Wednesday, May 9, 2012
AI Season 11-Top 4 Performance, 05-09-12
Did you know that Skylar packed up her dozen pairs of sparkle and fringe cowboy boots, and her trunks full of horrible outfits, and went home last week? Hollie is bereft. Jessica, not so much.
JLo's short dress fades from charcoal to silver in sequins. Her hair is swept up and over her head, into a French Roll with 80's bangs, and her lavender lipstick matches her fingernail polish. Steven is in a white suit and vest with no shirt underneath. His hair is tied back in a pony tail and yet it still manages to look messier than usual. Randy is in a peach/pink/white checked carnival barker jacket.
Ryan is in a 3-piece suit with a burgundy striped tie and a yellow pocket square. I don't know if it's the lighting or if his hair really does have a pink tinge to it tonight. Both he and Steven appear to have little lapel pins representing the number 6. I have no idea what that means.
Ryan says that the kids will sing two rounds- California songs (either about CA or by singers form CA), and Songs They Wish They'd Written. I say: oh dear.
#1. Phil talks about his journey thus far, but it's mostly *happy to be here*. He's singing CCR's Have You Ever Seen the Rain. Phil has added another color to his wardrobe: blue. He's singing without his guitar, but with exactly the right amount of growl and grit. I imagine that John Fogarty would approve. Hmmm. are we singing the whole song tonight? It appears so, and I suppose I should not be surprised, given that we have 2 hours to fill. Again. Still. Some more. Randy mentions pitch problems at the beginning, which I did not notice. JLo and Steven both love it. Phil confesses that he messed the lyrics up a bit.
#2. Hollie remembers that she made it to the Top Whatever in Season 10, only to be cut, so she's very glad to be here now. I understand that growing up in both England and Texas did a number on her accent, but I still admit to being totally confused by it. She's wearing black skinny pants, high heels, and an exceptionally complex top- it's red, and tight and short on one side, and loose and long on the other side, and it appears to have long, wide tails or streamers in the back. And a pink bow. She's singing Journey's Forever Yours. It's not awful, but it's not great either, even with the help of the wind machine. Randy says that Hollie is peaking, and then throws in the obligatory Journey mentions. JLo says it was emotional (JLo is wrong). Steven babbles something about flowers.
Jason Derullo, still wearing the fancy studded neck brace, talks a bit about the lyric contest, but I fully expect to mute this winning collaboration when it's performed on the finale, and have no intention of listening to him talk about it now.
#3 Joshua also tried out in some earlier year (with a nasty proto-mustache) and was told to come back later. He's wearing a tan windbreaker over a weirdly constructed tee shirt with a cowl neckline. He's singing Josh Groban's You Raise Me Up (evidently Groban is from California, since the song has nothing to do with the state). Joshua sings on a black pedestal, surrounded by backup singers. He's leaning against one of those stands that prop up waving Festival Queens on rickety parade floats, and I am suddenly certain that they're going to take the song literally. He's singing the song in as restrained a manner as possible, and I still don't like it.. and yep... there he goes, up up up on the rising platform. Can you hear my eyes rolling? JLo loves the dram-a (rhymes with Bam-a). Steven gushes. Randy thinks Joshua took Groban to church, like this song has ever been anywhere else.
#4 Jessica is planning to sing Etta James, which fills me with dread. If she attempts At Last, it will be even worse than last week's Tina Turner fiasco. Jessica has been oversinging since she was a toddler. Onstage, she's wearing white jeans with a wide black stripe down the sides, like she needs to look skinnier. Her top is loose-ish and cropped-ish, and has wide white and black bands with some weird blue Flash Gordon shoulder pad action going on. Her hair has been crimped. She's singing Steal Away, which is better than At Last, though not by much. She's hitting all of the notes, but it's obvious that Jessica has not a clue as to what this song is really about. The judges don't care- they gushgushgush.
Phil and Joshua are going to sing this Love by Maroon 5 as a duet. I wonder how far and quickly Joshua can jump away from Phil tonight. They start out with Joshua standing on yin/yang pianos, with Phil joining him from the ground. They sound better together than they did last week. In fact, this is not bad at all. They're singing with each other rather than against each other, and they appear to be enjoying themselves. The judges are well pleased.
