American Idol Top 4 Performance Recap: Lost in the Wilderness

Say what you want about Ryan Seacrest, but dude has impeccable timing. For a brief moment during American Idol‘s Season 11 Top 4 performance telecast, I feared the hardest-working host on TV was about to propose to girlfriend Julianne Hough (and merge the powerful Idol and DWTS royal houses in the process).

But nope, Seacrest was just kidding around — and simultaneously promoting Hough’s new movie, Rock of Ages (so no hard feelings, okay?).

I, for one, was relieved. Not only would popping the question during Idol have been tackier than a Randy Jackson accessory — honestly, dawg has to stop trying to make his pins happen — but it would’ve risked cutting short a night that featured not one, not two, but three separate performances that could easily qualify for most Top 50 Idol Performances of All Time lists.

With that statistic settling into your brain (and making you cry either “Amen!” or “Blasphemy!”) let’s cut right to the music — which fell under two separate categories of “Songs by Artists from California/Songs About California” and “Songs the Contestants Wish They Wrote.” Keiran, dim the lights…

California Dreamin’ 
Phillip Phillips: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” |  If Phillip’s first performance of the night was a meal, it would’ve been a hastily assembled turkey sandwich, scarfed down over the sink before rushing out the door to an appointment. There was nothing particularly wrong with it (well, except for the stupid backdrop of vintage surfers surfing) but it was entirely utilitarian. I appreciated that Phillip stuck to the melody, and unlike last week’s “Time of the Season” — which even his brother-in-law labeled “pretty rough” — that he hit most of the notes. But there was a roteness to the performance, a sense that as Phillip set down his guitar, called on his go-to sexy saxophonist, and began to sing, that his mind was already on his second song of the night. J.Lo kicked the word “great” in the teeth by using it to describe Phillip’s cover, but Steven continued his trend of making an enthusiastic yet cryptic statement that sounds less and less like a compliment the more you think about it: “The road to success is always under construction.”

Hollie Cavanagh: Journey’s “Faithfully” | It was fascinating to get a reminder of Hollie’s weepy, emotionally untethered Season 10 audition, especially juxtaposed against the chipper trouper she’s become over the last 11 weeks. New Hollie would never let ’em see her cry, not even if J.Lo had strung her from the ceiling by her ankles and repeatedly hit her abdomen with a stick, convinced that eventually, delicious candy would rain down on the stage. And yet while the last few weeks have seen Hollie surge from also-ran to appealing underdog, “Faithfully” represented a step back from the power and passion of “Bleeding Love” and “Rolling in the Deep.” The stripped-down arrangement of the intro exposed a tremulousness in Hollie’s vocal, and only when she got to riff over the “whoa-oh-oh-ohs” at the end did the performance really come to life. It was telling that Hollie explained to Ryan Seacrest that she needed choreography duo NappyTabs to explain to her that “Faithfully” is about a musician on the road, promising fidelity to a lover in spite of distance and loneliness. In the end, “Faithfully” turned out to be a test for which Hollie wasn’t fully prepared.

Joshua Ledet: Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” | Speaking of Season 10 audition footage, I was stunned by the physical transformation Joshua made between last year and now. It’s like the difference between a peacock with its tailfeathers bound and broken, and one with its fan on full display, instinctively aware of its own power. I was excited to hear Joshua cover “You Raise Me Up,” mainly because I wanted to see what he could do with a song that’s more about precision and restraint than full-fledged Gospel holleration, but unfortunately, his emotions got the better of him on a song he’d dedicated to his dad, and his voice closed up like an artery after another trip to the Cheesecake Factory. To me, it was Joshua’s worst vocal in 11 weeks of live performances — granted, he’s set his own personal bar very, very high — but the judges still lavished it with praise. “You are the plane right now!” shouted Steven, referencing Joshua’s fear of flying and taking home the Gold in hyperbole for this round. The judges realize they’re not doing Joshua any favors by never offering him even the slightest bit of constructive criticism, don’t they?

Jessica Sanchez: Etta James’ “Steal Away” | A few weeks ago, Jimmy Iovine pledged that he’d be keeping a close eye on Jessica’s song choices and vetting them for age-appropriateness. And so naturally, this week he had her tackle a bluesy Etta James jam about the innocent bloom of first love…a late night booty call? “My folks are sleeping, so please don’t waste no time/ I know it’s late but please don’t make me wait/ So come on steal away.” Er, maybe girlfriend just wants to make a late-night run to Dairy Queen, and knows her parents wouldn’t approve since she didn’t finish her mixed veggies at dinner? Jessica, please justify my enjoyment of this performance! “Secretly, I’m a 65-year-old and I’ve been singing all my life.” Okay, I feel better, because appropriate or not, there’s no denying Jessica brought a nasty-beautiful aggression to the tune, throwing in little squeaks and big growls and a “bay-buh” pronunciation of “baby” that was very Beyoncésque. And on a night of big ballads, a little bit of funk was truly appreciated.

RELATED | American Idol Top 5 Results Recap: She Ain’t No Fortunate One

Joshua & Phillip: Maroon 5’s “This Love” | Those interlocking black and white pianos were yet another thuddingly literal bit of Idol staging, but even if the last two men of Season 11 weren’t living together in perfect harmony, they brought a goofy chemistry to the number, as well as a few genuinely good vocal moments. Joshua’s soaring “I’ll take these broken wings” bridge was DVR rewind-worthy, and I liked the sexiness of Phillip’s syncopated grrrrs and arrghs. J.Lo was right, the whole thing was an “unexpected treat.”

Hollie & Jessica: The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” | Everything about this perfomance was wrong — except for the song choice and the actual vocals. The cloth swings seemed designed to take Jessica and Hollie out of their comfort zones and minimize their chemistry, and the verses and chorus were chopped up in a way that kept interrupting the gals’ momentum. But dammit, “Eternal Flame” is a million times better than most treacle-y Idol ballads, and when Hollie hit some of Susanna Hoffs’ high notes, I really wished she’d made it her “California Dreamin'” pick instead of “Faithfully.” Like J.Lo pointed out, the song was a good showcase for both singers’ combination of sweetness and power.

The Song I Wish I Wrote
Phillip Phillips: Damien Rice’s “Volcano” | Holy dramatic staging, Batman! The juxtaposition of Phillip under a single spotlight, the female backup singer moodily facing in a different direction, and that talented lady cellist off to the side was probably great for the live audience, but the way it was captured by the Idol cameras was stunning. (Emmy voters, take note!) What’s more, I’d rank this as Phillip’s best performance — vocally and artistically — for the entire season. Unlike his Dave Matthews cover a few weeks back, Phillip seemed in total control of this obscure gem, and it highlighted his sex appeal and vulnerability. This had shades of Kris Allen’s “Falling Slowly” and Adam Lambert’s “Mad World,” where it doesn’t even matter that Phillip chose something unfamiliar to Top 40 radio listeners. Jimmy noted that “the butterfly came out,” but I’d go one step further: The butterfly floated right into the Season 11 Top 3.

