American Idol Recap Top 7 Redux Performance Recap: Don't Trust the D-- in Seat No. 3

American Idol judge Randy Jackson is quite possibly the most ridiculous person on television today, but I’m not sure I have any vitriol left for the man who is affectionately/ragefully known by the Idoloonie Nation as “The Dawg.” (Yes, folks, that’s the ‘D–‘ I was referring to in my headline.)

I mean, imagine an Idol without Randy: Who else would use his position on the panel to wear offensive orchid blazers and try to launch a line of hideous hand-beaded pins. (That has to be the reason for those pins, right?) Who else could proudly blab about “Let’s Get It On” being an Al Green song, then stammer and “uhhh” until a merciful audience member (certainly not J.Lo) comes to his aid with a shouted “Marvin Gaye”? Who else could deliver a catastrophic critique like this to sweet-faced teenage contestant Jessica Sanchez: “The girl blew the box out of the song!” (Sir, is that even possible?) Who else is advocating that Idol expand its offerings to include the Lil Wayne songbook.

American Idol: 10 Dream Theme Nights!

To err is human, and to constantly bring the unintentional LOLs is to be Randy Jackson. Let’s just be thankful he didn’t grab the mic after Wednesday night’s absurd “Jessica in peril”/”The end is the beginning” intro and shout: “I worked with T.S. Eliot on ‘The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock’!”

So let’s raise a Coke cup to the Dawg, and get into this week’s performances.

Now (Songs from 2000-2010)
Hollie Cavanagh: “Rolling in The Deep” by Adele
First, the good news: Hollie’s mentoring session with Jimmy Iovine did not include the threat of a frontal lobotomy — “It’s the only way to get you to stop overthinking your performances!” — and yet somehow managed to get the likable teenager in a relaxed, un-robotic state of mind for the evening’s opening number. Flanked by dramatic drummers and standing on a raised platform, Hollie began her performance in daring a capella fashion, showing off a strength and clarity in her voice that we haven’t heard in weeks. And in a competition where embellishments are as predictable as scarves on Steven Tyler, there’s something refreshing about Hollie’s clean, straightforward vocal approach — kind of like finding a slice of organic mango in a refrigerator full of rich, ornate desserts. That said, I wish Jimmy had steered Hollie to a different tune. “Rolling in the Deep” is to Adele what a peanut-butter cup is to Reese’s: The original is so hauntingly perfect — the “you had my heart inside of your hand” line so ferociously raw — that Hollie’s cover came off as very pretty but a wee bit superfluous by comparison.

Colton Dixon: “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
Yes, yes, the judges had a point that Colton pitched his verses too low so that he could deliver Gaga’s dramatic chorus without having his voice break, but of the 14 performances we saw this week, I thought Colton’s was the most successful in terms of creating and executing a compelling TV spectacle. I’ve never really boarded this guy’s bandwagon, but I have to admit I was delighted by the way Colton had his band dressed like orderlies in a goth insane asylum and the fact that he cranked up the guitars to infuse Gaga’s drama-oh-ma-ma melody with a rock-hard edge. Let’s be honest: With a season that includes 13 weeks of live performances, it’s nice to have a contestant who wants to “expand his box every week” — even if his choice of words could’ve been a little more eloquent.

Elise Testone: “No One” by Alicia Keys
Elise really can’t win anymore — and I mean that in both a micro and a macro sense. “No One” was arguably the evening’s strongest, most emotionally gripping performance, and her feedback includes Scary, J.Lo, and Surly telling her: 1) The song didn’t have enough melody. 2) Smile more! 3) Thank God you stuck with the melody for a change. And to top it off, Ryan Seacrest is all “Let’s try to win you some votes by making you cry about your possibly terminally ill dog! Come on, face the camera! When you cry, everyone wins! Cry, dammit, cry! How come this is so much easier with the Kardashians?” Whatever. When Elise swung low on the first refrain of “get in the way of what I’m feelin,” when she roared the ferocity of her emotions on “till the end of time,” a chill ran right up my arm and down my back, which is probably the same sensation J.Lo gets when her masseuse rubs her down with liquified $100 bills. If America sends her on another trip to her “vacation home in the Bottom 3” (as Jimmy likes to call it), I hope it doesn’t cause her to second-guess this lovely performance.

Phillip Phillips: “U Got It Bad” by Usher
For weeks, I’ve been advocating that Phillip surprise the audience by doing his sexy guitar tricks with an unexpected song choice — in the vein of his Vegas week cover of Usher’s “Nice and Slow.” So, yeah, I might’ve squeed a little when Ryan revealed P2 was tackling Usher’s “U Got It Bad.” Unfortunately, to my ears anyway, Phillip not only tackled the track, but he smothered it with his increasingly predictable brand of vocal aggression. “U Got It Bad” requires a certain amount of finesse and suaveness — a sexuality, even — that Phillip seems almost embarrassed to explore on stage. Instead, he focused solely on the growly angst of the lyric (“when you’re out with someone but you keep thinkin’ about somebody else”) at the expense of the joy and sensuality that are also a part of the track. Plus, I felt like he compressed the melody to a two-, maybe three-note range. My jaw dropped like J.Lo’s backside in a music video when Steven Tyler declared that he never knows where Phillip is going to go musically. Because let’s be honest, if we were charting the guy’s musical progress on MapQuest, he really hasn’t travelled more than a block or two over the last seven or eight weeks.

Jessica Sanchez: “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys
I’m not sure about the tumbling red-umbrella graphics — I guess we just have to accept that thuddingly literal backdrops are the new SwayBots — but from an emotional standpoint, this had to be Jessica’s most powerful performance since Vegas week. Granted, I’m still waiting for the Little Monster Truck That Could to be a little more unpredictable with her source material — four weeks running, she’s chosen music from powerhouse R&B divas — but if we had to chart the vocal on a Resusci Annie doll, it was definitely coming from a place closer to the gut than it was to the head. In other words, I was making a stank face and raising a hand about halfway in the air for the duration of the performance, despite a slightly abrupt ending.

