Ding! Ding! Ding! The bell has rung and the Top 6 contestants from American Idol found themselves once again squarely on America’s battle arena of song, as Wednesday night brought two rounds of performances — the first, songs from the iconic rock group Queen, and the second, songs of each contestant’s choice. As expected, competition was fierce as at this point and clearly, after last week’s unforeseen elimination, America is becoming more unpredictable in its voting patterns.
Read on for a summary and our take on the Top 6 performances from last night, as well as the results from the ZabaSearch Prediction Engine. Please keep in mind that the ZScores given below provide a relative ranking of each contestant’s probability of staying in the competition for this current week. The contestants with the lowest ZScores are in the most danger of going home.
On Jessica’s second performance however, the judges were far less stingy with their praise. After dedicating Dance with My Father by Luther Vandross to her own father who has been serving in the military overseas, Jessica’s emotion really came through. Visibly moved by the performance, a teary-eyed Jennifer admitted, “The tenderness, the feeling, your vocal ability…it was the most beautiful I’ve ever heard it.”
Our call: SAFE ZabaScore: 15.5
Pure country gal Skylar Laine takes the stage next with The Show Must Go On by Queen. Though we anticipated nothing short of pure disaster as even the idea of “country” + Queen makes us desperately want to leave the room, we stayed and we watched in eager anticipation of the horror that lies ahead. However, we were surprised and Skylar somehow pulls it off. This time, we agree with Randy — it did seem to be an “effortless” performance by Skylar, but at the same time, we felt that same complacency about her performance — that is, it didn’t inspire us to feel anything about her performance at all, neither good nor bad. Of course, when the song ends, all three judges gush on and on about her performance, and we just don’t get it. It wasn’t bad mind you. In fact, as we mentioned, it was much better than one would expect from a country girl doing Queen, but we just didn’t think it was good as the judges thought it was. Hmmm, maybe they expected even worse than what we were, and instead were pleasantly surprised.
For song of her choice, Skylar choose a good ol’ fashioned country tune, Tattoos on this Town by Jason Aldean, and the judges loved it. Steven quipped, “You can do no wrong. I’m a big fan of yours.” Skylar’s down home charm has clearly won the judges over.
Our call: SAFE ZabaScore: 10.9
Next up, Joshua Ledet gives us a Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen, and in round two, he delivers Ready for Love by Indie.Arie. On the empirical scale of pure talent, in recent weeks, Joshua has clearly shown has that he has talent. In fact, we argue that Joshua just may be one of the most talented singers of the season, but we all know that winning American Idol is not just about singing talent alone. It’s about the whole package, including looks, style and merchantability, and while Joshua has the voice and the looks, we just aren’t sure that his particular style is what today’s audience will go for. However, we still think there’s some low hanging fruit on the tree to be knocked off before Joshua’s time to go arrives, especially since he’s one of only two males left in the competition.
Our call: SAFE ZabaScore: 7.2
At nearly 30 years old, the senior citizen of the bunch, Elise Testone take center stage next with Queen’s I Want it All. With her unique, almost Adele-like voice, she delivers the song with a style and grace that for a second makes us think, yes, this girl can have it all, that is, if American would have the guts to vote for her.
The judges love her performance. Steven gushes, “Elise, you found your stride, you see that’s what we’ve been waiting for you to do,” while Jennifer says, “To me, that was you in your element. I t was natural, it was sexy, it was you.” However, we know that despite her obvious talent, she just has not resonated with America.
Case in point, Elise’s second performance of the evening was Bold as Love by Jimi Hendrix, and while she did deliver another set of quality vocals, even the judges’ comments were reflective of the fact that she’s simply not identifying with the audience. Randy tells her, “I’m a huge Hendrix fan, I’m a huge Elise fan. For me, I didn’t feel like it was the right song for this point in the competition…I did not love that.” Steven agrees, “I love the Janis Joplin about you, always have…but you gotta remember, you gotta do songs that everybody knows.” Listen up, Elise — the judges are right. If the audience can’t relate to you, we will not vote for you, and we care to bet that a large portion of the current American Idol voting audience demographic does not even know who Jimi Hendrix is (let alone Janis Joplin).
Our call: DANGER ZabaScore: 4.3
So the Phillip Phillips thing continues to baffle us. He hits the stage and girls scream and faint. Heck, apparently even Ryan Seacrest’s girlfriend, Julianna Hough finds him “yummy,” but we simply don’t understand why because he’s exactly like every single other guy out there. He is basic, he is simple, he’s clean. Stylist or not, he wears the clothing we wear and he just simply is. Perhaps that’s the appeal of Phillip — he represents the fact that anybody (including you or I, or that guy, or that guy over there, or that guy over there) can be the next American Idol. He is CinderPhilla.
That being the case, Phillip’s first song, Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen is the same consistent type of song and performance that we’ve come to expect from Phil week after week after week. In fact, we still can’t distinguish his performances from week to week, and in fact our reviews of his performances are also all the same. But the good news for fans of Phil is that if you like the way he sings, buy his CD’s because you’re going to get 13 tracks of the exact same thing.
Oh, wait a minute…that was true, until, left to his own devices in choice of song, Phillip came out and gave us The Stone by Dave Matthews, and for the first time, we thought, “Fail.” However, this was the first performance of his that we could distinguish from the others, though in a not-so-good sort of way. Even the judges are surprised. Jennifer says, “It was a pretty song, it was just a little askew, a little too artsy,” while the other two judges give ambiguous comments just short of complimenting his style of dress, which they usually do when they have nothing good to say about a performance. “What I really appreciate is die, sing or swim you will always be Phillip Phillips,” says Randy, while Steven says, “Very entertaining, very off the wall, very Phillip Phillips.” In Phillip’s case, they probably couldn’t bring themselves to compliment his fashion sense, so they both call him very “Phillip Phillips,” whatever that is supposed to mean.
Our Call: WILDCARD ZabaScore: 8.3
Then, the last of the Top 6 contestants takes the stage with a song from Queen, Save Me. After spending several weeks in the danger zone (though recently enjoying some trending up), we wonder if this song is a subconscious plea to American for help from Hollie Cavanagh. Of course, after listening to the judges’ lukewarm comments, we wonder if they are all just out to verbally euthanize her with the usual type of ambiguous comments like Jennifer’s “I just want to see you enjoy it more.”
However, Hollie does not go down with out a fight and when left to her own choice, she makes the smartest move of the evening and chooses a song that is sure to resonate with the voting portion of the audience, The Climb by teen idol Miley Cyrus. Even the judges love her performance, and we think the voting teen girls will too. Randy gushes, “Now that’s the Hollie Cavangh that we love! That’s the one! Hollie is back!” Is she? We’ll just have to wait and see if the last performance of the evening was enough to save her from the pending doom that surely lies ahead.
Our Call: DANGER ZabaScore: 4.5
The Bottom Three
The Wild Card
Who’s Going Home
Too close to call: Elise Testone** or Hollie Cavanagh
** However, the hard call for probable elimination goes to Elise Testone due to overnight trending patterns.