American Idol Season 11 Top 10 Performances

We are approaching the end of American Idol Season 11 and so I thought I would take a moment to share with you our favorite performances of the season.  Season 11 has been one of the best in American Idol history.  The top 12 was solid and the top 10 has no weaknesses. If you have read our coverage of American Idol Season 11 you know it will be heavy with some Joshua Ledet.  Here are the One21music top 1o performances of American Idol Season 11.

1) “Everything” by Colton Dixon

This performance started off the night when the American Idol top 9 were allowed to select their favorite song.  Christian musician Colton Dixon set the entire show on its ear that night in one of the most emotional American Idol shows I have ever seen. Here is Colton Dixon singing the definition of his Christian faith.

2)”To Love Somebody” by Joshua Ledet

Everyone already knew Christian musician Joshua Ledet was unique singer, but when he took this song he had never heard and did this with it, all of the professionals associated with American Idol knew they were in the presence of a special talent. Here is Joshua Ledet stealing the show on American Idol Season 11 top 5.

3)”Without You” by Joshua Ledet

This was when it dawned on me what kind of voice Joshua Ledet possesses. This song is virtually impossible to sing and Joshua performed it effortlessly. Every other perfromance I have ever heard of this song you got the feeling the singer was fighting to control “Without You”. Joshua Ledet just mauled this song on the American Idol Season 11 top 9.

4)”Whole Lotta Love” by Elise Testone

The highlight of Elise Testone‘s run on American Idol Season11 came when she closed the top 9 show with this Led Zeppelin classic.  This showed Elise at her most joyful, confident, rocking self.  That was something we did not see enough of from her.

5)”Still Raining” by Phil Phillips

The American Idol Season 11 top 9 show was something special. Four of my top 5 songs come from that night. With “Still Raining” we see Phil Phillips in his full glory. He growls and scats and stomps his way through this Johnny Lang song and takes us to the future with his own mini Phil Phillips concert. This is what got Phil into the top4.

6)”The Show Must Go On” by Skylar Laine

This is just a singing clinic put on by Skylar Laine.  She delivers a perfect vocal performance and a riveting visual performance of this lesser known Queen song.  This is one of the numbers that showed America that country girl Skylar Laine is also big time singer Skylar Laine.

7)”Stuttering” by Jessica Sanchez

This is Jessica Sanchez‘s most complete, mature performance of the entire season. This song is big enough for her voice and has plenty of room for all of the runs she loves to do. Rather than just sing the song she embraces and engulfs the song and delivers a stellar moment for her and for us. Watch Jessica Sanchez perform “Stuttering” on American Idol Season 11 top 7 show.

8)”River Deep Mountain High” by Hollie Cavanagh

Hollie Cavanagh had been hinting at this for several weeks. She flipped the switch a few weeks ago and finally, in the American Idol Season 11 top 5 show, she embraces her artistry and delivers a great performance of one of pop music’s best songs ever. Watch how she holds her head so defiantly. Watch how she effortlessly moves around the stage. See Hollie Cavanagh as the star in front of this big band.

9)”When A Man Loves A Woman” by Joshua Ledet

Sometimes you just gotta SING a soul song.  On the American Idol Season 11 top 11 show we did not know that Joshua Ledet would become the king of standing ovations.  But by the time he had finished wringing every ounce of soul out of this iconic soul song we knew Joshua Ledet was something special. The judges leapt to their feet halfway through the song and were jumping up and down and cheering through the entire second half of Joshua’s performance.  This was the first of many command performances on American Idol Season 11 by Joshua Ledet.

10)”September” by Colton Dixon

I know that many people did not like Colton Dixon’s interpretation of “September”. I loved it and I thought it was overlooked. Look for this on Colton Dixon’s first album.

And I could just keep going until this article never loads on anyone’s computer.  American Idol Season 11 has been my favorite so far.  The performers are fantastic, Jimmy Iovine has found his rhythm as a mentor and there have been so many great performances.  Here are few that fell outside my top 10:

“Bleeding Love” by Hollie Cavanagh
“Supersition” by Phil Phillips
“You Are So Beautiful” by Jessica Sanchez
“Let’s Stay Together” by Elise Testone
“Ready for Love” by Joshua Ledet
“Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Skylar Laine
“A Song For You” by Heejun Han
“All The Man I Need” by Hollie Cavanagh
“Sometimes I Cry” by DeAndre Brakensick
“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Joshua Ledet
“Son of A Preacher Man” by Hollie Cavanagh
“U Got It Bad” by Phil Phillips
“I Will Always Love You” by Jessica Sanchez
“Don’t You Know How Much I Love You” by Skylar Laine

Three more weeks to the finale.  If the final four can keep up this pace, American Idol Season 11 will go down as maybe the best ever. Join us next week for our top 4 power rankings and our live blogs of the performances and the results.

American Idol Season 11 Top 5 Performance Live Blog

New news about the American Idol Season 11 Top 5.  Tonight they will sing one song from the British music scene and one song from the 60′s. As we said in the our season 11 top 5 power rankings, the race to the finale is close and everyone needs to be great on every performance.  Joshua Ledet needs to continue to stay rooted in his ballad power while demonstrating versatility with an upbeat soul or pop number.  Skylar Laine needs to demonstrate her versatility without losing her country foundation.  We would like to see a little more growth from Phil PhillipsJessica Sanchez needs to create deeper emotional connections with her performances and with the audience and Hollie Cavanagh needs to have four straight mind blowing performances.

Expect a lot of music from the 60′s because that was the height of British pop music and, well, the other half of the theme is “songs from the 60′s”.  Little Steven of the E Street band and The Sopranos is the celebrity mentor tonight and we expect him to be very good.  Let’s jump in and enjoy some good music on British Week.

Hollie Cavanagh starts the night off with “River Deep, Mountain High”.  Hollie is stepping out.  Little Steven gives her a little punk advice.  This is a new, sassy, aggressive Hollie Cavanagh.  She is dancing and prancing around the stage like she is Tina Turner.  Oh by the way, she is throwing that big voice around like a bully on the school yard.  I love this Hollie Cavanagh! Yes, yes, yes.  That was her best performance of the season.  Stephen says “Thank you Lord”.  J-Lo says she could really feel her attack the song. Randy makes it unanimous- he loved it.  I agree with Randy-She wore it out.  Is Hollie Cavanagh attacking American Idol Season 11? Everybody better watch out!