Hollie Cavanagh: Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” | The hardest moment of Top 4 week, for me for you, was Hollie’s slight hiccup/tentativeness before she repeated the line “And I will give up this fight.” I’m not sure if Hollie lost her place in the song, or if she was just feeling emotional and struggling to maintain control of her vocal, but I do know one thing: I wasn’t feeling the ache and heartbreak of a woman realizing her lover is slipping away, I was feeling sorry for a sweet kid who may or may not have realized that her dream was in its final hours. Yeah, stranger things have happened than Hollie cracking the Top 3 — ever hear of Jasmine Trias or Nikki McKibbin? — but our British Texan’s face registered glum defeat as she put down the mic and prepared for what she knew would be drawn-out negative feedback from the judges. It’s okay, kid: We’ll always have your iTunes rendition of “Power of Love” (which, incidentally, was Skylar Laine’s favorite iTunes recording of the season).

Joshua Ledet: James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” | I hate to give too much credit to J.Lo when I really need to talk about what I’d easily rank among the 10 best Idol performances of all time, but the Middle Judge standing on her feet and shaking her hands like she was holding Polaroid pictures pretty much summed up my OMG-SMDH-WTF-HOOOOGRRRLLLL response to Joshua’s performance. Never again will I say the word “train”: Now it is “trrrreeeyyyynnnnn.” Never again will I put a red iris in a vase: Only in a lapel. I loved how Joshua caressed the mic and cooed coming out of the chorus, as if he was trying to soothe the burdens of womankind in a single note. I loved his falsetto howl, a Mother’s Day gift to even those of us who are not mothers. I loved how the whole arrangement receded like a wave heading into “he’s lost in the wilderness” — and then came back with double the tidal force. I loved that black satin jacket. THIS WAS ASTONISHING. (Or, translated into J.Lo, sickening.) As Steven Tyler noted, “I can go home right now.” President Obama already did me a solid by coming out in support of same-sex marriage this week — won’t be long till somebody makes a (legally) honest man out of me — but now he needs to pass a presidential decree making it illegal to have a Season 11 finale without Joshua Ledet. And no, I am not even joking.

Jessica Sanchez: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” (from Dreamgirls) | I need to really sit and have a think, but it’s possible that Season 11 Top 4 night is responsible for not one, not two, but three of the Top 50 performances — maybe even Top 25 — in Idol history. And certainly Jessica’s gale-force drama would make the cut. I do wish she’d brought more physicality to the performance — to me, seeing her stand stock still while delivering the bombast was like going outside in a hurricane and seeing a flag hang limply from its poll — but otherwise, it was pretty much perfection. So good, in fact, that I’m inspired to write my own song (to the tune of “And I Am Telling You,” of course.

And I am telling you she’s not going
That’s the best vocal she’s ever done
Shone as bright as the morning sun
No, no, there’s no way
No, no, no, no way they’d do hometowns without her
Girl’s got way too much power
Like a world-class liqueur
She’s staying
She’s staying
And you, and you
You’re gonna love her

Letter Grades for Solos
Joshua (Man’s World): A+
Phillip (Volcano): A
Jessica (And I Am Telling You): A
Jessica (Steal Away): B+
Hollie (Faithfully): B-
Joshua (You Raise Me Up): B-
Phillip (Seen the Rain): C+
Hollie (I Can’t Make You): C+

Okay, your turn. What were your favorite performances from Top 4 night? Take our poll, then sound off below. And for all my reality TV recaps and news, 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. gailer says:

    I thought Ryan was going to propose too!

    • Medic says:

      I’ll reiterate what I said earlier about Jessica. She is a Philipino version of Katherine Macphee. She is staged, stank and phony. Her nasal tone annoys the hell out of me. Other than that she’s great. Please make her go home.

      • Gene says:

        And you’re a toad…but stay if you want so you can see Jessica move on to the final two.

        • wickerpark says:

          If Jessica sang Michael’s version of And I Am Telling You, she’d still get a standing ovation. :P

      • kitty says:


      • RJP says:

        Learn how to spell tool…..filipino

      • aw says:

        totally agree about the nasally tone! was wondering why i wasnt connected to the power of the performance like man’s world and i realised it is because her tone really is thinner and more nasal than i thought and unfortunately i think the song spotlighted that..i actually really connected with hollie so much more on i cant make u love me..and how was jessica even supposed to connect to steal away legally!? i mean really?

        • Tara says:

          Jessica sounded weak and shrill on her second song. As if she had no abdominal strength to draw on and all the volume was coming from her throat rather than her chest. I had to mute her.

          • me says:


          • mcmorco says:

            Real and really successful singers have praised her for that song. Why am I even responding to a “Tara”????

          • pmcd says:

            You must have been listening after muting the volume.


      • Yuan says:

        Nasal tone? Jessica? hahaha i thought you were talking about Skyler.

      • TinyTim says:

        Here is the big difference with last night (drum roll please)

        Philips and Josh needed backup singers and a huge orchestra to help carry them to greatness.
        Jessica stood up there all alone and delivered it as it should be, by herself and in total control.

        So she won the night. Most modern version, most high notes, most marketable song.

      • ejones says:

        Slezak mentions the difference between Joshua season 10 audition and season 11, what a difference a year makes, ditto Haley between seasons 9 and 10. That’s why Jessica should have waited before entering competitions such as this. She’s done well usually singing age inappropriate songs, one can only wonder what she would have been like if she had waited until the songs had become appropriate.

        • ysel says:

          If she already so great now (the fact that she’s in top 3), she’ll be over qualified next year. Joshua and Haley didn’t even passed the audition.

      • mcmorco says:

        Please insult us Filipinos properly by spelling properly, asshole.

      • pmcd says:

        That is just one crazy comment. She has a great tone to her voice, incredible control and a fantastic range. She is not Filipino as far as I know. Katherine McPhee is an excellent singer and AI having Taylor Hicks winning out over her was almost as bad as the selection of Blake Lewis over Melinda Doolittle.


      • Asti says:

        Slezak, pls do understand why Jessica didn’t move at all, and why Jennifer got it (and you didn’t) and pointed it out: “and I am telling you, I’m not going.” hope that helps.
        Btw, if Jessica is Katharine, Philip is hicks. Look where they are now. Kath doesn’t even have time to visit idol.

    • Amy says:

      not me…I thought it was too obvious & seemed a set-up to something. It would have been tacky and not even Mr. Media’s style, I think.

  2. Frank O'File says:

    Joshua’s performance of Man’s Man’s World had me gasping with astonishment. Sometimes simple words are the best. He has greatness.

    • deedee says:

      Greatness – yes!

      Slezak has greatness, too. Slezak is to the word what Joshua is to the song. Great recap.Agree with all of it, except your take on Jessica’s Dreamgirls song. Sorry :(

    • Jeff says:

      James Brown’s body might have died in 2006 but his spirit was on the American Idol stage yesterday.

    • Dollo says:

      Well, sort of — as I said in a post somewhere else. It was a pretty good performance. But great? American Idol great, I suppose. And perhaps that’s all we can ask for. But if you listen to James Brown or Van Morrison (or even Christian Ag. [God help me for saying that] sing that song, you’ll see why “great” as a stand alone descriptor isn’t merited.

