The stage was on fire as the Top 5 contestants from American Idol performed twice over, first with a round of songs from the 60′s and then again with British pop hits. On the whole, the contestants seemed to understand what was at risk on this fine evening of vocal battle, with the most disappointing moment of the night given by Ryan Seacrest and introduction of Phillip Phillip’s girlfriend — you could just hear a million phone lines go dead on this important eve of voting. In stark contrast to the reasonably good but still somewhat underwhelming performances given by long time fan favorites Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips, the three contestants on the lower end of fan count gave us some simply stellar performances, as if to sing for their lives, which was exactly what they were doing.
Idol fans, read on for a recap and our take on performances from the Top 5, or just skip to the end for our speculation on this evening’s results show. Our predictions are based on a proprietary cocktail of social media analysis and performance ratings, as generated from the ZabaSearch Prediction Engine. Please keep in mind, the ZabaScores given below provide a relative ranking of the likelihood that a particular constant will be going home in the upcoming elimination. The contestants with the lowest ZScores are in the most danger of going home.
The evening began on a spectacularly high note with Hollie Cavanagh’s rendition of the 60′s song, River Deep Mountain High by Ike and Tina Turner. Although Hollie appeared to have some trouble in rehearsals, that all seemed to disappear during her final performance. Enter stage left, a new Hollie who is undoubtedly making us think twice about her Idol future.
And as if one surprisingly good performance was not enough, the new Hollie returned for a second round, this time even more impressive, with the British pop hit Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis, a former Simon Cowell discovery. Randy summed up her performances succinctly, telling her that she’s peaking at the right time. “You’ve been a dark horse all season, but I’m telling you something. You’re two for two tonight.” We agree with Randy, Hollie is in the zone. However, she has never been wildly popular with fans and despite the recent trending up that she’s shown in our data, we still think that it’s just too little, too late for Hollie
Our Call: DANGER ZabaScore: 7.9
Next up came Phillip Phillips with The Letter by The Box Tops, which he later followed in the show with Time of the Season by The Zombies. Despite Phillip’s long-time popularity with fans, both performances this evening seemed (in frequent the words of Randy) “just ok” for us. Neither performance was bad, per se, but both left much to be desired, and at this critical point in the competition, performances need to be amazing. We found ourselves more amused with watching Phillip than listening to him, and the more our minds wandered from the song at hand, we began to wonder what ever was the appeal of Phillip anyway? Of course, we have to believe that if we were left pondering such thoughts, America must be too. In the beginning, it seemed that with Phillip’s stellar level of popularity, he would be a shoe-in for the final rounds, but now that he has us second guessing, we are worried for Phillip. In addition, Ryan Seacrest’s introduction of Phillip’s girlfriend did not help his situation either on this most important night. In fact, because Phillip’s voting base appears to be a nation-sized gaggle of teen girls, Phillip may have just received a death sentence for tonight’s elimination, courtesy of Ryan Seacrest.
Our Call: DANGER ZabaScore: 3.5
As the judges accurately pointed out, Skylar Laine turned into a wildcat ball of fire on Wednesday night. Her energetic “boot scoot” performance of Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival could be contagious in mobilizing her fan base to move into action. Later in the show, Skylar pleased the crowd and the judges once again with You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Dusty Springfield, and Steven tells her that it’s “just more proof that it works when you work it.” All in all, Skylar Laine has shown her growth over the season, and that regardless of how Idol plays out, she has a vocal career to look forward to. Is it enough to make her the next American Idol? We’re not betting on it, but never say never.
Our Call: DANGER ZabaScore: 8.3
America’s 16-year old sweetheart Jessica Sanchez takes an ambitious bite out of Tina Turner’s Proud Mary, and though the coaches tried to talk her out of taking on this iconic song, she proceeds and is met with lukewarm feedback from the judges. Both Steven and Jennifer are pleased with her performance. “You were a little Tina, a little Beyonce,” quips Jennifer. However, Randy is not quite as positive about her performance, telling her that it was just “barely ok” for him. The judges like her voice, but apparently her choice of song torpedoes her in the end. Though she’s been aggressive with song choice in the past with selections from Whitney Houston and such, it just doesn’t work for her in the eyes of the judges this time around.
However, Jessica redeems herself later in the show with a powerfully sweet rendition of Joe Cocker’s You Are So Beautiful. With a voice that is so juxtaposed to Joe Cocker’s raspy croon, Jessica sleighs the song and Randy tells her, “Round two, this girl is the top of the leader board right now, dude.” That is, until…
Our call: WILDCARD (due to late trending patterns) ZabaScore: 13.2
…Joshua Ledet takes the stage. The first song Joshua sings is Ain’t Too Proud to beg by the Temptations. As one would expect, Joshua excels at 60′s music and we are not disappointed. He looks and sounds the part in his stripe-sleeved suit, complete with backup singers from the past. Jennifer says what we have been saying all along, that he is a “throwback to another era,” and Randy surmises that Joshua could actually bring R&B back into the “musical landscape in America.”
If that’s not enough, Joshua ends the show with a performance of To Love Somebody by the Bee Gees, and this elicits the only standing ovation of the evening. What’s more impressive, in the rehearsal video, we learn that Joshua had never heard the song before, but after a short study period of only 15 minutes, he gives coaches Jimmy Iovine and Steven Van Zandt a performance that clearly rocks their world. The praise only gets more incredible after his actual performance — Jennifer says he’s one of the best singers she’s seen in fifty years, and Randy affirms, telling Joshua that he is one of the best singers on the show — ever.
Without a doubt, Joshua is one of the most talented singers this season, but because his old school style is so reminiscent of ages past, we still find it difficult to believe that he will take the title in a contest that relies on audience appeal to make the final decision. But then again, in recent weeks, Joshua has been trending up in the statistics and stranger things have happened. If a truly gifted singer wins this season of American Idol, so be it!
Our Call: SAFE ZabaScore: 12.7
The Bottom Three
The Wild Card
Who’s Going Home