American Idol Top 4 Tackle 'California' and Songs They Wish They Wrote: Who Were Your Faves?

idol top 4This week’s American Idol performance show was a little like a Michael Bay action movie. There were explosions (courtesy of Jessica Sanchez). There were laws of nature and logic being defied (hi, Joshua Ledet). There was a sly, winking heatthrob and a damsel tied to the train tracks (played by Phillip Phillips and Hollie Cavanagh), as well an unspeakable villain — code name: Dr. Yo! — hellbent on leading everyone and everything on a path to ultimate destruction.

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I’ll post a full recap of the proceedings on Thursday right here at, but until then, here are just a few pithy thoughts on the evening’s performances.

California Dreamin’ 
Phillip Phillips: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” | Perfectly fine, in the same way your bowl of breakfast cereal was on Jan. 14, 2012. In other words, you won’t remember it in three weeks — except for maybe the awful “surfin’ safari” backdrop.

Hollie Cavanagh: Journey’s “Faithfully” | I’m not sure Hollie revealing that she needed famed choreography duo NappyTabs to explain the meaning of the song to her will do her any favor with Idol voters. Plus, her voice seemed just a wee bit tremulous for the opening two-thirds, no?

Joshua Ledet: Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” | I’m not sure why the judges didn’t call him out, but I felt like Joshua allowed his emotions to overtake the performance, and as a result, his voice closed up like the branch of your credit union on a Sunday afternoon. Not his best work, and possibly his worst of the season?

Jessica Sanchez: Etta James’ “Steal Away” | Go on with your bad self, Bebe Chez! I’m not sure where Jimmy was to keep an eye out for “age appropriateness” of this 16-year-old’s song choices, but the vocal was pretty stellar.

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Joshua & Phillip: Maroon 5’s “This Love” | Ridiculous fun. Also: Proof that Joshua can really handle contemporary material.

Hollie & Jessica: The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” | Of course Randy hated it: No one on stage had a Y chromosome! Me? I thought it was really good.

The Song I Wish I Wrote
Phillip Phillips: Damien Rice’s “Volcano” | Talk about the right song and performance at the right time! Phillip’s stripped-down arrangement and whispering intensity really stood out in a field of power belters. This had shades of Kris Allen’s “Falling Slowly,” so in other words, I loved it.

Hollie Cavanagh: Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” | I’m going to have to watch back a second time, but I felt like Hollie might’ve lost her spot on the bridge, and everything that came after it was being chased by a beast born from the marriage of panic and insecurity.

Joshua Ledet: James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” | If I knew any language other than English, I’d be using it to try to describe a performance that I’d easily rank in the Top 10 best in American Idol history.

Jessica Sanchez: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” (from Dreamgirls) | By bringing note perfection and gale force delivery to the pimp slot, Jessica pretty much assured us she is not going anywhere on Thursday’s results show. Now you and you and you, you’re gonna love her, even if she did perform like somebody glued her stilettos to the floor.

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!