      • Frank O'File says:

        Well, at your suggestion, I dipped into the others. I’d say we’re not playing a zero sum game. Josh holds up.

        • Dollo says:

          It depends on what you mean by holding up. By AI standards I guess that’s true. But as a stand alone not really. Much thinner voice, much less control. Again, I’m probably ok with that — let’s just don’t get all hyperbolic about it.

      • aw says:

        got to least about the covers, almost all covers i ve heard have been great but concentrated on the riffing register, if not totally focused on it that it just becomes just hollering (in pitch and albeit brilliant hollering) at me for way too much of the performance – case in point, christina a! but joshua made me relate to every word with the switch up haunting pace and just when we wanted more he blasted it out!!! i was the one hollering at the tv for the end of that!!

        • Ray says:

          Right on!! I did not enjoy her second song at all. I could not make out the words with all the screeching and hollering. I really did not relate to her first song either. I know she has a good voice but it leaves me unsatisfied. I like Hollie’s voice better.

    • Sha says:

      Joshua definitely possesses greatness! He has a true gift. Amazing

  3. lmreeth says:

    At this point, all I am rooting for is Joshua/Fantasia duet in the finale. The potential insanity of it all makes me so very happy.

  4. MamaLis says:

    Love you Michael! Great observation on Joshua’s transformation! Wasn’t it amazing? Also you misspelled statistic – if that’s the word you wanted. [trips you up a little bit]
    GREAT recap!

  5. Marko says:

    Bravo for Phillip. He’s not my favorite but he delivered the performance of the night IMO.

    • TheBeach says:

      I so agree with Slezak on the production values in “Volcano” …top notch…and not a choir or smoke machine in sight.

      • Tara says:

        Yeah, because it was so inspired to totally rip off Damien Rice’s video. Go to Youtube and watch Volcano. They copied it right down to the pop filter.

        • TheBeach says:

          Tara, at your suggestion, I did go to Youtube and watch the original video and there are, indeed, many similarities.

          • Marsaili says:

            But it doesn’t take away from how perfect Phillip was last night! Of course, Jessica has been accused of copying, too–so I guess it just depends on who you like.

  6. Andy J says:

    Poor Hollie. She has to work twice as hard to earn half the praise from the judges-and even that is lukewarm, while PP coasts by on poor performances and still gets praise. (Although he did step up to the plate with “Volcano”). Hollie’s 2nd performance was nowhere near as bad as the judges made it out to be-and frankly their pimnping and overpraising of the remaining three has gotten on my last night. I DID love Jessica’s first performance, and her second performance was also great but unfortunately her song has been ruined for me for all time by Norman Gentle. Tonight should be interesting-I wonder if we are in for a shocker. For me, howeerm Hollie has far and away the best voice and considering her treatment that she lasted this long is remarkable.

    • Andy J says:

      I meant to say the judges pimping and overpraising has gotten on my last nerves. And I meant to say however Hollie has the best voice-because she does.

      • Anne says:

        I find watching Hollie’s performances very uncomfortable because she’s sooooooo nervous she literally shakes when she’s singing.

    • chistosa says:

      Whether Hollie has a great voice is not the argument. She does. But she really did a poor job with her final song. From the first bars to the end it was clear she was out of her league. I feel bad for her but she did not do well last night.

      • takakupo says:

        Her body of work is far more impressive than Philip’s, in my opinion.

        • Faz says:

          So so singer — and awful song choices. The two last night were both horrible. Bad songs to begin with — way overdone — and she didn’t do them well.

      • Louis says:

        I’ve been watching Idol for a long time and for the most part I can tell a poor performance from a good or great performance. However, I’m kinda confused about the judges dissing Hollie for the Bonnie Raitt cover. I thought she sang it beautifully. That being said I think her downfall last night was song choice. If she was going to choose a Journey anthem then “Open Arms” would have been much better for her and I agree with Michael that the Bangles “Eternal Flame” or perhaps a Celine ballad (Titanic) would have given her a “moment.” She’s my favorite but worried she’s a goner.

        • minikittykitty says:

          I agree. The dang song choice! I thought she sang that Bonnie Rait song as well as any 18 year old could. Maybe that acoustic version of “You Oughtta Know” by Alanis might have been interesting/outside the box thinking in that “Colton”sort of way. Others, I don’t know, like “Time of My Life” by Cook or “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith? I don’t know….just thinkin’…. “Open Arms” would have been great.

          • minikittykitty says:

            She could sing Avril Lavigne “I’m with you”!! They sort of look alike, punk version of Hollie.

    • CatLyons says:

      I am very nervous for hollie. Hope she can get through tonight and bring it next week but that’s wishful thinking. I just find her to be the most likable singer. She may not have the BEST vocals but i prefer her voice to the other 3 imho.

    • Marianne says:

      Hollie’s problem has remained consistent throughout the season. She does not understand restraint at all. Jimmy Iovine told her she couldn’t over-sing the Bonnie Raitt song, and what does she do? She comes right out of the gate belting it when it most required sensitivity and restraint. I think she’s just too insistent on showing all her vocal power at all times. She just doesn’t get it – over and over and over. It’s not that she doesn’t have the vocals. Obviously she does.

      • Name That Tune says:

        I don’t think she understands the difference between powering through a song and just letting her voice sing the feelings. Part of me wonders if she doesn’t have the ability to do that or the control. If the only way she can sing is to power through it.

  7. Gus says:

    I agree with pretty much everything Michael said, except that I really didn’t think “It’s a mans world” was ALL that. Everyone seems to be going crazy about it! Don’t get me wrong, I loved it and he sang the heck out of that song, but maybe because I’m not the biggest Joshua fan, there was something about it that made it feel just short of perfect.

    “Volcano” and “And I’m Telling You”, on the other hand, were amazing. Best performances of the season, IMHO. Phil and Jessica are my top 2. There was feeling, the vocals were perfect, everything about both performances was right.

    As for Hollie, I really liked her rendition of “Faithfully”, but the second performance was just bad. After the past few weeks I was hoping she’d get better and better and MAYBE get a place on the final 2, but that showed me that she’s not ready yet… Even though she has a huge fanbase that kept her on the show up until now, I don’t think she’ll make it through to the top 3.

    • Yo' says:

      Man’s World was definitely all that.

    • chistosa says:

      Man’s World was amazing. I was on my feet in the living room. But I was not for I’m Telling you. I don’t think that was anywhere near as good.

    • Tara d says:

      I thought mans world was pretty great, but I think that if we hadn’t heard the exact same performance from Joshua all season I might be more excited about it. Also i was waiting for Joshua to cough up a hairball at the end…it was a bit over the top (and not in the Steven Tyler kind of way) for me. Personally I think that Jessica stole the show. Both of her performances were stellar, with and I am telling you being the best vocal I think I have ever heard on idol. I was trying to think of a living female artist with a better vocal than her and I couldn’t think of anyone still in their prime or nearly as controlled as her.

