Let's start with the EVP rage. I don't have to tell you that Erika Van Pelt's elimination last week was a travesty, another disturbing example of collective Idol voter lady-hating. But we're used to this by now, aren't we? The last FOUR winners of this show have been "cute" (even in my teen years, I would not have found Scotty cute), straight white guys with guitars. Voters always pick off the women early on, and Erika was just too awesome with her perfect vocals and fearless last minute makeover for the voters to relate. Erika ended her Idol run with a great swan song performance (in spite of Randy's awkward "nah" response to Ryan's obligatory question about whether they were going to save Erika), a rad haircut, and a spot on the Idol tour.
EVP, I salute you, and since your votes will likely transfer over to Team Elise, know that your sacrifice is not in vain.
Here's a really good recap of the results show injustice, along with a hilarious screen shot of J-Lo caught mid-mean girl. I wished he had mentioned the infamous women-with-tattoos Idol conspira-theory, though. It's a real thing, and it's ruining the record industry.
Moving on. I didn't post last week because I frankly had very little to rant about. I think we ended up with a Perfect Top Ten this year, which softens the blow of Erika's premature elimination a little bit for me. I don't think a top ten (now nine. Sigh) has been this full of legitimate talent since maybe season seven. And that year, we still had to endure this (bless her). Instead, then, of listing all of them in order by favorite this week, I've split them into three categories.
SINGERS WITH A LEGITIMATE SHOT AT A CONFETTI SHOWER IN THE NOKIA
Colton Dixon: Colton has been quietly contending for the Idol crown since Hollywood Week. His skinny jeans and skunk hair may bug some people, but he came into the competition already packaged to be a certain kind of artist, and I think he has done an excellent job in the competition so far. His voice is radio-friendly; he writes his own music, which from the snippets we've heard sound pretty good; and he performs well. He has also, arguably, been the most consistent contestant in the competition this season. I don't see him going home any time soon/at all.
Skylar Laine: Skylar is such an exciting performer to watch, and she seems to have a great personality to match. The energy she brings to her performances seems genuine, and, like Philip, she seems unable to contain herself from feeling whatever she's singing. It's freaking mesmerizing! My favorite thing about her, though, is that, like all good country singers, she is masterful at telling stories through her songs. She made me believe that Whitney Houston's "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" was a country song about, well, a broken heart, even though of course I knew better! She's great, and the voters seem to be recognizing that, as well. It's hard to imagine her being in imminent elimination danger even with a bad performance.
Phillip Phillips: This might seem hypocritical, but even though I love Phillip's performances (in spite of the Dave Matthews-ness and the shouting), I don't want him to win the show because he's a cute white boy with a guitar. I want a woman to win the show to prove that it's still possible. Frankly, after his reluctance to take the advice of Jimmy, Puffy, and Tommy Hilfiger (not a bad thing! It was awkward advice!) it seems like Phillip would be miserable if he won the show and had to be marketed by 19 as a Pop Idol anyway. That said, I think he really could win this show. I love the authenticity of his performances and even the liberties he takes with melodies. Last week's "Movin' Out" almost seems like a song he could have written. No question that Phillips' got the potential to go all the way this season.
Jessica Sanchez: When the gospel choir came onstage this week during Jessica's performance of that random song about dreams (did that song only have, like, one lyric repeated to infinity?), I didn't even notice they were there for a while because she was singing so well. At no point has she ever let the music or background vocals overpower her singing (no small feat on the Idol stage), and when she's onstage, she displays such control over what she's doing that it's hard to believe she's only 16. Every week, I find myself shocked anew by the power in her voice and the strength in her lower register. I think she's the best out and out vocalist in this competition, and as long as she keeps making us believe that she believes what she's singing, I think she's the perennial favorite for this year's title.
SINGERS FIGHTING FOR A TOP 5 SPOT
Hollie Cavanagh: I love Hollie's what-the-what?! belter voice, her weird but cool (English plus North Texan minus British inflected) accent, and how she somehow resembles a Disney woodland creature, but the ballads are hurting her. Last week, I would have put her in the above category, but then she sang another ballad, and this time it wasn't as well executed as the others she's done. I think of all the contestants on the show, she has the best shot at experiencing a true "Idol journey. I don't think she can win, though, unless she proves she can sing something 1) up-tempo; and 2) contemporary. And at this point, she may be in the Pia zone.
Joshua Ledet: It pains me a little to put Joshua in this category, but unless he can choose better songs, I don't think he can win this. Do I even need to talk about how freaking fantastic his performance of "When a Man Loves a Woman" was two weeks ago? My roommate is a casual watcher/occasional hater at best, but we were both more than a little mesmerized/sent into a frenzy with that performance. I want more of Joshua showing that kind of insane charisma and less of last week's intrusive gospel choir in his performances. I think/hope he's got a real shot at getting to the top three, but unless he can be a little more consistent with song choices, I don't see him winning.
Elise Testone: Elise is my favorite contestant in this competition, and if my history with these things proves consistent, I will be downloading whatever records she releases in the future. I love everything about her smoky rasp, and I love love love the fact that she is a musician who has been working at this for a long time. Her performance this week of "Vienna" was so perfect, I can't believe more people aren't talking about it. She even started in the pit of destruction, and walked through the crowd to the stage without losing focus! No one ever does that successfully! I don't think she can win the show, though, because frankly she's a 28 year-old woman, and she's already been in the bottom three twice. If the triumphant top 3 march of Haley Reinhart taught us anything (LOVED Haley's results show performance last week, btw!), though, it's that sometimes the voters can actually surprise us. I hope they surprise us with Elise.
SINGERS IN NEED OF A HAIL MARY TO MAKE IT TO THE TOP 7
Deandre Brackensick: Deandre seems like such a sweetie, but I find the hairography and the bouncy bouncy stage presence odd and off-putting. His voice is so beautiful and even mature, but what is he trying to do onstage? He really doesn't have amazing stage presence, which is a shame because his voice is attention-grabbing on its own. He also falls into the questionable song choice category, even more so than everyone else. I really like him, but I think his Idol days are numbered.
Heejun Han: Last week's insane "I was just having fun" performance "My Life" was horrid, and takes me back to horrible Sanjaya places in my Idol memory that I thought I had locked away forever. It was a terrible vocal and performance in the grand tradition of Josh Gracin's "Jive Talkin'" and John Stevens' "Crocodile Rock". Ugh, Heejun. Just, ugh. It's so wrong that Erika went home last week. Love Heejun's tone, but he's out of his league.