Yes, it was Music of the ’80s night on American Idol, but a concurrent Insane/Ridiculous Backdrops theme ran through it.
Also notable: Stumbles from front-runners Phillip Phillips and Elise Testone, decisive “I’m not done yet!” moments from Skylar Laine and DeAndre Brackensick, and a quartet of duets that were (mostly) superior to the solo performances.
Anyhow, I’ve got to get crackin’ on a full episode recap, which will post on Thursday morning right here at TVLine.com. But before I do, let me offer my pithy, pithy thoughts on the evening’s festivities:
Deandre Brackensick: DeBarge’s “I Like It” | A better fit for DeAndre’s voice than any song he’s tackled this season, and his subsequent comfort level was palpable. File under: How DeAndre Got His Groove Back.
Elise Testone: Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” | I hate to agree with Randy, but she was just under the melody right from the start. Plus, she strained like she was carrying a 50 lb. bag of sugar on her shoulders (or was it just the pressure of suddenly becoming a serious contender)?
Skylar Laine & Colton Dixon: “Islands in the Stream” | Super cute, until Ryan asked if they were dating.
Phillip Phillips: Genesis’ “That’s All”| The judges raved and raved, which made me wonder if I was insane for thinking there wasn’t a single note in tune. Of course, once upon a time folks applauded for a naked emperor, too.
Hollie Cavanagh & DeAndre Brackensick: “I’m So Excited”| See how good Hollie is when she sings something uptempo and playful?
Joshua Ledet: Simply Red’s version of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” | Send Joshua to the hospital — stat! — because he threw down all his major organs on that performance! From the deliberate verse down to the lifted knee on the final chorus, I hearted it so very much.
Jessica Sanchez: Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” | Tell me! How do I know (Jessica is destined for the Top 5, at minimum)? Trust her pitch perfection. The only thing missing was a vision of Ms. Aretha in the backdrop.
Elise Testone & Phillip Phillips: “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”| I think I liked this more on paper than I did in reality, which vexes me greatly.
Hollie Cavanagh: Irene Cara’s “Flashdance…What a Feeling” | Hollie took her passion, and hid it under her mattress in the Idol mansion. This was not a good night for a misfire, kid.
Jessica Sanchez & Joshua Ledet: “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me” | Can’t. Type. Flailing. Too. Hard.
Colton Dixon: Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” | Mad props to Colton for amusingly crediting Quiet Drive (who?) with the arrangement (“I completely ripped ’em off!”). And while there’s something about the guy’s voice that doesn’t quite move me, at least he’s willing to try new things — with his hair and his music.
Skylar Laine: Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” | Call me ridiculous (you: “You’re ridiculous!” but I teared up just a little when Skylar raised her sword and slayed the dragon. (Randy Jackson: “That.” “Was.” “A.” “Metaphor.”)
Who were your favorites from Season 11 Top 8 night? Vote in the poll below, then explain your picks in the comments!