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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol, Apr. 18 – Train Keeps on Going

If I were one of the remaining seven idols, I’d be worried sick over my performance tonight. The save has been used and is no longer in play, and it’s clear looking at the bottom three last week that it doesn’t matter what the judges think. Everyone is vulnerable. They better all bring their A game from hereon out.

I was hoping they would pay homage, and indeed they do. Ryan Seacrest begins the night addressing the death of icon and his “dear friend” Dick Clark. He acknowledges that without his influence, a show like American Idol would not exist. He knows Dick is in a better place, saying, “Hey, let’s get on with the show, okay?” Ryan’s answer is, “You got it, Boss.”

This is the most music ever for a two-hour episode of the show. First the Idols will perform a song from the past twelve years, and then will perform a second song, a soul song from back in the day.

Hollie Cavanagh starts us off. She feels really good to not have been in the bottom three last week, noting you never know what happens in this competition. Jimmy Iovine is all alone as the mentor this week and looks a little lonely. She’s singing Rolling In the Deep, showing that every single female these days between this show and The Voice seems to think they can sink Adele. Jimmy asks if she gets nervous onstage, and she thinks there are things that distract her onstage. He advises her to focus more in the dressing room. He knows that from the first note, everyone can see if she’s nervous or not.

Watching Hollie tonight, she sounds good initially, but the look on her face is too intense. She’s trying really hard to not be nervous. What’s usually missing in her performances is the feeling, but she seems to have that a little more tonight. She’s impressive on this song. Let’s see if she can keep it up through her second performance.

Steven Tyler tells Hollie she finally did what all of America was waiting for her to do. She came out of her shell and ruffled her feathers a little. She took a song that everyone likes and sang it with a beautiful voice. He can’t even judge it. Jennifer Lopez is so happy right now. That’s why they always say, “No thinking.” That’s what she did. She forgot everything and just sang the song. It’s what they’ve been talking about with her, and she finally did it.

Randy Jackson isn’t going to say it was perfect, but it was close to perfect. The audience boos, but he tells them even Hollie will admit that. What he loved is that for the first time ever he felt her. She had feeling and emotion. They said to each other she has arrived. “Very well done.” Ryan asks if she felt she was on from that very first note, and she did. She’s been singing the song for so long and loves it; that’s why she picked it. She felt to make a comeback, she needed a song like this. We’ll see what she does with her second song, now that she feels a little success in her.

Colton Dixon gets non-stool chat with Ryan who mentions seeing Colton’s sister in the audience every week, and it makes him think how she was the one who came to audition, then somehow he was talked into doing it as well. She is brought onstage and mentions that it is so surreal to see him onstage after watching the show since season one. It’s emotional and exciting. She doesn’t know if she’ll be back next season, but she believes she’s definitely learning a lot.

Meeting with Jimmy, Colton tells him he is missing the rock element he has had in the past on the show, and that’s why he’s singing Bad Romance this week. Jimmy wants him to have a moment like he did last week. Lady Gaga lifts you, because it comes from the bottom of her soul, and Jimmy knows Colton has to do the same. Colton wants the audience to see that he’s not changing who he is and is just taking on a new monster. Jimmy knows regardless, he has the female vote that backs him like a stone wall.

Colton takes the stage dressed like James Durbin, complete in tails and with a little red in his hair. He’s sounding a little like him as well. The Idols are apparently deciding to show no fear tonight taking on the big ones. Adele and Gaga are big. And they’re not just taking them on, but doing it up well. So far it’s a good night.

Randy tells Colton that it felt like they were just at the Colton Dixon concert. He is so in the zone right now, and while Randy doesn’t know if it’s his greatest, solely because he’s had so many great performances, he still loves it, as he likes to see his interpretation of Gaga. The key may have felt low on the verses, but it had to be since he could then have the high notes and the power in other places.

Jennifer loved it and agrees about the low parts of the song. But Colton has so much character when he sings, that even in those parts, it just didn’t matter. Steven knows you have to get low to get high and doesn’t know what he loved more, Colton’s outfit, his band, or the set on Idol. But Gaga knows the secret that if you want to get to the other shore, you can’t lose site of this one. He encourages him to keep taking chances and risks. Colton explains his next song will be slowed done while he sticks to the “Colton style.” This was out of the box for him, but he plans on expanding every week and including everyone in the party. I think there are several out there who want to be invited to the party.

Jimmy jokes that Elise Testone has a vacation home in the bottom three, as she’s there all the time. When he asks her where she thinks she is right now, she says in the middle. He figures she means she goes up and down every week and feels like the underdog. She isn’t sure why she’s always in the bottom three, but Jimmy points out she’s like an Etch-A-Sketch with a clean slate every week. She’s singing No One this week, and Jimmy notes that with that blank slate, she can’t afford to slip at all.

Elise takes the stage tonight and looks drop-dead gorgeous in orange. As much as Hollie added emotion this week, Elise pours on that much more to her perfromance. It draws me in and makes it hard to even write while I watch her. I just want to sit and enjoy her. She’s singing that no one can get in the way of what she’s feeling, and I believe it.

Jennifer tells Elise that while they push others to let it go, she does it so naturally. She just loves watching her. Tonight she gave her the first goosies of the night. When Elise smiles and feels what she’s singing, her eyes come alive. She wants to see her do more of that, because it’s like a light bulb when she does it. Steven loves Elise a lot – her voice, the Janis Joplin in her, the grit, and all. He was wishing she would have had a song with a better chorus, but she sang her tushie off and was delish.

Randy admits Elise definitely has a strong voice, and she knows they love her and are great fans of hers. This is a great song and she sang it great. He was happy she stayed with the melody for a change, rather than taking a liberty with it as she often does. This song sings itself and everyone knows the lyrics and could sing along with her. He knows it was a lesson in great restraint for her. Ryan knows her fans love her voice, her candor, mobility, and honesty. He noticed she was emotional during rehearsal. She explains she didn’t feel good and also found out on Monday her dog is really sick and might not make it. This makes her play with her hair to get that emotion out.

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