Skylar Laine: “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga
I don’t really like to cross-pollinate my Idol recaps with The Voice, but to me, Skylar’s “Born This Way” was everything terrifying Toddlers & Tiaras-bot RaeLynn’s “I’m Country” was trying to be back on Monday night, and everything Gaga failed to capture when she gave “Born This Way” a cornball twist: Genuinely felt, explosively delivered, with a sense of place and purpose, and never losing its grip on pitch. I liked Skylar’s interplay with Hot Fiddle Dude (and, yeah, I liked Hot Fiddle Dude, too), and the way she worked the stage with an unstudied ease that took me out of the mindset that I was watching a reality competition series. Somehow, the song became a celebration of Skylar’s gun-totin, four-wheeler-ridin’, corner-store-hash-slingin’ lifestyle, while still flying the flag for everyone and anyone who dares to be different. She’s country, and she’s pretty fabulous, too.

Joshua Ledet: “I Believe” by Fantasia
I’m not sure I’ve ever cried harder during an Idol performance than when Fantasia first performed “I Believe” during the Season 3 performance finale, and so in my mind anyway, any attempt to cover it is as potentially blashphemous, as, say, attempting “Mad World” or “Heartless” or “Bennie and the Jets.” And so it’s a testament to Joshua, then, that tears welled up in my eyes about 15-20 seconds in to his rendition of the beautifully cheesy Idol victory anthem. I almost wished he’d ditched the Gospel chorus and let us focus solely on the raw emotion that was lifting him higher (higher higher), and I was a little surprised when he lost his place at the end of the song, forcing him to ad-lib a fairly unsatisfying ending “dreamt a hundred thousand dreams before/ now I finally realize/ you see I waited all my…” [Whoops! The end.] But in spite of all that, the judges rushed into (another) standing ovation, and I had visions of (probably crying again during) Joshua’s hometown visit, as well as a pang of jealousy that the guy can rock the “I don’t know what” (trademark: Randy) out of a red velvet jacket with black satin lapels.

Then (“Classic Soul” Music)
Hollie Cavanagh: “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield
Here’s the thing: Hollie hit the notes of this randy midtempo classic just fine, but that little pink dress (great for the office and for after-hours cocktails) and the emotional connection (in which Hollie and the good reverend’s son share a refreshing glass of lemonade and interlock their pinkie fingers) was excruciatingly wrong. At its heart, “Son of a Preacher Man” is about a grown woman looking back at her first sexual encounters — yes, judges, that’s what Dusty meant by “reach” and “teach” — and at this stage in her artistic development, Hollie falls closer to the Little Mermaid than she does to a full-blown Siren. All I can do is look skyward and wonder when Uncle Nigel will permanently retire this song from Idol ouevre — or at least ban teenage girls from singing it.

Colton Dixon: “September” by Earth Wind & Fire
Imagine rearranging your furniture so that your armoire was directly in front of the window, and then your bed was directly in front of the armoire door, and your nightstand was on top of the armoire. That’s pretty much what Colton did with his hideous emo scrambling of “September.” Sure, sure, it was totally different hearing the melody slowed down and dragged into a plaintive minor key, but it most certainly wasn’t better. Add copious pitch problems and a mood of zombified dread at the judges’ table, and Colton may be making his first Bottom 3 appearance of the season this week.

Elise Testone: “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye
Elise’s version of “Let’s Get It On” would be like ABC’s The Bachelorette offering an invitation to one of the her (white) suitors to spend an intimate evening in the Overnight Fantasy Suite, and having said dude be like, “Nah, I think I’m gonna go back to my room and watch SportsCenter.” In other words, everything about it was “look away from the television” awkard and inauthentic: From the “sexytimes” white couch, to the insane yelping and growling Elise brought to the melody, to the image of rising cigarette smoke on the backdrop as the performance came to an end. I don’t know if Elise chose this song herself — if so: WHY? — or if it was foisted on her by a sadistic producer, but it would be pretty sad for a promising contestant like Ms. Testone end her Idol run on such a dubious note.

Phillip Phillips: “In The Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett
Another underwhelming Phillip moment, another set of rave reviews from the judges. I dunno, am I missing something? I liked our growlyfaced rocker earlier in the season, but despite Phillip’s intermittent conspiratorial grin, I felt like “In the Midnight Hour” lacked a needed sense of flirtatiousness for a guy who’s essentially lyrically seducing his lady. Even without his guitar, and surrounded by a wall of brass players, Phillip’s delivery was all “raise club! drag woman back to cave!” and not “hey there, mama, let me buy you a drink.” Once again, the performance was not helped by the backdrop — neon diner signs dancing in the dark? what? — nor by a final note that was like a waved white flag in the war to stay on pitch. “Be who you are!” exclaimed Randy. To which I say, “NO! Be the guy who used only an acoustic guitar and a sly sense of rhythm to make his audition-round ‘Thriller’ one of Season 11’s finest moments!”

Jessica Sanchez: “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding
Like Sisyphus trying to roll a boulder up a hill, Jessica grunted and growled and yowled her way through Otis Redding’s soul classic in a way that was thoroughly exhausting but ultimately not very rewarding. Look, I know the judges have been on this “GIVE US MORE!” soapbox for weeks — at least with the Season 11 women — but the more I play this performance back on repeat, the weirder it gets. One problem was the strange lounge-y bossa nova arrangement, which signaled something closer to cruise ship than blues club: Maybe Jessica resorted to shouting her lyrics just to drown out the Casio that was sucking the soul out of the room. And then there was Jessica’s stilted stage movement — something J.Lo took so long describing that I’m not sure Jessica really understood her in the end. Here’s hoping next week — assuming there is a next week — that Jessica lets herself fly again, and leaves the rock to roll toward Randy’s chair at the judges’ table.

Skylar Laine: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye
Like I said in my post-show instant react, on a scale of Kris Allen’s “Heartless” to Kristy Lee Cook’s “Eight Days a Week,” this fell a little closer to the former than the latter. And while, if I’m being honest, I probably liked Skylar’s energy and the ballsiness of the arrangement more than the actual vocal (which got a little bit unruly in places), that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it immensely if/when it shows up on a future episode of ABC’s GCB. Go back and listen to that ad-libbed “just about, just about, just about to looooose my mind” and tell me you disagree, yo!