Phil Phillips is singing “The Letter”.  This is a great song for Phil Phillips. Steven talks Jimmy our of his advice for Phil. Phil leads a big funky arrangement of this 50 year old song. I like his syncopated rhythms.  Very good Phil Phillips! No highlights but a lot of fun. Randy loved that Phil made it new for him. J-Lo says the song lacked melody but he is compelling to watch. Stephen missed the melody but says Phil pulls it off.  Kind of mixed reviews.  I had fun with it but I was not blown away.

Skylar Laine brings CCR’s “Fortunate Son” to the stage. Not he rorignial choice but Jimmy convinced her to sing it. I don’t know. Skylar Laine is so good that I enjoy every minute of every performance but I don’t think she really embraced these lyrics.  J-Lo says she attacks every single song.  Stephen says it was fabulous.  Randy says Skylar is born on the stage. The judges love her so much that they do not discuss her performance.  It was entertaining but not earth shattering.

This should be interesting. Joshua Ledet and Phil Phillips are performing a duet of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”.  This should be interesting. I just lost a little respect for Joshua Ledet.  He had never heard of this song? Neither of them can sing the low parts of this duet. This is pretty bad. I will stop talking now.

Jessica Sanchez blows Little Stevens’ mind with “Proud Mary”. Feeling like I am in Vegas. She is singing the notes with aplomb but I just don’t feel the grit and raw energy of that song.  J-Lo loved her movement and her great voice.  Stephen is hearing the blues.  Randy thought Jessica’s performance was barely okay. I agree with Randy, but J-Lo does not.  I think Simon would have eviscerated Jessica Sanchez for that performance.

Now Joshua Ledet is looking for another standing ovation with “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.”  I don’t know.  Is there enough in this song for Joshua Ledet to ride.  It is mid-tempo Motown song without many big notes. Okay, so I was wrong. Where does he pull those notes from?  This guy is a STAR! Amazing. Stephen just calls Joshua one of the top 2 Idols of all time. J-Lo calls Joshua sick. Randy pulls out a Terence Trent-D’Arby reference and says Joshua could launch an R&B renaissance.

Round one goes to Hollie Cavanagh and Joshua Ledet.

Can Hollie Cavanagh keep her momentum with “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis.  Little Steven says to just sing it to one person and think about the audience. Who is the girl and what did she do with Hollie Cavanagh.  Another great, engrossing performance. Perfect timing and great performance dynamics and a huuuge note to put an exclamation point on the performance.  Hollie Cavanagh is fighting her way back onto American Idol Season 11.  Stephen it was beautiful. J-Lo says she had a breathtaking run at the end of the song.  Randy says it was unbelievably good and she was two for two tonight.  I love me some Hollie Cavanagh tonight.  Randy says she is peaking and I agree.

Now Phil Phillips interprets The Zombies’ “Time of The Season”. This song was one of the highlights of Blake Lewis’ American Idol run a few years ago. Phil Phillips tries to sing the melody and we discover why he has developed his unique performing style.  This singing is really not good.  I think I will use the word bad. I feel bad for Phil Phillips. It is going to take all of his charisma to survive this performance.  Randy uses the word great? Did I hear a completely performance and then finally called in “nice”. J-Lo says it was relaxed. Stephen says he sang it well. I cannot disagree more vehemently with the judges.  I thought that was one of the worst performances of American Idol Season 11.

The girls now sing “Higher and Higher”. This is pretty good.  Three big voices just letting themselves wail.  That was fun.

Time for Skylar Laine to make her mark tonight. She chooses “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”. That was perfect.  Skylae Laine wrang every bit of power and emotion out that song.  I love the way she tells the story of the song. Randy says it was perfect. J-Lo says Skylar Laine is winning the audience over and raves over her performance skills. Stephen says she brought that 60′s song into the 21st century.  No reason to send Skylar Laine home after that performance.

Jessica Sanchez is doing Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful”.  The judges worry that the song is too and pretty.  Jessica Sanchez just proved she can sing a song without making a run out of every verse and it was beautiful.  That was so restrained and controlled and quiet that it pulled us all onto the stage with her.  This was maybe her best performance of the season. The judges just loved it.  I just loved it too. That was amazing.

Joshua Ledet finishes the evening with “To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees.  I am without words to describe the joy of watching the birth of this great singing talent and superstar performer.  Joshua Ledet just put every other performance tonight in it place– behind him.  Of course the judges leap to their feet.  Randy says wow.  Randy says you have to be born to do what Joshua Ledet just did.  Randy says Joshua Ledet is one of the best singers ever on American idol.  J-Lo says he is one of the best singer of the past 50 years.  Stephen says that would be a hit record today.

Join us tomorrow night to watch the crime of sending someone home after a night like this.

 

American Idol Season 11 Top 6 Results

On American Idol 2012 last night, we watched our 6 contestants rock out with selections by Queen and then a “free choice” song.  It was a memorable night for some and a disappointing night for others.  We watched as our Christian performers Skylar Laine and Joshua Ledet seemed to carry the night.  And we are not just saying that because they are in our top 3!  We thoroughly enjoyed Skylar’s huge performance with “The Show Must Go On” and “Tattoos on this Town”and dropped our jaws when Joshua  sang “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Ready for Love”. Both of these young singers are so talented and we find ourselves wanting them to sing the songs in their entirety each time they perform.  After some of the shocking eliminations this season, the outcome should be exciting.  Who will go home tonight?

This is the final stretch and all 6 want to make the final cut.  Ryan Seacrest tells us that 58 million votes were cast last night, 10 million more than last year.  Wow.  I hope everyone voted for Joshua and Skylar.  (By the way, this is Debbie writing tonight, so if it gets sappy, forgive me.)  Katy Perry, Stefano and the Queen Extravaganza are performing tonight.

