American Idol Top 7 (Part 2) Cover 'Now & Then' Theme: Who Were Your Favorites?

elise testoneWhether or not you know what a quartet is — and make no mistake, Randy Jackson is pretty certain you don’t — there’s no denying that American Idol‘s Top 7 Redux performance night was packed more tightly than J.Lo’s shoe closet. A whopping 14 songs over two hours represented a new Idol record, noted Ryan Seacrest, and while I can’t say the evening came close to last week’s sensational Top 7 (Part 1) telecast, there were certainly enough enjoyable moments that I never once felt a pang of resentment over having to DVR Don’t Trust the B— in Apt. 23. (Well, except maybe when Randy exclaimed “The girl blew the box out of the song!” after Jessica Sanchez’s Alicia Keys cover.

American Idol: 10 Dream Theme Nights!

Anyhow, I’ve got a full recap to crank out — look for it on Thursday at TVLine.com — but before I do, allow me to offer some pithy first impressions on the night’s set list:

Now (Songs from 2000-2010)
Hollie Cavanagh: “Rolling in The Deep” by Adele
Why didn’t “mentor” Jimmy tell her that short of whipping out her wand (Hollie’s a Hufflepuff, right?) and conjuring up Adele herself, there was no way to have a true Idol Moment with this song. Which isn’t to say the performance wasn’t strong and in tune.

Colton Dixon: “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
Yeah, the verse was pitched too low, but that rocky rearrangement fit Colton like a pair of black skinny jeans. Please tell me I’m not the only one who thought this was one of the night’s most exciting performances.

Elise Testone: “No One” by Alicia Keys
Not sure which was lovelier: That flowy tangerine dress or the ethereal grittiness of Elise’s performance. What the judges need to realize, though, is that Elise just isn’t the kind of singer who’s going to discuss her terminally ill dog in a 15-second post-performance interview with Seacrest. (Not that there’d be anything wrong if she did, but…)

Phillip Phillips: “U Got It Bad” by Usher
Now we know what would happen if you took Usher’s original track, placed it overnight in between two encyclopedias, and compressed it to like two or three notes.

Jessica Sanchez: “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys
Aside from that choppy ending, I had my “I’m feelin’ it!” stankface on for the duration of the performance. File under: Get it, Bebe!

Skylar Laine: “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga
I never quite believed Gaga’s countrified spin on her fab dance anthem, but little monster Skylar has made me a total convert. La Laine is as tart and genuine as a jar of homemade rhubarb jam.

Joshua Ledet: “I Believe” by Fantasia
Not sure if it was a sense-memory thing taking me back to Fantasia’s Season 3 performance-night finale (a three-Kleenex experience for me even eight years after the fact), but I came thisclose to full-on sobbing during Joshua’s performance. (And yes, I noticed he botched the ending, even if the judges did not.)

Then (“Classic Soul” Music)
Hollie Cavanagh: “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield
Oh dear. I feel like Hollie interpreted that “teach me” line as if the good reverend’s son was an algebra tutor. Not as wrong-minded as DeAndre’s “Only the Good Die Young,” but close.

Colton Dixon: “September” by Earth Wind & Fire
News anchors J.Lo and Randy are calling it: In the race between Colton and Phillip, they’re declaring a victory for Phillip — with only 7% of precincts reporting! Honestly, though, if dude had ended with “Bad Romance,” I wouldn’t be worried at all, but this dreary emo twist on “September” felt as bleak as mid-January in Winterfell.

Elise Testone: “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye (or, in Randy’s mind, Al Green)
From the wrong-minded song choice, to the white leather couch, to Elise’s weird yelp, to the judges acting like they were starring in In Treatment, nothing about any of this made any sense whatsoever.

Phillip Phillips: “In The Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett
This was even less sexy than Elise’s “Let’s Get It On” — not that the judges were paying a lick of attention.

Jessica Sanchez: “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding
An oddly loungy arrangement seemed at odds with Jessica’s “someone’s performing psychic surgey on my spleen” delivery. A pretty solid effort, though for me for you — trademark: the Dawg — it doesn’t touch what Nadia Turner did back in Season 4.

Skylar Laine: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye
On a scale of Kris Allen’s “Heartless” to Kristy Lee Cook’s “Eight Days a Week,” this fell a little closer to the former than the latter, although I’d probably have a hard time arguing if you insisted on the exact opposite. Which is another way of saying I adore Skylar.

Joshua Ledet: “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
No doubt he’s got a voice that grabs you by the wrist and makes you drop that game of Scrabble you’re currently losing, but I didn’t think there was quite enough electricity to warrant a Standing O. Anyone else with me?

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