Joshua Ledet: “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
This was a decent effort by Joshua, but where the judges felt restraint through the opening half, I felt a little bit of…exhaustion? Ennui? I don’t know, really. I mean, I loved the way Joshua delivered certain words and phrases (the punch on “Sometimes-uh!” delighted me in particular) but I don’t think the sum of those moments added up to anything worthy of a Standing O. I agree with J.Lo: America should not send this kid home anytime soon. But I also have to say I could amend that statement if he ever again awkwardly references J.Lo’s abs in a post-performance critique.

Letter Grades for the Week’s Performances
Elise Testone (Now): A-
Joshua Ledet (Now): A-
Skylar Laine (Now): A-
Colton Dixon (Now): A-
Jessica Sanchez (Now): B+
Hollie Cavanagh (Now): B+
Joshua Ledet (Then): B+
Phillip Phillips (Now):B
Skylar Laine (Then): B
Jessica Sanchez (Then): C+
Phillip Phillips (Then): C+
Hollie Cavanagh (Then): C
Elise Testone (Then): C-
Colton Dixon (Then): C-

What did you think of Top 7 Redux? Take our poll below, and for all my Idol news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Debby says:

    Loved PP! That’s all I gotta say!

    • shelbybb says:

      Two more thumbs up here! :)

      • LibbyD says:

        Agreed. I thought Phillip’s two performances were quite different from what he’s done the last few weeks. Phil Phil for the Win Win. haha

        • Owen says:

          P2 all the way!!! All the way to gay!!
          ….I don’t know what that means, sorry…

        • Terri says:

          I didn’t notice any difference from last week. He was same-same. I don’t understand the Pee-Pee love. I don’t like Elise, either, but I get why people like her, at least.

          • gregk says:

            Also do not like PP and during his numbers I payed more attention to the hot blond sax player. She is Mindy Abair, a renowned sax player who also was on last year’s shows and plays in several bands.

          • Joe Strummer says:

            That little dance he does that Jennifer was talking about looks very close to Bill Cosby in the opening credits of The Cosby Show.

          • Candi says:

            Yes Joe he does. He looks like a old man just feeling the music right down to his toes.

        • Joseph says:

          I respect people that like PP but I get put off by his Casey faces,
          As for Michael , his love of the raspy female vocal is the only reason he keeps putting Elise at # 1 , though I would not bet any money on her making top 4.
          The singers to watch are Hollie and Skylar , both of which will make it to top 5 and it would not surprise me if they were both in top 4.

          • Just going to say ,, I understand why Colton is going after seeing the chatter over on Youtube , BUT , think he would have been far more interesting then Jessica or Joshua in the later rounds.

    • S Tyler is so funny about PP giving us something unexpected. I ALREADY KNOW what he’ll give us right through to the finale! Dave Matthews every week!

    • JudyVee says:

      I know Joshua is in trouble when he even scores low on this site. Hope he doesn’t go home tonight!

    • MusicGrrrl says:

      Both of his performances were great! He and Hollie made the night for me!

    • Mary B says:

      I agree, I also love PP. I’ve been buying the season11 music and he sounds awesome on the recordings. Joshua starts out great but ruins it by the end with his over singing. As a matter of fact this week besides Joshua, Jessica and skylar hurt my ears.

    • Lee says:

      I thought Jessica turned in the best performances of the night. I liked Phillip’s performances too. I hated Joshua and Colton’s performances. I think Elise is going home. (No talking back to the judges is allowed.)

  2. Emily says:

    Dude! How did you not know that the backup musicians for Skylar were Sons of Sylvia???? Opening act for Carrie Underwood, they have performed on American Idol before. And they WON American’s Greatest Band (or whatever that flop of a show was called). I’m disappointed in you! :)

  3. Josh says:

    A- for Colton’s first performance? I don’t know….It was the very whiny, emo-punk type of music I hate and I don’t always get that from Colton. This most definitely was his worst week.

    • shelbybb says:

      Colton was terrible but safe, Elise just never connected with the whole Idol thing, Joshua needs to stay in the church choir, Hollie….you’re cute, I’ll see P2 in concert for sure, Jessica should win but won’t so it’s ANOTHER year for country :( ………congrats Skylar

    • NedPepper says:

      Colton’s Gaga song was his worst performcance on this show. Slezak’s grade is….I don’t even know. I used to agree Slezak! Nearly all the time…what has happened this season?

  4. connerc says:

    My take:

    Phillip Phillips (Now): A-
    Jessica Sanchez (Now): B+
    Elise Testone (Now): B+
    Joshua Ledet (Now): B+
    Skylar Laine (Now): B+
    Hollie Cavanagh (Now): B
    Phillip Phillips (Then): B
    Joshua Ledet (Then): B-
    Skylar Laine (Then): C+
    Hollie Cavanagh (Then): C
    Elise Testone (Then): C
    Jessica Sanchez (Then): C-
    Colton Dixon (Now): C-
    Colton Dixon (Then): D

    • Joseph says:

      I get your grades ,
      But ,, neither Colton, Philip, Skylar or Holliw are going home this week :)
      If I had to bet , my money would be on Joshua leaving the show tonight.

      • Sandi says:

        Joshua was well-pimped last night. Put you money on Elise.

        • Joseph says:

          Yea , I would have if not for the lame moment about the sick dog.

        • TheBeach says:

          Randy jabbing J-Lo in the ribs to Stand Up, Stand Up for Joshua’s last song was so predictable.

          • Joseph says:

            Yea , I noticed that also ,
            I miss the days that you got maybe a single judge to stand up (exception of Paula dancing during a song) at most once every other week.
            The Standing Ovations mean very little when they are handed out like pieces of Pez :)

      • FreeHaley says:

        The part of dial idol that has been pretty close the last few weeks (hint NOT their main score) actually predicted Colton as the goner.

  5. Bob says:

    Regarding Phillip Phillips: has anyone else noticed 1) his lack of range – seems like he has only about 1 octave without straining, and 2) all his songs sound alike? Everyone knows Skyler will get a contract anyway, so let he go now. If she wins, perhaps they should rename the show American Country Idol.

    • Sunshine says:

      Re: Phillip: NO
      Re: Skyler: YES

    • Michael says:

      His range is a little more limited than the belters but it’s much more than an octave range. I really like him but he makes some strange faces while he sings. I always get the impression that he’s constipated and is trying to push out a big poop that just won’t release.

    • tewence says:

      yes! nobody seems to care that he has a range that limits him tremendously…a very one-noted album that will be. no pun intended.