So here we go with the results.  Ryan will be calling everyone out in pairs.  First up, Jessica Sanchez and Elise Testone.  Jessica’s Dad is visiting and in the audience tonight.  He deploys out soon.  Jimmy was not impressed with Elise’s choice of songs and doesn’t feel she is safe.  And  after the nation wide vote, he is correct,  Elise is in the bottom 3.

Next pair up is Hollie Cavanagh and Joshua Ledet.  Jimmy felt Hollie’s last song was her best but thought it might be too little, too late. Jimmy was impressed with Joshua and thought he should be in the finals.  Jimmy is right again.   Hollie is in the bottom 3.  Joshua is in the top group.

So we are down to the final pair of Phillip Phillips and Skylar Laine.  Jimmy felt Skylar was competent with her first song but her second song knocked her out.  He felt that Phillip was missing something this week.  The audience is booing at both assessments.  The person in the bottom 3 is Skylar.  Three ladies in the bottom 3 and quickly Ryan tells us Skylar is safe.

So will it be Hollie or Elise??   The person leaving tonight is Elise Testone.  I have to say this wasn’t a huge surprise.  Elise has been in the bottom 3 so many weeks that she had to somewhat expect this.  We wish her well and know that her music career is not over and her unique style will bring her the success that she desires.  Best wishes and prayers Elise.

 

 

 

American Idol Season 11 Top 6 Performance Live Blog

Rock invades American Idol Season 11 as the performers sing Queen tonight.  I am not so sure about this. I count about 10 great Queen songs and a lot of highly stylized fluff.  Luckily, the performers also get a “free choice” of any song they want.  This night looks like a minefield.  With the high quality this season, one bad week can send you home.  Join us for what could be a crazy ride tonight as we live blog the American Idol Season 11 top 6 performing Queen tonight.

Yes we are all still in shock about the elimination of Christian musician Colton Dixon.  Let’s not let that happen again, vote.

This session with the Idols and Queen is very good.  Nice insight from Bryan May.  He is a groundbreaking guitarist.  And now we get to hear him play in a medley of Queen songs performed by the Idol gang of six. Very interesting watching these guys singing with each on the same songs. Skylar Laine seems to eat up the role of Queen frontman (girl).

Now time to start the competition with Jessica Sanchez. She will be singing the Queen anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody”. We should have suspected that she would be ambitious enough to take on this giant song in rock history.  This is one of the 10 great ones from Queen.  Jessica’s voice is a little light for this song.  I think she did the best she could with the song but it was not really very good.  The judges love the vocal but not the performance, except Randy who loved it all. I disagree.  I was underwhelmed.

Skylair Laine will now sing “The Show Must Go On”.  I am surprised.  I thought she would select more of a rock song like “Tie Your Mother Down”, “Liar” or “Keep Yourself Alive”.  No country instrumentation on this one, Skylar Laine is going full rock orchestra on this one.  She seems to be consumed by the band and orchestra, until she hits the end and unleashes her huge voice and just muscles the song. Wow! Not her prettiest performance, but certainly a demonstration of vocal and performance power.  Steven and J-Lo love it, describing her performance as powerful.  Randy says it was incredible and believable and effortless and phenomenal.  Is Skylar Laine taking control of American Idol?  Maybe. I just love the gravitas of her stage presence.  I am quickly becoming a big Skylar Laine fan.

Now Joshua Ledet is doing “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”  Joshua rocks out!  That was fun and allowed Joshua to show a lighter side of himself.  What a crazy power run at the end of that song!  The judges give him a standing ovation again! Randy says it was perfect.  He loved it.  He said everything was great. J-Lo says the Joshua part of the show is always her favorite part of the show.  Stephen says it was lovely.  What a surprise that he could rock that song the way he did.  He made me like it.  Joshua Ledet deserves to be in the finale.

The beginning of Elise Testone’s “I Want It All” was a little clumsy.  She is being overwhelmed by the band and the back-up singers. Elise seems to be enjoying the performance but there was not much for me there.  She needed to do more with this.  Stephen loved it “over the top”.  J-Lo said it felt natural, sexy, relaxed.  Randy loved it as well.Randy says it was one of her best performances.  I thought it was okay.

Now it time for Phil Phillips’ interpretation of “Fat Bottom Girls”.  It is really nice to hear Phil Phillips sing out in full voice.  This is fun, soulful and just plain fun.  I could see that as a regular song on his live shows.  I agree with Stephen that he has character in his performances that no one else brings.  J-Lo says we get new flavors every week.  Randy did not love it, he just liked it.  That was fun and distinctive but nothing special.

Was last week an anomaly for Hollie Cavanagh or the start of her American Idol Season 11 push.  We find out now as she sings “Save Me”. I hope that necklace is cubic zirconium. Didn’t really like that song so much.  She sang it big and she sang it strong but it was boring for me.  J-Lo felt her emotion in the song but feels like she is still thinking too much. Randy says it was a good performance but would have liked her to take more risks.  I agree with  he judges, that did not excite me.

That was the end of the Queen portion of the competition.  Skylar Laine and Joshua Ledet were heads and shoulders above everyone else.  I watch Skylar and think “there is this year’s winner” and then along comes Joshua and I think he deserves to win.  I don’t think that about anyone else on American Idol Season 11.

Now to the free choice section of the night.

Jessica Sanchez picks R&B classic “Dance With My Father”.  She dedicates it to her father who is active in the military.  This has been a big song for soul singers on American Idol over the past few years. I know this is very emotional for Jessica.  I would have liked her to keep it a little more simple for the emotion to come forth.  I think she may have oversung that a little.  J-Lo says that may have been the best she has ever seen that song sang.  Randy says she is truly amazing in the way she constructs her performances. I guess I missed what the judges saw.  I am glad she will get to see her father.

Now Skylar Laine returns to the country with “Tattoos On This Town”. She is playing grandpaw’s guitar and she is in full twang. I did not like this song.  Skylar Laine sang the dog out of it, but I can’t really get excited about the song.  Randy is gushing and J-Lo says she is so comfortable on stage.  I think Stephen was lukewarm.  Me too.

