It was clear from the opening medley on Wednesday night that Queen night was going to be a struggle a few of the "American Idol" top six. Ironically, it was the three leading contenders , Joshua Ledet, Skylar Laine and Jessica Sanchez who seemed most uncomfortable, which did note bode well for the evening.
With the only real sort of-rocker, Colton Dixon , booted last week, that meant it was do-or-die time for anyone hoping to make it to next month's finale. And despite a shaky start, Ledet may have punched his card to the finale, where he is likely to face slow-and-steady Phillip Phillips, while Sanchez and Laine just kind of coasted.
Despite what Steven and Jennifer said time and again, none of these performances are likely to go into the "Idol" all-time vault, but a decent night all around. So, who deserves a coronation? Who fell down and broke their crown? Read on for our "American Idol" report card!
Joshua Ledet: Once again, Ledet nailed it, taking a song that could have seriously tripped him up and wrestling it to the ground with some old-school soul. The bass-slapping Sam Cooke run through "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" was crazy good and the vintage mic was a real nice touch. This dude's got it so in the bag that he sang an obscure India.Arie song, "Ready For Love" that features the lyric "respects the spirit world," and he still killed it (softly). The only way this guy doesn't make it to the finale is if his voicebox has a run-in with Metta World Peace's elbow. A Jessica Sanchez: "Bohemian Rhapsody"? Wow, really Bebe? The Polly Pocket diva picked the dragon slayer and, well, brought a dagger to a sword fight. The first part sounded like a Beyoncé B-side, with a kind of cool R&B flavor, but once the dinky pyro blasted and she "rocked" it up, well, it was all high school musical. Steven said it best, "rock isn't your forte." Sanch pulled the military veteran daddy's girl card for the Luther Vandross power ballad "Dance With My Father" and predictably blew it out the box. She actually held back, which was a sly, impressively professional move for a kid who might not even have her driver's license yet. If the girl voters can avert their eyes from dreamy Phil Phillips for two seconds, she may make it ... to the top three. B+
Phillip Phillips: Hand it to Philly Phil, he picked a song that allowed him to take a half-step out of his DMB prison, growling through "Fat Bottomed Girls" with, yes, enthusiasm and spirit. He still looks and sounds like the leader of fairly decent bar band, but his charisma finally translated for me. After months of paying homage, Phil answered his phanatics' prayers and played an actual Dave Matthews cover. And, Phil being Phil, he grunted to the converted by picking a deep, deep track. "The Stone" was subtle, bubbling and kind of boring. His good looks might get him close to the finish line, but at some point if you don't listen to anyone, nobody's going to listen to you, either. B+
Skylar Laine: Laine did about what you'd expect, putting some fiddle on the widescreen ballad "The Show Must Go On." She kind of made it her own, but looked and sounded uncharacteristically out-of-place at the beginning, like she was singing carols at an old-age home and never really connected with the lyrics. Randy thought it was one of her best performances, but then again, Randy was wearing a pin that said, "Yo," so... Her take on Jason Aldean's "Tattoos on This Town" was good, I guess. It sounded like a solid mid-tempo country ditty, but didn't show us any new facets of her musical personality. She's either saving some gas for the final stretch or starting to run on fumes. B
Hollie Cavanagh: Of all the Queen tracks, half-Brit Hollie chose "Save Me"? The generic ballad was actually perfect for the generic singer, who once again brought a Dusty Springfield-style white girl soul to a song that didn't quite have enough lift to make her stand out. Lopez felt the emotion, but she was right, Hollie just doesn't seem like she's having fun, and neither were we. Since she's one step from the ledge every week, Cavanagh dipped back into her bag of tricks and covered Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" again. Eh, it was perfectly acceptable, but I'll probably forget about it by the time I finish this sentence. Pack up those piles of doll clothes kid, if it's not this week, it's next. C+
Elise Testone: With her tambourine, Elise looked more like a back-up singer on "I Want It All" than a potential "Idol." Her vocals were solid and the crowd was way into it, but all those weeks in the bottom three appear to have drained some of the confidence and fire in her eyes. It might have been too little, too late. Of all the songs in the universe, Elise picks a Jimi Hendrix tune. Fine, but "Bold as Love"? What young America wants to hear is songs about "shiny metallic purple armor" and "happy turquoise armies." It was gutsy, but weird, and not in the way she probably intended. Might as well start walking to those stools now, honey. C-
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