This week, the top 7 American Idol finalists could sing any tune from 2010, 2011, or 2012 -- a stunning musical era which contained, as Randy Jackson put it, "current, for the most part relevant songs." Inspiring as usual, Dawg!
So instead of dutifully pretending to know who Billy Joel was, the contestants got a chance to belt out whatever they'd been screaming out of their cars mere months before they'd suddenly woken up in la-la-land in a maaaaaaansion and realized they'd become the few, the proud, the private dancers of Jimmy Iovine.
It was great to see and hear more conviction from our tiny teens and Elise, and in an effort to join the celebration of nearly complete relevance, Ryan Seacrest's hair had willed itself into a bigger Bruno Marsian pouf than ever. Randy had another flower pin, J. Lo's dress was made of duct tape, and Steven Tyler showed up in his finest python-print bathrobe. Pretty much a banner night for everyone. Here we go....
Skylar Laine kicked off the show with Kellie Pickler's "Didn't Know How Much I Loved You," and much like Jessica this week, Skylar was completely in her element singing one of her current favorite songs. Her confidence and professionalism just floor me every time. I love the conviction she has in every last verbal tweak, and I love that she got to bring out her grand-paw's guitar.
The judges noticed Skylar's pitch perfection and said this was the perfect way to start the show. I think it would have been a great way to end it. Skylar's voice is so good, guest mentor Akon used a bad word to describe it. And Steven -- who had a rather enthusiastic, verbose night, by the way -- characterized the appeal of Skylar perfectly: "When you sing a song, it's a complete sentence." Then he threw in an extra complete sentence of female-contestant appreciation: "The crows may crow, but it's the hens that deliver the goods."
I just spent a little time Google-image-searching "hens" because I think it's such a funny word, and hens are beautiful, just beautiful. Check out this hen! Colton wishes his hair looked that good. And I think that hen might be wearing Jessica Sanchez's dress.
According to Jimmy Iovine, the real competition -- the one for the young female vote -- is between Phillip Phillips and Colton Dixon, who slowed things down and went soft and subtle on the piano for "Love the Way You Lie" by Skylar Grey. I liked him this week! I usually fall under the Colton-Dixon Line in terms of understanding the hype about him, but this moody performance that seemingly took place on a cloud drew me in.
I'm a sucker for a string section, is what's really going on here. Every single time. But I much preferred this seated, head-tilty effort to Colton's usual jog-around-the-stage Jump for Jesus workout videos. I'm glad he went with the big pause between the bridge and the last chorus -- it was like a quiet collective sigh among Colton and the orchestra. Very pretty.
And as Akon reminded Colton, "There's things about you that you haven't even discovered yet."
Esteemed Colleague Email Interlude:
You're not alone. Not by a long shot. But I just assume everyone's gay at this point. It seems easier, better.
"Colton still hasn't found his top yet." --Steven Tyler
NEXT: Phillip's just somebody Elise used to know