Joshua Ledet is singing India Arie’s “Ready for Love”.  A neo-soul hit from a female is a perplexing choice by the big voiced soul singer. Who is this guy?  I could not write while he was singing.  The control, the pacing, the phrasing, the runs.  I am just blown away.  In a season of great performances that was a revelation. Another standing O!  Stephen is urging the audience to cheer more.  The judges are speechless. J-Lo says transcendent and that he snaps everyone to reality when he sings.  That was amazing! Wow, wow, wow. Joshua Ledet for American Idol Season 11 finale!

Now Elise Testone goes full tilt rock with Jimi Hendrix’s “Bold As Love”. Another awkward opening for Elise? That was pretty cool.  A bold, daring choice at this point in the competition.  I loved the directions she took this song.  The runs and scatting was very cool.  J-Lo loved what she did with the song.  Randy and Stephen did not love the song choice and Randy felt she over sang the song.  I agree with J-Lo that she made that song exciting.  Good job Elise.

Now we jump to Phil Phillips doing a Dave Matthews song. Imagine that? I don’t know any of Dave Matthews’ music so I don’t know this song and I really don’t like the song.  I think the choice is bad for Phil Phillips as well because it makes him sound derivative. The judges look perplexed. Stephen says it was off the wall.  He loved this but not Bold As Love.  I don’t understand the distinction.  J-Lo did not like the song choice either.  Randy liked it and loved that he showed his artistic chops.  I thought it was undistinctive.

Hollie Cavanagh ends the show with an unfortunate song choice.  “The Climb” is a big Hollie Cavanagh song that is very similar in tone to her first performance.  I think Hollie needed to show a little more varietyand capture some excitement. That was beautiful vocal performance.  I am afraid it will be a lovely way for her to leave American Idol Season 11.  The judges love it as they leap to their feet.  Randy and J-Lo said it was perfect.  I think Hollie Cavanagh was spectacular but I don’t think it will excite the voting public.

Another spectacular night for Joshua Ledet with a near great night for Skylar Laine. Who will go home from among the other four?  Join us tomorrow night as we live blog the American Idol Season 11 top 6 results.

 

 

 

 

American Idol Season 11 Top 6 Power Rankings


Christian musician Colton Dixon is gone from American Idol Season 11.  I am shocked and disappointed. It tells me that American Idol, like all pop music, rewards familiarity over experimentation.  No one took as many risks as Colton Dixon did on American Idol Season 11.  No one demonstrated the musicianship Colton Dixon displayed week in and week out.  No one challenged us with obscure songs and edgy arrangements like Colton Dixon.  I hope he puts his version of “September” on his first album.  Losing Colton Dixon took some of the flavor out of American Idol Season 11.  However, I as thrilled to watch him glorify his Lord during his exit.  Whether or not you agree with his beliefs, please join me in applauding Colton Dixon’s conviction.

Last week in our American Idol Top 7 Power Rankings we put out our first predictions.  Of course, we predicted a Skylar Laine and Colton Dixon in the finale. Last week, Phil Phillips made a nice comeback from a two week slide, Skylar Laine continued building her case toward the American Idol Season 11 and Hollie Cavanagh looked like she may have flipped the switch from amateur to professional.

American Idol Season 11 Top Power Rankings

1) Joshua Ledet did it again.  Mantasi’s version “I Believe” drew another standing ovation from the judges and then he closed the show with “A Change Is Gonna Come”. With that song, Joshua Ledet brought the house down.  We thought the performance needed another minute to develop but it seems we are in the minority.  Reviewers around the country went wild, calling it one of the best performances of the year.  There is a good chance that this old school gospel/R&B singer will not win American Idol Season 11 but few performers in the history of American Idol have put together such consistent body of mind blowing performances.

2) Skylar Laine brought the country to soul night with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and just established herself more firmly as the best performer on American Idol Season 11.  I was not crazy about “Born This Way” , but, my gosh, this girl does have stage presence.  With her perfect singing, great stage presence and concentrated voting block, it looks like her spot in the finale is hers to lose.

3) Phil Phillips is baaack.  First he takes ownership of Usher’s “U Got It Bad” and then he charms the theater with his Commitment’s like take on “In The Midnight Hour”.  So charming, quirky Phil Phillips has returned to American Idol Season 11 and that makes him a dangerous competitor for the finale.

4) Jessica Sanchez, despite the judges desparate accolades, if being more and more exposed every week.  Her song selections of “Fallin” and “Try A Little Tenderness” both were much too mature for this sixteen year-old and it showed in her performances.  With the right material, Jessica Sanchez can be spectacular but she needs more emotional depth to deliver on her promise.  We will be surprised if we see Jessica Sanchez in the finale.

5) Hollie Cavanagh has arrived.  We saw a completely new Hollie last week. Even between performances she seemed more comfortable and even happy for the first time this season, and it showed in her performances.  She found the right avenue with songs by two blue-eyed British soul singers.  First took the risk of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” and pulled it off completely.  This song was perfect for this song and her delivery was stellar.  But the breakthrough was Hollie Cavanagh‘s take on “Son of A Preacher Man”. She was loose, passionate and engaging. It is probably too little, too late but we are happy to welcome Hollie Cavanagh to the competition.

6) Elise Testone survived two forced, unhappy performances last week.  She has all but said she is miserable.  She has admitted to be frustrated by her frequent residence in the bottom two.  It seems time for Elise Testone to go home.

The Top 6 will perform songs by Queen this week.  Queen has some spectacular songs but much of their catalog is just silly.  This will be a minefield for Joshua Ledet and Skylar LaineElise Testone should do well, this is a theme made for her.  Please join us as we live blog American Idol Season 11 doing Queen.

 

 

 

American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Performances, Again

Time to see how Jessica Sanchez responds to being saved by the judges last week on American Idol Season 11.  And then there is the standing ovation competition to watch.  Colton Dixon was angling for his first in last week’s results show and it seems Joshua Ledet receives a standing o form the judges every week. Can Phil Phillips, Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone reverse their negative momentum and can Skylar Laine keep her American Idol freight train rolling?

American Idol Season 11 brings us “songs from now and then” tonight.  That means the performers will sing a Billboard #1 hit from this century and then a soul song from a previous decade.  As we said in our American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings, this theme should favor Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez and Elise Testone.  However, the expectations can backfire on these three and, there may be some backlash if they are not spectacular.

