This week, the contestants are getting styling advice from Tommy Hilfiger (COUGH Ali G COUGH COUGH), and vocal advice from Diddy (Puff Daddy), the rapper who famously can’t even rap, let alone dance or sing. At least it gave me something else to talk about.
1. Deandre Brackensick – Only The Good Die Young.
A strange song choice for someone with Deandre’s voice, one of the ballads would have been a better fit. This was yet another phoned-in performance from Deandre, with the addition of some cringe-inducing dad dancing (think Don “No Soul” Simmons, or Carlton Banks). His vocals were decent, but unremarkable. He’s rapidly moving from an early favourite to a bit of a bore.
2. Erika Van Pelt – New York State Of Mind.
On Tommy’s advice, Erika chops off her hair and I have to say I’m undecided. Yes, it looks classy and definitely suited the song, but it has taken away some her edge. Next week will be the proof either way, I guess. The performance was a little bit boring, but her vocals were phenomenal. And a big HELL NO to Randy for castigating her decision to avoid those hideous “runs” at the end. I’m totally with Erika on that- less is definitely more (and none is better).
3. Joshua Ledet – She’s Got A Way.
It started beautifully, his voice having that velvety smooth Luther vibe. Then the choir kicked in, he got a bit carried away with his “oh yeah”s… but then restrained himself and kept the ad libs relatively in check. He definitely avoided last week’s trainwreck.
4. Skylar Grey – Shameless.
I’m not familiar with this song, but I’m assuming she gave it her country twist, as I was hoping last week. The rather cheesy choreography didn’t help, especially the walk-and-sing and arm-around-the-pianist moments. Overall, there was pretty much no impact but I liked what she did vocally, and disagree with the judges over her lower register, it sounded fine. Which is increasingly rare.
5. Elise Testone – Vienna.
Is she still here? I thought we’d lost all of the weak links at this point. Evidently not. I have to give her props for picking a song that few would know- I wish it would happen more often. Of course, they need to pick a good song, and I can’t say Elise (or ANYONE so far tonight) has. I quite liked the more subtle first half over the shouty second half, but given the standing O for last week’s Joshua atrocity I can’t blame her for trying. And it worked. For the judges, anyway.
6. Phillip Phillips – Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song).
There was something nicely distinctive about Phillip’s vocals this week that appealed to me, although the slowing of the song didn’t work as much (but at least it wasn’t a repeat of the Phil Collins debacle). I will agree with the judges in their praising of Phillip’s choice to ignore Diddy and Hilfiger’s advice. For want of a better word.
7. Hollie Cavanagh – Honesty.
Firstly, her styling was a travesty. Cream jacket, grey trousers and sparkly top? The judges were sort of right about Hollie’s vocals, she is picking songs that are at the very limits of her range and you can see her overthinking as she’s performing. But she’s improving week after week, and even with the slight pitch issues, she sounded amazing. I think I may have underestimated her, we might have another Lauren Alaiana here.
8. Heejun Han – My Life.
Oh Heejun. I do love you, but I’m hiding behind a cushion right now. I’m not sure if’s more due to your comedy spin on the ballad fake-out, what you are wearing, or the seriously sub-par vocals. I hate to say it, but I’m starting to suspect it isn’t Elise who is now the weakest link.
9. Jessica Sanchez – Everybody Has A Dream.
I’m sure Peacocks used to sell the lace nightie she seemed to be wearing. Finally, a deserved Standing O. THAT is how you belt without shouting, and how you ad lib without tunelessly yodelling. She is back in her rightful place as front runner in this competition.
10. Colton Dixon – Piano Man.
The big performer kept it simple. Just him, his piano and his vocals, and it worked rather nicely. It got a bit cheesy when the rest of the band kicked in, and his vocals felt pushed in a similar way to Hollie’s, but it was definitely the most emotional, storytelling performance tonight.
Deandre, Erika, Heejun.
Out: Erika. Not happy.