Hollie Cavanagh: “Honesty”. Dear Hollie: please please stop singing ballads. I love her voice, and she has such a sparkling personality, but everything about this performance seemed old and try-hard. She had trouble with pitch, and she really didn’t connect with the song at all. I almost want her to be in the bottom three, so she’s scared into trying something different. C
Heejun Han: “My Life”. The good: this was probably Heejun’s best vocal yet, he finally didn’t put me to sleep, and he looked great. The bad: while I enjoyed the performance, and was glad that someone wasn’t so super-serious, it was almost too jokey. I think if this had been framed in a better manner, I could have liked it. Otherwise it seems disrespectful to American Idol and the other contestants. That said, I hope Heejun isn’t around too much longer, before he starts knocking out more worthy contestants. C-
Jessica Sanchez: “Everybody Has a Dream”. Diddy, if you did nothing else but finally bring Jessica to this place, thank you. I don’t think style will ever be a problem for Jessica, and she continued to excel tonight. I loved that she dialed it back until the very end of the song. She still needs to work on connecting to a song fully, but for the first time I got the hint of actual artist instead of someone who can sing the phone book. A-
Colton Dixon: “Piano Man”. I think if people stop bothering Colton about his hair, he might actually fix it. I may not be his biggest fan, but he delivered a great vocal on a great song. I love that it was just him and the piano for most of the song. That said, he has to be careful about the ‘whiny’ tone his voice can take. Once he clears that up, I think he’ll be great. Also, it seemed like his face was in the shadows the whole time, which seemed weird to me. A-
Overall I would put Deandre, Heejun and either Hollie, or Joshua in the bottom. Tonight’s guest stars are Lana del Rey and Haley Reinhart. I’m a big fan of Haley, so I’m excited for tonight.