by Lee Stabert
Here we go, Creamsicles. Another day, another destiny. This week there are two themes: the '60s and Brit pop. In a hilarious twist, some scarf-wearing ogre named Little Steven is mentoring. They even got his "Boss" on tape talking about him. Has anyone ever sung Springsteen on Idol? I'd like to see that. The ogre is wearing an insane purple blazer and sitting on a backwards-turned chair. Hip shit.
Holly is up first, singing "River Deep, Mountain High." The ogre tells her to act like she doesn't care what people think. This might be exactly what she needs. This performance is certainly a pleasant surprise. She lets loose with that big voice and actually manages to move around the stage without looking terrified. The judges loved the performance. I love J-Lo's red dress.
Phillip will be doing "The Letter." He tells Jimmy and the ogre that he's decided to remove the melody. Sounds like an excellent idea. This season's literal, screen saver-style backdrops gotta go. (For Phillip's, they're ... wait for it ... letters. And postage!) It's so distracting. This sounds like a Phillip performance: flat, growly, predictable. Meanwhile, the crowd is going nuts. This guy must have some nutso in-person pheromones. Randy is rambling, even more than usual. J-Lo says that it was lacking some melody, but Phillip still made her want to get on her feet (or off them, amiright?). Steven says: "You get away with it like the Stones got away with it. Every once in a while someone comes around who waves their freak flag." That is an insane statement. Seacrest informs us that Phillip's girlfriend is in the crowd! Will this cost him votes?!
My gal Skylar is up next, singing "Fortunate Son" (after passing on "Knock on Wood"). I wonder if she understands the politics behind this song. She is smiling too much. This is an angry song, not some party jam. Did anyone tell her what it was about? Wikipedia could have helped out. I do kind of love the irony of this pinko-liberal-peacenik thing being sung by a good ol' girl. All that said, her voice sounds great on it. The judges seem to like it. You're still my gal, Skylar. Now hit those history books!
Joshua and Phillip duet on "You've Lost That Loving Feeling." They are being silly and pretending to hate each other. Well, I think they're kidding. Man, Phillip does not benefit from a comparison with Joshua. Oh, I see, this is some kind of gay panic thing. Awkward! Interesting that Phillip had no trouble running his fingers through Colton's hair, but he does have a problem showing onstage intimacy with Joshua. Gross.
Jessica is starting out with "Proud Mary." The ogre is blown away by her. As for the performance, there's a cool girl-group vibe going on with the backup singers. She is rocking a seriously sexy dress for a teenager — but is this genuine sexiness or little-girl-playing-at-being-sexy? I really do love when she lets her voice get kind of growly. The judges loved it, except for Randy. He feels like she didn't really capture the right energy. Her woes with the intangibles continue.
Joshua has picked "Ain't Too Proud To Beg." It's a great song. I love his carnival barker jacket and the backup singers. OK, this was my favorite Joshua performance so far. It felt so authentic — like he could be one of those classic soul singers/interpreters reincarnated. The whole deal just worked. No standing ovation! When he actually deserves it! Steven calls him one of the top two Idols of all time. Bold statement.
For round two, Holly is singing "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis. I think I know this song from that classic So You Think You Can Dance performance. (Yes, this is my life.) She slays this one. Wow. Just, wow. I didn't know Holly had it in her. She gave me that this-is-an-Idol-moment feeling in my belly. Steven Tyler refuses to remember that "good" is not an adverb. Still, the judges loved it, if not quite as much as I did. They are starting to set Holly up as the dark horse.
Phillip is taking on "Time of the Season." He says it's more of a "sexy" song. The ogre makes fun of him for not ever wanting to sing the melody. This is the worst performance in weeks on Idol. He simply can't hit any of the notes. It's brutal. I'm sure the judges will find something to compliment. They do! They are so full of shit on this kid. It's ridiculous.
The ladies are singing together in their short, sparkly dresses after a quick chat with Seacrest. I think I've figured out another problem with Jessica: She has never said anything that felt off the cuff, natural or amusing. She needs to have her whimsy chip examined. They take on "Your Love Is Lifting Me Higher." All three of these girls can really sing, so it's fun to watch. I also think that Holly and Jessica sing best when the pressure is off.
For her second song, my gal is singing "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me." It's a great song — I hope she kills it. Well ... I don't know how I felt about this one. I hated the stupid prop couple on the bench. She hit some big notes, but I never really connected. Randy calls it flawless, and also calls out Bench Couple for their awkwardness. J-Lo says she might just win. It wasn't my favorite, but hopefully people will still vote for Skylar. On a fashion note: I hate those dresses that are short in the front, long in the back. They are the mullets of formal wear.
Jessica is singing "You Are So Beautiful," because of course she is. Jimmy and the ogre warn her not to be too lounge-y. She starts out on the floor, surrounded by candles. It's very "first time," if you know what I mean. (Um, yes, I just Googled "Cruel Intentions sex scene." Counting Crows!) Jimmy and Steven were right to worry about the Muzak factor. Her voice is sick, but it's all so smooth and unoffensive. Like Velveeta. Steven says, "You're gonna be number one, girl." The judges praise and praise, but even they don't seem connected to her. "It's so pro," says Randy, which is kind of Jessica's problem. No one is interested in a 16-year-old with nothing left to learn.
Joshua is closing the show with "To Love Somebody," a song that I personally love (especially the Janis version). The ogre says that Joshua's rehearsal is one of the greatest performances he's seen in his life. That is some serious praise. The performance is wonderful. Joshua has really gotten better through this process, and learned to build to a climax. Yes, he still goes up to 110, but he knows to start around 40. When he finally rips into the final chorus, you can feeeel the powah. The judges give him a standing ovation that I am actually not mad at. J-Lo says he's one of the best singers she's heard in 50 years.
OK. I hope Phillip goes, I think Jessica will go. We're getting down to the wire. Pray for Skylar (Colton can show you how).
Also, take a minute to read my Counting Crows piece in this week's Scene and laugh at what a loser I was. It'll be fun, I promise.