    • MusicGrrrl says:

      Your critique of Philip could apply to a lot of successful and respected recording artists over the years. A huge range won’t buy you a hit on the radio. (Maybe an A in your vocal class in college, but that’s it.) What gets you a hit song is 1. A well written song with a hook and 2. The ability to deliver your song in a way that makes your audience feel something and connect with the song. Every week Philip delivers. His audience connects with the song and feels every word of it. That’s why they love him. We love to listen to music we feel. A huge vocal range performed in a boring way is till boring, no matter how many notes are hit.

      • ^This. Jessica is technically perfect but it is like watching a fembot sing. Ho hum…………

      • Shannon says:

        Exactly! I totally get the fact that Holly, Jessica, and Joshua are technically better singers. But I don’t want to go to their concerts. I want to go to Phillips or Skylars. Celine Dion is a gifted vocalist, but I would rather go to the dentist than see her live. That’s the difference.

      • PhillipRocks says:

        ITA. The crowd loves Phillip-they stop cheering for the guy. And I’m right there with them. I think he will do very well post-Idol. I, for one, can’t wait to buy his stuff.

      • Candi says:

        Thank you!!! Jessica can sing the phone book so they say but personally not interested in her singing. I just love PP. He makes me feel it, he makes me smile and want to dance with him.
        I would love to watch him in concert.

      • reddirtblues says:


    • If the show allowed more than 90 second performances, i would HOPE Skyler would show she can sing softly and well. All shouting all the time = DONT WANT for me. Singing loud does not equal singing with emotion. Jessica should really sing something in the vein of The Prayer to really drive home that she’s about the only one who can sing pleasantly amongst all the shouters.

  6. gailer says:

    What is it about Adele’s Rolling in the Deep that everytime I see it in print, I have to go run and listen to it? Yes, no one should do it in the same vein. I thought Colton was going to sing it for sure when I saw it on the list. There have been some male versions of it and he would have been better off with that than his version of September. Colton is sinking in my eyes.

  7. carrie says:

    omg i noticed hot fiddle dude too! and yes he is hot! :D

  8. mommydog says:

    Wasn’t cute fiddle guy Ashley Clark of Sons of Sylvia formerly The Clark Brothers?

  9. Becky says:

    Her dog – and her chances of winning – are dying. Sad but true. Elise picked a terrible song for Then. For a woman with so much soul, that was her best option of a soulful tune? The judges are obviously tired of her – first telling her to smile more, then (the same judge) telling her to, essentially, cry.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      And its wierd, her smiles don’t seem as authentic because she is told to smile more. During the song, itseemed authentic. Afterwards it seemed pasted on. I’d rather see her have a natural face. Smile when you feel like smiling.

    • Marsaili says:

      Personally, none of the songs for then were that great. And, I think that Elise is having a bad week, being so upset about her dog. But, I don’t think it affected her singing in anyway—I think that her first song was really good and the second song started out really good but ended up too shouty and pushy rather than sexy and seductive. I don’t think the judges are tired of her—I think that they have their favorites in mind and that’s that—everyone else can go suck eggs. They are so transparent this year, it’s not even funny.

  10. George R says:

    OMG That was scathing. I still like Phillip would still buy his CD maybe Elises agreed with you on the rest.

  11. They should’ve ended the show after the “Now” performances. The second half was ridiculously bad.

    And I wanted to PUNCH RANDY IN HIS SMUG FACE when he said “we finally have an artist on the stage this year”, referring to P2, when Kris Allen was sitting there three rows behind him. UGH.

    • kriskrazy says:

      Get ’em, Marin.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Especially when he or one of the other judges said it about Kris Allen, Adam Lambert, David Cook, Crystal Bowersox and Casey Abrahms in one form or another. There might have been a few more that it was said about but those are the ones that I remember.

    • tewence says:

      THANK YOU! get over the phillip thing! gah!

    • MusicGrrrl says:

      He said “this year” meaning they haven’t seen much artistry this year in his opinion.

    • TheBeach says:

      I agree at least with the Randy punch. When Simon was around you could usually count on him slapping Randy down for his inane, self-important comments but since he has become “Head Judge” he is no longer just obnoxious but down-right insufferable. Eleven seasons of him on my TV is way too many.

  12. Ali says:

    I’ve never disagreed with you more. I must say, this entire review comes off a tad moody; dare I say grumpy.

    • BO says:

      Agreed. Idol Overload maybe?

    • patjs says:

      I agree with you, but I always only pay half attention to what Michael says as he is so prejudiced with who he likes an who he doesn’t. He talks about the judges doing this-but he’s just as bad if not worse. And if he doesn’t quit acting like Haley from last season is the second coming, I may have to quit reading him entirely.

      • Mitch says:

        I LOVE the Haley references.

      • MusicGrrrl says:

        Haha! I agree with the whole Haley fixation. She wouldn’t even rate in the top 30 all-time vest Idol contestants. Her growls were so fake like a 12 year old pageant contestant trying to sound grown up. She should have gone out in about 8th place.

      • Ali says:

        Slezak’s bias can overwhelm at times. It’s like I tell my husband, the die hard and then die harder New England Patriots fan, “Sometimes it’s the fans that make you hate ________ so much.” Everyone should fill in the blank with the appropriate noun(s).

    • Coach AlH says:

      Agreed Ali. I’ve gone back and watched all the performances (some several times). Michael was definitely moody this time around…

  13. Cara says:

    Loved Skylar’s two performances, and I’m not a big Skylar fan, so that’s saying something. However, it sounded to me like her version of Grapevine was basically just Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version, and I wish they’d given her a chance to credit them.

    I also really loved PP… Slezak, I adore you, but I think you just don’t get him. :-)

    • Spycigal says:

      I so agree. I’m not a big Country fan but I love Skylar – she has a great voice and is one of the best performers – her energy just pulls you in and it seems so genuine, not rehearsed ‘look here, smile, jump’ etc. I also really love P2 – his tone, the way he is so into the music – he reminds me of a smoothier, better looking Joe Cocker! Joshua is my other pick for Top 3 – he takes me to Church everytime!!!

    • MellyMel says:

      Sounded like a countrified Gladys Knight and the Pips song

  14. Sara says:

    I’ll be honest, I can never listen to Son of a Preacher Man without cracking up, thanks to Jan from The Office.

