"American Idol" - Top 4 Performance Show - May 9, 2012
Theme: California Dreamin' and Song I Wish I Wrote
Ryan tells us in addition to the two performances from each contestant we're going to look at (filler) the contestants' journeys.
Video Package: Phillip opines on his "journey." He can't believe it, his family says he's getting better, he has to give his best.
Contestant: Phillip Phillips
Song: "Have You Ever Seen the Rain," Creedence Clearwater Revival
Performance: This is a pretty straightforward performance. He more or less sticks with the melody and it has a loose charm with a sassy blond sax player brightening it up.
Judging: Steven says he's living proof that the road to success is always under construction. JLo loved it and thought it was perfect. Randy says it started off a little rough with the pitch but by the first chorus he was right on the money.
Video Package: We actually get to see Hollie's journey from last season-- when she got cut in final judgement-- to the final four.
Contestant: Hollie Cavanagh
Song: "Faithfully," Journey
Performance: She sings well, tenderly, straight up the middle. There are a couple of wavery moments but that probably has more to do with the wind machine than anything else. It's a fine performance and she seems very comfortable but it's all a little staid.
Judging: Randy says she's peaking at the right time in the competition.JLo was impressed with her confidence and readiness to sing and thought it was beautiful. Steven says he's watched her blossom.
Video Package: We go "beihind-the-scenes" with Jason DeRulo who is working on a song for the "Idol" finale. It's basically a Coke ad.
Video Package: Before we see Joshua's journey, he dedicates his first performance to his dad. Like Hollie, his journey includes his season 10 audition in which Randy told him to to come back in a year and slay the whole thing.
Contestant: Joshua Ledet
Song: "You Raise Me Up," Josh Groban
Performance: Wow, with Chris Mann on "The Voice" it's a big week for this song.He takes it from his adult contemporary roots and takes it to church. It's another restrained in the beginning and gradually becoming more dramatic. Yet he never lets it get away from him. It's lovely and heartfelt. Not sure what America thinks but surely, his dad is proud.
Judging: Jlo says she knows the whole world knows what she thinks of Joshua. She thinks he's amazing and loved the drama. Steven says he sang his little tush off again. Randy says a great singer can sing anything and loved how he transformed Josh Groban.
Video Package: As part of her journey video we get some home video of Jessica singing as a very small child, very inappropriately "And I'm Tellin' You I'm Not Going."
Contestant: Jessica Sanchez
Song: "Steal Away," Etta James
Performance: It's a torchy blues ballad and she leans a little heavily on her growl but she acquits herself with a polished professionalism as always.
Judging: JLo loved the growl and loved that it was there in the beginning as a child in the home video. She thinks she's one of the best contemporary singers. Steven loved it and he's currently doing an Etta James song himself. He likes that she's shaking off her old self. Randy loves that she's singing the blues convincingly at 16.
Duet: Phillip and Joshua sing "This Love" by Maroon 5. In Randy parlance, they both worked it out. Their voices sound really good together but they have no chemistry. The judges loved it.
Duet: Hollie and Jessica sit in swings and sing "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles. This also works well, although the harmonies were a little rougher in spots. Randy thought it was weird. Steven makes a swingers joke.
We get an extended tribute to the film version of "Rock of Ages" which stars Ryan Seacrest's girlfriend Julianne Hough. And then Ryan interviews her and the director Adam Shankman in the audience.
Quartet: All four finalists sing "Waiting For a Girl Like You" by Foreigner and it is not a good song for any of them.
Contestant: Phillip Ryan asks about his health. Phillip says he's feeling fine. If he makes it to the top 3 he's excited to go home and hang with his friends and eat some Mexican food. In the rehearsal video Jimmy says Phillip found a song that's a bullseye and he's watched him become a butterfly. He says the judges were telling him to be himself but he was sounding like someone else (Dave Matthews) and with this song he's proving he can record something and not sound like the record.
Song: "Volcano," Damien Rice
Performance: It's a great song, right in his wheelhouse, brooding, churning, intense. He still has trace amounts of Dave Matthews but it's certainly not Damien Rice mimickry. It helps that he's clearly very comfortable and the backing singer's harmony part is spot-on. Easily, one of his best performances this season.
Judging: Steven thought it was beautiful. JLo thinks very few people could've pulled that song off on this type of show. Randy says this is what it's all about and one of his best performances of the season.
Contestant: Hollie In rehearsal, Jimmy thinks it's a tough song choice for a singer like Hollie who has trouble being emotional. He tells her not to oversing. He says she has to do magnificent.
Song: "I Can't Make You Love Me," Bonnie Raitt
Performance: It's a slow burn and she controls herself nicely, it's a lovely performance but perhaps not the emotional knockout Jimmy was seeking. (It was a tiny detail but oddly jarring that she changed the pronunciation of "patronize" from "pay-tronize" to "PAT-ronize.")
Judging: Steven thought it fell a little short on the emotional end. JLo agrees with Steven it's easier to sing a song like that when you haven't been through a lot and she didn't interpret it the way she thought she might like she was singing it to America, trying to make them love her. Randy says she needs moments and this is a great song but not the song for her and she needed a bigger kind of song.
Contestant: Joshua Jimmy talks about doing a session with James Brown when he was 19 and how his hairdresser came in after each take. He thinks Joshua great.
Song: "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World," James Brown
Performance: Obviously, a very good choice for Joshua and he does a good job with, following the contours of the up and down dynamics with skill and adding a lot of personality and grit to the vocal in a way that feels earned. Probably one of his best performances of the season as well. He gets a standing ovation from the judges.
Judging: Steven says neither man nor woman has ever sung with that much compassion on this show ever. JLo says she thought we'd all seen everything Joshua had to give and that performance shows we hadn't. She was sickening. (In a good way.) Randy says it's the greatest song for Joshua and it's one of the best performances in the history of any singing show.
Contestant: Jessica Jimmy thinks it's very powerful and tells her in rehearsal that he's going to remember this moment.
Song: "And I'm Tellin' You," Jennifer Holliday (from "Dreamgirls")
Performance: She does the diva thing convincingly but it doesn't feel emotionally authentic and she's unnervingly still. (I get it, she's "rooted," she's not "goin'" but she's not letting he song move through her, it's all in her throat.) It's technically adept but very much like all of its predecessors. She gets a standing ovation which she looks like she feels she deserves.
Judging: Steven calls it another winning performance and asks "tell me how you really feel?" JLo says it was impressive how she stayed still and called it a real moment. Randy says they're all in it to win it.