At least we won’t have any more of the meaningless duets because each Idol will perform twice this week.  It should make for a fast paced show so let’s jump right in and watch this show together.

By the look on his face, Kris Allen is trying to figure out what Jennifer Lopez is wearing.

Ryan starts the show with an acknowledgement of Dick Clark and the news of his death.  Dick Clark was a mentor to Ryan Seacrest.

We get going right away with Hollie Cavanagh singing “Rollin’ In The Deep”. No mentoring partner for Jimmy Iovine tonight.  Hollie Cavanagh is channeling Adele all the way down to the hair. Hollie’s big voice can just out power this song. Very good performance, perfect song choice, odd ending.  The judges are giving Hollie a sitting smile. Stephen gives her the “I can’t judge it.  It was so beautiful.”  J-Lo loved her tonight.  Purple Randy says it was close to perfect and for the first time ever he felt her emotion.  Nice opening for Hollie Cavanagh.

Colton Dixon is doing Lady Gaga? I never expected to hear “Bad Romance” from Colton Dixon. Colton looks great in his rock star red leather pants.  I don’t know.  He certainly pulled off the big rock music moment.  I don’t think he felt the song so it was not special, but it was big and flashy.  Randy and J-lo thought it was up and down but loved the overall performance.  Stephen loved that he is taking chances and loved it. I appreciate the chance he took, I think he made a Colton statement.

Elise Testone jumps back on the roller coaster with Alicia Keys’ “No One”. Jimmy and Elise dive right into her frustrations at her lack of fan support. There just seems to be a dark cloud around Elise Testone. Elise seems very discouraged.  I don’t love the tempo of the arrangement.  I did not love that performance.  The phrasing took some of the emotion from the song.  J-Lo got her first “gooseys”. Stephen did not seem to like it but said he loved it.  Randy says she sang a great song very well.  He loved her restraint.  I think she may be in trouble.

This is turning out to be an odd night.  First Colton sings Gaga and now Phil Phillips is singing “U Got It Bad” by Usher. Very nice.  It looks like happy Phil is back.  Nice arrangement, intimate performance and a standing ovation from the judges.  J-Lo says that was great.  She loved the re-interpretation of the song.  Randy calls Phil Phillips a true artist, original and true to himelf.  I don’t know if I am as crazy about that as the judges, but I liked it.

Jessica Sanchez now starts her comeback with Alicia Keys’ “Fallin”.  Jimmy tells us she needs to blow our mind tonight.  This is a great song, but a bad selection song for her.  The lyrics are very mature so it feels like she is putting on a show.  That is exactly what she does not need to do.  The singing was great but the performance  felt contrived. Stephen says she sang like she was mad at the song. J-Lo loved that she just plays with songs (in a good way). randy says she does not know how good she is.  Brilliant singing but empty performance for me.

Now it is country time with Skylar Laine. Now we get a country version of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. What a night of twists and turns.  We now have Skylar Laine rapping.  The Idols have decided to take the familiar and make it strange.  The opening verse was kind of a low register challenge for Skylar.I didn’t really like that.  I think the arrangement held her back.  J-Lo loved it, saying a more perfect song for Skylar does not exist. Stephen just claps and Randy says it was amazing.  The judges are loving a lot of music I am not feeling.

Now Joshua Ledet is performing his idol, Fantasia, with “I Believe”. There has not been a song written that is more perfect for Joshua Ledet and his ability to throw down the gospel.  Wish we could hear more of that.  Once again the judges give him a standing ovation.  Randy says he is one of the most talented singers Idol has ever experienced.  Randy says he made us feel every note of that song.  J-Lo says she feels blessed to watch him sing.  Another tremendous performance by Joshua Ledet.

Hollie Cavanagh is back with an “old” song.  We now understand that the “old” songs are paying homage to “Soul Train”. We are on the American Idol stop on the Soul train line.

Hollie Cavanagh is now singing “Son of A Preacher Man”, made famous by blond, British soul singer, Dusty Springfield. This is Hollie’s most passionate, engaging performance of Season 11.  That was fantastic!  Randy says she worked it out.  Both Randy and J-Lo liked this better than her first performance.  That was great, has Hollie flipped the switch. Everybody better watch out, Hollie Cavanagh could be climbing up from the bottom.

We now get Colton Dixon‘s interpretation of “September”.  Oh wow, I think I am hearing a radio hit.  Ryan Seascrest will be playing this in his radio show this fall.  Colton has turned this funk-soul into an alt-rock ballad.  Stephen thought the song did not show off his voice. J-Lo and Randy agreed with Stephen.  I disagree with the judges, I thought that was great.

Elise Testone is now singing “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye. We are now seeing the limits of Elise’s soul. She is over singing the song and missing the deep soul of the song.  This is really just falling flat.  There is no intimacy or honesty to this performance.  Rather than singing to a person, which is what this song is about, she sang to a crowd. J-Lo tried to criticize her without saying bad things.  J-Lo says she is struggling to connect. Randy thinks the song was not right for her voice.  Randy agrees with me that she over sang every chorus.  That did not work. Elise admits she is over thinking her performances.

Phil Phillips is now singing “In The Midnight Hour”.  This is a perfect choice for his voice.  If you have not seen the movie “The Commitments” get it now.  Yep Phil Phillips has found himself.  He just slayed that song.  He had fun, he had runs and he danced.  So good.  Randy says “exactly what you need is what you always have’.  J-Lo wants to dance with Phil.  J-Lo loves Phil Phillip’s spontaneity.

Jessica Sanchez is making another bad song choice with Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” and completely over sings the opening verse. I am sorry, you completely missed the angst and longing of this song.  If Simon were here he would say that it was a cruise ship performance. Of course the judges loved the performance. J-Lo said America needs to start connecting with her in their heart.  That performance did not connect with me at all.  I am greatly disappointed with Jessica’s two perofrmances tonight.

We go immediately to Skylar Laine with a country interpretation of “Heard It Through The Grapevine”. I liked this better than I thought I would.  However, once again, the performance does not seem to connect with the mood of the song.  Randy said it was brilliant.  J-Lo loves her spunkiness.  Stephen says Skylar Laine is like a wild horse that refuses to be tamed.  That was a fun performance sung perfectly.