      • ysel says:

        Totally agree. I like Jessica for the fact that she can make a song so soft like a lullaby “You are so beautiful” but can also deliver so much power and emotion (equal or more that Joshua’s power) with “and I am telling you” . The variance is just so wide it’s just so shocking. She had so much to offer with her vocal ability that I never really heard with any of them. Joshua is the usual joshua as always so much energy when he performed. It is sometimes tiring. Even when Joshua sang “ready to love” which is soft, still sounded over the top to me. It wasn’t really exciting any more as time goes by. And Phillip even more the same as ever than Joshua.

    • TopCat says:

      well given you are a confessed Jessica/P2 fan, of course you would say that about Josh’s performance of “Man’s World”. Anyone who is a bit more objective would disagree and him deserved props for singing the crap out of that song

    • monssstr says:

      I agree with you. I have heard a few versions of this song by now and though Joshua’s was really good, I don’t think the emotion was not as strong as in some other versions of this song. I prefered Elise Testone version in top 42 actually, and Juliet Simms’ from the Voice as well. I still liked Joshua’s take, but no, not ALL that and definitely not the top 10 of all time for me. There were runs and there was growling, there was a lot of voice, but not all that much breathtaking emotion. Not saying there was none, but I just didn’t believe it or get into it as much. Also agree with you about Jessica and Phillip this week, I felt them more, it was real, great perfromances from both of them.

  8. Annie says:

    I agree that Jessica, Joshua and Phillip’s second performances were the best of the night, but I think that in a way that Phillip’s was a best for him, but not necessarily one of the best in the history of the show. I think that I would also put Jessica’s first performance in the American Idol top 25 ranking of best performances.

    Jessica and Joshua are amazing, and should be the final two standing. They showed us two sides of who they are. On the other hand, Hollie just picked the wrong song. She was the underdog, and probably won’t be able to withstand not making a good decision about song selection.

    • Chris says:

      The problem is that everyone lowers their standards when it comes to grading P2. His “best” doesn’t come close to the others “best” and I certainly wouldn’t put his 2nd performance in AI’s Top 25- and I don’t even dislike Phil.

  9. BobN says:

    gotta say I wasn’t nearly as moved by Joshua’s “It’s a Man’s World” as either you or the judges were. I think both of Jessica’s songs and Phil’s Volcano were the three best. Phil came back at the right time so as much as I like her voice I think we will be saying goodbye to Holly. BTW, why does it seem that these recaps are getting posted later and later?

    • Sandi says:

      Agree! I think Joshua is very good but I’m not blown away. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything he could do at this point to blow me away. I’m just not into him and I never will be.

      • TopCat says:

        As someone who usually hates gospel, R&B and soul type music, I can honestly say that Joshua has converted me. I ADORE everything about him-from his quiet, humble personality off-stage, to his powerful and riveting performances on stage. He turns into someone completely different when performing!

        • MamaLis says:

          He does have such a cute personality. And then as soon as he starts singing.. Tomcat!
          (your name reminded me of that.)

    • TheBeach says:

      I really like Joshua. I think he is an extremely talented R&B/Gospel singer and I think he did a killer version of “Man’s World” last night. However, when I hear words as absurd as these coming out of these judges mouths:
      Steven: “I’ve never seen any talent and singing like that ever,ever in my life”
      Randy: “Best singing on any show IN HISTORY”
      any shred of credibility these judges might have had is gone.

  10. RD says:

    The bottom line is Hollie has to go home tonight.Other wise it’s not fair on the three best performances of the other three so far in the competition.I shouldn’t be nervous,should I?

    • CAM says:

      Since a good part of this contest has to do with popularity and who is willing to vote over and over again for 2 hours, anything is possible. It would not be “unfair” for someone else to go home.

    • justafan says:

      since when has idol been about “best performances”… it’s all about whoever unca nigel tells the judges and jimmy he wants to get to the finals…they do the best they can to accomplish that goal for him…sometimes america does not cooperate

  11. CkkkkkkkD says:

    I love the song about Jessica. Hats off. I read your commentaries and watch Idology every week. You always makes sense. :)

  12. Bea says:

    Slezak: You post your comments way to late – why? Everyone else has been readable for hours – I wait for yours but am dismayed when you do everything else first!! In the old days you were online when we first got to the internet. Don’t be surprised when other re-capers steal your thunder. As far as the show – the judges bug me so bad that I cannot even concentrate on content.

    • macy says:

      No one could ever steal Michael’s thunder! :) His recaps are so intelligent, funny and well-written — much, much, much better than any recap I read on any other site. Although I anxiously wait for them as well, I know that some things are worth waiting for!

      On a related note, Michael, I love your word play, and how you casually sneak little funny things in without being obvious about it.

      For example, after discussing the literalness of the black and white pianos, Michael wrote that Phillip and Joshua (in the song) may not have been “living together in perfect harmony” — haha! — as Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney sang in “Ebony and Ivory”: “ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony, side by side on by piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don’t we?” (get it? black/white/piano?)

      Or discussing Hollie singing “I Can’t Make You Love Me if You Don’t”, that Hollie may or may not realize that “her dream was in its final hours”, in line with her song’s lyrics: “Here in the dark, in these final hours, I will lay down my heart, and I feel the power.”

      Michael, your creativity is so refreshing!

    • SRB says:

      He’s on the west coast, so technically this article was posted at 8:36PDT. But you’re right, even last year his articles were posted in the morning (eastern time) and always were when he was at EW. Perhaps they relaxed the submission deadlines or moved them to pacific time

      • Mark says:

        Michael lives in New Jersey. West coast of the Hudson maybe, not of the U.S. Don’t believe me? Check his twitter maybe.

  13. MamaLis says:

    Oh Michael…. I loved your description of Joshua almost as much as the actual Joshua!
    You just capture things so brilliantly.

  14. Ed says:

    Joshua and Jessica’s performances are without a doubt, the best performances of the season. I’m not sure those two can sing any better this season.

    But I have to make a note about Josh’s oversinging/screaming/howling, are the judges ever going to criticize him for going a bit overboard with all of that?

    But back to unicorns and butterflies… Phillip’s performance was also great. I looked up the original on YouTube this morning and saw that a ton of people left comments on the Damien Rice YT clip – thanking Phillip. This observation and the audible screaming of girls during his duet w/ Joshua, makes me think without a doubt, that he’s going to win this thing.

    As for who’s going home tonight? I’m sorry to say but Hollie, it’s the end of the road for you – you’re really good but those three are just better. I really think all the mentors/judges screwed up Hollie. They rarely steered her towards songs and outfits that are more age appropriate.

    • chistosa says:

      I would not put too much stock in the screaming girls in the house. They are told to scream and lined up by Nigel. There is no correlation between that and the voting public. As far as Hollie is concerned, based upon last night she deserves to be the one to go home. The other 3 outperformed her.

  15. MamaLis says:

    I just watched Man’s World again this morning. The moaning and growling and caressing and…. whew! I don’t care what the heck his “orientation” is – besides the vocal chops he’s got a woa! powerful sex appeal. His potential is just crazy!! It was CRAZY good!

    • Yo' says:

      Don’t go guessing; this is the guy that salivated all over JLo’s ribs protruding from her almost top after giving a performance to a few million people. Sure would be the last thing on my mind.

