American Idol Top 6 Performance Recap: They'll Keep on Fighting Till the End

Dubious claims dropped faster and more frequently during American Idol‘s Top 6 performance show than J.Lo’s legendary backside in her latest music video. Phillip Phillips kidded that the U.S. government is running tests to make Jessica Sanchez’s voice even more poweful. Skylar is a “thick-boned” girl, noted Hollie (who’s been in this country — and in front of the Idol judges — long enough that she really ought to know the term “thick-skinned.”) And Randy Jackson claimed to have invented the word “ginormous right there at the judges’ table. (I know I’ve been suggesting for years that we pitch in and buy the Dawg a thesaurus, but now it’s clear we’re going to have to go full throttle and purchase a dictionary and a subscription to Weekly Reader, too.)

American Idol: 10 Dream Theme Nights!

Still, in the midst of all the foolery and half-truths, one statement — also from Mr. Jackson — stood out for its genuine truthiness: Each and every member of the Season 11 Top 6 is “ready to jump on the charts” right this very minute. Sure, we can quibble over the commercial viability of their song choices, or whether they’re “current” enough to find a place on airwaves dominated by neon-clad cavepeople and that chick with a dollar-sign in her name who Tweets pictures of herself urinating in the street. But after a half-dozen terrific covers of Queen’s greatest hits, followed by a solid round of “Contestants’ Choices,” there’s no denying Idol‘s latest crop of contenders are a seriously stellar sextet. Let Jimmy Iovine sign ’em all, and get the revolution underway, yes? (Ke$ha can get a job as one of their roadies!)

Still, in the words of Skylar Laine, the show must go on, so let’s get down to the business of discussing the night’s 12 solo performances. (That Queen medley featuring Brian May and Roger Taylor was a lot of fun, too, even if it revealed Elise and Skylar as the true rock royalty of Season 11, and gave me my first flash of an all-female Final 2 that I could definitely support.)

Jessica Sanchez: “Bohemian Rhapsody” If I had to rank every Idol finalist over 11 seasons in order from most-likely to least-likely to utter the words “Mama, I just killed a man” in real life, Jessica would undoubtedly wind up in the Bottom 3. But once she opened her mouth and began to sing Queen’s epic anthem, it didn’t matter that her pixie form and meek smile lacked the inherent danger of a Bo Bice or an Adam Lambert or a Skylar “Diamond-Studded Pistol” Laine, or that she might not have the physical strength in her thumb and forefinger to successfully pull an actual trigger. Jessica perfectly captured the mournful, haunting quality of the verses, while successfully transitioning into and out of the cacophonous fury of the uptempo bridge. “Bohemian Rhapsody” really isn’t a song that should be condensed to 90 seconds, but to me, this was a moment where Jessica stopped perfectly coloring within the lines, and gave us a glimpse of an original artist she might someday become. And unlike J.Lo, I don’t think she needed run around or whip her hair back and forth to accomplish it. (We’ve already got Willow Smith for that brand of addictive ridiculata.)

Skylar Laine: “The Show Must Go On” I’ll admit it: I’ve been completely under the spell of Skylar’s voice for several weeks now. But even so, I don’t think I could’ve predicted the awe-inspiring power and passion she brought to Queen’s most haunting composition. As J.Lo correctly noted, Skylar has a way of “really articulating every part of the song,” and indeed, as the Mississippi teenager got to the line “Inside my heart is breaking, my makeup may be flaking, but my smile still stays on,” she managed to infuse it with a world-weariness and drama that defied her tender age. And just as impressive as the emotion she brought to the song was the way Skylar’s vocal rose and rose and rose with the exceedingly difficult melody. I found myself holding my breath — fearful Skylar would lose control of the steering, veer right off the edge of the cliff, as she sped toward that treacherous final series of glory notes — but nope, she made every hairpin turn without the slightest difficulty. I’ve listened to this performance 10 or 11 times now, and I still can’t think of anything else in Season 11 that can trump it.

Joshua Ledet: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” Joshua may have built his reputation as Idol‘s Gospel-inspired balladeer, but to me, his best performances are the ones where he sheds his choir robe and gets down with the git-down. From the old-fashioned microphone to the black jacket with leather lapels, Joshua embodied the swing and the jive of the lyrics, strutting the stage with a secular swagger, bending his knees with the rhythm, and eventually losing his damn mind (in the best possible way) over what is indeed a crazy little thing called love. The way Joshua played with the outer boundaries of his vocals — the flirty swoop on “cool cool sweat,” the gutteral growl on “take a long ride on my motorbike” — might have seemed like wretched excess if he hadn’t done it with such consummate casualness. Dude is unstudied to the point where it’s like an outside entity takes over his body and voice — and all you can do is sit back, nod your head, and let that same spirit raise your Gospel hand for you. Amen!

Elise Testone: “I Want It All” Who needed the infographics backdrop spelling out the words “I Want It All” when we had Elise’s sultry vocals delivering the message in such sublime fashion? Indeed, the rocker chick who looked like a front-runner after “Vienna” and “Whole Lotta Love” got her groove back wrapping herself around a melody that sounded like it had been written just for her. Elise is a lot like Joshua in that her voice has a multitude of settings, and when she’s got the right song, she can break ’em all out in a 90-second performance without seeming the slightest bit strained. The way she screamed “GIMME!” and then finished the thought with a wriggling, breathy “what I know is mine,” had me hooting and hollering from my couch. Idol has taught Elise that rock anthems are her wheelhouse, she told Ryan in her post-performance interview, and I have to say, if she sticks with that gameplan, she might achieve her second “underdog rising” story arc of the season.