“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Joshua Ledet.  This has the opportunity to be special. It was not, but the judges leap to their feet again. I think he needed more time to build that song.  Stephen loved the restraint but I thought it was a little subdued.  Randy says the song was perfect, it was stellar.  I could have used a little less restraint in that arrangement.  Joshua Ledet is now up to six standing ovations on American Idol Season 11.

Phil Phillips and Hollie Cavanagh had the best nights.  I thought Colton Dixon was better than the judges gave him credit for.  Joshua Ledet was great compared to everyone else but himself.  I think Elise Testone failed tonight and may go home tomorrow night.

 

 

 

American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings, Pt. 2

I called it in last week’s American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings, sort of. I said Jessica Sanchez could be in trouble in the next few weeks, I just did not think she would be eliminated last week. I certainly thought she would be safe after last week’s performances.  Neither Elise Testone or Hollie Cavanagh made a big statement and Jessica Sanchez delivered probably her best performance of the season.  No one has ever won American Idol after being saved by the judges.

The other surprise was Joshua Ledet in the bottom three, which does not bode well for his chances.  That leads me to step back and take a shot at a few predictions.  I simply do not understand the support for Hollie Cavanagh at this point in American Idol Season 11, so I think she will be gone in the next few weeks.  Elise Testone has been too inconsistent and does not fit the profile of an American Idol winner.  We saw last week how tenuous Jessica Sanchez‘s place is on American Idol Season 11.  It seems Phil Phillips is starting to lose momentum in his performances and we saw that Joshua Ledet may not have the following to support his tremendous talent.  That leaves us with finale of Christian musicians Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine. That does not line up with my power rankings but we would not mind this as a finale.

American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings, Pt 2

1)Joshua Ledet- Christian musician Joshua Ledet received another standing ovation from the judges last and week and he remains atop our power rankings.  I don’t care that Joshua Ledet was in the bottom three last week.  He just has an instinctive performing style and an other worldly voice.  I intially thought his vocal style was a little outdated but last week he proved he belongs in the middle of the exploding “retro-soul” movement led by Raphael Saadiq, Sharon Jones, Bruno Mars and The Alabama Shakes.  As long as he continues to deliver performances like last week’s “Runaway Baby” Joshua Ledet will continue to lead our power rankings.

2) Colton Dixon- So Colton Dixon continues to charm the mentors and the judges with his song selection and arrangements.  This week he delivered another emotional, technically perfect, dynamically fascinating version of an obscure song “Love The Way You Lie.”  Colton Dixon seems to be an unusual combination of an artist who continues to grow throughout the American Idol season even though he arrived a fully developed artist. You could interchange any of his performances from Season 11 and they would all hold up to the competition of the Top 7.  I think it is because he came in fully confident of who he is as a person, artist and believer and yet humble to the process.

3) Skyar Laine- I do not like her style of country music but I have loved Skylar Laine from the moment shook her way through “Stay With Me” in the first week.  Skylar Laine is strong, confident, sure of herself as a performer and a tremendous vocal talent.  She asserted herself as a big voiced singer with “Wind Beneath My Wings” and now she is asserting herself to be considered the best female singer on American Idol Season 11.  That is a big statement in the company of Jessica, Elise and Hollie.  J-Lo said this performance was pitch perfect.  I agree. But watch her tremendous delivery of this song.  Skylar Laine, better than anyone on American Idol Season 11 can reach into the television and connect with the audience.

4) Jessica Sanchez- This is the only change from last week’s power rankings.  Jessica Sanchez gave us her best performance of the season with complex, thrilling performance of “Stuttering”.  She did not deserve the fate she experienced last Thursday night.  This is a real roller coaster ride in which Jessica Sanchez is in complete control of every dip, curve and climb.  The singing, of course, the phrasing, the tempo changes, the growling, the scatting it was all perfectly used and perfectly executed. If she can hang around a few more weeks and deliver a few more of these performances, Jessica Sanchez could surprise us all, but I don’t think Jessica has developed the powerful personality necessary to make history on American Idol.

5) Phil Phillips- The rebellious rocker has lost his momentum and seems to have lost his enthusiasm for American IdolPhil Phillips performance of “Give A Little More” was his second lackluster performance in a row.  He also seems to be losing patience with the coaching and criticism from the mentors and judges.  He increasingly dismisses them with comments like “I just play music”.  He has completely ignored Tommy Hilfiger’s advice.  I wonder if this change in attitude coincides with the departure of his best buddy Heejun Hahn? Regardless the reason, unless he picks up his game, Phil Phillips will be gone in the next three weeks.

6) Elise Testone- She needed to be great last week and “You & I” was only very good.  Very good won Elise Testone a place in the bottom two again. Elise seems to be frustrated by the results each week and too much of that angst carries over into each week’s performances.  The week she let go and just had fun with “Whole Lotta Love”, she looked like an American Idol winner.  The other weeks she seems to be trying to please the judges or the voters, with mixed results.  I will buy her album but I don’t think Elise Testone makes it into the top five.

7) Hollie Cavanagh- I am perplexed about who is voting for Hollie Cavanagh.  She was ahead of both Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez last week.  I like Hollie, I think she has killer voice and she is a Texas girl, sort of.  However, it is clear that she is not as polished as the other six performers.  It is hard to say this after last week’s results but I think she is gone this week or the next.

So, there you have it.  Feel free to comment, to agree or disagree with me.  I love the dialogue.

In any case join us on Wednesday night as the American Idol Season 11 does “Songs From Now and Then”.  The performers will be singing a Billboard #1 from this century and then a soul song from a previous decade.  That should set up well for Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez and Elise Testone.

American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Results

Another good night on American Idol Season 11 last night as the Idols performed “songs of this decade” beautifully.  Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez, Skylar Laine and Colton Dixon were amazing.  Elise Testone did well but did not have the standout moment she may need to make it into the top five.  Phil Phillips and Hollie Cavanagh were enjoyable but did not reach the bar set by Joshua.  Elise Testone and Hollie Cavanagh will probably be in the bottom two and either of them could go home tonight.

