Wednesday, April 18, 2012 , Updated 10:28 p.m., April 19, 2012
UPDATED recap: American Idol‘s top 7 gets a redo
Hollie Cavanagh finally delivered on her early-season promise.
After last week's "dramatic" save of Jessica Sanchez, American Idol's top 7 got a do-over of sorts. Thankfully, the contestants each got to sing two individual songs instead of teaming up for duets as they had the past few weeks. One song was a #1 hit from 2000 to today, and the other was a soul song. Strangely, after having a guest mentor for every week until now, no mentor was brought in this week.
McKinney's Hollie Cavanagh didn't have any time to sweat it out, singing the first song of the night, Adele's "Rolling in the Deep." That's a huge song to take on regardless, not least because Haley Reinhart delivered a standout version of it just last year on Idol. Maybe it was a kinship with her fellow Brit, but Hollie did Adele proud. The emotion of the song was plain on her face throughout, and nary a note was missed. It was a great way to start out the night, and surprisingly even the judges agreed.
Colton Dixon was up next with Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." He delivered a rocked-up version of the song, and while it lacked technical precision, it had a ton of showmanship. From his pinstriped trenchcoat to the all-female band to the smoke plumes, Colton made sure that his performance was memorable. That's all he really needs to do for the next few weeks until we get down to the nitty-gritty.
Elise Testone then sung Alicia Keys' "No One." Elise has been a perennial bottom-dweller even when she didn't deserve to be, and this is another week where she may end up there despite delivering a good performance. She sang the song well and with the appropriate emotion, but it never really stood out from the original. She was also hampered by a strange squatting dance move she repeated over and over, making her look more uncomfortable than anything.
Phillip Phillips, the boy so nice they named him twice, was the midway performer, singing Usher's "You Got it Bad." Right off the bat, it had a similar feeling to Kris Allen singing Kanye West's "Heartbreak" a couple years ago. It was a new sound to a familiar song, and a welcome change of pace for a singer who really needed to have an Idol moment. It wasn't quite the level of game-changer as Allen's performance, but it was fantastic nonetheless.
Jessica finally took the stage next, looking to redeem herself from trip to the bottom last week. She brought out another Alicia Keys song, her breakout hit "Fallin'." Jessica obviously felt that she had a lot to prove, and she seemed to bite off each note with a bit of fury. Her voice has never been in doubt, something she proved again with this song. If she fell to the bottom again this week, that truly would be a shock.
Skylar Laine went sixth, singing the country version of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." As evidenced by last year's one-two finish of Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, not to mention the massive success of Carrie Underwood, country has a big tradition on Idol. Skylar measures up to that lineage in every possible way, and she again made that ultra-clear this week. When she's at her best, she has a manic energy that is irresistible, and she had that in spades in this performance.
Joshua Ledet finished up the first round of singing by not only channeling a former Idol winner, Fantasia, but by taking on her winning anthem, "I Believe." As with all Idol songs, it's one that's full of cheesy faux-inspirational lyrics. Joshua seemed to want to blow the song to the rafters right from the start, causing him to strain his voice unnecessarily. He does best when keeps himself more in control, something was almost completely lacking here.
Hollie's second song was Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man." Unfortunately, the song didn't really allow her to mine the same emotional depth as "Rolling in the Deep." Combine that with the fact that she was flat for much of the song, and Hollie had better hope that people remember her first performance, not her second. The judges disagreed with that assessment, though, unanimously praising it.
Colton's second song was Earth, Wind, and Fire's "September." He turned the irresistible rhythm of the original song into somewhat downbeat emo version, not a great improvement for those who love the song. He does get points for doing something different with it, but it's likely the only ones who truly enjoyed his rendition are his hardcore fans.
Elise went with the classic "Let's Get It On" from Marvin Gaye for her second performance. Elise has a soulful sound to her voice, so the song was a natural fit. It was a much better performance than her first song, but with two people going home this week, she's almost guaranteed to be one of them.
Phillip then sang Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour." Right away it seemed like Phillip knew that he was living on easy street after his first song, as he appeared both calm and joyful at the same time. He strutted around the stage, growling and scatting throughout the song, and generally acting like the front-runner he may very well be.
Jessica took on Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" next. She's truly one of the most versatile singers left in the competition, and the range of notes she sang in this song bordered on the ridiculous. That word will equally apply if she faces the bottom three again this week.
Skylar sang a country-fied version of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" for the penultimate song of the night. While messing with this classic is next to sacrilegious, Skylar's energy is irrepressible, making this version a ton of fun. It's between her and Phillip for the winner of the week.
Joshua wrapped up the night with Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come." It was a vast improvement over the screeching he delivered in his first song. He was quiet when he needed to be, and then brought the level up exactly where it was required. Since he got the pimp slot of the week, he'll more than likely be saved by this performance.
UPDATE: Hollie was the first person sent to the bottom three, where she was soon joined by Elise and, for the first time, Colton. Elise was the first sent back to safety, leaving Hollie and Colton as the bottom two. In a true shocker, Colton was sent packing, meaning Hollie just used up another one of her nine lives.
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