Phillip Phillips: “Fat Bottomed Girls” There’s not a whole lot to say about Phillip’s raucous, winking cover of this raucous, winking ditty. Dude hit his notes squarely, and infused ’em with his trademark growl, but more importantly, he found a way to translate last week’s legendary/swoon-inducing sound bite — “Does your daddy let you date?” — into musical form. So even if he winds up in the Bottom 3 (a distinct possibility) I don’t think he’s at risk of elimination.

Hollie Cavanagh: “Save Me” “Just be up there having a good time,” yammered J.Lo, which seemed like an odd critique for a ballad with a chorus that goes “Save me, save me, save me/ I can’t face this life alone/ Save me, save me, save me/ I’m naked and I’m far from home.” Um, was Hollie supposed to slap on a pageant smile and throw some jazz hands into the mix? Phooey! From my living room couch, I felt like this was Hollie’s most powerful, emotionally connected performance of the season, and instead of hearing a talented teenage kid cover a grown person’s hit record, I heard a young woman bring a familiar melody to life in a new and different way. (Yeah, that’s another way of saying she made it her own.) If I had one suggestion for Hollie, though, it’d be this: Ditch the treacherous heels next time, and take to the stage in flats, or barefoot even. You’ll never be able to truly take ownership of the stage if you’re teetering on stilletos that would only need a couple extra inches to qualify as stilts.

Contestant’s Choice
Jessica Sanchez: Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father” Jessica brought a palpable angst (and her usual pitch perfection) to a ballad that was already covered once this season by Jermaine Jones — but it was kind of like staging an Iron Chef competition and making a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese. “Dance With My Father” is such a thuddingly mawkish slice of hokum — and the literal backdrop of a silhouetted dad raising his baby into the air was so corny — it really seemed beneath Jessica’s talents. And in a competition this tight, that song-choice misstep might be enough to put her at risk of elimination.

Skylar Laine: Jason Aldean’s “Tattoos on This Town” Skylar would’ve had to perform “Tattoos on This Town” while strapped to a flaming trapeze to match the outsized intensity of “The Show Must Go On,” but on the other hand, the sweetly sentimental Jason Aldean track is probably a good representation of who she wants to be as an artist. (Randy: “Yo. Yo. Women can’t be artists, dude!”) And while the opening verse had a slightly grating nasal quality to it, Skylar’s vocals seemed to open up as the performance chugged along, ending in a vocal run so strong and spectacular that I might go so far as to call it downright Underwood-esque.

Joshua Ledet: India.Arie’s “Ready for Love” To quote the great philosopher DeAndre Brackensick: “Oooh, Lawd!” Honestly, I’ve been waiting for Joshua to give a week off to the Gospel choir that’s taken up residence in his dressing room, to strip down an arrangement so we can truly hear all the colors of his voice, and with “Ready to Love,” he accomplished that and so much more. Sure, Joshua’s vocal was impressive as ever — that last run dipped so low it hit bedrock — but perhaps more importantly, I think this performance silenced doubters who’ve claimed Joshua can’t bring emotional depth to his material. Cornball as it may sound, with this India.Arie cover, Joshua was just a guy, standing in front of 20 million people, asking for someone to love him. (Bonus points for Mr. Ledet and Ms. Laine for her post-performance teasing about his “12 Standing Os!” over the course of the past nine weeks. I hope voters don’t hold that over-the-top display of judges’ pimpery against the guy, though.)

Elise Testone: Jimi Hendrix’s “Bold as Love” “You can’t pick cherries with your back to the tree,” said Steven, in a poetic critique of Elise’s somewhat obscure song choice. But actually, it is possible — if not entirely efficient — to harvest fruit with one’s hand behind one’s back. And I like to think that’s exactly what Elise accomplished. Hendrix’s original isn’t exactly a singer’s kind of song: It’s sort of a sing-speak shuffle with the guitar front and center. But Elise somehow twisted the tune to fit her sultry brand of jazz-rock improvosation. Maybe all the riffs and runs — and the manipulation of that giant orange train on her dress — was too much information for Randy to handle, but this is a dude who thinks he invented the word “ginormous.” I say we give J.Lo the last word on this performance: “You slayed the song so hard that it didn’t even matter!” Preach, Jenny, preach!

Phillip Phillips: Dave Matthews Band’s “The Stone” I’m going to admit I never before heard “The Stone,” and after Phillip’s cover, I’m not really sure if ever need to hear it again. To me, the Georgia peach played second fiddle to his saxophonist and fiddler on a song with no real hook or shape or, well, much of anything. But I also am fully aware that my lack of love for “The Stone” is entirely subjective. A whole lot of people love Dave Matthews, and I respect that — knowing that’s the type of artist he wants to be — Phillip took us on a journey to DMB-ville, whether or not that location is anywhere near a confetti shower at the Nokia theater in late May. I will say that Randy using the word “artist” 146 times during his critique of Phillip was a little galling, since his praise for this male contestant was built on the same exact foundation he used to slam Elise. But who am I kidding? Looking for consistency and fairness from Randy is like looking for a working septic tank without sewage.

Hollie Cavanagh: Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” I’m just going to revert back to what I said in my post-show wrapup on Wednesday night. Hollie’s rendition of “The Climb” was like the first dandelion peeping up in your front yard after a long, cold winter: Really, really pretty, even if I’m not sure we’ll still remember it come summertime. That said, the metallic-flower top of Hollie’s halter dress was spectacular, and she really did seem to feel the lyrics of this ballad that was perfect for her age and experience. She’s just bein’ Hollie, I suppose.

