idol-top-7-II.jpgThe Top 7 are back on “American Idol” in the wake of Jessica Sanchez’s save last week. Will it help her? Last year, Casey Abrams went quite a bit farther after his early elimination, but he’s also a guy and we all know how hard it has gotten for the ladies on this show. We shall see.

Tonight each Idol is singing two songs, instead of any duets. Maybe last week they wanted that “Stronger” trio back and realized what a giant mistake that was.

1. Hollie Cavanagh, “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele

For her contemporary song, Hollie is taking on Adele. Hmm. That’s a bold choice right now, but when we close our eyes to just listen, this is actually pretty darn good. She’s on pitch and there’s an emotion behind her singing we haven’t really heard much yet. Hollie finally seemed like not just a robot. And the judges, thankfully, acknowledge that. She hasn’t been perfect every week, but at least they can give her a hat tip on a week where she kills it.

2. Colton Dixon, “Bad Romance,” Lady Gaga

It doesn’t bother us that a guy is singing a girl song. But the arrangement of this particular one is really bothersome. It would’ve been so much more interesting to see him take a not-at-all rock song and do it rock, like when David Cook did “Hello.” This song is so close to rock that instead this arrangement just sounds weird and off. Colton also can’t handle the low stuff. Seriously, we kind of hate this. But it’s like Simon said about Tim Urban – you’re gonna smile, the girls are gonna vote for you and it doesn’t matter, so well done. Seriously, anybody who doesn’t see a Colton/Phillip finale coming may be in for a big surprise.

The judges are complimentary, but – sorry. This was just not it for us.

3. Elise Testone, “No One,” Alicia Keys

First off, Elise looks flippin’ gorgeous tonight. Secondly, this is a great song choice. She does a run in the opening few bars that absolutely make us mushy. She’s so talented – much more so than most of the people left in the competition. The only criticism we have of the performance is that A) the wind machine is a little out of control and B) she needs to stop squatting with her knees pulled together like she has to pee. The ending particularly nice, but this was a very understated performance. It may not have had the fireworks necessary to keep her around.

At least the judges try to help her out by lavishing on the praise. Maybe America will listen.

4. Phillip Phillips, “U Got It Bad,” Usher

We were like Jimmy Iovine – skeptical of the song choice. But Phillip does some really interesting things with it. He isn’t the best singer in the competition, not even close. But he’s quite the musician, you know? This performance doesn’t have us jumping out of our chairs, but it’s very solid. He Phillip Phillips’d it.

As an aside, does anybody see that bleached-blonde saxophone player in her jump suit and her high heels and think of Hatchet Face from “Cry Baby”? Just us?

5. Jessica Sanchez, “Fallin'” Alicia Keys

She opens with some smokin’ hot runs right out of the gate and the song just gets better from there. Serioiusly, she sounds like someone twice her age. It is unreal. She makes it sound so effortless to just jump around in her range, do these runs, make a repetitive song not boring. Absolutely gorgeous.

6. Skylar Laine, “Born This Way,” Lady Gaga

This is a great choice for Skylar. It makes her look very hip while still sticking to lane she’s in as an artist. The violin player needs to stop making creepy faces at her and following her around like they’re leading the rats out of Hamlin or something. Anyway. We do wonder what Skylar’s fanbase thinks of this song. But Skylar killed it, for the third week in a row. She is definitely the girl who has a shot to make the finals, though we aren’t sure she can.

7. Joshua Ledet, “I Believe,” Fantasia

This is a lovely choice for Josh. You know, he sings in his lower register on the verses and it’s SO beautiful – it makes us wish he would do more of that without the shrieky stuff. Because that is not always necessary nor does it always sound the best. Thankfully, on this song he is downright restrained on the chorus and it really works. We much prefer restrained Joshua to insane, screechy Joshua.

It’s nice to hear the judges also compliment his restraint. Thank you guys for validating that in him and not just encouraging him to blow his top every week.

