A potential bromance sputtered awkwardly. Ryan Seacrest pretended not to know the difference between a daffodil and a tulip. J.Lo and Steven Tyler respectively admitted to never having heard “The Letter” and “Bleeding Love.” And Randy Jackson one-upped them by going all “durrr”-faced when confronted by the word “crustacean.” (In his defense, it does contain more than two syllables.)
But who cares about such ignoble details when you’ve got the American Idol Season 11 Top 5 doing their darndest to one-up their own personal best performances and give us major Idol Moments in the process?
Yep, gripe all you want about the show’s anemic efforts to clear new and unexpected songs. Kvetch about Randy perpetuating Simon Cowell’s haggard, unfunny, “Ryan, are those high heels for you?” jokes. But you can’t really say there have been more than a handful of bum notes for the last four or five weeks of competition. (Which is what made a certain front-runner’s British Music performance so strikingly unfortunate this evening.)
Anyhow, I’ve got a full episode recap to write — look for it on Thursday right here at TVLine.com — but before I do, let me give a pithy breakdown on the evening’s set list.
Hollie Cavanagh: Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” | Quite possibly the best she’s sounded all season, and undoubtedly the most command of the stage she’s shown since the live rounds began.
Phillip Phillips: The Box Tops’ “The Letter” | Just because you make it different doesn’t mean you’ve made it better. I mean, I could substitute motor oil for milk, but it wouldn’t make my Raisin Bran Crunch any tastier, now would it? Which isn’t to compare Phillip to motor oil — his “The Letter” wasn’t bad at all — I just missed that melody.
Skylar Laine: CCR’s “Fortunate Son” | Girl is like a trunk full of illegal firecrackers: Dangerous and ready to explode at any second. Skylurrrrrrrvvvvve this girl!
Jessica Sanchez: Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” | I feel the urge to break out the cilice every time I find myself agreeing with Randy, but for me for you, while Jessica hit all the notes (vocally and fashion-wise), it all ended up feeling a little antiseptic. In other words, this was good, but Trenyce did it better. (Uh-huh, I went there.)
Joshua Ledet: The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” | Similar to Jessica’s performance, Joshua had the right jacket (damn, I wish I could work a look like that) and all the right notes, but the sum was not entirely equal to the parts. This was more of a walk, when it needed to be a full-fledged canter.
Hollie Cavanagh: Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” | With a stripped-down arrangement and a glory note as big as The Rock’s bicep, Hollie managed to do something Leona Lewis never quite accomplished: Making me really feel the pain and beauty of this Ryan Tedder composition.
Phillip Phillips: The Zombies’ “Time of the Season” | I’m not sure what the judges were hearing, but those high notes on the chorus were to Phillip like rolls of bargain-brand paper towels on the top shelf of a supermarket to a little old lady: Highly upsetting and well out of reach.
Skylar Laine: Dusty Springfield’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” | Speaking of retail stores, take the price tag off Dusty’s haunting Brit-pop classic: With tonight’s pitch-perfect rendition, Skylar totally owned it.
Jessica Sanchez: Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” | Every once in a while, an Idol vocal lives up to the ridiculous “mist and candles and special lighting” treatment. And that’s exactly what Jessica did with her nuanced, moving cover of Joe Cocker’s soul classic. Yeah, the glory note was one of the best we’ve heard in several seasons of Idol, but the rest of it was equally sublime.
Joshua Ledet: The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” | Joshua was so tremendous, I can’t even be mad at the judges for giving him his 13th standing ovation of the season. I just hope that “13” — or the hand-me-down ladyblouse from Colton Dixon — doesn’t prove to be unlucky.
Phillip & Joshua: The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” | I don’t know what was going on here. Kris Allen and Adam Lambert already provided a template for guy-guy affection on Idol, and this catastrophic collision did not live up to it. (Joshua’s falsetto riffing almost made up for it, though.) (Also, did Ryan possibly torpedo Phillip’s chances by revealing he’s got a girlfriend?)
Jessica, Skylar & Hollie: Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” | Even if it wasn’t the stuff of “Slow Ride” legend, it still gave each of these ladies a chance to show off her impressive chops, so I can’t be mad at it.
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