Last night was 80's night on Idol. I know over the past few years I have railed against the show for asking these kids to present themselves as current, viable, contemporary artists while forcing them to sing songs older than their parents, and yet, for some reason, 80's Night seemed less ridiculous to me than some of the other anciently themed nights. Perhaps it's because the 80's seemed like a time when music really started niche-ing itself a little more clearly, where the roots of so much of our own contemporary pop music can be found. There seems to be a wealth of styles and options, and for the most part, the Idols embraced that rather nicely.
Not that there weren't mis-steps (oh, little Hollie!), but there were some moments that definitely had be a little more excited than I've been lately. Of course, some of the reactions I had verge wildly from what the judges saw and felt, but for the most part, this seems like a pretty tough competition.
1. Phillip Phillips Yes, Skylar closed out the night in a really lovely, powerful fashion, but seriously, it was "Wind Beneath My Freakin' Wings." Who COULDN'T hit that out of the ballpark? What I loved about Phillip's performance was that he took a song that people may recognize but a song that's not necessarily a huge part of our pop culture landscape (although "That's All" by Genesis is a song I've always absolutely adored), added just enough of his own flavor, and gave a killer performance. When you factor in his amazing duet with Elise on "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," there's no denying this kid is the shizz. "That's All" became this empassioned, almost creepy song of betrayal that left me more than a little unsettled. As my sis said during the bridge, "Yeah, they'll be together 'til the end because he's going to freakin' KILL HER!" I know the judges want us to invest in a Jessica-Joshua finale, but come on! Phillip is definitely the more viable contemporary artist up there because he's ACTUALLY AN ARTIST rather than a really good karaoke singer. (Yeah, I said it!)
2. Skylar Laine Yes, Skylar was good. She was gorgeous. But again, "Wind Beneath My Wings...." SIGH!
3. Colton Dixon I'm not going to lie. Colton's appeal is waning for me. He seems like he might be a little arrogant. He seems like he's trying just a little too hard. It doesn't help that I've never been a huge fan of "Time After Time" (GASP! I KNOW!), although I did think it was classy for Colton to ignore Ryan's question about his new dye job to give props to the artists whose arrangement for the song he stole. Also, is it just me or is Colton's enunciation borderline drunken vagrant?
4. DeAndre Brackensick I know -- shocker! But I have to say that I thought DeAndre's performance was pretty decent. It helps that he didn't sing the entire song in his falsetto range, allowing his lower range to really shine. Seriously, if this kid had a little time, he could be a superstar, but he needs time for his voice to marinate -- time he's not going to get on this show. Had DeAndre entered this competition as a 21 year old, he'd be poised to become the next Justin Timberlake. As it is, he's probably going to be one of those "Oh, yeah! THAT guy!" types of guys.
5. Joshua Ledet You know, I get that Joshua is talented. I get his voice is amazing. But good Lord! It's just so MUCH! I get a little tired of the screaming and the wailing and the vocal gymnastics. Where does that fit in in today's market? WHERE!!?!?!? (Props, though, to the person brave enough to break into the local country club and steal the arm chair that was used to create Joshua's blazer last night.)
6. Elise Testone Bad song choice. Plain and simple. I had big hopes for Elise on 80's Night. Good Lord. There are SO many amazing female artists from the 80's to tackle -- Chrissie Hynde, Joan Jett, Pat Benetar, Lita Ford, Heart. And yet there was poor Elise taking on Foreigner's treacly "I Wanna Know What Love Is." Snooze. She had some pitch issues. She had some performance issues. Here's hoping her amazing duet with Phillip will save her because that was hot!
7. Jessica Sanchez It's time to call shenanigans on this one. I thought Jessica's performance of "How Will I Know?" was pretty terrible. There were all sorts of pitch issues -- issues that were NEVER called on her. When even your backup singers are giving you the stink eye for hitting wonky notes, you know you're in trouble, and yet all we heard last night from Randy and the gang was how brilliant Jessica was. Please!
8. Hollie Cavanagh And then there was poor little Hollie, pitch issues flying left and right as she wiggled her way around the stage in her little flapper dress trying to inject something interesting into "Flashdance (What a Feeling)". Oh, I was feeling something all right -- embarrassment for this poor, sweet little girl who is now SO out of her element. SIGH! Bye bye, Hollie. I don't think there's anything that can save you now -- not even Jane Fonda's old costume from 9 to 5 that you were forced to wear for your painful duet with DeAndre.