  15. TNH0405 says:

    I keep thinking to myself that I wish Elise had done Try a Little Tenderness. I think she could’ve killed with that song.
    Something about Jessica just isn’t connecting for me. No doubt she is super talented, but I just can’t get into anything she sings. There is no emotional connection for me.

    • noa says:

      that’s not a song for a minute and a half. i was surprised someone chose it after they had to give less time for each performance… not that Elise’s second song was good… and i’m a really big Elise fan. i’m sure there were other songs she has performed before that could have worked there.

  16. Betsy says:

    Randy is such an idiot I feel sorry for him.

  17. Matt Newman says:

    Colton, Phillip and Skylar are pretty much a lock for the top three by now and I seriously hope Colton or Skylar wins.

    Phil squared continues to make every song he sings sound the same and for some reason thinks that at the midpoint of every performance he needs to start shouting and growling whilst the vein in his forehead dances around.

    I am glad to see Jacob Lusk has lost a little weight but regardless of the standing ovations from the judges he still oversings everything to death and is borderline unlistenable.

  18. jutah says:

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve disagreed with you more in a long time, Michael.

    I thought Hollie was definitely the best of the night, and I especially liked Son of a Preacher Man, even though I usually rather dislike that song. I also thought Phillip was better that he has been for a while. The Usher song was one of his best performances thus far, in my opinion. I also appreciated Growly Jessica on Try a Little Tenderness (although I’m over BB Chez).

    Elise, on the other hand, was underwhelming on both songs, even though she is usually my favourite. And Colton… ugh. I started out quite liking him in the beginning of the season, now for some reason I can’t stand him. Hated Bad Romance.

  19. MusicFan says:

    Elise and Jessica’s studio versions of Alicia Keys ditties are FANTASTIC!!!

  20. Ken says:

    I’m expecting a repeat bottom 3, from last week

  21. Katie @KatieRud81 says:

    I couldn’t disagree with you more about P2’s Usher choice. I thought it was really interesting, although didn’t love the effusive “first true artist” tag Randy threw on him- which, quite honestly, was ridiculous (and I *like* P2).

    I don’t find Colton’s tone appealing at all and sorta find him difficult to listen to. I appreciate some of the choices he makes, but his voice and my ears should not mix.

    Still won’t buy albums of any of the 7 left though.

  22. Larali says:

    Well, this week some contestants understood it was Haley Reinhart’s tribute on Idol hahahaha… (Rolling in the Deep, Falling)…at least they all knew it is the moment to have a Reinhart moment!!!

    • Volcfom says:

      I’m keeping a tally of all the Haley songs that are being done this year. So far we’re at 4, but I’d count Elise’s Led Zep as a 5th, because she was following Haley’s trajectory on that one.

      • Marsaili says:

        They aren’t “Haley” songs, songs are repeated by the contestants every year, especially current hits. And Haley wasn’t the only one to do Led Zeppelin—Adam Lambert did Whole Lotta Love his year—was Haley copying him?

  23. karenb says:

    Who ARE you, and what have you done with my favorite recapper Michael Slezak?! lol
    You still seem grumpy today (again, after last night’s recap)! And I’m not getting all the Phillip hate.

  24. Marianne says:

    Funny – on P2’s “then” performance – – his little shuffle dance (I think that’s what JLo called it) conjured up a quick image for me of a dog “kicking” the grass/dirt backwards over it’s restroom deposit. I swear it did.

    • tewence says:

      lol! or perhaps bill cosby?

    • john says:

      I don’t think anyone wants to acknowledge it (although Jiimy finally did last week) but anyone that has seen Dave Matthews perform will realize that P2 is copying every possible mannerism of his, including voice, facial expressions, happy feet, body movements, etc.

      • MusicGrrrl says:

        I don’t think he’s copying, which would imply he’s consciously doing it. I think he’s probably more influenced by Dave after having been a fan for years. I think if I could sing and got up on stage, I would probably subconsciously do some DAve Matthew moves after watching him so much. And I definitely think there are worse influences. DMB have always been in the game for the music and not the money, and Phil seems to be the same. I can see DM smiling while Tommy H. Tells him what to wear and then go wear what he wants and do his music the way he wants.

        • Candi says:

          thank you – i had to go watch the DMB after all the comparisons having never seen him live and I get it. But I don’t get why all the negativity? Can you tell me all the other contestants aren’t copying their own idols? Eg Jessica and her alter ego – a wanna be Beyonce.

          they learn from who they love. I don’t get what the big deal is.

          • reddirtblues says:

            I agree. Why is this a problem? Only if we don’t want another WGWG to win — which is a reasonable concern in regard to commercial sales. But, let’s not hate on P2 – he is who he is. If you want someone with more commercial potential and/or vocal range, then just vote for them. Michael is an excellent recapper but he does not have an affinity for raw, edgy blues. He totally did not get Casey James, for example. Casey and P2 are similar in that they sometimes appear to be lazy; not playing the game — but at the same time, when they connect to the music they really connect.

          • Marsaili says:

            And Casey James is doing very well in Nashville now (and he’s coming to Akron next week I think!) So many former contestants are doing well, living their dream—so many people here are always saying—where’s this contestant, look at what happened to that contestant—when in fact many of them are earning a good living with their music. Not everyone is going to be a Carrie Underwood or a Kelly Clarkson—but if they can achieve their dreams and earn a living with their music—they are a success! I think every one of the top 7 will be able to make a living off their music, they are all that talented.

  25. Matt Newman says:

    Seacrest missed a trick last night. The Colton, Skylar romance is clearly not happening but he failed to notice;
    1. Hollie and Joshua are very close
    2. She sang “Son of a Preacher Man”
    3. Joshua is the son of a preacher man
    Either it was too easy or they are actually being sensitive to the fact that Joshua plays for the home team.

    • Miscellaneopolan says:

      They weren’t being sensitive to it last week when Steven Tyler recommended that Josh get that go-go dancer’s phone number. I just think they have their Skylar and Colton romance subplot in place and nothing, not even a complete lack of believability, will deter them from it.

