Last night on American Idol, our 9 remaining contestants sang songs by THEIR idols.  Among the singers honored with cover songs . . . Idol 4 champion Carrie Underwood and former Nashville Star-contestant-turned megastar, Miranda Lambert.  So, how did this season's crop of hopefuls do.  Let's check in with WBKR's resident Idol critic, Steve Thompson and get his rankings from nine to numero uno!  Here's Steve's review of last night's show . . .

  • Finally.  Someone who actually does the homework and gets to know how the contestants sing and perform.  I think Stevie may get the nod for having the best mentoring of any so far this year-- and she also gets points for humanizing Jimmy a little bit.  Interesting that all of the contestants agreed.


  • I'm still thinking we have some weak links to attend to before we get to the final six singers.  However, the final six are looking pretty solid at this point.  The bottom three?  That kind of depends on your tolerance for melisma and schizophrenic song choices.  Here are my picks from worst to first...
  • 09. Heejun Han sang A Song for You which has been sung by everybody from Donny Hathaway to the Carpenters.  Okay, he's more serious and trying to actually sing the song this week.  I wonder if this might be too little and too late.  He still has some good will with the voters, just not with me.
  • 08.  DeAndre Brackensick sang Sometimes I Cry by Eric Benet.  I guess he did a decent job on this song, but I didn't get the love shown by the judges at all.  I thought it was too much of the same thing he always seems to do.  A one trick pony.  Watch DeAndre sing falsetto.  Now watch him sing it again...
  • 07.  Joshua Ledet sang Without You, originally by the group Badfinger.  Those of you who have heard me rate this song before will recall that Pete Ham  wrote this song saying "I can't live if living is without you" and ended up committing suicide.  In that context, I'm not crazy about the oversinging on this arrangement.  Even the Harry Nilsson version was more restrained.  I wonder if Joshua can sing without trying to make it a gospel song.
  • 06.  Hollie Cavanaugh sang Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood.  I thought this may have been Hollie's weakest performance of the competition.  The good news for her is that she still has enough fans who will probably keep her safe.  The bad news?  Maybe it's time to find something more up tempo.  You can be a proficient singer if you so choose-- just try not to be boring.  (I actually thought she sang it better to Stevie.)
  • 05.  Jessica Sanchez sang Sweet Dreams by Beyonce.  I think it's obvious that Jessica can sing the phonebook at this stage of the competition-- I'm ready for her to tackle something a bit different.  Granted, I'm not much of a Beyonce fan by any stretch of the imagination.  However, Jessica still sounds great even though the song doesn't do anything for me.
  • 04.  Skylar Laine sang Gunpowder and Lead by Miranda Lambert.  Good for Skylar not to stick herself with a ballad.  I'll grant Skylar often comes across as a Miranda clone, but for all intents and purposes all of our better singers tonight were giving their own spin on whatever idol they personally idolized.  I thought she did a great job-- the real story begins when she starts showing her own personality instead of channelling someone else.
  • 03.  Colton Dixon sang Everything by Lifehouse.  I'm a bit worried about Colton going first, but I can't complain about how well he did the song.  Contemporary Christian music has always appealed to me and I think Colton does a fine job within this genre.  I know that there are folks invoking Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin when voting for Colton.  I have no problem with that-- as long as he sings well.
  • 02.  Phil Phillips sang Still Rainin' by Jonny Lang.  I thought this was Phil's best song of the season.  This was the first time I didn't notice the obvious Dave Matthews influence in his singing and he had a nice bluesy vibe on this song.  Maybe not so much Jonny Lang-- but he had a bit of a Gary Moore sound to me that resonated with some of my favorite songs of the past.  However...
  • 01.  Elise Testone sang Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin.  Winner by a country mile.  Perhaps the best Zeppelin cover I've ever heard (and that includes Heart.)  Fantastic and respectful to the song at the same time.  Somewhere, Robert Plant should take notice.  This girl has the chops.  Side note-- wonderful little duet of Dreams by Stevie and Elise.  Someone in charge should release that one to itunes.
  • I think both DeAndre and Heejun may be in trouble tonight.  If anyone else is in the bottom two, like Hollie or Joshua, I wouldn't be shocked if they implemented the judges save.  We'll see, won't we?

@March 28, 2012  Stephen W Thompson