April 18, 2012 at 11:23 PM ET
The word of the day on Wednesday’s episode of “American Idol” was “connection.”
Skylar Laine and Phillip Phillips have it, which is why they’re surely safe. Jessica Sanchez had none a week ago and still needs to work on hers. And Elise Testone got to hear about her lack of it for what seemed like an eternity.
To hear the judges tell it, the voices are not the issue. As Randy Jackson reminded everyone, the talent here is way better than those of any competing show, which is a complete shock coming from one of the guys who picked said talent. It’s all about connecting with the song and the audience so we can see the contestants are as great as the judges think they are.
Everyone sang twice, one recent hit and one soul number. That gave the judges two chances to remind us that Jessica has a really great voice and they were totally right to save her. But they did note after her second song, “Try a Little Tenderness,” that she needed to improve that connection. She may not be the low vote-getter again, but if you didn’t like her shoutiness before – and judging by the results last week, many of you didn’t – your opinion was unlikely to change Wednesday.
She could still find herself in danger, but Joshua Ledet is unlikely to join her this time. If there was ever a week that set him up for success, it was this one. He sang last, and the soul theme allowed him to close the show with “A Change Is Gonna Come” and got Jennifer Lopez begging the viewers not to send him home. Then again, ask DeAndre Brackensick how well that plea worked out for him a couple of weeks ago.
Skylar might not have Jessica’s voice, but she can sure work a crowd. Though “Born This Way” was better than “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” she had the audience eating out of her hand, and the judges along with them. The same went for Phillip, particularly with his cover of Usher’s "U Got It Bad."
Colton Dixon, on the other hand, might have to worry for the first time this year. Neither “Bad Romance” nor “September” were truly gripping, and it particularly hurts that Skylar’s Gaga cover was better than his. And speaking of trouble, even though Hollie Cavanagh sang as well as she has all year, going first won’t help her, and her fans may not be as determined after she survived last week’s scare. The endorsement from the Liverpool Football Club was appreciated, but an NFL club would have helped her more, given that the show is located on this continent.
As for who’s likely to go ... let’s just say that the deck was stacked against Elise from the beginning, and the piling on from the judges didn’t help.
After her performance of "Let's Get It On," Steven told her she needed to "take it up a notch," while Randy opined that she's "not really sure" what's right for her voice, and that she "kind of oversang" the tune. That's tough talk coming from the "Idol" judges. And it didn't end there.
"Elise has a vacation home in the bottom three. I don’t think she has a massive fan base in this thing,” Jimmy Iovine noted in the mentoring session. “I don't know what it is. She's a fabulous singer. If she isn't great, she doesn't get the votes."
Well, she wasn’t great. She wasn’t bad. Certainly not as bad as the judges made it out to be, but bad enough that she’s likely a goner. She and Jessica received very similar advice, but Jessica’s was delivered in a far more supportive way.
Then again, as we’ve seen recently, few viewers seem to actually care what these judges think anyway. So anyone could go Thursday.
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