Letter Grades for the Week
Skylar: A
Joshua: A
Elise: A
Jessica: A-
Hollie: A-
Phillip: B+

Joshua: A
Elise: A-
Skylar: B+
Hollie: B
Jessica: B
Phillip: B-

What did you think of Top 6 week? Sound off 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. Nina says:

    best recapper ever! did you skip the grades this week?

  2. g11 says:

    philip needs to go and hollie
    Ideal final 4 would be Elise, Skyler Joshua and Jessica
    final 3 jessica elise and skyler
    and a elise skyler final 2 (don’t care who wins from those two though)

    • Lili says:

      I agree with you: the best finale would be Skylar v. Elise.
      Joshua and Jesssica 3rd and 4th. Phillips needs to go, but I still think he’s better than Hollie!

      • Faz says:

        Such a bad night — such a bad night.

        • Michael says:

          I hated the Queen round. Michael’s praise was effusive, but I hated just about every performance. I’m not Hollie’s biggest fan but I thought that her’s was the only Queen performance that was worth anything even though the judges didn’t seem to like it. I would have given her the standing O for that song, not the Climb. And I hated Jessica’s Queen song. Dance with my Father was actually miles better, for me, for you, yo dawg.

          • ejones says:

            Pleased to see that Jimmy agreed with us that Slezak’s grading for the Queen songs was OTT, I was disappointed having read his comments before seeing the show here in the UK. It started with Jessica’s awful BoRhap but it did get better after that but never to anything like A or standing ‘O’ standard. Bit like the soul songs last week, rather underwhelming

    • Frank O'File says:

      A Skylar/Elise finale for me would be a downer after a great season…

    • Ben says:

      I agree, Phil needs to go. Disagree on the final though, really, I’d rather see Jess and Josh than Elise and Skylar – but frankly, if Phil was to go this week, I could handle any finale from the remaining 5. I just think Phil is the weakest vocalist left at this stage (and if I’m fair, Hollie shouldn’t make the finale either – you are right – but I kinda have a crush on her, so I give her a pass for that).

      • Name That Tune says:

        I don’t know. I see visions of a Josh/Phil finale.
        i think Elise earned a ticket to the top 5, but I’m thinkin’ she goes tonight.

  3. Renda says:

    Can we talk about Randy’s ludicrous comment to Phillip… “I love hearing your run out of breath.” I’m pretty sure that’s called bad singing.

  4. Josh says:

    Funny I found Joshua and Phillip to have the worst two first round performances..

    • gdbelle says:

      Actually, I agree with you. I thought Skylar, who I generally like, yelled through her song and felt pretty much the same about Joshua. I thought the first round probably went to Elise. Jessica sang well, but that song is just impossible to cut down into 90 seconds.

      • Josh says:

        Elise was by far my favorite of the first round and second and this season haha. And I agree about Jessica. She sang well but picked the wrong song. The whole song is about the build up then the emotion pay off. To cut that up kills the it.

        I actually liked Phillip song but that’s because I’m a fan of acoustic music…but not a fan of Dave Matthews. Go figure. Though it has something to do with something pot. I don’t do that either Michael haha!

        • Suggestor says:

          Were the songs picked by the contestants or were they picked by the members of Queen for the contestants? I heard that the contestants were given a very short list to choose from.

          • Christine L says:

            The list may have been short because Queen reserved some of the best ones to perform themselves. Any song in the opening medley would be off limits, for example.

          • Lunakit says:

            Phillip’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” also opened the medley…

        • TC says:

          i’m a HUGE DMB fan and LOVE “The Stone” but P2 didn’t do it justice. It’s simply too much song to cram into a minute and a half

    • grace2552 says:

      Completely agreed. I love Joshua but his phrasing on that song was totally awkward. If you listen back, he starts and ends practically every phrase with “uh” – as in “uh-This thing-uh, uh-called love-uh…” etc – and that just drove me nuts. It was like a bad Elvis impersonation, I just couldn’t get over it.

      As for Phil, I swear to god after the judges completely failed to give Elise the props she deserved for the liberties she took with the melody on “I Want it All” (it’s like a 5-note anthem and she turned it into a beautiful singer song! That was so baller!!) I turned to my roommate and said: “Watch, now Phillip “True Artist” Phillips is going to come out, probably sing “Fat Bottom Girls” and it’s going to sound exactly like every other Phil Phillips performance we’ve ever seen and the judges are going to tell him how genius he is.” AND THEN EXACTLY THAT HAPPENED. Dude has gotten mad predictable, and I for one have long since lost interest.

  5. bjp says:

    If Skyler was the night’s best, as the judges repeatedly claimed, then why did she not deserve a standing O, and Joshua did?!

    • Emma says:

      Do I really need to tell you what Joshua has that Skyler doesn’t have? ;)

    • TinyTim says:

      Crystal Bowersox was a much better singer than Skylar and she has gone nowhere.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Not true. Crystal’s had a lot of play on country and particularly alt-country on satellite. I’ve heard her. Anyone else heard her?

        • shelbybb says:

          Not really. I don’t think air play on “alt-country on satellite” is the kind of success we’re talking about here.