      • MamaLis says:

        I’m not guessing. There’s been a lot of talk in this room and such. I meant to say: Who Cares> He’s Got the Sexy! [Should’ve said it that way.]

    • deedee says:

      Yes, I’ve been saying for weeks that Joshua is just really, really sexy. He started out looking like such an ordinary kid – ho hum – nothing special to look at. Now, he’s like *POW*. What did slezak say — something about a peacock showing his tail feathers like it instictively knows its own power. Yeah. That’s Josh’s swagger right there. I love a strong, confident man whether he’s straight, gay, bi – don’t care.

  16. I Heart Chuck Bass (and Damon Salvatore) says:

    Am I the only one who didn’t get Josh and Jessica last night? I’ve loved Joshua for most of the season (though, I will admit, nothing tops “When A Man Loves A Woman” for me), but last night I was all, “huh?” I just didn’t get it. Too much holleration for my taste, I guess. Many people are saying Joshua took them to church — he took me to the CVS to pick up some ibuprofen. As for Jessica, that was a straight up J-Hud mimic and the girl has about as much originality in her performances as Phillip has vocal range. They will probably be final two, but I didn’t think either of them were particularly special last night, not to the “OMG! Best thing ever!” degree, at least.

    • chistosa says:

      I agree wit about Jessica. She mimics a different singer each week but we have never seen Jessica. We have seen Whitney, Beyonce, etc.

      • MamaLis says:

        I see your point, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say we haven’t seen Jessica. I think she’s still very young, and figuring it out. She’s definitely an interpreter with a little bit of actress in there. But again, what else is she really to do at her age? I still give her major props for talent and potential.

        • TheBeach says:

          “What else is she really to do at her age?” Excellent observation. It’s perfectly natural that someone 16 would try to emulate her favorite singers/songs. With her talent, she will find her own voice in time.

        • Name That Tune says:

          Listen, every professional singer has to learn to act the part. Jessica is a little savant. She already knows the moves and sounds she needs to elicit certain feelings. One day, she is gonna take all these little pieces, she’s gonna have the life experience, and she will be given an original song. Then watch out.

    • Kelly says:

      I agree. I did enjoy Josh, but Jessica’s lack of originality kills me. Not that any of them are something I haven’t seen before, but Jessica really seems to only color inside the lines. Her vocal ability is out of this world, but she leaves me totally cold.

  17. bjp says:

    I am officially rooting for a Jessica-Joshua finale! It’s going to be amazing!!

  18. MamaLis says:

    Also loved Volcano. Really fantastic. I love his sense of humor, too. I mean, he’s the whole package.

  19. Felt so very sad for Hollie last night. The only negative criticism of the night (and Phillip and Joshua could have stood a little for their first songs). She’s been getting better and better after so many weeks as the judge’s pinata. But those last three songs, oh my, my. Loved Phillip’s Volcano, Jessica’s And I Am Telling You, but then there was Joshua’s It’s a Man’s World. It’s an event when Joshua gets in the zone — sexy, smokey, moody, just pulls you in and all you can do is hang on. It seems like all the big guns were pulled out last night — what will next week bring?

  20. Josh says:

    It so sickeing Phillp is Never good but the pimping remains.Hollie has the best voice but gets trashed Sorry Holle your not a guy. If Phillip would have sang Bonnie Raitt The biased full of crap Judges would have loved it. If there is any Justice Phill will leave!

    • chistosa says:

      Don’t blame the judges for Hollie’s subpar performance last night. Whether it was song choice (certainly with the Bonnie Raitt song) or nerves, she was outperformed by all the others. That is not bias, it is observation.

    • Kelly says:

      Hollie is my favorite, but even I know she was the weakest last night. She deserves to go home based on last night. Much like Phil totally deserved to go home last week.

    • tarc says:

      Come back from the morror!mirror universe, Josh.

    • er says:

      Hollie has best voice?! Are you kidding me?!

      • Marsaili says:

        Yes, a lot of people feel that way—who are you to tell them any differently than another troll who just insults people who don’t agree with YOU!

  21. Mike says:

    Slezak! It was good that Jessica wasn’t moving! It added to magic of the performance. No flash, no choreography, no rote stage movements. Sometimes you just need to stand there, and let your voice do all the work. All of that emotion she was feeling had nowhere to go but through her voice. It was perfect.

  22. kat says:

    For the first time I actually connected with Jessica on “Steal Away” but other than that I just can’t get on board. In my mind I know she is an amazingly talented singer but she doesn’t make me feel anything. Joshua, on the other hand, blew me away on “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”. He had me gritting my teeth, jerking my neck, and scaring my cat from his comfortable position on my lap. Phillip also did an amazing version of “Volcano” and I wish he had sung Damien Rice songs the past few weeks as they seem to be perfect for him. I feel like Hollie has really improved these past few weeks but I am ready for Joshua to take it home. Perhaps it’s because he reminds me so much of Sam Cooke or Otis Redding.

    • Debi says:

      I agree with you completely! The only thing I can’t get on board with is Jessica. She’s a good singer but somehow, I can’t connect with her. Go Josh!

  23. takakupo says:

    Putting Philip in the top 3 over Hollie is a travesty. His best night it was. Enough to drown out the bad taste in our mouths for an entire season? No. I really don’t like Philip and I really loved Volcanoes from him but the other 3 are just far too ahead of him in vocal ability and maturity. Say what you will about Hollie’s songs but Faithfully was enough to put her through in my opinion, especially over Joshua who was contrived and overly affected. People are falling all over the wrong performance. He peaked at “Ready for Love”.

    Jessica was in usual form which was good. Her second song was far better but definitely not a moment like “I Will Always Love You” or “Stuttering”. Putting any of the songs from last night on any top 50 list is going way too far.

    • chistosa says:

      Disagree about Hollie. Great voice but totally inconsistent in performance. Bounces from great to mediocre to awful back to great.

      • takakupo says:

        Hmm, I can respect that. It’s something she has to work on. She went from season 10-11 growing like a muther-effer. Time will tell if she can keep on the same path.

  24. Yo' says:

    Joshua should take this contest; he probably won’t, but he certainly should. Bebe Chez’s first song was way too old, although, as I remember, sixteen year olds are not as virginal as we imagine them. I know she sang her second song beautifully, lusciously, and I actually believe she connected to it powerfully, but I apparently don’t connect to her. At all. Maybe in a few years, after she gains twenty pounds to become the equivalent of one entire person. Niiiice second song by Peepee, and good counterpoint to an evening of Big Songs.

  25. Scout says:

    Um… ” I do wish she’d brought more physicality to the performance” Agreed.

    I do appreciate the irony of the stilted, rigid positioning contrasted against the sheer power of the vocal. It was interesting but it undermined my ability to “feel” the song – and perhaps hers too. But for me for you, it was still pretty dang good. Top 50. No. Let’s not get crazy. And just for the record, I want to pelt Randy with those stupid little pins he’s wearing. My grandma wears pins. 350 pound dudes should not. I know that’s sexist. But for me for me, I am okay with that :)

  26. FreeHaley says:

    Joshua (Man’s World): A+
    Phillip (Volcano): A (nope, A-)
    Jessica (And I Am Telling You): A (nope, A+)
    Jessica (Steal Away): B+
    Hollie (Faithfully): B- (nope, B+)
    Joshua (You Raise Me Up): B- (nope, C/C+)
    Phillip (Seen the Rain): C+ (nope, C-)
    Hollie (I Can’t Make You): C+ (nope, B)

    I generally agreed with reason other than marking Hollie a lot higher.

