Wednesday, April 4, 2012
AI Season 11 Top 8 Performance, 04-04-12
Did you know that Heejun was eliminated last week? If you didn't, you surely know it now, after a several minute retrospective of last week's shows. The remaining kids remind themselves, and us, just how Important This Competition Is.
Tonight, Randy is in another of those high-collar shirts, this time buttoned up tight around his chin. It's a bright red, with large polka dots. He's also wearing a white tie and a black jacket with epaulets. JLo is wearing a long, floaty silver glitter skirt and a sleeveless top, which looks rather dowdy on her. Her hair is loose and tousled and pretty though. Steven is in a crazy-quilt patchwork vest (complete with feather stitch embroidery outlining the pieces). Ryan is wearing a tie again, and his pompadour has reached improbable heights.
Tonight Gwen Stefani (G) and Tony Someone (T) from No Doubt are mentoring with Jimmy Iovine (I). The kids are going to talk about what they miss, and everyone is going to perform a duet. The theme is The 80's. Jimmy is dressed as he always is, in a windbreaker and cap (well, other clothes too, but they're all nondescript). Gwen is wearing a bright red jacket over a black knit top and black and white print pants. Her blonde hair is swept up in some sort of large wave and roll at the back of her head. Tony has improbably blonde hair.
#1. Deandre misses his car, and driving, given that he only just got his license before coming to Hollywood. he's going to sing I Like It by DeBarge. I-G-T worry that Deandre's nerves will get to him. Deandre begins sitting in the audience, surrounded by adoring girls. He gets up eventually, and tip-toe prances around, occasionally flipping his hair back and forth. He's wearing a silver gray oxford shirt with slightly darker gray sleeves, a skinny tie, and jeans. He's not doing too badly with this- there is some falsetto, of course, but there are low notes as well. There is the usual percentage of wonky notes, but that's par for Deandre's course. The Hub says that Deandre is a One Man Boy Band.
JLo loved it. Also Steven. Randy likes the *false*, and says that Deandre is the new version of DeBarge, which I imagine is welcome news nowhere.
#2. Elise misses Charleston and playing with her band. She contemplates singing Hallelujah. I-S-T talk her into singing I Wanna Know What Love Is instead. Elise is wearing a WTF Dress (my new term for so much of the inexplicable fashion on this show). It has a long, black gored skirt with an 1890's look to it. Her top is white, with one shoulder bare. The single long sleeve is a massive, droopy, drapey thing made from yards and yards of satin, culminating in a sparkly black and white checkered cuff. Elise begins this song low and slow, and I think she's just under the melody throughout. After a bit, she warms up and throws some power into it, but this is nowhere near as amazing as her performance last week.
Steven isn't happy with the song choice. JLo starts out telling Elise that she looks beautiful (never a good sign. Also a lie) and then says that she didn't love it. Randy trots out *pitchy*, correctly for a change.
Duet #1 is Colton (very deep v-neck, saggy black shirt) and Skylar (rather cute strapless peach and brown print cocktail length dress with a full skirt). How can Colton's stupid hair look even more stupid than usual? Why, by bleaching it blonde. sigh. They're singing Islands in the Stream, and Skylar sounds fine- in fact she sounds really good. Colton is okay on their shared portions, but he sounds weak on his solos. The judges aren't officially judging the duets, but they are commenting. They all like it.
#3. Phil misses jamming with his brother in law. He's singing Genesis's That's All. I-G-T note that Phil isn't quite up to speed and they give him good advice on pacing. Onstage, Phil is wearing a gray shirt over a brown tee. He's subdued at first, and there are maybe a few wonky notes, in the early quiet parts. But this kid is seriously talented, and his talent really doesn't have anything to do with singing perfectly (I know, an odd thing for me to say). He does something really interesting with every song he chooses, and this is no different. Oh, how cool- his brother in law is on stage, playing guitar with him.
Steven likes it. JLo thought the beginning was shaky. Randy agrees with the advice the mentors gave.
Commercial: an exceptionally long, odd, musical Nike commercial. It goes on for about 3 minutes, and I keep expecting The Muppets to join in.
Duet #2 is Hollie (gauzy white 70's Secretary Blouse over a black bra, and shiny black pants) and Deandre (black and white letter jacket over a black and white tee, with black jeans). They're singing the Pointer Sisters' I'm So Excited. Hollie looks scared coming down the staircase in her big heels, but once she's on flat ground, they sound good together. Deandre is weak on his solos, but that's Deandre. The Judges approve unanimously.