      • Owen says:

        My fear is that Hollie might actually be crushing on Joshua without knowing she’s just his hag…but, hey, perhaps Joshua doesn’t know it himself yet…

    • IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

      I actually heard on Twitter that Joshua is dating Schyler Dixon, Colton’s sister. He said so himself and no one has denied it.

      • Sandi says:

        No one needs to deny that. Actually, maybe her parents would encourage dating Joshua if their faith promotes having her stay chaste. I’m sure Joshua wouldn’t want to do anything to discourage that.

    • Tahoe Mike says:

      That’s funny!

  26. esau72 says:

    Am I the only person that noticed the band behind Colton for “Bad Romance” wasn’t really playing? The drums we heard were not what as being “played” by the drummer! I digged the concept of the female backup band, but found it quite “American Bandstand” to have them overdubbed…maybe it was a tribute to Dick Clark…

  27. Mark my words, Slezak. It’s probably coming down to who will vote the most in the finals: the tweeners (Colton) or the cougars (Phillip). And by the way, we mature women like a man who wants to drag us to his cave. You saw how JLo reacted! Love me some Skylar as well, and I wouldn’t mind seeing her steal it from the boys!

  28. MamaLis says:

    I just want to take a moment from this weekly captivating discussion to give due props to Slezak on another great recap. As I’ve said before, brilliant mind, brilliant writer. (How do you even come up with that “September” scenario? Also love the “white”Bachelorette reference. HA!) Too funny.

  29. Brandon R. says:

    Was I the only one who actually LOVED Elise’s second song? It all worked great for me (and I thought the growls were pitch-perfect, not out of place). I wanted to throw something at my TV when Randy started telling her she oversang it and didn’t know her own voice, and then again when they fell all over Phillip’s lame, shouty performance afterwards. Ugh.

    • Miscellaneopolan says:

      I’m willing to believe I’m wrong, since very few seem to agree with me, but I sort of loved it too. I mean, yes, it was cheesy. Campy even. But it was fun! She was doing all kinds of neat tricks with her voice and very clearly enjoying herself. I don’t think it was a “serious” effort from her, if that makes sense, but I had a good time watching it.

      • MamaLis says:

        Elise is my favorite and I definitely did like it. But that’s cool you did. Hopefully you’re not alone and she stays!

      • Yo' says:

        I didn’t like the couch et al, but I blame the production for that sort of cheese. Elise I was crazy about and liked the song better than the original, where it was “brrrrreeeeeaaattthhing.”

    • tewence says:

      i agree with everything you said 100%!!! phillip got higher praise than her?!?!

    • Coach AlH says:

      I loved it… I made a comment about it as well. No clue WTF J-Lo was talking about. You don’t have to cry or be dirty/slutty to be sexy. I’ve listened to it back several times and still love it. I’d buy her record now.. no question.

    • Owen says:

      Yeah I sorta loved it, was sorta surprised by the negative reactions it got…honestly, besides P2 it might have been my fave performance of the night…

    • 2FM says:

      Right? I was having so much fun watching it and when the negative comments came I was stunned. That song was perfect for her. People who didn’t like the performance should really listen to the studio it is outstanding.

    • Marsaili says:

      I actually liked it too–although I felt that she should have been a little less growly and more seductive with it. I thought it started out fantastically!

    • FreeHaley says:

      I liked it quite a bit but didn’t out and out love it. Very good but not like song of the season sort of song by any means. The first one she sang was awesome, just totally brought it. This one was very solid but not with the magic. (it is hard to have two that are magic in a night, few have done it)

  30. Jason says:

    I thought Rolling In The Deep was a HAley Reinhart song. WHo is Adele?

  31. Ray says:

    Good review, one of your best. And your ratings are pretty much on target. Much better than most of the what the judges gave us last night. I just cannot understand the raving over Phillip. I personally do not like his agressive singing style. Your reaction to Colton matched my reaction, with the addition that I had trouble understanding the words when he sang the low notes. But he was entertaining. After what happened last week, it may be hard to predict this week’s bottom three. Much of it depends on how the voters responded to the way the judges saved Jessica last week. And they sure didn’t do much good for Elise. Ryan tries to be clever, but in doing so he manages to create uncomfortable moments. I am so looking foreward to Kris Allen tonight. I have heard the song and I think it has great potential. Hope the viewers respond and buy his song and album.

  32. Andy J says:

    Elise chose the wrong song for Then. If she wanted to do a Marvin Gaye she should have done “Sexual Healing”. Having said that, how funny was it that Randy forgot Marvin Gaye sang “Let’s Get it On”-not Al Green and not Helen Hayes. At this point I can see any of the top seven in the final three-but conversely any of them could also be in the botton three. This is truly the first season in years in which I have no idea of who could be in the final three.

    • MA says:

      Ack! My ears! The burn! Why…why…saddle the wonderful Elise with any sort of 1970s (or ’80s) disco porn?? Why does American Idol hate her so much?! My girl needed to pick some James Brown, if she was even allowed to pick at all, which I don’t think she was. Or anything off of Joss Stone’s “Soul Sessions.” Except for the White Stripes, those are all old covers. “The Chokin’ Kind”! “Dirty Man”! “Some Kind of Wonderful”! DIRTY MAN!!! Nuff said.

      • Miscellaneopolan says:

        Elise WAS built to sing some James Brown last night. The only reason I can think that she didn’t is because she wasn’t allowed. Joshua would’ve had fun with a James Brown song too.

        • Marsaili says:

          James Brown—that would have been perfect for her! I can’t believe that Idol can’t get permission to do more than the same songs over and over again. With all the money they have behind them?? And any singer/songwriter that would say no would be a fool, you can’t get better exposure than Idol!

        • MA says:

          True dat!