        • seattlejohn449 says:

          I saw a video with her charting on top-20 country plus saw her on IDOL with a new song …but I didn’t really care for them…she needed stronger hooks and my knee-jerk impression was the lyrics were a bit convoluted and obscure IMO…hope her next effort is more stripped down and really showcases her strengths; she has booked at least a couple performances in the Seattle area including something connected to our local gay pride events

          • Joy says:

            Her website has a free download right now (“Ohio Flies By”) that has much more of that simple, stripped-down vibe. Maybe now that she’s recording independently, we’ll hear more of that. I feel like the folks at Jive had no coherent sense of what to do with her, and just tried to insert random pop-style bells and whistles into her sound wherever they could. Frankly, I think there are several ex-Idols who are likely to make better music now that that label no longer exists. :-)

        • Yo' says:

          Me. I bought her album.

        • Name That Tune says:

          LOL, but who listens to alt-satelite anyway?

      • Templar says:

        A lot of people really despised Crystal, though. Her BS with her rug and her special mic etc. She was a street busker and nothing more.

      • Christine L says:

        While I liked Crystal, I just can’t agree that she’s a better singer than Skylar. Skylar has a much bigger vocal range and she can sing well in many genres. Crystal did her own thing pretty well but she had no range. She also performed in a year with very little competition.

      • Marsaili says:

        Crystal is doing very well in Nashville, I see her video on GAC and CMT all the time—I wouldn’t call that going nowhere.

  6. doncorne says:

    jessica is the most talented and viable of the bunch and i am so afraid she is at risk of elimination….

  7. bjp says:

    It actually hurts to watch Phillip “perform.” The weird twitching, twisted arm movements, popping vein… ugh.

    • Alienate says:

      Can you say: “Joe Cocker”? I LOVE watching performers who can’t help flopping on stage like a fish in death throws when singing their guts out. Go Phillip!

      • Jason says:

        I think Philip is really in a lot of pain and he is struggling with the Kidney Stone. Remember that Episode of Deadwood where Sweringen passed a kidney stone. That was the most frightening episode of television I ever saw. Feel for the guys pain.

        • MA says:

          I absolutely think this is true. The handful of times where Phillip hasn’t looked like he’s in terrible pain, he’s done really well and I’ve liked him. I think he’s got real problems, not just the “I’m a crappy musician” kind.

    • Tracy says:

      Agreed! I just don’t get his appeal.

  8. JT says:

    Here’s my problem with Phillip’s performance of Stone last night. It’s as if he said to himself “they keep comparing me to Dave, so I’m going to give them a big middle finger by playing a Dave song that no one who is not a huge Dave fan has ever heard.” However, he gave such a lackluster performance of such an awesome song that anyone who is a huge DMB fan (like me) knows that it’s an awful rendition and anyone who’s not a huge DMB fan has no idea what the heck he sang. So he ends up screwing himself over with both the DMB and non-DMB fans. I’ve been a huge fan of his all season, but that was a terrible decision.

  9. Andy J says:

    Phillip should, but probably will not, go home tonight. I’m just loving Skylar more and more-not only is she a great singer, but she has a great sense of humor, whether pointing out that Joshua has just received his 12th standing O from the judges or asking if Hollie did indeed just call her fat on national television. I also loved Hollie’s spot-on impersonation of PP. Joshua gives great sublime performances when he is restrained, so I am hoping he will cut back on the screeching because then he sounds like a cat spitting out a hairball. I think by this point Elise doesn’t give a hooey what the judges say-and good for her. And I admkire Jessica’s father for his service to our country-thank you, Mr. Sanchez-but Jessica’s ploy to win votes by saying he’s being deployed to Singapore-well, that’s the army equivalent of Mormon missionaries being sent to preach in the south of France. And I loved Julianne Hough’s cameo-I truly miss her (and Edyta)-on DWTS. Overall the best of the night was Hollie’s “The Climb”, the worst-PP’s Dave Matthews song.

  10. john says:

    Phillip may end up paying for singing/mimicing/karokeing Dave Matthews. It’s been somewhat unspoken to date but is now out there. Phillip is doing Dave Matthews. I like the guy but he may end up playing clubs as the frontman for The Dave Matthews Band Experience.

  11. J. May says:

    I felt that Elise’s comment “I thought everybody knew that song” concerning Bold as Love is exactly her problem. She doesn’t exactly fall within Idol’s default demographic (a good thing, I love her) and she is confused by it or, maybe, everybody is confused by her and her talent. My dream top 3 is Elise, Skylar and Joshua.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Everybody DOES know that song. Everybody over the age of 50. I know that song. my husband knew the song. I thought she was wonderful.

      • margeaux says:

        I don’t know that song, possibly because I can’t stand Jimi Hendrix. And that’s my era.

        • Joy says:

          Confession: I know the song because John Mayer covered it, and I don’t even like John Mayer. Loved Elise’s version, though, so I should probably look up the original. :-)

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            John Mayer covered Hendrix?
            Now that’s just wrong.

          • MA says:

            Yeah, I’ve been keeping that to myself, but since someone else said it… :)
            Oy. I know! (But I really can’t stand John Mayer, even on a good day, so there’s that.)

      • Christine L says:

        My husband and I are over 50 and we didn’t know that song despite being Hendrix fans.

      • Yo' says:

        I thought she was wonderful, too. You have excellent taste. (Now cross your fingers and toes for her.)

      • Marsaili says:

        I know that song and I was probably 2 or 3 when it came out—and I LOVED her version of it!

