American Idol Season 11 Top 5 Performance Show Recap
Hollie Cavanagh pulled a two-for-two game changer Wednesday night on American Idol.
She performed Ike & Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" on the first half of the show and wowed everyone. The jovial girl opened the Top Five performance show with arguably her best number since her auditions. She was that good. Either that, or she has just been on the mediocre side far too long.
The Top Five were asked to perform tunes from the 1960's and British pop, with duos and trios on the side. Bruce Springsteen's guitarist, Van Zant aka "Little Steven," helped resident mentor Jimmy Lovine in prepping the contestants for their big numbers.
The crowd wildly cheered after Hollie's opening number, and the judges raved, too.
"Hollie, it's the first time I've really heard you step out and use your blues," Steven Tyler told the British-Texan girl.
"Thank you, Lord," said Tyler, as if in great relief. He lost two of his obvious favorites the past two weeks, and Stevie must just be ecstatic to find out it wasn't all in vain.
For the second half, the British pop category, Hollie picked Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," and gave an even better show. She was convincing, she looked and sounded like a pop star, and it seemed she was having fun.
Hollie truly changed her game this time, and with that, she quickly outraced one or two contestants for the top spot. In fact, she may even skip the bottom three Thursday night.
Phillip Phillips was next with his take on the Box Tops' original version of "The Letter." Jimmy was not keen on supporting him to change it up, but Little Steven told him, "Leave him alone! He's good!"
True enough, the live audience loved Phillips' version. For what it's worth, the crowd cheered even louder for Phillip than they did for Hollie. Phillip, after all, has always been a top favorite - never been in the bottom three, never really got some bad remarks from the judges.
Steven told the contestant the melody was missing (again) in his performance, but he got away with it anyway. There is something about Phillips' energy once he starts performing; perhaps, his passion for singing oozes out and infects a lot of people with good vibes.
His second half song was "Time of the Season" by The Zombies. This time, Randy pointed out he got the rhythym and Steven told him he sang it well. He was more restrained in this number, which could work because the audience saw a bit of a different side of him.
Skylar Laine was the third performer after two impressive numbers. She was in the bottom three last week with Hollie and Elise Testone, who has ended her 'Idol' journey.
Unlike Hollie, Skylar always got good-to-excellent feedbacks from the judges. She had been in the bottom only twice so far, while Hollie has been there four times.
However, tonight, it seemed Hollie did far better than Skylar in the 60's category. Skylar did what she could with Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," but overall, it did not seem to have created the impact she needed for a spot in the Final Four. The judges did not want to dwell on what was missing; instead, Steven told her she was fabulous, Jennifer said her energy was amazing, and Randy Jackson said she was born to perform.
Fortunately, Skylar's British pop performance made up for her first half number. She took on "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" by Dusty Springfield and made it sound current. This brings to mind her powerful rendition of Bette Middler's "Wind Beneath My Wings," and how she could make it to the top if she would only keep choosing the right songs. Randy was awed by Skylar's second number.
"That was, like, flawless; that was amazing," Jackson exclaimed.
Jessica Sanchez went up for Ike & Tina Turner's "Proud Mary." Jessica's performance was not a disaster, but it felt wrong. The song works best with singers who make electrical charges fly in the air, creating sparks everywhere, and Jessica is simply not there yet. Sanchez might have nailed the notes, but she was far from nailing the gut of the song.
"You were a little bit of Tina, a little Beyonce." said Jennifer Lopez. Perhaps the problem was that "Proud Mary" and Beyonce do not go well together.
For her second number, she picked Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful," although Jimmy was reluctant to support her on her song choice. Then again, the song proved to be good for Jessica, as it took her out of the bottom two from the first half's performances. The power vocals and the sensitive understanding of the music were back, marked with Jessica's flavor.
"You, once again, showed America just how beautiful your voice is," Steven told her.
Joshua Ledet wrapped up the first half of the performance show with the Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." He was the first among the five to really bring back the 60's and make the music sound relevant in the modern era.
"What Joshua showed us is that he has a gift." Jimmy Iovine said, emphasizing that the song is one of the hardest to sing. Steven topped Jimmy's compliments by saying Joshua has got to be one of the top two best Idols of all time.
Joshua went further and topped his first performance with a stunning rendition of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody." He told Jimmy and Little Steven he didn't know the song, but he came back minutes later nailing every note and every emotion in it. He was simply amazing.
The first half was won by Phillip Phillips, Joshua Ledet and Hollie Cavanagh. The second half was owned by Joshua, with Jessica Sanchez tailing on a far second, followed by Hollie Cavanagh.
Considering overall pop star "believability," artistry in performance, and vocal magic, the Top Five performance show was won by Joshua Ledet and Hollie Cavanagh for two solid performances. However, it is difficult to imagine Phillip Phillips joining the bottom three for the first time, especially since Hollie was in the bottom three last week even after nailing Miley Cyrus' "The Climb."
It is possible, then, that her supporters are no-match for Phillip Phillips flock of voters, which include those who supported Heejun Han and Colton Dixon. Thursday night could see Joshua Ledet and Phillip Phillips safe. The girls would be in trouble despite their positively impressive performances.