Final four perform

Two songs each, one duet for each, and one group song. Plenty of drama to deal with:

– Will Phil rebound after a bad week?

– Will Hollie regress after a good week?

– Will Joshua get his 38th standing ovation from the judges?

– Will Jessica get her first?

One very undramatic thing; who is going home tomorrow night. It’s Hollie this week, I am 100% sure. I haven’t heard anyone yet, but do I have to? Phil won’t ever be criticized, and neither of the two J’s have had a trainwreck all season. Hollie has been in the bottom two five times already, and she is about to make it six. That’s amazing, isn’t it? She’s been one contestant away from being done five times in the last six weeks, yet she is still here. Maybe I should say I’m 99% sure.

Lets have it, kiddies. Bring on the heat….

The Singers, the Songs:

Phil, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” (CCR)

Um…. Let’s just move on.

Hollie, “Faithfully”(Journey)

I got the songlist early from a live blog, and their recap said that Hollie killed it. I’m Hollie’s biggest fan, but I don’t really think she killed it. She was good, really good at the end, but the arrangement was sleepy and sort of boring. There wasn’t much going on dynamically, and her glory notes weren’t all that glorious. She isn’t good enough to get away with boring. B

Joshua, “You Raise Me Up” (Josh Groban)

Somebody must have told him to tone it down a little, because he sang more melody tonight than he’s sung in several weeks. When I first heard him during the Hollywood rounds, my impression was that his voice had enough natural character to sound pretty amazing even if he just sang the melody. He showed that tonight, then of course he did his thing at the end and my ears glazed over a little, but he was really good. A-

Jessica, “Steal Away” (Etta James)

This is the Jessica who I fell in love with in Vegas… The blues ain’t exactly her strongest singing style yet, but it might be in a few years when she’s all growed up. The only mar on one of my favorite performances of the year was a single wonky note late in the song, when she missed the mark badly on a falsetto jump. She showed some new stuff, and her voice sounds terrific. That’s a huge relief, after a couple of weeks when she sounded strained. A-

Phil and Josh,“This Love” (Maroon 5)

I figured what the heck, at least Josh will sound good….. But it was Phil who blew the song up and sounded fantastic, while Josh looked disinterested and a little confused. I noticed something weird on the second verse: Phil went into a Bill Cosby selling Jello pudding schtick with the faces, the dancing and the weird growling. I’ve always thought that he sounds sort of like Fat Albert, so that made me laugh. Good job, Phil.

Jessica and Hollie, “Eternal Flame” (Bangles)

Both sounded great, both took on a complicated harmony part and did it well, they worked together and I was thoroughly entertained. I see no reason to grade these duets, but if I did this one would grade fairly high. The only thing I could do without was those swings. That was pretty hokey. I don’t know what Randy was talking about, they switched high and low the entire way, but it’s not like I ever understand what Randy is talking about. He’s even more the weird Uncle lately than Steven, who seems to be more focused now.

Everyone, “Waiting for a Girl Like You” (Foreigner)

Is it crap on Elise week? Josh is singing one of her finals songs later in the show, making I think four times that Elise’s songs have been repeated. I don’t remember Idol doing any repeats at all in the finals before, other than those cheesy finale songs like “No Boundaries”. Elise is probably home in front of the TV, wondering what the hell is going on.

Phil, “Volcano”(Damien Rice)

I would buy this as a Phil record, and the mood lighting was perfect. I’m calling this Phil’s first moment of the season, and we all might look back on this performance as the one that really locked down the title for Phil. Hell, Leon Russell wasn’t any better a singer than Phil is. Maybe…

Hollie, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (Bonnie Raitt)

This is the first time I noticed Hollie’s accent getting in the way of the song a little bit. She over enunciated some of the words, and it sounded a little weird. Other than that, though, I liked this performance quite a bit more than her first one. Her voice soared, and her sweet, powerful natural tone fit the song perfectly for the way she sang it. Bonnie Raitt’s raspy, understated growl is closer to Phil’s Cosby Kid tone than to Hollie’s howitzer, though, so some people might have been put off by the jarring difference in tone. B+; understanding that her performance will be polarizing because of the jarring difference between her voice and Bonnie Raitt’s voice. I wouldn’t be surprised if the general feeling is that Hollie misfired. Maybe I’m too biased to be subjective about the kid, but I thought she sounded terrific. She probably should have picked a bigger song, though.

Joshua, “It’s a Man’s World” (James Brown)

Another paint by the numbers over the top Joshua performance, and the camera caught J-Lo nudging Steven to remind him that it was time to give him his standing ovation. I don’t know whether to call it an A or an F. He was terrific, as he usually is, but he’s becoming cliché and his wild theatrics are actually getting a little boring to me. We know you can sing loud, Josh. How about putting a soft note in there once in awhile, ok?

Jessica, “And I’m Telling You” (Jennifer Holliday)

Somebody had better go pick Joshua up, because Jessica just blew him off the stage. I don’t even like this song but Jessie made me like it tonight, calling Phil’s moment and creating her own moment. It reminded me of Haley’s“House of the Rising Sun” performance from last year, the way she ferociously devoured the song and spit the bones out at Joshua’s fan club (the judges). There was a definite “suck it, you standing-o sluts” look on her face when she finished.

Safe to in Danger:

There might be the tiniest chance that Joshua could provide a shocker, but I don’t see it happening. Dread Pirate Roberts will finally claim Hollie’s scalp tomorrow night.