    • MA says:

      I know it! I’m not 50! Okay, I’ve got 10 years on Elise, but everyone I know knows it too. “Bold As Love” isn’t some obscure B-side that no one’s ever heard. Plus, someone at work was telling me this morning that Forever 21 was just recently selling shirts with Jimi Hendrix’s face on them and “Axis Bold As Love” written across the front. I’m thinking Elise wasn’t totally out of touch here. Also, doesn’t she work with teenagers and kids? She’s bound to have some sense of what kind of music they listen to.
      That said, my dream top three is Elise, Skylar, and Joshua too.

  12. jen says:

    I am totally baffled about the ridiculous amount of praise Michael is throwing at Skylar’s performance. Passion?? Huh? What were you watching MIchael? She clearly had no understanding of what she was singing about. The song is about a man dying of aids. She sang it like it was just another country rock diddy. It isn’t.

    • pmet says:

      Jen, I totally agree. Normally I agree with Michael’s posts, but not with regard to Skylar. In his mind, she can do no wrong, and thus he overlooks so much when she performs. In my opinion, she sings each song the same way, she attacks it and has some glory notes at the end. I rarely find real emotion in her singing. Occasionally, but rarely. That doesn’t mean she can’t sing, just that her style is not really appealing to me and I don’t think she really feels her music or always understands the emotion behind the lyrics.

    • Jason says:

      HAve to agree. Slezak is really drinking the Idol Kool Aid with Skylar. That was a shout fest struggle at the end to hit those big notes.

    • Frank O'File says:

      Yeah. Because of Slezak, I’ve watched the performance three times, and the vocal just ain’t as strong as he’s proclaiming. Wavering, not perfectly on key, at times overwrought and shrill…not terrible, by any means, but he’s really overpraising this performance.

    • Bobbie says:

      Yes, he is overpraising it big time. You could tell she was clueless as to what the song is about.

  13. Steph says:

    Jessica, Hollie, Joshua are my top favs. Jessica is number one though.

    • gregk says:

      Also mine, anyone of these should win and I’d be glad. Loved Hollie’s little ‘jig” after her second performance, reminded me of Jackie Evancho’s similar child-like exuberance after she performs (and they are just kids!).

  14. noa says:

    i agree with your grades this time! yay.
    just one correction for me (for you): Bold As Love deserves an A+. coolest thing i’ve ever seen on Idol. and listen to the studio version- it’s fantastic. oh, and i really think you should give The Stone another listen- but this time the full, original version.

  15. Marko says:

    Mr Slezak underrated Jessica (again). She deserves A+ for her second performance.

    • Suggestor says:

      Jessica’s second performance was remarkably touching and personal. Who cares who sang the song earlier this season? I don’t even remember how it was. You have Hollie singing her song TWICE and P2 singing a song FROM the medley. If its a different take and certainly done the way Jessica did it then I’d love to hear more.

  16. MusicFan says:

    Elisssse! Joshua and Jessica my tops! Good luck tonight to all of them!

  17. Jennifer says:

    Well from Michael’s grades I guess we can tell who he wants to go home tonight…

  18. Cheryl says:

    Just like Haley did last year, Skylar has slowly grown to be my favorite! I’m a big country fan, but I didn’t care for Scotty OR Lauren last year. (and still don’t!) I’m looking forward to hearing Skylar on my farovite country stations!

  19. Jennifer says:

    Michael Slezak….you are a brilliant writer (satirist). Really pulitzer prize winning writing! I can’t wait until Thursday (mid) morning eastern time to see your Recaps! Very witty and accurate! Bravo!!

  20. RTW says:

    This season is really tough because any one of these folks could be crowned the winner and it’d be fine. However, there is one person though who is really growing on me and that’s Skylar. Country is not my favorite type of music at all, but Skylar’s performances move me in a way that Scotty’s nor Lauren’s ever did. It’s very weird, but after last night I could really see her headlining a venue.

    I do have one criticism of her’s though – she overexerts herself a lot on stage and I feel a lot of that comes from performing in front of the AI audience. There must be something about that studio that makes not just Skylar but all the other contestants “go to church”.

  21. noa says:

    and as for better performances this season-
    1. Vienna
    2. Whole Lotta Love
    3. Stay With Me
    4. Bold As Love

    and… ok- it’s in my top 5. Show Must Go On was stellar.
    mmm- were we talking about an all ladies top 2?

  22. connerc says:

    The problem with Phillip singing The Stone is you cannot do a solid version in 90 seconds. It’s the kind of song that needs time to seep into you. It needs a lot of instrumental parts to help set the mood. But, he only has 90 seconds, so he had to jump right in. I love Phillip, but it was a terrible choice for this kind of contest. Great for his album, but not this contest, especially when the other five are singing all out. It might cost him like it cost Colton last week. They are all so close. There is just no time for this over-indulgence.

  23. Pat says:

    Don’t get the love for Joshua’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love. I thought it was a mess. And Skylar’s The Show Must Go ON was flat. Elise’s Bold As Love was magical though.

  24. J says:

    Elise, Skylar, Hollie, and Joshua were tops for me last night. I don’t want to see either go home tonight. I think this will be a tough results show.

  25. katieweiller says:

    I was surprised that Philip chose an obscure Dave Matthews song. If he was going to finally sing a Dave Matthews song, why pick one that isn’t one of his more popular ones? He has plenty. I also hated that both Randy and Jennifer completely flipped their comments between Elise and Philip (regarding song choice), and Elise’s wasn’t as obscure as she made it seem. Yes, the average American Idol viewer may not know the Jimi Hendrix version, but John Mayer covered it on his last album and Elise’s version was pretty similar to his.

