'American Idol' Recap: Mantasia Arrives; Phillip Phillips Shines; Jessica Sanchez Fizzles on Top 7 Night
Music lost two major icons in 2012 -- American Bandstand’s Dick Clark and Soul Train’s Don Cornelius.
Wednesday night, American Idol paid tribute to both, with the top 7 performing the theme of "Now and Then," Billboard hits from 2000-2012, and “soul” songs of the past.
It was a lot to squeeze into two hours-a grand total of 14 songs were performed, so there was no time for antics or Tommy Hilfiger-just the music, with a healthy dose of drama.
Notably, Jimmy Iovine mentored the Top 7 by himself -- no celebrity guest needed.
The bottom line: after last week’s dramatic save of Jessica Sanchez (and they milked it for all it was worth in the opening segment), not one singer is safe after last night’s show, and host Ryan Seacrest reminded viewers to vote for their favorite.
Who fared best? Let’s break it down:
Hollie Cavanagh has been having a rough time with the judges, and her performances have started to suffer. "The audience should watch her closely from that first note," said Iovine. "You can see if she's nervous or not."
This was not the case last night. Cavanagh bravely took on Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” for her first song -- a bold move considering it was a watershed moment for Haley Reinhart last season. For the first time in weeks, Cavanagh portrayed confidence, sang with a strong bravado, and looked like she was having the time of her life. She even began the song a capella, with no noticeable nerves. Steven Tyler noticed right away, telling her she took a popular song and made it perfect. Jennifer Lopez was proud that Cavanagh took her advice to stop over thinking everything, and said, “you just forgot about everything and sang that song.” Randy Jackson was positive, but drew some “boos” when he said there were pitch problems and it was “not perfect,” but ended with “for the first time ever, I felt you. Very well done.”
For her second song, Cavanagh dusted off Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.” Cavanagh has some hot fans -- the Liverpool Football Club, who sent a video message of encouragement. Cavanagh’s British accent mixed with her Southern drawl created an interesting stew as she playfully belted the song, and drew a more enthusiastic reaction from Jackson, who noted she “dug in” for her last note, and gave his usual backhanded compliment “You worked it out!” Lopez said Cavanagh found her composure, and Tyler thinks she can still push it more. Tyler doesn’t sound completely sold on Cavanagh, but he was nicer last night, telling her “you’ve got the voice.”
Colton Dixon took a few risks with his choices, picking Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Iovine wasn’t sold, warning Dixon that the tempo could do him in during the live performance. “He’s got to hit it high when that chorus comes in,” said the label head.
Dixon had support from his sister, Schyler, in the audience, but he is going to need votes after his disco metal take on Mother Monster. He was off on the melody, and the whole performance was just strange-with pyro, a female backing band, hot pants, and some flashes of pink in his hair. Jackson said he felt like he was at a Colton Dixon concert and the key felt low, Lopez loved the risk and Tyler loved it all.
Dixon fared better on Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September,” seated at the piano and flanked by images of falling leaves. His emotive take on what is really an upbeat dance song was a nice, artistic move, and there is something about Dixon and the way he looks at the camera that makes performances like this an intimate experience for the viewer at home. Unfortunately, the judges didn’t get it. Lopez said, “I couldn’t understand what he was saying,” Tyler said, “this is the part of the competition where you’ve got to find just the right song, and this wasn’t it,” and Jackson suggested Dixon do a Lil Wayne song. WTH? Lil Wayne? Lollipop? Why did he tell Dixon to do a song from this century during the “soul” part of the show?