The “legendary home-town hero visit” is on the line tonight, says host Ryan Seacrest at the top of “American Idol” Thursday night.
The three Idolettes who make the cut tonight get the private jet ride, the open car parade, the packed high school gym, the concert, the product placement and all the other perks of Idolette royalty.
But why wait for a public display of adoration?
“Idol” producers have the Sea Anenome Girls, usually stationed at the foot of the stage, up on stage tonight, creating an American Idol Red Carpet, trophy-show style, so judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler can press the flesh as they walk by. Seacrest himself stops to make small talk with the Sea Anenomes, politician style. “Welcome to the Red Carpet,” he says to the hand-picked gaggle as he reaches out to squeeze a few hands.
Let’s bring out the Fourdolettes: Hollie Cavanagh, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, and Phillip Phillips to sing the old Mamas and Papas song “California Dreamin.” We notice that not one of the Sea Anenomes seems to know the words to this tune.
David Cook, winner of Idol VII, will be here to entertain tonight and to dispel the rumors that he and Phil Phillips are the same person -- in fact, that all of the safe scruffy white guys with guitars who have dominated “Idol” in recent years are the same person coming back, year after year. Less suspensefully, JLo will entertain, too.
But first, a Ford commercial starring Josh, Hollie, and Jessica, with Phil again missing. They say it’s his health but we suspect he’s a conscientious objector. You go, Phil! Occupy Idol!
Let’s have “Double P”, as Seacrest calls Phillip Phillips, to center stage for the performance recap and taped Iovinization, in which Chief Mentor and Oracle Jimmy Iovine gives his critique.
Phil’s first song during Wednesday’s performance show, Creedence Clearwater’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” was “the beginning of him coming into his own and saying this is what I sound like,” says Iovine because Phil didn’t play guitar and had a sax accompanist. We’re pretty sure we’ve seen Phil minus the guitar before. But as Steven Tyler might say, a second beginning is like a first step with the other foot.
On Phil’s second song, Damien Rice’s “Volcano,” he “finally delivered on the promise we’ve been waiting for all year…It was all magnificent.” But he did play the guitar on that song, Jimmy. We’re confused.
“After nearly 70 million votes -- 10 million more than last week,” Seacrest starts. “The nation has decided that you will be heading -- back to the couch.”
In other words, we’ve got an hour to kill here.
Her first song was Journey’s “Faithfully”, and Iovine says that “all the things that concerned me” about Hollie, such as her over-singing and over-acting, “actually aided her” because the song is “a very dramatic song and over the top.”
Before getting to her second song, Iovine wants to excuse himself from any liability. He says that last song each Idolette sang on Wednesday night was supposed to be the tunes that inspired each of them, and “I decided I wasn’t going to push anyone” toward a particular song choice.
Hollie chose Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”.
“I assumed she understood the core of the song. Evidently she did not. She did not have the personal experience, or the professional experience to take on this song. When the chorus came in, she hit the ‘opera’ button and at that moment I felt she crashed and burned and lost out to those other three singers.”
Back to the couch with Hollie.
David Cook debuts his new single “The Last Song I’ll Write for You.” Yup, he is Phil Phillips. That upswept, updated Coroner Munchkin hairdo doesn’t fool us. Now we think we know why Phil never shows up for the Ford Music Video shoots. It’s David’s days with the kids.
Call Josh Ledet for some Iovination.
Iovine’s down on Josh’s first song, Josh Groban’s “You Lift Me Up.” “That song works great at high school graduations” says Iovine, but Josh should have given it a fresh spin by giving it a simple treatment. Instead he went for the full gospel choir, as he did earlier in the season. “He can’t use that trick” over and over, Iovine says.
On the other hand, Josh’s performance of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World” “created a piece of magic,” Iovine says. “At the end, it sounded like he was speaking in tongues… It was captivating. I want to see it again and again and again…And that’s the first time this year I felt that way.”
The only question, Iovine adds, is how to find an original song as good as that, for Josh’s debut album. “What the hell, let’s just do that one!” he concludes.
Two weeks ago, Iovine slammed 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez for trying to sing too grownup on Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” so we’re pretty sure he’s not going to like Jessica’s adults-only performance last night of Etta James’ “Steal Away.”
“Was impersonating a great, older jazz singer a good idea? No!” Iovine tsk-tsks. “That trick of hers of growling …Everyone knows the rabbit is going to come out of the hat.” He’s going to discourage the growling when he does her album, he says.
So apparently, she and Josh get album contracts even though Phil is going to win this thing. Er...we meant, no matter what.
Iovine’s all praise for Jessica’s second performance on Wednesday, “And I’m Telling You” from “Dreamgirls.”
“All her artillery was in the right proportion,” including the growl, he said, adding, “It was shock and awe.” He mentions that famed record producer Tommy Mottola called him to say he’d go to a Jessica concert—though, once again we were prompted to quote departed Idolette Elise Testone: “Tommy, is that all you got?”
So now the Fourdolettes have all been taken to center stage and been sat back down. Let’s have some JLo.
She’s dressed in a sparkly bathing suit and black tights, surrounded by a lot of shirtless guys dancing and pounding on drums for this performance of “Dance Again.” Did you notice that both Hollie and Jessica have stronger voices than JLo? Of course, neither of them could get out there and shake like that without Iovine running out and throwing a blanket over them. It’s kind of fun, tough it seems a bit restrained. On the other hand, it’s been a long year for JLo judging “Idol.”
Time for judges’ final remarks before the trap door opens on one of the Idolettes.
Tyler says Phil has grown over the course of the season, “from I don’t care, to finding who he is and still not caring.”
JLo recalls Hollie’s first audition, for season 10, when Hollie cried and JLo gave her a second chance. “It was a moment for both of us,” JLo says, adding how happy she is to see Hollie “so composed and collected” on stage.
Seacrest asks what JLo thinks about Iovine calling out Jessica for her growling “trick.” “The really good singing trick? I’d like to use that trick, too,” she snarks.
Well, we could go on like this all night, but how about some results?
First, Jessica will get honored with a parade. She’s through.
Josh gets a parade.
That leaves Phil and Hollie hanging on to each other in parade anticipation mode.
The parade will pass Hollie by, Seacrest reveals.
She sings her way out on “The Climb” the cringe-inducing treacle tune that won her first standing ovation from the judges.