      • Peyton says:

        And now all I want is to hear Elise sing “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

  33. Hollie Cavanagh: “Rolling in The Deep” – B+
    Colton Dixon: “Bad Romance” – A-
    Elise Testone: “No One” – B
    Phillip Phillips: “U Got It Bad” – A
    Jessica Sanchez: “Fallin” – B
    Skylar Laine: “Born This Way” – A
    Joshua Ledet: “I Believe” – B
    Hollie Cavanagh: “Son of a Preacher Man” – C+
    Colton Dixon: “September” – C
    Elise Testone: “Let’s Get It On” – D
    Phillip Phillips: “In The Midnight Hour” – B
    Jessica Sanchez: “Try a Little Tenderness” – B-
    Skylar Laine: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” – B+
    Joshua Ledet: “A Change is Gonna Come” – B-

  34. jsnj says:

    I agree with you on most of this recap. Didn’t think Colton’s Bad Romance performance worked though. I also don’t think Joshua had a good week on either song. His “I Believe” was karaoke, even copying Fantasia’s adlibs. Also, as with Phillip, Joshua’s performances are becoming predictable. You just sort of expect him to start that gutteral holler and “take it to church” on every song. When a performer does that EVERY time I’d argue that it’s more technical than heartfelt. Jessica & Elise are the most impressive to me in the competition. Jessica is not yet an original artist at 16 but her ability is astounding and always impresses. And I’ve never heard anyone who has a voice or vocal style like Elise in the industry. She copies no one and is such a unique vocalist. To have that distinct a style combined with skill is rare. Neither of those girls will probably win, but they are the best IMO. P2 has a very appealing personality and face, but his vocal limits are not worthy of the “crown” so to speak. He has a good chance of winning though.

  35. Jones says:

    I don’t understand the appeal of Joshua. He’s falling into a very similar shtick week in and week out, and I’m exhausting of it. How is it that with one decent uptempo last week, you’re willing to ignore the fact that he delivers essentially the same performance each week? He’s just not registering with me. As far as Colton goes, I would say just listen to All Time Low to get his vibe. Don’t be surprised if an emo-punk version of Umbrella comes out of him in the next couple weeks. I can’t help but feel that this is the last we’ll be seeing of Hollie and Elise tonight. Unfortunate.

    • Jones says:

      Woops; I meant “exhausted with it,” not “exhausting of it…” that don’t make no sense!

    • Virginia says:

      Agree on Joshua. And he gets the constant standing o. I just thinking it must just sound way different there than it does from here.

  36. pmet says:

    I actually thought P2 had a breakout night, one in which he endeared himself to many new fans. On this same night, I grew weary of Skylar. Although she can clearly sing, she was shouting over the fiddle and all of her arrangements are the same. Her breakout moment came on “Wind Beneath My Wings.” I think she needs to find more varied song choices, even in the country genre not to get tiresome. Every song does not need to be sledgehammered to death. Elise, while quite talented, I fear for your safety. You are clearly not going to win this competition and your time is limited. AI is geared to promote good looking male singers and young female singers. You don’t really fit the mold and somehow have lasted this long due to sheer guts and good singing. It’s been a good ride and I hope you last a couple of more weeks. Colton faltered but will live on; Jessica will be safe due to the save but the advice they are giving her is not good; Hollie elevated herself with Rolling in the Deep and showed more depth in her performance; Joshua (whom I love) could be in trouble for continuing to choose more gospel-inspired songs. My guess for bottom 3 or so: Colton/Skylar, Elise, Joshua with either Elise or Joshua going home.

  37. Coach AlH says:

    Lot of hating there Michael. :) I’m sorry but I think Elise’s “Let’s Get It On” was awesome. Kind of surprised you didn’t like it – as it was definitely an “Elise Vocal” with her crazy runs etc. And sorry J-Lo, you don’t have to be nasty/dirty/slutty to be sexy. A sly smile is just as sexy IMO.

    I think they threw Elise under the bus this week unfortunately…

  38. When I see Phillip I see Joe Cocker with a Dave Matthews voice. Sadly that’s what I see every week. He hasn’t grown at all so I won’t be sad if he goes home tonight. As for the others it was a weird night with a few great performances in the first half (Jessica, Elise, Skylar) and seven terrible performances in the second half.

  39. Justin says:

    It is clear they want Elise gone. They gave the same conflicting “advice” to Erika Van Pelt; one performance she was holding back and the next she was supposedly oversinging. With Elise it’s you need to show restraint / you need to go all out, you need to smile / you need to cry, you need to take liberties with the melody / you need to stick to the melody, etc. etc. They do this to manipulate voters into questioning a contestant’s authenticity… and it almost always works. So I am about 80 percent sure Elise is getting the axe tonight. Too bad as she’s one of the most interesting voices they have this season, if not THE most interesting voice. I think they realize she’s been pulling in fewer votes than most of the others and want to use her as their sacrificial lamb to keep Jessica Sanchez (who had yet another bad night) in the competition.

    p.s. I cannot believe you gave Colton’s Bad Romance a B+. What are you smoking?

    • Marsaili says:

      I’m hoping that the voters saw through the judges conflicting advice to Elise much as they saw them pushing Hollie under the bus and will have voted their fingers off for Elise like they did for Hollie last week. It was clear that the audience was rooting for Hollie from the moment she stepped on stage for her first song—and the judges couldn’t stop complimenting her for a change. I think they caught wind of how pissed the voters were, hopefully that’ll carry over for Elise!

    • TheBeach says:

      J-Lo’s interminable rambling to Elise made no sense whatsoever.

  40. MamaLis says:

    Ya, so I think Jessica might be going home. Just watched on DVR and I gotta say, 3 weeks ago I thought she was gonna win the thing! As fabulous as her voice (empirically) is, with all the growth and talent and artistry this year, I think she’s being passed by. She’s just sort of picking diva songs like she’s in her bedroom in front of the mirror. Oh- and Slezak didn’t even mention the “Tenderness” weirdness of the whole song TOPIC. It kind of weirded me out having this little 17 yr old singing about “squeezing and pleasing” before said female has to “have it.” eww. Ya.. I just don’t feel like she’s digging deep enough.. and I feel most of the other contestants are clawing for it.

    • Marsaili says:

      I agree—both songs were inappropriate for her–she’s an innocent kid, she doesn’t need to be singing about sex and love and stuff she knows nothing about. I’m no prude, don’t get me wrong, but there IS something wrong with a young girl singing Tenderness—Elise should have sang that song—even Phil could have sang it and it would have appropriate. It’s like when you have a little kid who knows the lyrics to a song and sing it real cute, but they have NO idea what they are singing. I really think if Nigel and the producers want 15-16 year olds in the competition, then they need to make songs that are appropriate for their age available to them.

      • TheBeach says:

        I agree with this and also with Slezak’s comment about “Son of a Preacher Man”. It is a song best sung by a mature woman looking back on her most important sexual influence. Hollie singing it just sounded ridiculous.