8. Hollie Cavanagh, “Son of a Preacher Man,” Dusty Springfield

Hollie gets a shout-out from the Liverpool Football Club and she about loses it. So cute. Anyway, this song is a great choice for her. The bridge is particularly good, the way she builds and then blasts out the last chorus. Not quite as good as round one, but she didn’t come out and fall apart on the second song, so that’s good.

Randy and J.Lo actually liked this one better than the first one. We wouldn’t go that far, but Hollie is definitely scratching and clawing her way back into the competition.

9. Colton Dixon, “September,” Earth, Wind and Fire

OK. Hmph. When he first started, we were really irritated by the arrangement of this song because the original is so great. So we made ourselves pause it and regroup and start it over. And you know what, this actually works. It was just such a disconnect at first. But this is exactly the kind of artist Colton wants to be, the piano is nice and his vocals are very good. So – well done. Sorry we were so quick to judge.

Steven Tyler didn’t love it – he thinks Colton has a more powerful voice than that song. And J.Lo seems to agree. Hmm. Maybe we weren’t so crazy not loving the arrangement. But we actually think it worked itself out.

10. Elise Testone, “Let’s Get It On,” Marvin Gaye

Oooh, we like this song choice. Way to just go balls to the wall. And like our girl crush on Elise needs any more fuel. She has such a cool cat, crunchy hippie vibe, it really works – with the sax player with the dreads and the white couch. We don’t think this song wins her any favors with most of the voting public, but we are enjoying this quite a bit.

J.Lo says she wants to see more emotion from Elise, but on a super sexy song, she can’t get so sexy that she’s being skanky. That’s not the right vibe and that’s not what Elise does. Randy doesn’t like the song choice, but we disagree. We liked that she went outside the box and tried something risky.

Did the judges just doom Elise with their comments?

11. Phillip Phillips, “In the Midnight Hour,” Wilson Pickett

The backdrop is very cool for this one, but we don’t love the song for him. This is kind of a boring song. Wilson Pickett got away with doing kind of boring songs because he was so dynamic and had so much soul, and Phillip is dynamic, but not in the same way. It’s like how you can love and appreciate Dave Matthews and James Brown, but they are very different singers, you know? That’s what this is. And this isn’t working for us. It’s very repetitive, boring and not showing off Phillips’ musicianship, which is his strength because he’s not that great of a vocalist.

Of course, he’s super cute and the girls are clearly ready to storm the stage every time he performs, so he’s not in danger or anything.

12. Jessica Sanchez, “Try a Little Tenderness,” Otis Redding

Interesting choice. Young girls, they do get woolly. Anyway. If anyone in this group has soul (besides Josh), it’s Jessica. She’s singing the hell out of this song. It’s like she’s so
bound and determined not to be in the bottom that she has unleashed a heretofore unseen aspect of her personality and it’s awesome. That was killer and that is not an easy song.

J.Lo says we got to see BB Chez this week, Jessica’s alter ego. Yes! She has talked a good game about having an alter ego, but we haven’t seen it before this week.

13. Skylar Laine, “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” Marvin Gaye

That violin player is stalking her again. Run, Skylar! Run away from creepy violinist! Anyway, this is a bit of a trainwreck for us. This is not the song for a country-fication. And Skylar seems a little lost at times. The melody line disappears, she’s back to shouting and stomping a lot. Hmm. We think this is Skylar from three weeks ago, before “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Not our favorite.

Of course, she’s not in trouble at all because of the female country fanbase, but that was pretty rough for us.

14. Joshua Ledet, “A Change is Gonna Come,” Sam Cooke

Ooh, we were hoping he’d do this one. We just closed our eyes and listened. That was fantastic and we have nothing else to say. Joshua absolutely slayed both his songs tonight.

You know, it’s a shame they didn’t do Soul Train first, contemporary songs second. Because the first half of the show was much stronger than the second half for most people. For us, Elise, Colton and Skylar were the weakest. We can’t really pick who should go, because based off tonight, it should probably be Elise. But we think she’s a better singer than both Colton and Skylar and we don’t want her to leave.

Unfortunately, if we were betting, we’d bet on Elise to go home. What say you, “Idol” fans?

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."