PREVIOUSLY: So Skylar’s fans did NOT revive her and she’s gone. This week the question is, can Hollie stay good enough to keep herself alive?
PHILLIP kicks off the weird “California” premise (songs by people from California or about California or something, whatever) with CCR”S “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” It was good-- Phil always is-- but it did not showcase his gifts. Solid B, but that’s about it.
HOLLIE needs to be superb to stay alive, and her treatment of Journey’s “Faithfully” gives us another glimpse of the phenomenon I call Judge Deafness Syndrome, or The Producers Are Making Them Say Everyone is Good Syndrome. Come on. Run it back on your DVR. This was thoroughly ordinary. But the judges gushed without reservation-- and without basis. They are crazy. Not good. Hollie is in trouble.
Okay, if I’ve come around on JOSHUA and he tackles one of the best Josh Groban records, my expectations are sky high. Well, they were not met on “You Raise Me Up.” It was good, no great flaws, but it didn’t seem to pack the emotion of Groban. Maybe no one could do that. Another solid B.
JESSICA is always going to be one of the best technical singers of any night. But if you had told me she would pick a courageous song and deliver a performance more compelling than anyone else’s, I would have scoffed. But that’s exactly what she did. Best by her so far and best of the first round as she delivered Etta James’ “Steal Away” with a power and authority that is just ridiculous for a 16-year-old. If she keeps this up, the Phil/Joshua final may not be in concrete just yet.
DUET GIMMICK BREAK. Gotta fill two hours somehow. Phil and Josh knock out Maroon 5’s “This Love,” and they were just fine. Better for Josh stylistically-- he should work some more M5 before this thing is done, maybe “Harder to Breathe” or “She Will Be Loved.”
And for the ladies, Jessica and Hollie fight their way through the Bangles’”Eternal Flame.” It was kind of a mess, but the song is so pretty and they are so cute I didn’t really care and it doesn’t really matter.
Oh, Lord, now we have to have all FOUR of them do a song? Jeez, just make the show 90 minutes or something. It didn’t help that it was weak. “Waiting for a Girl Like You” was a total waste of time.
Finally, Round 2. There is a fairly solid Idol rule: Don’t do unfamiliar songs by unfamiliar artists. I mean, who has heard of Ireland’s Damien Rice, or his largely Euro hit “Volcano” from 2003? Only the most remarkable of artists can make that work. Well, that’s what PHILLIP is. This was simply magnificent. Acoustic, quiet, subtle and a total home run.
The improvements continue as HOLLIE does justice to Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” She needs to do more like this-- non-diva ballads that allow her to showcase her vocal power. No Celine or Whitney, but maybe things like Linda Ronstadt’s “Love Has No Pride.” Reverse of last time-- I liked it, judges didn’t.
Now HERE’s the JOSHUA I have come to appreciate. James Brown’s “Man’s Man’s Man’s World” was just perfect for him, and just perfectly delivered by him. The power and passion were beyond anything seen this year, maybe any year. Wow.
JESSICA hoped to keep the goosebumps going with “I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Big challenge. And she met it with room to spare. Another remarkable performance. The two best songs were the second ones by Philip and Joshua, but Jessica actually had the most consistent night.
We’re done with Bottom 3’s even Bottom 2’s. It’s just goodbye time, and she’s been adorable and really great, but HOLLIE is clearly not quite in the same league as her three rivals.