    Also, didn’t Hollie sing The Climb as her audition song? She sounds good, but can’t she pick something new?

    • noa says:

      it was her audition song on season 10. not this year.

    • Princess Adora says:

      It’s true, Jennifer and Randy completely 180’d with their critiques for Elise and Phillip. According to jennifer Elise can sing anything but Phillip needs to play it safe, and for Randy Elise can’t show artistry, but Phillip sure can! It’s kinda messed! I had never heard either song before and won’t be looking to hear them again, not to say they didn’t sing those songs well.
      I think it’s ok that Hollie sang The Climb again, sure it’s only 90 seconds, but she still gets to sing more of it than during the audition. Also, Phillip sang Superstition at this audition and for Stevie Wonder week, so it’s not like it never happens.

  26. shelbybb says:

    Ok I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again because it’s still relevant this week. Elise is a GREAT singer but she doesn’t connect to a lot of people for some reason (not enough smiling, attitude thing). I would love to see her completely change her look. Take out some (okay most) of the curly hair extensions, lighten up on the heavy makeup, lose the Stevie Nicks 1970’s clothing, sit on a stool with one light coming down and sing!
    Just me???

    • Yo' says:

      Her make-up and style has changed dramatically over the season and I frankly thing the stylists deserve some praise for that. Her hair is toned down, the make-up is much softer and the clothing is flattering. I think she looks sensational. Very long hair seems to be de rigeur these days.

    • Templar says:

      I’d be pleased if she stopped illustrating note changes with her extended arm and pointed fingers as though she’s teaching 4 year olds a song. It’s distracting, and annoying.

      • MA says:

        This I wouldn’t change at all. Elise is a fully formed musician by now, not some malleable ingenue. If this is her performance style, this is it. You attack one piece of what makes that puzzle work and you can screw up the entire thing.

        • My Alter Ego says:

          Yup — musically Elise really “gets” it. The physical “beautification” if you will, is exactly that — but don’t blame Elise for that.

          Since I’m responding after Thursday’s results, it’s all pretty much a moot point, but I do hope for Elise’s sake, that she garnered enough attention during her time on AI that it will help her in the long run. She too good to keep locally!

    • MA says:

      I don’t mind glammed-up Elise at all, and that first night when she did “One and Only,” she looked gorgeous and classy. But I will admit that the videos I’ve seen of her with her hair in ponytails, little or no makeup, wearing a sundress, and kicking it on a sofa in someone’s living room or on a stool in a bar are some of my favorite things she’s done. I don’t know how old those videos are, but I always like natural better because it’s usually much softer. People are generally really beautiful to me when I can see who they actually are. Maybe it’s just harder for some to see who Elise is through the extensions and the makeup? I don’t know. But even saying all that, I think she has looked really stunning the last few nights, last night especially. And the more comfortable she is (like when she was playing with her friend on the Hendrix song), the more radiant she looks. There’s something to be said for familiarity and relaxing, as much as removing the makeup and the hair extensions (which I didn’t even realize she had until recently…are we sure she does?…because I’m terrible at noticing stuff like that).

  27. Paloma Pigeon says:

    I just wonder why American Idol, with The Voice breathing down its neck, keeps having chestnut weeks like Queen tributes. By far the best week for me was the week the contestants were allowed to sing current songs. Also, where was Jimmy this week? Was he on vacation and that’s why Queen was slotted in to ‘choose’ the songs? I thought Jimmy’s not about Jessica needing to sing songs that matched her age was spot-on last week, and I thought ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, while well sung, was a ridiculous choice for her. I think she’s in danger of going home this week, and it’s a shame.

    • john says:

      So what current Queen song should she have sung?

    • TiaGata says:

      Paloma Pigeon said:

      I just wonder why American Idol, with The Voice breathing down its neck, keeps having chestnut weeks like Queen tributes.

      Because the Voice absolutely SUCKS air…it is full of talentless contestants, and judges that think that the platform is for them to hock their latest project. I have tried both seasons of the Voice, and the dreckatude was too much for me to bear.

      Even when I thought AI was washed up because the judges SUCK air, it still beats the Voice on the talent portion alone.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Here here. I enjoyed “The Voice” last year but this season I’ve had to turn it off because it is so dreadful.

        • MamaLis says:

          Isn’t it though? Dreadful. Dreadful. I mean, Idology gets like, 500 after-show postings and The Voice gets…74. Literally.

        • MA says:

          I have a friend who loves the Voice. Every week, I try to watch it, but get distracted and catch only a couple of people. Then I text her things like “Elise is way better than all these jokers.” I don’t get that show. I want to like it because it has grownups on it, but the singing just isn’t that good.

  28. JR says:

    Stop trying to make ridiculata happen

  29. Manola says:

    phillip should never sing after Elise. She makes him look like a vocal midget.

    I’m so over all the pimping that Phillip gets. He has two colors in his voice. Everyone else is the 64 Crayola box

    • My Alter Ego says:

      Well, unfortunately for Elise (and those who recognize how good she is), Phillip will never have to follow her again (for the next 5 weeks), but Manola, thank you, thank you, thank you for your, oh so spot on observation regarding P squared.

  30. Sandi says:

    I’ll admit, Sklyar’s The Show Must Go On wasn’t bad but anyone who thinks it was riveting should youtube Adam Lambert’s version (not to mention the original!!!) Skylar doesn’t hold a candle in my book, sorry.

    • Christine L says:

      I just did youtube Freddy Mercury singing The Show Must Go On and I still think Skylar did a very good job.

