We’re down to our final four! It’s May Madness! Crazy.
So, tonight’s first theme is “California Dreamin’,” which includes songs by artists or bands from California, or songs about California. Our second theme is “Songs They Wish They’d Written.” In other words, there are no themes, because really, what even are those?
Anyway! Let’s get to the music, shall we?
Phillip Phillips, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”: Phillip’s got a pretty platinum blond lady playing saxophone and she’s super distracting, and he inexplicably has surfers up on the big screen behind him, but otherwise this is a solid Phillip performance. It’s nothing we haven’t seen from him before, but we’re into it. “You’re living proof that the road to success is always under construction,” Steven Tyler says. “The vocal quality that you used for that was perfect for that song... I thought it was a great way to start the show,” Jennifer Lopez says. “It started off a little rough... by the time you hit the first chorus, you fell in, you were right on the money,” Randy Jackson says.
Jessica and Hollie, “Eternal Flame”: Ah. Okay. They’re on swings. They’re swinging on swings. THIS IS WEIRD. We can’t pay any attention to the song because they’re swinging on swings. Okay, they’re up now, whew. “This was a little strange for me... and what’s going on with these swings, man? I didn’t like that,” Randy says. Word, dawg! “I don’t think it was bad... you both had sweetness and you both had power,” Jen says. Steven says a bunch of nonsensical stuff and makes an inappropriate “swinging” joke to a couple of teenage girls. Oh, Steven.
Hollie Cavanagh, “Faithfully”: We love this song! We also really like Hollie’s weird asymmetrical orangey-red top. We don’t, unfortunately, love this performance. There’s some CRAZY wind-machine action happening which is even more distracting than Phillip’s sax player, and she isn’t really selling the epic rock ballad vocals here. She brings it home at the end, but we spent way too much of that performance watching her hair. “You’re peaking at the right time in this competition... dude, you are right in the zone here,“ Randy says. “It was really very beautiful,” Jen says, complimenting Hollie on her laid-back confidence. “I’ve watched you blossom... creativity is a delicate flower, and you make it bloom,” Steven says.
Incredibly long product-placement segment for “Rock of Ages,” the broadway show of which is actually ridiculously fun and the movie of which looks entertaining too, but wow, filler much? We move into a tie-in group performance of Foreigner’s “Waiting For a Girl Like You” by the Top 4, and eh. This song doesn’t really work for any of them, so we’re going to go ahead and ignore it.
Phillip Phillips, “Volcano”: Swoon. Awesome, awesome song choice. He’s not deviating much from the original, but it’s gorgeous and compelling and it’s REALLY working for him. He seems emotionally connected and very present. Fantastic — this is one of his best of the season. “I’ve never heard you sing like that before, it was beautiful,” Steven says. “Very few people could’ve pulled that off on a show like this... it was one of the most beautiful poignant moments on the show,” Jen says. “That right there... to me that’s one of your best performances ever on the show,” Randy says.
Joshua Ledet, “You Lift Me up”: Oh yay, a Josh Groban song! This is going to be fantastic and boring, probably. Yep. Joshua sounds great and this is perfectly in his wheelhouse, but sigh, Josh Groban song. Joshua should’ve sung some Kanye tweets instead. “This is gonna be so interesting from now to the end... it was another great performance for you,” Jen says. “You sang your little tush off again today... good for you,” Steven says. “You validate what we say — if you’re a great singer and a great artist, you can sing anything... I think you’re an amazing artist,” Randy says.
Hollie Cavanagh, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”: Well... she looks fabulous. The thing is, this is such a heartbreaking song, and we’re not sure that Hollie has the proper emotion in her voice to pull it off. She’s singing it beautifully, and she seems like she’s really feeling it, but her vocals themselves are so plainly pretty that it doesn’t really work. We’re underwhelmed. “I thought it fell a little short as far as a dynamic range that you can sing,” Steven says, which we think means he agrees with us. “I felt maybe you knew that it had to be emotional, but it made your vocal go off on this one,” Jen says. “To me, now in this competition, you need moments... it gave you nowhere to go,” Randy says.
Joshua Ledet, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”: Great song choice! This is going to rock, isn’t it? Spoiler alert: YES IT ROCKS. Wow! This is the first performance of the night where we stopped writing and taking notes because we absolutely had to watch every second. This might be his best performance yet. It’s so good that it seems ridiculous that he’s competing on a reality show. Wow. Did we mention wow? Steven, Randy, and Jen are all on their feet when the song ends, and Jen even does the “we’re not worthy” bow. “Neither man nor woman has ever sang that good with that much compassion on this show ever... I never heard anything like that in my life,” Steven says. “You’re making me speak different languages now,” Jen says, lapsing into Spanish in her enthusiasm. “Everybody who saw this got something tonight from this,” Randy says.
Jessica Sanchez, “Steal Away”: So we’re getting a dose of sassy Jessica this week. This hasn’t always worked for us, but we’re liking it tonight! She’s lively and fierce, and it’s by far the most entertaining performance so far tonight. We’re also coveting her giant sparkly blue earrings. “When I think of all the female singers out there right now who would be your contemporaries at this moment, you’re one of the best,” Jen says. “You’re shaking off the old you and changing, and that’s a beautiful thing,” Steven says. “Amazing, again,” Randy says.
Jessica Sanchez, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”: Okay, first of all this is vocally stunning, but three things are incredibly distracting and we need to mention them. First of all, it’s hard to take a 16-year-old seriously singing this song, because... you’re 16, Jessica baby! Secondly, her dress has a skirt that’s one color, a torso that’s another color, and a single sleeve that’s a third color. Make a decision! Third and most importantly, all the screens behind her have a big symbol that looks like a silver version of the diamond that appears over the heads of Sims. Other than that, her performance is fierce, and she gets a standing ovation from the judges. “Another winning performance,” Steven says. “With a performance like that, there’s nothing to say... I felt you digging deep,” Jen says. “You are phenomenal, another great performance,” Randy says.
Phillip and Joshua, “This Love”: Oh, can they please have a moment as awkward as last week, when Phillip went to sling his arm around Joshua’s shoulders and Joshua panicked and dodged? That was the greatest. This is an odd song choice for them. It’s not really either of their thing, but maybe that makes it a good compromise? The performance is okay, we think, but the judges all rave over it. “Perfect,” Steven says, like... 20 times. “It’s an unexpected treat,” Jen says. “I thought it sounded amazing,” Randy says.
And that’s it for tonight! Tomorrow, we find out which three contestants will get to go home and have parades and stuff, and which contestant will go home and stay there. We’re assuming Hollie’s on her way out... but we’ve assumed that before.