  27. Jewels83 says:

    have to agree with your comment about Phillip. Never been on his boat and probably won’t be after this but his rendition of Volcano was a ‘moment.’

  28. FreeHaley says:

    Not that dial idol seems useful at all at this point but wow Joshua could be in trouble, but then again they got everything wrong last week, radically wrong, and much wrong the week before. It would be kinda wrong for him to go home after last night, even one was his weakest ever, he’ usually been solid and he also had perhaps his best ever last night and one of the tops of the season, although I still put Elise’s Zep on the top most pedestal and put Jessica from last night on his pedestal.

    That also makes me think voting is crazy close this season but that eliminated the whole over-praise, EZ Pass for Phillip no matter what he does because he is so far ahead in the votes they don’t want to tarnish a certain winner idea though….

    • Yo' says:

      The good news is that he needs this show about as much as my dog Yo needs a jock strap. He is good to go, never fret.

      Americans are so silly; they think everything is about winning.

  29. Mara says:

    I was never a big fan of Jessica, but WOW. She converted me! Joshua was truly amazing as well. Joshua maybe more so because he knows how to move on the stage and be at ease. His jacket was stunning. Josh and Jessica better be top two! Joshua ftw!

    Phillips second song was cool (the first was a disaster). Should he win over Joshua or Jessica by finally being able to sing ONE song well? No.

    But yeah, I have loved Hollie the best this whole time, but those song choices! Atrocious! They were so bad…. she cannot be saved from this one. It’s a shame. She def has more talent than Phillip.

  30. Scout says:

    Oh crap, Michael. I really can’t tolerate PP and I am NOT a fan in any single way. But I just listened to his version of Volcano…

    And that was friggin’ beautiful. For me, that was by far is his best ever and maybe the best of the night. I got a little teary-eyed. The performance was just so delicate, so haunting. When he nails it, he nails it. I just wish he were more consistent… Oh well. Good stuff.

  31. tewence says:

    i TOTALLY agree about “it’s a man’s man’s man’s world.” that arrangement was LEGIT!!! props to whoever did that, fantastic. that performance was one of the best of american idol, ever.

    jessica KILLED IT!!! holy cow. if she didn’t show connection to songs last night i don’t know what would. also, i personally loved the fact that she stood still…just her and the song. waaaaay bomb.

    i have to say, i don’t like pp, but his second song was definitely his best by far. i might even go as far as to say that i could stand to listen to it again. *gasp*

    hollie…is so sweet, really. i feel for her. she can’t pick the right songs to save her life. VERY likeable and a nice voice. something is off.

    • Joe says:

      Do yourself a favor and download Damien Rice’s original version of Volcano from his album “O”. “O” is one of the best albums ever made.

      • tewence says:

        as i was listening to phillip last night, i thought the song seemed familiar…i think i have heard it at some point. how did phillip’s measure up to damien rice?

        • ashley says:

          honestly, i am a huge damien rice fan, and i might prefer PP’s version.

        • Joe says:

          He honestly did a very good job of it. I still prefer Damien because he’s a singer songwriter who wrote that song. His work is very personal and powerful. It was nice seeing Phillip not put all his Dave Matthews tic’s into a song for a change. After seeing Jimmy say Phillip sounded like another artist for most of this season, I think the powers that be are legitimately concerned about him being Dave Matthews lite.

  32. Joe says:

    Josh won the night with one song. I almost had to shut my TV off it was so good. Jessica was amazing on both of her songs. People comparing her “And I’m Telling You” to studio recorded versions by other artists are just hating on the poor girl. I mean, come on…comparing a live rendition to the girl on Glee? The tracks Glee puts out are so overcooked in the studio they should have a crust on them. Phillip had his best song in Volcano. The first song he did was karaoke bar bad. Hollie had a really bad night though. All of her songs sounded pitched too low in the beginning for her to sing them. She had some poor song choices. Open Arms would’ve suited her voice far better than Faithfully. Based on the performances last night it’s her turn to go, but based on the performances last week Phillip should’ve been booted. This doesn’t come down to who sings the best anymore. It’s about fanbases. I think Josh or Jessica are going to get booted tonight and it’s going to be a damn shame. If Josh gets booted, I am done with Idol for the season. I can’t even imagine tuning in to watch the rest of this season without him in it.

    • tewence says:

      AGREE 100%!!! and those glee comparisons were pissing me off, too.

    • TC says:

      If Josh get’s voted off tonight, I’ll need to go see a therapist (ok I exaggerate a tad), but it would be utterly depressing-especially after his amazing performance last night-and each and every week before. I’d have to also say that Idol without Joshua is like a turkey sandwich without the mayo. It won’t want it. Without the excitment of Joshua, I too would have to tune out of Idol

    • Yvonne says:

      Want hear something really funny. I’m having a hard time watching this season without him as well. We didn’t know how good we had it with PP, Jessica and Josh in 2011/2012. I get it now. It was a once in a lifetime gift to have all three. I’ll even throw DeAndre (sp?), Skylar and Elise in the mix.

  33. Lois Benton says:

    Yeah, you’re right on. Those three performances were IT (but I actually liked Steal Away better than the Dreamgirls, just because I’m sick of it). Volcano was pretty hot (pun intended), but I do think Phillip has hit his personal best and Hollie’s got a great, great voice. I’d rather have Phillip go out on a high note (and get his darn surgery now) and give the Holliepop another shot. Joshua is better than Adam Lambert for me. He just becomes another person when he’s singing and performing (solo, anyway). He has the potential to be a music legend and I hope he realizes that potential.

  34. david7118 says:

    What’s with Jessica ledeting songs by adding hollerations? When did that start? She needs to quit it. Jimmy commenting that Phillip sounded orginal on Volcano made me laugh as he sounded like Dave Matthews covering the song. Joshua’s version of “Man’s World” I thought paled in comparison to that of Juliet Sims on The Voice. Overall I thought the night was sub-par.

  35. TheBeach says:

    A little help here, please. I went to itunes with the intent of downloading/purchasing a couple of the songs from last night but I was greeted with an “album only” tag. I don’t want all of last night’s songs…just a couple of them. Am I not looking in the right place? Help.

    • MA says:

      I’ve run into that when I try to buy them on my ipod. But if you have itunes on your computer and buy them that way instead, there should be a “get the singles” (or something like that) button on that album page that will allow you to buy the individual songs.

  36. Tommyo2000 says:

    I thought Jessica standing still was so that she could put everything she had into the vocals … I thought it was a statement from her, to the world, that “this is what I am” … What i really dont see anybody mentioning is how she went full force for nearly two minutes straight … finally somwhere around two minutes the camera pans away and you see her slump a bit out of exhaustion before she kicks it up for the finale …. standing still was and putting everything into the song, no musicians, not effects, no moving, nothing,… sheer brilliance!

