'American Idol' Season 11, Episode 17 Recap - 'Finalists Perform'
Seacrest does his best to get us excited in the intro. "Are we set?" he asks Steven Tyler. "Loud and proud," responds Steven. It has gotten to the point with him that we just accept that whatever comes out of his mouth won't make sense. And somehow, at this point, it actually starts making sense.
It's the 400th episode of the show, which isn't that much of an accomplishment when you have 3 episodes a week. Or 7 episodes. How often is this show on? It feels like I'm always watching it.
BREAKING NEWS everyone! It's guys versus girls tonight, as the show is clearly trying to shake things up a bit. The guys will sing Stevie Wonder songs (at least we don't have to listen to Adam talk about white chocolate anymore) and the girls will sing Whitney Houston songs, leading to tomorrow's results show that will have one guy and one girl up for elimination, with the judges deciding who goes home. This thing is getting more confusing than the Electoral College! Amirite?
Mary J. Blige is there with Jimmy to mentor the contestants, and Joshua is up first. Mary actually seems to speak his church music language a bit, and gets him into the song, which Joshua says is "way out of my comfort zone." Sure enough, when he gets on stage and launches into "I Wish," he seems a little uncomfortable with bouncing around on stage. Still, he sings pretty well.
The judges love it! JLo loves his "hand thing." Seacrest asks Joshua how he's feeling. "I'm excited," says Joshua, who looks anything but excited.
Elise is the next one in, and she starts either refusing to take, or just not understanding, the feedback from Jimmy and Mary. She sings "I'm Your Baby Tonight," and does seem a little uncomfortable with it. Elise's voice is still strong, but there are just some of phrasing issues.
The judges don't love it! Randy calls it "not good," which is about the meanest thing he'll ever say on this show. Across the board, the judges note timing issues and a general lack of oomph.
Jermaine is taking on "Knocks Me Off My Feet," and Mary is very impressed with his voice. She gives him a great note to avoid the trills and runs unless they're really necessary, and already he sounds better. Jimmy is thrilled that Jermaine is back, and I'm a fan of the kid, but he's just not the greatest singer. He has a nice baritone, but he's forgettable.
The judges kinda love it! JLo makes a great point, saying that Jermaine doesn't connect with the song. Randy gives another negative comment, saying he didn't like the chorus. He's met with boos again, and responds again with "I'm just bein' real!" Is this the new thing? Is Randy the new Simon, but just a really defensive, cautious Simon?
Erika, who is wearing some kind of cheap prom dress, is our Coca-Cola interview of the night. Mary says Erika's tone is like "steak and potatoes, not peanut butter and celery." Guess Mary isn't a fan of ants on a log. The reason for the dress is that Erika is singing "I Believe in You and Me," so obviously a ballad dress was in order. She sings it nicely, but seems to be trying a bit too hard to be Whitney.
The judges love it! JLo says she should stop thinking and let go. Wasn't it just last week when the judges were telling her to do more, but Jimmy wisely said not to?
Time for Colton, who's going to ballads with "Lately," but is obviously a little out of place in a Stevie Wonder song. Jimmy has him sing one of his originals to get an idea of "context," then tells him to "rely on his vulnerability." Good note. Why don't we just have Jimmy judge this thing? Despite the good note, Colton's performance is still a little strange... obviously his style doesn't match this song. Valiant effort, though.
The judges love it! Steven calls it "outstanding." Randy says that "technically, it wasn't picture perfect" and IMMEDIATE BOOS hit him. "Come on now, this is constructive criticism and it will help him." Then he tells him how much he "slayed it."
Shannon is taking on "I Have Nothing." Will her age get in the way of tackling a Whitney song? Maybe... Mary says she can see Shannon thinking, but eventually things fall into place. However, the performance is a little shaky. At first, it's just about comparing Shannon to Whitney, which is unfair. But at the key change, Shannon struggles pretty hard for a moment.
The judges don't love it! "I think the thinking got the best of you," says JLo. Steven notes that she "crashed and burned at the turnaround." Boos fly from the audience, because nobody is allowed to say anything honest on here if it's mean.
DeAndre is up next, and actually provides some entertainment by reacting to shots of him crying with a pained "oof" and a "lord have mercy." He's singing "Master Blaster," and Mary wants him to "belt that pretty voice." Jimmy has reluctant confidence in the kid. When he hits the stage, though, he does so much dancing around that it seems that he loses his breath toward the end.
The judges love it! JLo almost commented on the weak ending, but then said "I didn't want it to end!" Good thing too, she might have been booed or something! Phew, close call.
Skylar Laine is up next, and country girl meets Whitney Houston to a not entirely disastrous result. Mary notes that Skylar is either soft or full blast, and needs more layers. In the performance, it sounds like she sort of takes the note. She growls a little too often, though, which could get annoying as we go on.
The judges kinda love it! Jennifer says Skylar was "the definition of composure," but notes that the tone was a little "nasally." BOOS FROM THE CROWD. Randy says something to her, but I'm distracted by the weird pin he's wearing, which appears to be the face of a girl in a bad mood, made out of sequins.
Heejun is up next, who apparently has some "entertaining tweets." Most of them are Heejun pretending to eat the other contestants. In the mentoring meeting, Mary tells him to be a little less soft and a little more in our face... we'll see if he takes that. Heejun also finally wins Jimmy over by giving him a signed picture that says "I love Jimmy," and giving Mary a picture that says "I love Mary more than Jimmy." How could you NOT be won over by this guy?
He sings "All in Love is Fair," and doesn't seem to have taken the note. He's a little too soft, and when he does start to belt, he lands flat on the high note. Will the judges get on his case for being pitchy?
No they won't! The judges love it! "I love you" says Jennifer, Steven also gushes, and Randy says "it wasn't perfect, but it was really good." Short and sweet. They want this guy to stay on.
Hollie is doing "All the Man That I Need," and there isn't much interesting about her other than the fact that she's short. She sings nicely, but it's nothing terribly impressive.
The judges love it! Yawn.
Randy and Ryan switch places to introduce Jeremy, and it's less funny than they clearly hoped. Both Jimmy and Mary like Jeremy, who is nervous about not having been voted in last week. He sings "Ribbon in the Sky" with his trademark mix of great moments and really shaky ones. He's just not that consistent.
But, the judges love it! Except Randy, who thinks the song needed more "swag" to be believable.
So Jessica Sanchez is the lucky/unlucky one to get "I Will Always Love You," which will either serve to be a huge boost or a big disaster. But if anyone on this roster can take it, it's Jessica... and sure enough she wows Mary so much during rehearsals that she elicits a squeal. On the stage, it's a little more mechanical than this song should be, but Jessica is talented enough to pull it off anyway.
The judges love it! Standing ovation from all of them, Randy calls her "legit." Steven says she "just made 40 million people cry," which is an odd thing to say considering only about 15 million people watch this show now.
Phillip is up next to do "Superstition," which he will be doing with his guitar of course. It's a very Phillip-ish cover, which everyone seems to love.
That includes the judges, who love it! Steven says "there's no words for it, you just are." Phillip thanks him with a confused look.
And that's the last of it. Will Elise's lackluster performance put her at the bottom? Is anyone actually a fan of Hollie? Is Jeremy done? Find out tomorrow... because the judges don't want to talk about who was weakest. JLo actually singles out Shannon.