Christian musician Jennifer Hudson and Michael Durbin perform tonight so the entire hour should be entertaining, I guess in a gladiator sort of way.  Take the ride with us as they build the bottom three.  Remember, Jennifer Hudson was eliminated on this night several years ago and she has done all right.

So now American Idol starts building the bottom three with Hollie Cavanagh and Jessica Sanchez. Not much tension here. Hollie Cavanagh is starting a group but Ryan is not saying what the groups mean.  Hollie on one side of the stage and Jessica on the other side.  What could it mean?

James Durbin’s expression of his rock vision was pretty good and it sounds like it is popular too. Three weeks after release he has already sold 100,000 units. It is good to him doing well.  If you remember, he was financially crippled while pursuing his rock dream.

We continue to form the two group dance with Phil Phillips and Elise Testone. Ryan sends Phillip to Hollie’s group and Elise joins Jessica. Will one of our Christian musicians be in the bottom three this week?

Joshua Ledet and Colton Dixon are next for results. Joshua joins Jessica and Elise while Colton joins Hollie and Phillip. Skylar Laine is the first performer to be safe and Ryan is asking her to pick the group she belongs to.

Oh my gosh, Joshua Ledet, Elise Testone and Jessica Sanchez are in the bottom three.  Expect the judges to use their save tonight.  This is a shocking travesty.

The first one to safety is Joshua Ledet, so Elise and Jessica are the bottom two.  Jessica Sanchez is singing for her American Idol life.  I predicted something like this but that does not mean it is right.  The judges do not even let her finish her song before they save her.

Wow, tonight was shocking.

Check back this weekend for my revised power rankings.

 

 

American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Performance Live Blog

Tonight American Idol Season 11 top 7 will be performing music from this decade. This should give us a better idea about what we will hear from these performers once they start releasing their own records. Our American Idol power rankings has Christian musicians Joshua Ledet and Colton Dixon at the top.  Colton should do fine this week but we wonder what modern songs can support the old school soul power of Joshua Ledet.  Hang in there with us for another two hour show while we share our immediate reaction to tonight’s ten performances by the American Idol Season 11 top 7.

Akon is mentoring tonight and we are going back to the Idol’s hometowns.

Let’s start the show with some crazy country from Skylar Laine. She will be singing “Don’t You Know How Much I Loved You” and she blew Akon away. Jimmy tried to convince her to not play the guitar but she did not listen. Skylar Laine is just so comfortable on stage and she is blowing the roof off the theater with a huge voiced version of this Kellie Pickler song.  If you gotta go first, that is the way to do it.  Randy says it was right in her wheelhouse calling it crazy hot. J-Lo said it was pitch perfect and with feeling. Is Skylar Laine making a move on American Idol Season 11?  She is as strong a singer as anyone on the show and a great performer.

Colton Dixon follows Skylar with interestingly enough, Skylar Grey’s “Love The Way You Lie”.  Jimmy and Akon are pushing Colton hard to be great and Colton thinks this is his statement song. Sitting behind a huge white Steinway, Colton is accompanied by a gang of strings. Another very interesting singing performance by Colton Dixon.  I am not sure I liked it but I did appreciate the complexity of what he did and the emotion of his performance.  J-Lo liked the individuality of the performance more than the song. Stephen thinks it was picture perfect. Randy loved the subtly of the performance.  I agree with the judges that it was a beautiful, nuanced performance.

Another duet with Elise Testone and Phil Phillips. As much as I enjoyed them last week, I would like to see American Idol shake-up these groups. They are singing “Somebody I Used To Know” by Gotye.  Evidently Elise violently demanded that they sing this song this week because Phil accused Elise of hitting him and throwing things at him. Phil Phillips seems almost like a prop in this performance. I don’t think this captured the magic of last week’s performance.

Jessica Sanchez has selected Jazmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering” to sing. Akon has picked Jessica to win from the very beginning.  He says Jessica Sanchez will be a legend some day. Oh wow, this is pretty great.  From the pacing, the runs, the big notes, the phrasing, the scatting Jessica Sanchez is just showing off. I think this may be her best performance of the year.  This is her record in a few months. Randy says she has set the bar really high because she just demonstrated her full talent. J-Lo is begging her to step up and show American Idol something they have never seen.

Soul singer Joshua Ledet takes on” Runaway Baby” from Bruno Mars. It will be interesting to hear this new soul song sung with a big old time soul voice. Joshua has such a great style sense.  It is Joshua’s birthday this week and Fantasia sends “Mantasia” a taped birthday greeting. Jimmy and Akon are amazed at Joshua’s humility. This is fun.  It is like LeBron James playing high school ball.  He rocked the stage, he had fun and he threw down with his huge voice at the end.  And another standing ovation by the judges!  J-Lo says “you the umph!” Randy says you got everything going.  After a great performance by Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet re-establishes his dominance on a really great season of American Idol. I want to see that again and again.

Skylar Laine and Colton Dixon are singing “Don’t You Wanna Stay” and desperately denying romance rumors. So far it seems that the girls are being a little pushy in song selection and arrangement.  Come on guys, stand up for yourselves.

Hollie Cavanaugh is doing Pink’s “Perfect”.  This should be interesting with Hollie doing a modern ballad. Akon is right that she needs to make the leap from amateur to professional. This simple arrangement with only a guitar allows us to hear the power and tonal beauty of Hollie’s voice.  This was a great song choice, pleading and fighting to be perfect and she threw a big punch with a huge note at the end.  The judges did not like it all.   Their critique was very emotionally flat.  The judge’s are setting her up to fail.  It is very tough this season and Hollie may be in trouble, but the judges are being unfair.

Phil Phillips chooses “Give A Little More” by Maroon 5.  The head strong Phil Phillips actually took Jimmy Iovine’s advice to start without the band and then build the sonic dynamics and pace throughout the song.  I don’t know if I am just getting used to Phil Phillips but that was just okay for me.  It was fun and interesting, but not great. J-Lo said it was just a little bit underwhelming.  She is right that we have seen this performance before by Phil Phillips.  Randy agrees. Phil Phillips needs to step out a little or his time on American Idol Season 11 will come to an end soon.

