With the theme of “California Dreamin'” the final four of American Idol Season 11 set out for a two hour blow out of incredible performance of incredible performance leading up to one of them being blown away tonight. The finalists delivered three songs; one song about California or by an artist from California, one song the finalist wish they had written, and one group performance. In the end, Sanchez nailed three out of three of her performances while the guys nailed two out of the three, leaving Hollie Cavanagh with only one shining moment during the night. Could she be the one leaving us this week?
Hollie Cavanagh was quite a hot mess when she auditioned for season 10 but everything has its time and place, so it has been great to see her journey, how far she has come since then. Cavanagh really needed that year to find herself and gain some confidence and isn’t she grateful now that everything played out the way that it did? Oh how far she has come since first being defeated in season 10. This week, Cavanagh’s best performance came when she took on Journey. Give her a Journey song on any given day and she could give any other competitor a run for their money. But her second number was emotionless, as usual and brought us back to the typical Hollie Cavanagh that we see ever week. While a fantastic technical singer, her stage presence weak and aside from Sanchez, this factor will prevent her from taking the win. Applause can be given for her growth thus far but she still really needs a lot more growing as a performer – she needs to get the boot to get more experience rather than be thrust into it by winning. Winning won’t help her grow the way that being eliminated will. So Cavanagh for elimination tonight, what do you think?
Also fighting for the title…Phil Phillips’s performance of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” was completely forgettable but his second number was beautiful. As judge, Steven Tyler pointed out, his second performance was something we could play and hear in our headphones on repeat all day long. Damien Rice’s “Volcano was easily one of the best performances from Phil Phillips this season. Job well done. This performance alone was worth the unnecessary two hour broadcast. If Phil Phillips does not make it into the final three, there are going to be a an awful lot of disappointed viewers.
Then there’s Joshua Ledet. He drew the short straw this week getting “You Raise Me Up” which was wildly boring because Chris Mann’s rendition on The Voice not too long ago was fantastic. Good attempt Ledet but there’s only one room for the reigning vocalist across all music competition series when the same song is performed. He had much better luck singing the song that he wished he wrote, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” Does anyone else always envision Dianna Agron singing this song on Glee every time this number comes on (whether on television, the radio, etc…)? If you answered yes, the distraction was not too bad because one thing Ledet knows how to do is captivate his audience. If there were any time to give Ledet a standing ovation, this would be an appropriate time.
Ledet and Phillips also took on Maroon 5’s “This Love” giving yet another tie to The Voice. Hmm. A “who did it better?” number I can understand but promoting the artist who is a coach on another (current) music competition series? What is going on? As for the actual performance, Phillips seemed to be pushing too much and Ledet actually looked more comfortable in the song which may have been surprising given the genre. Ledet may have finally proven that he can cross genres well without the choir-y feel. Plainly put, even with Phillips trying too hard, this was truly a great performance. The contrast in these two voices was really pleasant to hear on this song. Fabulous song choice! Whoever chose and arranged this song this week is brilliant.
The girls, Cavanagh and 16 year old Jessica Sanchez also performed a duet, one which Sanchez dominated shortly after she slayed an Etta James number. The swings during her performance were a big distraction as well as, as judge, Randy Jackson mentioned, the lack of balancing registers. The girls did reverse registers near the end but by then it may have been too little, too late. Cavanagh got that one “wow” note at the end, but what else did she really get out of the song? It was the Jessica Sanchez Show between the two of them. And then she got on stage again and slayed “And I Am Telling You.” Being heavily influenced from performances of this song that we have seen before and so familiar with, she still sang the song. I couldn’t imitate on that song if I tried my hardest. Props where props are due because even imitating the best version of this song is a challenge and 16 year old Sanchez rose to the challenge.
Other tidbits of the night include the yawn worthy group performance the final four gave and host, Ryan Seacrest having on screen proposal fun with his girlfriend, Julianne Hough. That was a cute moment. Hough is starring in the upcoming musical turned big screen Hollywood movie musical, Rock of Ages. Director, Adam Shankman gave the final four and viewers a look at the film. While a fan and supporter of both Shankman and Hough, I cannot get behind the Rock of Ages film. The musical is bananas and a must see but it’s not something that should have been translated to film. The film looks too much like a bad joke. The film does not seem to grasp what’s so fun and charming about the musical so if you’re able to see the Broadway musical, do yourself a favor and catch the show rather than the film. Back to Idol, stay tuned tonight for Jennifer Lopez who will perform her new song “Dance Again” and season seven American Idol winner, David Cook who is set to perform “The Last Song I’ll Write For You.”
Watch American Idol Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.
*Photo Credit: Michael Becker / FOX