#4. Joshua misses being the spoiled baby of his family. He's singing Simply Red's If You Don't Know Me By Now (or rather Simply Red's version of Melvin and the Blue Notes' song). I-G-T tell Joshua to dial it back, advice not likely to be taken. Onstage, Joshua is wearing a navy satin jacket that looks rather like expensive jammies (or like Hugh Hefner's smoking jacket) and a huge flower in his pocket. He gets the full choir for backup. This song annoys the hell out of me- I want to shake the narrator and tell him that the whole situation would resolve itself if he would just call his sweetie and tell her he's going to be late. That said, Joshua is trying mightily to dial it back. In fact, he's doing pretty well with it, only letting loose at the very end, where it's entirely proper to do so. This is the best I've heard from Joshua so far.
The judges are ecstatic.
#5. Jessica misses singing in her bedroom. She's singing Whitney's How Will I Know. I-S-T advise her to acquire a bit of stage presence. Jessica channels her alter-ego, Bibi Chez, who sounds a whole lot like Jessica to me. She's wearing a jacket with odd floofs and furbellows and poofy shoulders over black skinny pants and a white, yellow, and black shirt. She has a bracelet made from giant size Legos and Lite Brites. This song has a lot of power, but when Jessica sings these faster songs, her voice has no depth. It was certainly adequate, but it was no I Will Always Love You.
The judges fall over themselves gushing. Frankly, I think Jessica needs to break out of her comfort zone- she's starting to sound robotic and pageanty.
Duet #3 is Phil (cream cotton blazer over a brown tee) and Elise. (purple, drapey, side-tied hippie top and blue jeans- much much better than the outfit she had on before). They're singing the Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks Stop Draggin' My Heart Around. Elise needed this performance- it's much better than her solo, though The Hub thinks she's still a bit off. I think they sound really good together and they have a nice chemistry. The judges, once again, loved it.
#6. Hollie misses her Golden Retriever puppy. She's singing Irene Cara's What a Feeling. I-S-T tell her to attack the song, and to really feel it. Hollie is wearing a fringey, pale blue flapper dress and shoulder length earrings, which we get plenty of time to look at while some sort of technical issue is taken care off out of camera range. Once she starts singing, she sounds really tentative. But when she hits the power notes, she's in her wheelhouse. I think maybe Hollie interpreted *attacking* the song to mean skipping and twirling around to show off the fringes. On the other hand, fringes are eminently twirlable, so who can blame her?
Steven points out Hollie's pitch issues and slow start. JLo tells Hollie to listen to advice, and then not to listen to it. Randy agrees with the others, though he uses an excess of words in saying so.
Duet #4 is Jessica (sparkly strapless top over a long, translucent overskirt) and Joshua (beige suit made from polished cotton). They're singing the Aretha Franklin/George Michael I Knew You Were Waiting. Joshua does a whole lot of bouncing, but they sound good together. I turn to the Hub and tell him that I get the distinct feeling that The Show wants these 2 to be in the Finale. The words are no sooner out of my mouth when JLo says exactly the same thing (well, not about The Show wanting this pairing, just that it's a probability).
#7. Colton misses painting faces? Seriously? Before the commercial, Ryan says that Colton is going to sing Cyndi Lauper. During the commercial, we decide that he must have chosen Time After Time, but wouldn't it be wonderful if he was singing Girls Just Want to Have Fun (or even more golden: She Bop). We come back from commercial to learn that Colton is, indeed, singing Time After Time. I-G-T like it, and G harmonizes with Colton. Onstage, he's wearing a burgundy leather vest with a shawl collar over a baggy, drapey white short sleeved tee, and a black hipster scarf. It pains me to say it, but he's doing well with this song.
The judges love it.
#8. Skylar misses her redneck life: shootin', an' quaddin', an' mud boggin', an drivin' her jeep. I-S-T talk her out of singing 9 to 5, and into singing Wind Beneath My Wings. She's wearing a fuchsia prom dress whose skirt is open in front. I had my doubts about this song, but it was a really smart move. She's done nothing but high-energy, loud songs so far, and this ballad is the perfect change-up (note to Jessica: pay attention). The Hub thinks she still oversang it, but I think it was really good.
Standing Judge O.
Tonight's Surprising Best Solos: Joshua, Colton, and Skylar
Tonight's Best Duet: Phil and Elise
In Danger: Probably Elise and Deandre, though I think Jessica needs to do something radically different soon, or she could be in trouble despite her massive talent.