    • Jksanti says:

      I totally agree with this. I am not a pro singer, but I know singing such a big, emotional song while standing still is extremely difficult. That might just have given Jessica the impetus to slay that song with the right emotion needed. It was powerful and gut-wrenching! Also, I think she just brought out all her guns with that song. She tear up during JLo’s critique, and I honestly feel Jessica was emotionally exhausted after the performance. Just amazing!

    • tewence says:

      yes! genius performance. standing still was a fantastic, unexpected choice.

  37. db says:

    Good article. WGWG killed it. lol… out. this is a good race. Visual was awesome as Mike says….

  38. aw says:

    i absolutely agree with the recap this week (thank you for phillip – ive always felt he could do that and he finally has!!!!!!) minus jessica s second song (i felt she was a bit thin than normal, probably letting her emotion close up her voice a bit?) and hollie s final one (didnt think it was as emotionless, i felt it at least more than i used to be remember her a la jesus take the wheel, maybe i have a different standard for her)..and loved this episode as well for my two favourite LOL moments of the season – phillip’s ‘im usher’ and joshua’s ‘i dont have your number’ – comic gold!!! :) final two please!!!

  39. angelstorm says:

    Come on Michael . . . Jessica deserved an A+ for that not an A. Don’t be cruel !

    • angelstorm says:

      Also . . . I liked that Jessica stood still. For me (for you) it gave more . . .urgh! To the vocal ! I thought it was outstanding – once of the best I’ve seen on Idol !

    • chistosa says:

      Actually I would have given Jessica an A- for that song.

  40. PattyWilla says:

    Hollie is this year’s Haley! JLo hardly ever had anything positive to say about Haley last year – same with Hollie this year. And you wonder why Hollie is a little nervous?? I hope she goes through tonight, but I am afraid she will be the one to leave.

    • chistosa says:

      Not the same. Haley had a couple of questionable song choices but by and large she delivered big every week and was criticized anyway. Hollie’s criticisms are earned by poor song choice, nerves interfering with the vocals. Apples and oranges.

    • FreeHaley says:

      Only in part, Haley was heads and shoulders the best of her season and you definitely can’t say that about Hollie.

  41. RANDOM GUY says:

    Transfixed, firm, not giving an inch of ground. No movement indeed, save for hand and head accentuations. One step taken would have ruined impact. Brilliant concept and execution! Captured message of song. Amazingly channeled a whole range of complicated, conflicting emotions through voice, face and eye expressions. The eyes with piercing gazes– asserting, imploring, hoping. A sense of firmness tinged with desperation. And not missing a beat or a note? Pure genius and sublime artistry! I cried.

    • MamaLis says:

      I thought it was a good performance but visually, it was one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen on that stage. I know the song is usually performed with a ‘firm’ stance on stage, but there’s usually a bit of stomping or ‘planting’ that energy into the feet. it was like the top half of her body was disconnected from the bottom. I couldn’t really explain it…

  42. Jaime says:

    I admit that I think Jessica is an amazing singer, but her Etta James cover was about as appropriate as Allison Iraheta singing Hot Stuff on Disco Night in Season 8. She’s lovely, but I haven’t forgotten that she’s 16.

    • MamaLis says:

      Totally agree. Not even funny anymore that Idol let that happen again. Somehow I think Jimmy wasn’t involved in the first round of songs. But still….. still…

      • MA says:

        I wonder, though, if the contestants pick for all the weeks at the start of the season so that the songs can be cleared/approved. Maybe they have a couple of choices for each week/theme. That would make it a lot more difficult to switch things up later on, and even if Jimmy starts critiquing Jessica for choosing songs that are too mature, well the die is already cast. I don’t know this…just speculating. If I’m right, it’s another reason the show annoys me because they’re slamming the contestants for things they can’t control. I mean, yes, sometimes they push for something they want (Elise with Zeppelin or Hendrix, for example), but they probably did that weeks ago. And I can’t help thinking that for the most part they’re “choosing” from very short lists early on and, in some cases, are being directed toward songs they don’t connect with and would never choose to sing (Haley with “Call Me,” for example). So I tend to be less judgmental of song choice, though I do wish they’d get some direction early on. I mean, someone looking at their lists should have to Jessica and Hollie right away, “How about we sprinkle some young, fun tunes in here, girls, mmmkay?”

        • MamaLis says:

          Too funny. That would be a great question for Michael to ask them, though, straight up. About the song choice process.

  43. MamaLis says:

    I just watched Man’s World yet again and it still blew me away. I commented earlier that Joshua’s showing sexy. Let me say from a woman’s point of view: That song already has the sexy bluesy vibe to it. But then the way he pulled at it and teased it and brought it up and down and back up again… I’m tellin ya’. It was hot. For a preacher’s son that boy’s got somethin’ goin on.

    • deedee says:

      Boy got fire coursing through his veins. Everyone has been on all season about how gorgeous Phil is — and he is, don’t get me wrong — but if you ask who does it for me? I gotta give it to Joshua.

      I am currently obsessed with his Vegas performance by the weird indoor river. At one point before he ends the song, he glances down and pauses before delivering the final line, and .. O M G…. Call me insane, it just does things to me. :-P

      Go check it out, Mama Lis.

    • HairLikeATeddyBear says:

      Totally agree. He had me at the shrilly playful “electric liiight”, then quickly followed by the low smoulder of “Like Noah made the Ark” mmm mmm. Listen to me – it’s ridiculous – I never talk about anyone like that! In the journey video, he comes across as a very ‘decent young man’ – cute, shy, and anxiety-ridden (with that knuckle-cracking bit!) and very unassuming when not performing but when he sings, BAM – it’s a totally different person!

  44. Yuan says:

    A lot of people here are not into Jessica, or hating Jessica. And the way you guys say it, its as if the world agrees with you. hahahaha

    There’s like a ton outside your doorsteps ready to cut your throats because of your tasteless comments. :)

    From top 6 or 7, they were all great and deserving!

    • deedee says:

      Cut our throats because we’re not into Jessica? Charming. I’m sure that’s exactly what she wants from her fans.

      • Yuan says:

        Of course its not what Jessica wants. Duh… you are so intelligent.
        same as PP fans, there are crazy fanatics. Just sayin. So its best to enjoy and be happy for these kids :)

        • deedee says:

          Yes, well maybe my intelligence was getting in the way, but I actually didn’t understand what your point was. I think I get it now. Oh – and thanks for the condescending tone. Always appreciated.

    • chistosa says:

      Ready to cut our throats? Really? A bit of hyperbole there. Yuan, nobody has said anything mean about Jessica and I have not seen any comments that would lead me to believe the poster “hated” Jessica. The comments simply express individual preferences in performance style, song choice etc. And that is the basis on which you should post as well. If you are a Jessica fan, please comment about what pleases you. I respect that. I am not a Jessica fan but I respect those who do not care for Joshua’s style of what some call screeching. I am not offended by them but they do not sway my opinion. Violent statements against dissenters is not mature.