  31. P says:

    I have to agree with Jen. “The Show Must Go On” is my all time favorite Queen song, so maybe I’m just hyper critical of people who try to sing it, but I really don’t think Skylar did it justice. She’s an excellent vocalist and I love most of what she does, but her version was nowhere near as good as the original and she just wasn’t able to capture the emotion needed to sing this highly emotional song.

  32. Lois Benton says:

    It’s a stellar group, all right, but I do think you drank some Skylar kool-aid. She’s good, but nasal, with no musical or emotional subtlety at all. I like her. I like Phillip too. But they should be the next to go home. Hollie is just too vocally gifted to home now that she’s starting to get her bearings. And my opinion of the other three, the truly incomparable Joshua, ultra-talented Jessica and super-gifted Elise, hasn’t changed from Top 10 week, actually: They should be the final three standing.

  33. bfly says:

    Okay, I admit I am one of those people that is taking out on Joshua what the judges are actually guilty of… I am so sick of the endless pimping of him! Could they not give him a standing O just once!! They even admitted that Skylar was better than him in the first round, but didn’t bother to stand up for her?!? WTF?!?! So annoying! Plus, I’m also very annoyed with Randy for praising Phillip for exactly the same thing he tore Elise down for not minutes before!! Who does he think he is, Donald Trump and he’s on The Celebrity Apprentice?!? Not cool judges, not cool!

    • mick says:

      What’s really ridiculous is the obvious way that Randy made the other judges stand up on his Joshua’s 1st song. JLo was hesitant & Steven was sitting there until Randy stood up & just urged them stand up. Just all wrong: not what an ovation should be. Did I use the word ridiculous yet?

      • shelbybb says:

        You are so right and I’m afraid it’s going to back fire on Joshua! Enough already!!!

        • My Alter Ego says:

          I, too, am worried that Randy’s stupidity might backfire on Joshua. Now that Elise is no longer in contention, I would love it if Joshua could/would win. Thus, Randy’s stupidity (have I mentioned that enough?) needs to cease and desist. (And, yes, I know that won’t happen until he’s taken his last breath, which will probably be years from now.)

  34. Jen says:

    Phillip deserved an A for his 1st performance not a B. I thought he performed great for someone who’s had kidney stones. He’s still my fav this season & hope he will make it to the finale. Go Phillip!!

    I didn’t care for either of Jessica’s performances. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great singer but it just didn’t do anything for me.

    I thought Skylar did the best last night.

    Hollie & Elise were both good. As was Joshua.

    • C says:

      I am so sick of everyone saying that Phillip should get a pass because of his kidney stones. He has a butt ugly voice and no range. How he even made it to this round is totally beyond me. The kidney stones are the least of his problems as far as him being qualified to be a good singer.

      • Kelly says:

        harsh. try commenting on ur favs instead of putting other contestants down.

      • shelbybb says:

        Wow! How sad that you’re so full of hate. For you to spew such hatred for someone you don’t even know and struggling with constant pain and hide behind your computer in doing so is shameful. Put down your laptop and walk away. Dude, you have much bigger issues than who wins a tv show.

    • aw says:

      I love Phillip too! Michael I’ve loved you and your recaps for years but, like the judges always back the white guy with the guitar, you love to hate most of them..Phillip feels real, authentic, he shows up and just sings, not to compete but to entertain which should be what the show it about, its not a game – I fell off Colton because I didnt like him ‘playing’ us and the competition.. I love Skylar too, but Phillips is so raw, off the cuff, I dont care how I look when i sing/not going to think about how i move-look-perform/I’m just going to S-I-N-G and let it happen/throw back to back in the day rockers..Phillip to win!!

      • My Alter Ego says:

        You have a point. I love authenticity as well.

        But that shouldn’t be an excuse for butchering music. Perhaps you’re too young to know what that (music) sounds like/should be. Yes, I understand times change and music changes with that. But music is largely devolving, rather than evolving. And P squared doesn’t have a clue what “real” music is. A commenter above/earlier made a spot on observation about Phillip being “2 note.” While minimalistic, it’s pretty close to the truth.

        Unfortunately, P squared seems poised to become the (WGWG) American Idol. And he’s the furthest thing to being an artist!

    • McFudge says:

      I thought Phillip did a fairly mediocre job of Fat Bottomed Girls. It was almost legato in places; he just didn’t give it the kind of punch it needs. It’s a very cheeky song, pun totally intended, and I don’t think P2 really sold it.

  35. Tahoe Mike says:

    Top two for me: Skylar and Joshua.
    I wish Elise had chosen Little Wing, if she wanted to sing Jimi.
    Jessica singing Bohemian Rhapsody made me miss Kellie Pickler, whose version was so much more fun.
    Bottom two for me: Jessica and P2.

  36. Kelly says:

    jennifer killed p2 with criticism on his song choice, but his song was the only one who charted on itunes out of all the idols

    • Lunakit says:

      How can you tell what charts on iTunes? Just curious…

      • Kelly says:

        under pop in the itunes store you can look at the best selling singles and if u scroll far down the list his single charted even though it was in the hundreds, but it is still the only idol song that sold enough to do that this week.

  37. Ray says:

    Fantastic writing. I was waiting impatienly for the extended recap, but is was worth the wait.
    Michael’s observations and descriptions are incredible, even if one might not agree with all of it. I was so frustrated wtih the judges yesterday, one of their worst performances. Why does Phillip get praise as an artist by Randy and no one else, especially when he admits that this one of the best groups on idol ever. Elise was right in her comment last week about the judges. The judges just supported her comments. I just wish that Ryan would not ask the judges to give a final comment on who was the best or who is at risk of leaving.
    I say, let the voters make that judgement without the bias of the judges at the end of the show.