Hollie and Jessica will now sing Eternal flame, which is just plain wrong. They start out on swings. That's right, they're sitting on fabric swings and they're swinging while they sing. Wow, this is terrible- Eternal Flame is supposed to be plaintive and a bit undersung. They're both trying to turn it into a power ballad. It's painfully bad and the judges make no bones about it. Randy flatly states his dislike. JLo says it's not as bad as all that (which means it certainly was), and Steven is apologetic.
Commercial Break: I'm confused about is this WalMart DVD to Digital thing that they're constantly talking about. So many questions: Are they putting the movies on flash drives? Are they uploading them to The Cloud (one of the clouds, anyway)? Don't they realize that the D in DVD already means *digital*. Aren't there copyright infringement issues here? And can they transfer my VHS tapes so I can watch them again?
I am not going to waste time recapping a plug for a movie that Christopher Guest and Michael McKean surely did better in the 80's. And I am sorry, but no amount of scripted banter will ever convince me that Ryan has a girlfriend.
The Top 4 now take the stage to sing Foreigner's I've Been Waiting. Joshua has ditched the windbreaker, but otherwise everyone is wearing what they had on before. This isn't horrible, and it's certainly better than Eternal Flame, but it's still not pleasant.
#5. Phil's inspiration song is called Volcano, by Damien Rice. Iovine thinks this is the perfect song choice. Onstage, Phil is wearing a tan jacket over a gray tee shirt. He gets dramatic lighting, just him and the guitar, a cello player and a single backup singer. I don't know this song (big surprise there), but it's unusual. And it's very good- compelling and lovely. This is an excellent performance- as Phil as it gets. Steven loves it. JLo says it was A Moment (I agree). Randy says it's the best Phil performance of the season (again, I agree).
#6. Oh no, Hollie is going to sing I Can't Make You Love Me. Iovine worries about Hollie's lack of emotional connection with the song, and he tells her not to oversing it. Onstage, she's wearing a poorly fitted navy jumpsuit with a low-slung belt. I am pretty sure that I can never hear anyone sing this song without comparing it to Bonnie Raitt, but even without that comparison, Hollie's performance is falling far, far short. You can sing the words and the melody correctly and still not sing the song. Hollie isn't even coming close to singing the song, and the judges agree with me.
#7 Joshua is singing James Brown's It's A Man's World (I know the song, but I'm not sure if there are supposed to be two *Man's* in the title or not). Iovine is flat out blown away. Onstage, Joshua is wearing a shiny black jacket (it's not quite shiny enough for satin, so my guess is silk) and a bright red flower on his lapel. Okay, I've made it clear all season that I do not like Joshua, so you'll know how good this is when I say that it's amazing. This may be the one and only song where Joshua's patented Over The Top-ness is perfect. Joshua is holding back where he should, and going Batshit exactly where it's called for, and wrestling James Brown to the ground. He gets a Standing O from the judges, which he absolutely earned. JLo is transported way beyond GOOSIES!! and right into Spanish.
#8. When Ryan says that Jessica is singing something from Dreamgirls, my heart sinks. Iovine was disappointed in Jessica's Proud Mary, but he's impressed tonight. Jessica is wearing a blue one-shouldered top with one long, full, cuffed, pink sleeve, and a black skirt. The floor is shrouded in fog. And of course, she's singing And I Am Telling You. Was there even a chance that she'd choose any other number? She doesn't bother with the quiet intro, or the slow build, or the heartbreak, or any real connection with the song at all. Jessica winds right into the power stuff, cranking it to Joshua Levels, and keeping it there throughout. She has a huge voice and a huge talent, but this performance left me completely cold, though of course the judges loved it. Randy says that Joshua, Phil, and Jessica really stepped it up tonight.
Worst tonight: Hollie #1-2, Hollie/Jessica duet
Technically there but still awful: Jessica #1-2
Best: Phil 1#2, Joshua #2, Phil/Joshua duet
Who's going home? It better be Hollie.