'American Idol' Recap: What, a Feeling? - Rolling Stone
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‘American Idol’ Recap: What, a Feeling?

Top eight tackle the Eighties

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Elise Testone and Phillip Phillips perform in front of the Judges.

Michael Becker / FOX

It’s Eighties night! That means not only will the Top Eight perform hits from the decade, but also that Heejun Han‘s farewell video montage will be shown with a Mr. Mister score and we get to see an embarrassing photo of Randy Jackson in full Eighties regalia.

Jimmy Iovine brought No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal to help mentor the contestants. I have no quibble with Gwen or Tony, but if I must, they were Nineties, right? But who cares! Gwen and Tony should be on this show forever.

Deandre Brackensick is singing DeBarge because who else could he choose to show off his falsetto so spectacularly, except maybe Tiffany? The judges enjoy watching him bop around the stage, swinging his hair and singing “I Like It.”

Gwen Stefani schools Tony that on Idol, goosebumps are called “goosies.” They both got them listening to Elise Testone singing Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Then Gwen declares that Elise is her favorite singer in the competition, which sadly won’t help her when she’s not hitting many of the notes and just generally trying too hard. Steven Tyler didn’t like her song choice and Randy thought it was pitchy, but Jennnifer Lopez thinks she looks pretty, so there’s that.

Someone thinks it’s going to be a good laugh to put Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine together to sing “Islands in the Stream.” While it’s hard to work Skylar’s twang into a duet, it’s not nearly as challenging as working around Colton’s ego. Colton refuses to make eye contact with her while they sing, which doesn’t stop Ryan Seacrest from pretending that they have massive chemistry and forcing them to publicly renounce all rumors that they are dating.

Photos: ‘American Idol’ Season 11

Phillip Phillips is covering my least favorite Genesis song, “That’s All,” but I won’t hold it against him, unless he asks me too. Ba-dum-dum. Ew, wait, no, he’s 12. Don’t arrest me! No Doubt gives him some tips about remembering to connect with the audience and not just with his brother-in-law, who he invites on stage to jam with him. Steven Tyler calls him a wildflower, which in this instance means growling throughout yet another performance, but somehow still being absolutely charming.

Since the Idol producers are determined to make eight performances stretch into two hours, not only do we get behind-the-music snapshots of the contestants relaying what they miss most about life on the outside (Family! Dogs! A sense of normalcy!), but we also get four duets. This time we are treated to a Pointer Sisters song by Deandre and Hollie Cavanagh, who sing “I’m So Excited.” I don’t know why the judges are offering critiques of these performances, because I thought they were just for fun. Regardless, they are offering up their criticism, and they thought this one was great. They like this fun, carefree Hollie and hope she can loosen up in her actual performances, too.

Despite the fact that the judges have specifically told Joshua Ledet to try and step out of his gospel comfort zone, they love-love-love his gospel choir rendition of Simply Red’s “If You Don’t Know Me.” They are on their feet and clapping wildly at the end of the song. As Steven Tyler says, “It wasn’t too much over the top, and it was way over the top. So it was just perfect.” Helpful as always, Steven!

Gwen Stefani straight-up tells Jessica Sanchez, “Your voice is ridiculous,” but in a good way. However, she notes that J.San’s dance moves are not original. So Jessica does the only sane thing a girl can do and has her alter ego, BB Chez, take this performance. After all, BB Chez wants to party all night and knows how to bust a move. Can we start a Kickstarter to get Jessica to a psychiatrist before she goes all Sybill on us?

At the end of her performance of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know?” the judges almost stand up, but don’t want to get into the ridiculous up-down-up-down performance art they did last week, so they tell Jessica she is great from their seats.

Elise and Phillip sing a Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks duet in front of a giant fan and some guys sitting on crates, which creates a nice dockworker break-time feel. Phil-Phil sure has a hard time not twitching while he performs, which Randy kindly calls “feeling his jacket.” You know there is some producer whose lone task is to try and make Phil-Phil less of a twitcher. Let’s buy her a drink, eh?

Amid some technical difficulties, Hollie prepares to sing Irene Cara’s “Flashdance . . . What a Feeling,” a song that Jimmy Iovine deemed the corniest song in the world (a.k.a. perfect for Joshua!), admitting that he passed on the soundtrack. Hollie sings it like she always does: like a pint-sized, half-British Celine Dion. She loosens up only when the keytar starts chasing her around the stage. If you ever wanted an example of a singer not connecting with their song, this would be it. Hollie has no idea “what a feeling” is. The judges didn’t like the performance either and Randy begs her to stop thinking so much, because she actually has a great voice. 

Joshua and Jessica come out to sing Aretha Franklin and George Michael’s “I Knew You Were Waiting.” It’s a solid and rousing rendition that leaves the judges gasping for breath.

Colton is missing the busy season in his family’s face spray painting (yes, that’s a thing) business, which he feels guilty about, but he gets to hang out and sing harmonies with Gwen Stefani, so he’ll just have to pray to Jesus for forgiveness. He is singing Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time,” which strangely works for him as an almost up-tempo rock song, which he admits to swiping from some band most of us have never heard of (Quietride?). The judges love it and think Colton is ready to record. Then Steven Tyler gives a shout-out to the drummer, but not the guitarist, which seems rude.

Finally we have Skylar, who went through the entire mentoring process thinking Gwen Stefani was some Eighties-era idol named Shalamar. Awkward! For some reason everyone thinks Skylar should sing “The Wind Beneath My Wings” instead of “9 to 5,” which is crazy talk. She performs Bette Midler style, in a fuschia dress with spotlights and an eagle hologram flying past her. J.Lo is in tears. She points at her eyes so we will notice. Guessing that Skylar won’t be in the bottom three this week. In fact, can we have Hollie be the only person in the bottom?

Come back tomorrow to find out which of these final contestants gets sent home. (*cough* Hollie *cough*)

Last episode: Eight Is Enough

In This Article: American Idol


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