April 25, 2012: The Top Six
1. Skylar Laine. The Show Must Go On was okay; she found the right notes in the end but left much of this song, especially the high notes, unfinished and unexplored. Had she held on to those high notes and allowed them to resonate and marinate, the performance would have brought down the house. I liked the second song a lot. Jason Aldean recorded but one cerebral song in his life; Tattoos on This Town, and Skylar picked it. Good on you, Skylar! Like Skylar, Jason is also courageous and fearless; a born gladiator. Heís a Colt Ford clone that utilizes what country purists term a ďblasphemyĒ; a crude mix of hick-hop and rap (yes, thatís hick-hop, not hip-hop). The original version is loaded with booming guitar riffs, crunches, distortion, and amplitude; Sklylarís was a very elegant, sentimental, emotionally-accessible, stripped down, minimalist, semi-acoustic version aimed straight for the heart string, and it worked to perfection. I loved it. Good job Skylar.
2. Joshua Ledet. Got Nothing from Crazy Little Thing Called Love, not here; not ever, on any singing competition. This song, like so many Queen Compositions, simply doesnít translate well to prime time; not without Freddie, arguably one of rockís most visual performers. India Arieís Ready for Love was a music masterpiece, in my opinion. This kid is growing before our eyes; learning his craft, and doing it the right way, with technique and emotion. He can growl, scream, and improvise with the best of them; and do it in stride, in rhythm, in flow, and unlike so many others, with full tonal integrity; but heís now just learning how to caress a lyric, nurture it, and let it live alone and on its own. My favorite contestants from the start were Skylar, Joshua, and Holly. Why? They are easily the nicest, selfless, most endearing, and graciously disarming competitors here.
3. Holly Cavanaugh. Save Me was a complete miss. This song; this lyric; were lying there naked, begging for muscle and glory notes, and she ran from and refused every single opportunity. The ďas isĒ was okay; but too quickly let alone, so left wanting. I liked the The Climb very much; one of her best performances yet, and my favorite performance of the night. It appears she cannot win this thing now, but that doesnít matters to me. This kid is one of the most likeable and endearing contestants ever seen on Idol; very easy to love. I am a huge Holly Cavanaugh fan but we are now playing the dirty end of the field, where strategy, misdirection, meddling, and dirty laundry rule the day. Skylar and Joshua have unused arrows in the quiver, but Iím not sure Holly has a secret weapon; nor the will to use it even if she did.
4. Jessica Sanchez. Didnít like Bohemian Rhapsody much; it violated the spirit of the song. Itís a rock anthem, a well-themed rock opera. Jessica chose an artistic, velvety, hushed, approach, which ventured too far from shore, so did not work for me. Dance With My Father, on the other hand, was wrapped in elegance; beautifully measured; beautifully controlled; and beautifully presented. If I could tell her anything, it would be this. Youíve tamed the melisma. Thatís a good thing because this song would never have survived such treatment; now you need to control your vibrato and tremolo as well; use them sparingly too; so that they, too, can be used to full effect; to enhance, enable, and enrich a melody. There was a breakthrough tonight though. I felt her; for the first time this season; I felt her. And because of that, I voted for her, for the first time this season.
5. Phillip Phillips. I donít think heís in any danger of going home, so I donít share Jennyís fear that heíll be sent home this week. Now that Coltonís gone, I think Phillip will be the last male standing. And as long as he doesnít say something stupid (like Colton did last week) to lose the female vote, should easily make the final four. See, the one constant in the eleven year history of this show is this: women like eye candy too; just as much as we do; and they will do whatever they have to keep it constant for as long as they can. I didnít hate either of these performances; but didnít like them either. I cannot bring myself to say anything negative about DMB; I feel like I know them; as a part of my extended family. Except for a couple problems with waste disposal, these guys are angels; genuinely good guys. Conservation, tsunami aid, farm aid, hurricane aid, they do it all, for the love of mankind. And Jenny, donít sell these guys short. DMB moved into Pollstarís list of the top selling bands (gate receipts) decades ago and hasnít left the top five since. So, yes, Baby Boomers know this song; know this lyric; we know all of their lyrics; we repeat them in unison at every concert. Fat Bottom Girls was too animated, poorly sung, affected, and maniacal. Bucky Covington did it better.
6. Elise Testone. I Want it All was uninteresting, bad television. And her version of one of the best songs ever written, Jimi Hendrixís Bold as Love, no. 8 on my list of the Best Lyrics of All Time, was, in my opinion, misunderstood and misrepresented here. These beautiful lyrics describe a life defined by music and a music defined by color; wherein each color symbolizes and defines a separate human emotion. Eliseís was a one dimensional interpretation, so not surprisingly, resulted in a one-dimensional performance. But give her props; she picks great songs with great lyrics (see last week) but, despite a solid foundation, has not mastered her craft well enough to do them justice. Why does this kid insist on growling through, meddling, and rearranging melodies that are clearly the ďbest thatís ever beenĒ? I like Elise but she needs to back off and let these songs breath on their own. She can still rock out; just pick something thatís fun and works well in prime time; Highway To Hell, Walk This Way, Paradise City, etc. Nothing good can come of dismantling well known and well respected classics.