  45. Tahoe Mike says:

    Michael, have you been drinking from Randy’s Coke cup?? There was nothing special about P2’s Volcano. I’d never heard that song before, and wouldn’t recognize it if I heard it again. I couldn’t tell you what that song was bout ten seconds after it was over, he communicated nothing to me. It was just another 90 seconds of P2 droning on like he always does. No way was that one of the all time most memorable Idol performances, I have already forgotten it. It was only slightly less annoying than usual because instead of butchering a song I know and love, he did it to some anonymous innocent victim of a song. The staging was not that special, it looked like a Queen video from twenty five years ago. BTW, Kris Allen is pure rancid tapioca, and comparing anything, or anyone, to him is like a slap in the face with a dead fish.
    Joshua and Jessica were memorable in the second round. Joshua proved his mastery of what he does, and Jessica proved, at last, that she in not a robot. Those two performances I will remember and tell friends to check out online.

  46. Amy says:

    One thing out of the way, first– If I’m judging on girl screams last night, and vibe….P2 wins. IF and only if I’m judging on audience screams, squeels and noise for him.

    But…then again….we’ve had squeels for boys before that didn’t turn out an Idol win…so we’ll see. I won’t be mad if he wins, because…A) won’t change MY life either way! and B) Can’t hate him for it, since I’ve thoroughly enjoyed P2 all season!

    Ok…that out of the way….last night…

    Holllllly I don’t even know WHAT to say….but Joshua had me talking to my tv set! And Michael….what YOU said! …and then some. I sounded like you above, spouting off out loud about all my favorite parts….and…..there was no one else in the room!! I melted when he said Noah and the ark, (or however that line goes) when he dipped his voice down….I LOVED the passion in those fluttering fingers around the mike (I believe that’s the part where you say he caressed it), and there were other parts I can’t even think of. It was
    THE BOMB. Period. I’ve been enjoying him so much, but he still comes back with even more. Love to watch him perform, love to hear him interpret a song. Whereas last year I didn’t like Jacob Lusk’s overly gospel (and I like good gospel) renditions of songs, so I was prepared to think the same of Josh this year….when someone’s good, there is no denying. Just as I’ve said with P2…whereas Casey last year wasn’t my thing (similar growl style, sometimes, as P2’s)…this year P2 got that right for me. For whatever all that matters!.
    ..just saying I guess, both are not styles I was set up to like but both Josh & P2 I LOVE.

    LOVED P2’s “Volcano.” All of it…everything you said…from staging, camera angles (yes, I’ve been thinking Idol deserves an Art Direction Emmy nod this year…I even like the kitschy stuff), and besides a soulful, understated, authentic vocal, it did bring out a sultry sex appeal. I had no problem with his “Seen The Rain”; liked it.

    Jessica…great vocals on both. But here’s where we vary. I never cared much for “I Am Telling You” for starters, and wouldn’t mind it being retired from Idol now. Don’t know why, but I never felt that song. But Jess’s “Steal Away”…I don’t even care about the age-appropriateness of it….that was flawless. Besides her strong vocals the enigma is how she knows how to feel and “act” that song for someone so young. Way beyond her years.

    ..and THAT….unfortunately (for Hollie)…is what sets Jess above “my girl” Hollie…who is, for whatever reason, not consistent in playing out a song’s lyrics, and still lacks changing up the melody with interesting runs & nuance. She showed some with “Bleeding Love” (beautifully), and some bits in other songs, but not as much as Jessica…and now that it’s down to final two girls, I think Jess has the edge. I will say, I loved the emotion in “Faithfully”…there was a bittersweetness to it. I also was wondering what was hard to get in the lyric…and, as you say, therein may lie the issue. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” I think was not a good song choice for her type vocals to feel the emotion in that song. I think Hollie sang it in more of a classically trained head voice with it, vs. Bonnie Raitt’s more earthy belting, so it’s never going to sound as soulful by comparison. She needed a better song for her.
    I love Hollie, I too saw what looked like a little deflated spirits in the closing shots of the show…and yes, Michael…stranger things have happened than Hollie staying tonight. But one way or the other…Hollie gets a hometown trip. She’s still got beautiful vocals, is a sweetheart, and I hope keeps going… on or off Idol.

    The Bangles duet….I think was the wrong song for both of them. I missed Susanna Hoffs’ clipped, whispey vocals; to me it just didn’t sound right in long drawn out vibratto singing.

    I liked P2’s and Joshua’s duet…last week and this week…I love the dichotomy of those too very different styles that somehow seem to blend in a very cool way. …just as the judges all said.

    • deedee says:

      Haha, I was the same in front of the TV last night. Fist-pumping for Joshua, “whoo”ing at all the crazy spots, squinting, gettin’ my stank face on… you name it. I was going through whatever Joshua was going through singing that song. I WISH I could hear Simon’s feedback for Man’s World. I think he would have vocal- masterclass’d it.

      Having said all that, I continue to worry for Joshua’s safety tonight. I fear the Top 4 shock boot syndrome. We’ve heard nothing from Nigel about the elimination, so maybe he’s safe and it’s Hollie going home (not a shock). But maybe Nigel just isn’t in the mood to tease. I dunno. All I know is – I’m a nervous wreck. We need Top 3 for Josh. No two ways about it. Must happen!

  47. Patrick says:

    Volcano is an “obscure gem”? OBSCURE? I sure hope you mean the song’s connotations and not how well known the song is or isn’t. Because no, Michael Slezak, just because you and your AI posse have never heard a Damien Rice song in your life should you call him obscure. He’s is very well known by people who have good taste in music.

  48. Jeanne says:

    Jessica for the win…I really thing that there is going to be a major upset tonight just so that American Idol drama can continue for ratings. Sorry folks. I pick one of the guys to go home. I could be wrong since it’s a 50/50 shot but American Idol thrives on drama for ratings and they will all get signed regardless of whether they win or not so why not throw some drama into the reality tv show. Oh and I love your whit and humor throughout your critique Michael. Very clever :)

  49. Jessica says:

    What a great night! I’m still not a Jessica fan (I can’t get passed it that she’s just a kid-talented but a kid) Love Joshua and Phillip though and what amazing improvement in Hollie.

    • Asti says:

      Perhaps it’s because Jessica is wiser and more intelligent and way mOre talented than you were when you were 16. Btw, it’s “can’t get past,” not “passed.”

  50. FreeHaley says:

    Just flipped over and I see J&J safe.
    They certainly deserved to go home! ;)

    • FreeHaley says:

      I kinda woulda really liked to see Hollie there instead of Phillip but I knew it wasn’t happening. And when Seacrest made the comment about this is when we have often have had shocks as when Daughtry didn’t make it, well that sealed the deal that it would NOT be a shock this time and she was a goner. But I woulda wayyyyy rather Elise there instead.

      Oh well.

      (BTW if you saw how Phillip reacted, he definitely DOES NOT want to be sent out of the competition as some Phillip haters here keep making up!)

      • deedee says:

        Yeah, total BS. Phillip looked absolutely shaken and almost resigned when Seacrest suggested that the #4 Daughtry/Durbin curse was a factor to consider. Of course, at that moment I knew he was safe, but still. Phil does NOT want to be booted – that much was made clear tonight.