  41. Sandi says:

    I’m not quite sure if the posters here are fickle or really just like to dig in when someone has an off night. Colton’s first performance was easily the most engaging and current of the night for me, personally. I didn’t hate his September as much as Slezak or the judges but I wasn’t overly impressed either. However, given his body of work over the season, he is still hands down the best performer left in the competition for me. He undeniably has the full package of a powerful voice, a dynamic presentation, stage presence, and charisma.

    Jessica was everything I could hope she would be – a phenomenal vocalist with an emotional connection to the songs she sang. I can’t believe she was at the bottom last week. I hope she walks away with this thing.

    Joshua – I just don’t get him and I never will. I understand that it is not possible for him to perform for a single night without getting a standing O but he just doesn’t do it for me. I cannot, at all, see him with a hit single in the current decade.

    Elise and Hollie – neither of them do anything for me. I’m sure they’re excellent singers but I feel no enthusiasm for any performance either of them have ever put out there. I wouldn’t mind if they both leave.

    This was Phil Phil’s best night in a long time for me. I loved both his performances and I think he redeemed himself in the eyes of his fans. Good for him.

    Skylar – I thought she did a decent job but I only like her when she’s uptempo as she was tonight.

    My ranking (for last night only):

    Phil Phil

  42. Yo' says:

    Your jaw dropped like JLo’s backside in a dance video? I will do laugh hiccups all the rest of the day. Nice!

  43. db says:

    I have only liked Johusa one time and that was last week with the up tempo number. First time I thot he could sing and they put him in the bottom three…funny. The other times he has been irritating to listen to. There is something to that song choice those guys rave about…..all of them are pretty good but the second half did stink it up. MIke take a relax The world isn’t ending…..but I thot it might when steven quoted randy….lol…..I figured that would give you a stroke…

  44. Alexandra says:

    Colton’s songs sounded like an Up With People halftime at a football game arrangement performed by a boy band. Simply horrific.

  45. Virginia says:

    Am I the only one who cringes now at any advice from J Lo to these female contestants?
    Every word comes across as total fabrication with no basis in truth! She has had her music videos viewed by all the audience and they are nothing but soft porn. For her to tell 16 year old Jessica that she needs to make herself vulnerable, blah, blah, blah is absurd. J Lo can act ok, dance, ok, but to think that a singer can emulate her or learn from her is to suggest that said singer wants to just blend into the background of nameless dance tune slut-o-the-months, who underdress and act like sleazy pole dancers in videos and shows that little kids and parents and grandparents see. Have some respect – if you can’t respect yourself ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot na na na na na na – respect yourself!

    • Amen says:

      I agree! Her advice makes no sense when you look at her career. Singing about dancing & wearing very little clothing is not being “vulnerable”, it’s being generic & slutty. I’ve always liked her movies, but her music career is a joke. If she was a contestant, she never would have won American Idol.

    • Tahoe Mike says:

      As far as i know, no singer in Idol history has ever covered a J.Lo song. Her advice to the women on the show is worse than useless because she is petty and jealous of their talent. J.Lo should be taking vocal lessons from these women.

  46. MusicGrrrl says:

    I guess we are parting ways this year, Michael. I thought both of Hollie’s and both of Phillip’s performances were by far the best of the evening. Both of Elise’s were BAD. Colton’s were just weird, even though I still want to love him. And Jessica had the worst run of the season on her second song. I couldn’t believe they didn’t call her on all the bad notes on that one run and the lounge singery approach to the song. IMHo, Elise should go home tonight, and Jessica and Colton should probably join her in B3.

  47. tewence says:

    hollie: fine job, but just because she had a better night for her doesn’t mean she is amazing now. good voice, just young and boring.

    colton: i actually hated bad romance, and preferred september, even though that, too, was terrible. i think he needs to change his image up completely, and he will make more sense. buzz the hair, dress in clothes that fit with a more urban style, and stick to playing real music. i actually find him to be forced and non-authentic. he is talented, though. MUCH prefer him to phillip.

    joshua: he is great. i get why people would grow weary of him. amazing voice, and very seasoned. with him, it comes down to whether you like his style or not. i am so-so about the style, but CRAZY about the way he performs.

    jessica: fantastic! she keeps getting more and more connected with the songs. the potential for her to be brilliant is incredible. they judge her on a different standard because her voice is miles ahead of everyone else’s.

    elise: the most authentic artist on the show. they have been out for her since the beginning, and it’s a shame. loved the alicia bit, and i actually thought she did well with

    phillip: this is the only person who pisses me off. well, that’s unfair, it’s people’s reaction to him that pisses me off. no range. no variety. no originality. completely predictable. just because he plays guitar and growls does not make him good. end of story. by the way, his “original” usher song wasn’t that special because he had already done that earlier in the season. i also don’t find anything sexy about being off-tune.

    skylar: she is good at what she does. not my cup of tea. born this way was reeeeeeeeeally awkward. and heard it through the grapevine was awful. didn’t sound anything like the son.

  48. IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

    Ouch! Such an unnecessary blade does stab this week! What, did Slezak’s drink turn sour halfway through? I though Phillip kicked some serious butt with both of his performances, especially “U Got It Bad.” And what’s with the Round 2 disses for Colton, Elise, and Jessica? I liked Colton’s reinterpretation a lot, I thought Elise was all kinds of hot, and Amber Riley (Mercedes) on “Glee” did the exact same thing when she sang “Try a Little Tenderness” and Slezak liked it then, so what gives? (I agree with him about Skylar, though; girlfriend is a force to be reckoned with.)

  49. Gale says:

    “My jaw dropped like J.Lo’s backside in a music video…” made me LOL!!

  50. Twain says:

    Slezak – Have to say that while I normally agree with you, I think you’ve been not getting enough sleep.

    Haven’t been a fan of hers, but Hollie was terrific last night (even better when I watched it again). Phillip is too one note. Jessica may be technically perfect, but for a 16 year old, she’s too dour. For as good as Colton was last week, he was terrible with September this week.

    Faves of the night: Hollie, Skylar
    Just aight – Philip, Jessica, Joshua
    Bottom Two (just based on last night) – Elise & Colton

    Sadly, I think Elise is going home. After her Whole Lotta Lovin (which I downloaded), she deserved a better fate.