Now Hollie Cavanaugh joins Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez to sing Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”. Not so great. A little sloppy and uninspired.

Elise Testone closes the show with Lady GaGa’s “You and I”. The final spot for the second time in three weeks?  I guess when the judges said they would only save one of the bottom two from last week, they meant they would save Elise not DeAndre. She wanted to start the song playing drums?  Thank you Jimmy and Akon for talking her out of that bad idea. I was a little worried at the beginning.  It was a fun little lilting song but then Elise started throwing big runs into the second half of the song.  That was the performance Elise Testone needed.  It was fun, dynamic, breezy and soulful.  Randy declares “Elise is back!” J-Lo says she let go but maintained control.  Stephen says she turned an easy song into a genius performance. That performance says Elise Testone deserves to stay on American Idol Season 11 for a few more weeks.

Well that was a really great night.  I will point out that our top ranked Joshua Ledet was the only one to receive a standing ovation.  I think Phil Phillips delivered the weakest performance of the night but I think Hollie Cavanaugh is a great risk. Join us tomorrow night to find out the results.

 

 

American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings

The rankings are starting to settle in on American Idol Season 11. After a season of tremendous performances, there is a clear talent leader and three others who could win.  The eliminations have been right every week and we are getting to a top 5 with all possible winners.  I think we are coming to a difficult and contentious elimination over the next two weeks as Hollie Cavanaugh, Elise Testone and Jessica Sanchez will all be in danger.

Barring a deserved standing ovation from the judges for a break through performance, I think Hollie Cavanaugh will go home this week.  The only thing that will save Hollie is another weak performance from Elise Testone. If Elise can return to her carefree rocker style of “Whole Lotta Love” I think she can make it into the top five by delivering a surprising elimination of Jessica Sanchez.  Of course, if that happened the judges will use their save at the last minute to save their favorite.

This week American Idol Season 11 will feature the performers singing “Songs of This Decade.”  That means the really creative performers will find songs that will fit on their records.  The others will pick their favorite song or something they have always wanted to sing on a big stage.

 

American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings

1) Joshua Ledet- Every week, every performance, whether it be solo or group, Joshua Ledet has delivered a powerhouse moment. His weakest moment was Billy Joel week and that was only weak in comparison to his other performances. “When a Man Loves a Woman”, “Without You” and last week’s “If You Don’t Know Me Be Now” were all jaw-dropping, tour de force singing exhibitions that caused the judges to leap to their feet. Yes, Joshua Ledet has received three standing ovations form the judges this season.  They have used the adjectives awesome, incredible and spectacular to describe Joshua Ledet. We have been told that Joshua’s music experience is solely from singing in churches and school choirs. When you look at some of the experience of his competitors I am amazed with Joshua’s instinctive ability to deliver the subtle emotions of these secular songs.  We may have a major new talent on our hands when you consider how raw he truly is.  Joshua Ledet is the one to beat on American Idol Season 11.

2) Colton Dixon- On the other end of the spectrum is Colton Dixon who has continually created surprisingly emotional moments on the show while delivering technically superior singing demonstrations of mostly obscure songs. This week is a case in point.  I know that “Time After Time” is anything but obscure.  However, get your head around the Tim Tebow of American Idol singing a Cyndi Lauper melancholly love song, and making you fully believe it. That is what Colton Dixon does.  Anything but raw, Colton Dixon is a fully formed music professional who is ready to go into the studio. Watching this video, can’t you imagine Colton Dixon fronting his atmospheric, alternative rock band at the Grammy’s?  I believe we are headed to another male American Idol winner.

3)Skylar Laine-  She has 100% of the country vote.  She is a seasoned performer with more that a decade of musical theater experience.  She has an electric performing personality.  She has the voice of Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Nettles.  That combination could enable Skylar Laine to pull off the upset.  After she made an early statement with her frantic performance of “Stay With Me”, Skylar has drifted through a series of very good performances of country and pop songs.  She had started to fade into the background until this week when she put on her musical theater shoes and delivered big with a version of “Wind Beneath My Wings” that brought J-Lo to tears.  Amazingly, she twisted that big pop sing into a country song and still delivered.  Listen carefully, there are not many singers around who can pull off the note she did in the last seconds of that performance.  If Skylar can continue making smart song choices that feature her big voice she could sneak into the American Idol Season 11 top 3.

4)Phil Phillips- Amazingly, Phil Phillips delivered a surprisingly lackluster performance this week.  He did not seem emotionally or musically committed to the “Thats All” and seemed distracted by the presence of his brother-in-law on guitar.  We fully expect Phil to return to his highly rhythmic, tonally subtle, manic style this week. He has so much momentum I will be shocked if he does not make it into the American Idol Season 11 top five.

5) Jessica Sanchez- I know I am defying everything the judges have to say about one of the best singers to ever hit American Idol. I do like her as a singer.  However, she seems a little too focused on winning.  It seems that Jessica’s entire life has been directed toward these next few weeks.  I am a little turned off by that and I think, in the end, American Idol voters will be turned off as well.  Jessica could be a shocking elimination in the next few weeks.

6)Elise Testone-  I thought Elise Testone had found her voice and was going to seize upon her momentum. Instead she returned to the long, flowing, old lady dress and a dour performance of “I Want To Know What Love Is.” We want the strong rocker lady who owns the room and will push you out of the way to get what she wants.  Instead we got the sad person who has been knocked down too many times.  Unless rocker Elise makes a big comeback this week she might go home.

7) Hollie Cavanaugh-  The only thing saving Elise is Hollie Cavanaugh who seems to be overwhelmed as the stage has gotten bigger.  We have seen it before on American Idol,  the tremendous singer who needs to stretch a little, gets confused by everyone’s advise and then completely loses their way.  Both Hayle Reinhart and Syesha Mercado were relentlessly flogged by the judges and still found their way into the top 3.  However, Hollie Cavanaugh does not seem to possess the same toughness as those two.  Hollie was not in the bottom two last week and, with a tremendous performance this week, she could stick around for a few more shows.  We think this will be the end for Hollie Cavanaugh.

Join us tonight for our live impressions of tonight’s American Idol Season 11 top 7 performances.