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Published on April 12th, 2012 | by Melody Simpson


‘American Idol’ Season 11 Review: Top 7 Tackle Today’s Hits

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This week on American Idol, the top seven contestants took on songs from 2010 and on…finally songs from the present day across the board. Akon joined Jimmy Iovine to mentor the finalists who all delivered excellent vocals though some still lacked something in their performance. Because of this lack, this live performance show as a whole was not as enthralling as others. Sanchez and two others may have made up for this but it is getting down to the wire and the contestants can’t save all of the bells and whistles for finale night. They won’t get there without it as it’s not just about the vocals. With the usual standouts that there were this week, we can all easily guess who’s going home tonight… or can we?

Cameras visited the hometowns of all of the contestants this week which was a fun look inside each finalists’ home environment. Visits were paid everywhere from San Diego, all over the south (including, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee) to the East Coast in South Carolina and Georgia. If one person from the East Coast does find the end of their Idol journey tonight and if our American Idol this year is not for some reason from San Diego, the South will have another Idol victory on their hands… and not necessarily a country one. However it turns out, it will be a well deserved victory. Everyone at this stage is so talented and votes count more than ever. Who are you rooting for?

Skylar Laine helped open the show with a beautiful Kellie Pickler number, playing the guitar as well and showing us that she is also quite a talented musician. Though as Iovine mentioned, there is concern here regarding her choice to take on a song that many were not familiar with. She put a lot of pressure on herself to kill it this week and did not quite get to that point but she did deliver a great performance. Hopefully the lyrics to this song and her performance resonated enough with viewers to keep her here. Although it would not be surprising, based on how the cookie has crumbled in the past and the fact that she did not have a killer performance last night, to see Laine in the bottom three tonight. She should certainly be safe another week but the bottom three might welcome her back and that’s okay so long as she is safe.

16 year old Jessica Sanchez was the killer of the night. She took on Jazmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering” and completely owned the song, the stage, our hearts. Sanchez was magnificent. Her performance was perfect. Randy Jackson even said, “You slayed the biggest fish of the night…” and yet there was no standing ovation from any of the judges. Hmm. That was disappointing. The judges give standing ovations so very easily, so one was expected here and yet nothing. Someone else did get a standing ovation last night and while it was deserved, the performance was nowhere near as magnificent as what Sanchez delivered. She was on a different level than anyone. She is the American Idol this year, official title or not.

Hollie Cavanagh’s vocals in Pink’s “Perfect” were fantastic but I’ve finally pinpointed what it is about her that throws me off. Her lack of emotion and stage presence take me out of enjoying the song and her performance as much as I want to. That said, this was actually one of my favorite performances from Cavanagh all season long. Based on what’s been said around the web, others were not as big of a fan of this performance so Cavanagh might find herself in the bottom three tonight with Laine. If it’s Laine vs. Cavanagh, the one to go should be Cavanagh. She has potential but has proven time and time again that she can’t deliver the goods like Sanchez, Laine, and Testone. Cavanagh should definitely be eliminated before Testone. It is time to admit that Cavanagh needs more experience before taking on the responsibility that the winner will take on. As for 28 year old Elise Testone, she received a video message from Hollywood actor, Jason Segel (The Five Year Engagement) before taking on Lady Gaga’s “You And I.” Along with Sanchez, Testone delivered one of the best performances of the night. She definitely does not deserves to be in the bottom three tonight… but she never actually deserved to be in the bottom three ever. So, we’ll see what happens before getting too excited that Testone actually has a chance at getting into the final five.

As for the boys, Colton Dixon gave a good performance of “Love the Way You Lie” but as a major Dixon supporter, I will be the first to admit that this performance did not exactly knock anyone’s socks off. He should be safe tonight but it would not be surprising if he actually found himself in the bottom three, safe, but there nonetheless. Phil Phillips taking on a Maroon 5 number sounds like a brilliant idea but the execution just was not as impressive as what you’d think. It was actually very boring, or “underwhelming” as judge, Jennifer Lopez put it. What a shock it was to hear Lopez give a criticism. It seems this is the first criticism from Lopez in weeks! Fellow judge, Randy Jackson agreed with Lopez’s comments, as anyone should have. Based on his performance, Phillips definitely deserves to be in the final three but his fan base is very supporter so this is a tricky one to predict. We’ll find out just how supportive they are in a few hours when the results are read.

Testone was not the only contestant to get a message from a celebrity. Joshua Ledet received a Happy Birthday video message from Season 3 American Idol winner, Fantasia Barrino prior to his first Idol performance as a 20 year old. He took on “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars which was one of the best song choices for him all season long. What a wonderful performance! Ledet was definitely the fan favorite this week among the guys. He should have stopped there though because his performance with best buddy, Cavangah and Sanchez of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” was lackluster. Please, no one show Clarkson this performance. It was that bad. Phillips and Testone performed a duet as well and that was better but it was Laine and Dixon’s duet of Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay” that was the best group performance of the night. Laine shined! If she makes it to the finals or top five, please Idol, give her a country star to duet with. She deserves it! Laine, Sanchez, Ledet are guaranteed final five, no? That leaves Dixon, Testone, and Phillips should fight it out for the other two spots. Who are you hoping makes it this week and next, leading us into the final five?

Tonight, Academy Award and Grammy Award winner Jennifer Hudson along with Ne-Yo and Rick Ross perform their new single, “Think Like a Man,” and American Idol Season 10 finalist James Durbin performs his new song, “Higher Than Heaven.”

Watch American Idol Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.

*Photo Credit: Michael Becker / FOX

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