  38. Tv line says:

    I think Phillip will be going home, then Hollie, Elise, and the top three will be Skylar, Jessica and Joshua. That is how I see it but who knows. Skylar on Queen was amazing.

  39. Elizabeth R. says:

    Josh’s performances make me instantly bored.

  40. PFitzDC says:

    Please AI producers….STOP letting your contestants butcher Bohemian Rhapsody by doing a ridiculously short excerpt of the song. It does them absolutely no favor, and, frankly, is an insult to Queen and the late great Freddie Mercury, to act like a 90-second version of the song–even when well-executed–is somehow worth discussing as a legitimate cover. Just take it off the song list, PLEASE! Jessica would have been far better suited to do Somebody to Love or You’re My Best Friend or even Killer Queen or a dozen other songs choices that lend themself better to this type of competition.

    And Slezak, you’re not helping by recapping like this is actually acceptable!

    • Joy says:

      I second all of this! And I would have loved if Jessica or almost anyone else had done Killer Queen last night… That and Hammer to Fall were probably the Queen songs I was most sorry not to hear, although I can understand why nobody in the AI top 6 wants to sing “we’re just waiting for the hammer to fall”! (Somebody to Love is another favorite, but it’s been done enough that I’m good without hearing it on the show again..)

  41. J says:

    The image for this article is definitely my ideal Top 3. Idol gods, make Elise, Skylar, and Joshua the Top 3!

    • noa says:

      i think it’s Michael’s too… maybe mine. i’m a huge Elise fan, and i think Skylar is great, but Joshua- i don’t know. he’s really talented, and might deserve it. but he’s just not my kind of singer. i’m bored with his performances. but i totally get what other people see in him, so i guess he can join my fantasy top 3.

      • J says:

        Although they are my Top 3, everyone else can sneak in that list with a performance of the season next week (a la Kris Allen’s “Heartless”) and change that list completely. All these contestant are so freakin’ good.

      • MamaLis says:

        Oh goodie! As much as I love Elise, I equally love Joshua. I thought he was phenomenal last night. They both were. All four performances!

  42. Jane says:

    Elise. Jessica, and Skylar will be in the bottom 3. I don’t want Elise to go home, but I think this is her week to go. She has the lowest # on dialidol next to Skylar and she’s escaped the bottom 3 so many times this season already. Hollie is in first place on dialidol which is hard to believe!! Hollie is really the weak link in this top 6. She really should go home next. Phillip is gonna make the finals. Does he deserve to? IDK. I would love to see Elise in the final too, but that’s not going to happen. I think it will be Skylar or Joshua/ Phillip finale.

    • Anna says:

      Jane never believe in dial idol,it’s just a prediction. It just measure the busy lines but not the online voting.I think most of the voters are using online to vote that’s why you can’t use dial idol as a tool for a fact..

  43. Billy Jean says:

    I hope Phillip goes home to thwart the judges and I agree totally with Michael that it was under the bus time for Colton because they decided to stay with Phip. Colton was moving up too fast and they didn’t want to repeat a season 8, when Kris Allen won over the two darlings of that season Danny Gokey and Lambert. That’s why Colton is gone.

    I thought this was a spot on Idology. I agreed with Michael and disagreed with Melinda, though about Joshua.

    Joshua and Skylar finish with big productions at the end of every song and I’m kind of tired of it. Reminds me of another contestant from another season who shall go nameless that I think was the phoniest of phonies. Too much big at the end. These people have never heard of “less is more”, I guess.

  44. PFitzDC says:

    Oh, Slezak, really? An A for the shouty, screechy “Crazy Little Thing?” Even a B+ for Phillip (who I love and you don’t) was too generous, as his body language clearly telegraphed his discomfort and disengagement on “Fat Bottom Girls.”

    I think your standards are slipping.

  45. MA says:

    Great recap, Michael! “Preach, Jenny, preach!” Amen!

  46. Mcjagger says:

    Randy should just stand up before Joshua hits his first note… If you watch carefully, Randy starts Josh’s standing O and the other judges (somewhat relunctantly?) follow suit. It’s happened the last 2 weeks. Plus Randy is pimping Josh during the other singer’s critiques too…

  47. ck says:

    I love Hendrix and am thrilled Elise covered his song. What’s with Tyler complaining she should do better known songs? Of all of ’em, he should know best of all how iconic Hendrix is.

    From Wikipedia: “Hendrix was ranked number 3 on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Rock N’ Roll, behind the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. He has been voted by Rolling Stone, Guitar World, and a number of other magazines and polls as the best electric guitarist of all time.”

    Time to do a Hendrix week on Idol and give those who don’t know his work an education.

    • justafan says:

      for those in the know…has hendrix ever been covered on idol before..i’ve only been watching since season 6…and i don’t recall any

  48. tewence says:

    first, who doesn’t know “bold as love”? secondly, skylar’s “the show must go on” was faulty and vapid. lastly, phillip needs to get the eff out. terrible job.

  49. tewence says:

    also, elise is being dealt an unfair hand. they tell her to connect with a song, and she does, then they tell her she did too much. does my perplexity convey on a computer screen? also, i am glad she spoke up last week.

    phillip is over-rated, once again. time for him to leave.

  50. tewence says: