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American Idol, Apr. 18 – Train Keeps on Going

Hollie is out for some non-stool chat with Ryan and talks about her hobby of football (soccer). The Liverpool Football Club has taped a message just for her, and she is literally thrilled. She’s not sure if she can sing after that.

The theme is now based around soul counterpart, Soul Train. Ryan announces that they are celebrating the spirit of the show tonight, as “the train stops here.” Don Cornelius’ son, who looks a lot like him, is in the audience.

Hollie takes the stage singing Son of a Preacher Man. She has the confidence and not a lot of nerves on her tonight, but she’s still not quite hitting all the notes. As good as she was on the first song, she’s a little pitchy on this one, and mostly because it’s just not her type of song. Her style doesn’t match the song very well, as it just comes off as she’s screaming, and if you’re pitchy on top of it, that doesn’t help.

Randy tells Hollie that they were laughing a little bit, because she dug in for the song. It was crazy, and he was a little worried hearing she was going to do this song, but she worked it out. He even liked this better than the first song. That’s a little troublesome. Jennifer agrees and thinks she’s showing a new composure. It just really suits her. Steven sees it and hears it too. He still thinks Hollie can push it even more. She has the voice and vehicle, and he closes his eyes when she’s singing, and pictures her doing all these things, but she’s still just standing there. She tells Ryan she realized this week she really needed to let go.

Colton, as promised, does it Colton-style at the piano, and sings September He’s definitely taking the soul down a notch instead of dancing his way through it. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but he hits it more and more as he goes through the song. I don’t know if it is filled with traditional soul, but it’s definitely filled with his soul.

Steven loves Colton’s voice, but it’s the part of the competition where you have to find a song to show off your voice, and he thinks his voice is a lot more powerful than that song. Jennifer understands what he’s saying, and Colton did a different arrangement and made it his own, but it’s really about finding a song that fits into who he is. He sounded really good, but she’s not sure it came together the way it usually does for him. Randy agrees, as he’s done this a bunch with other songs, but maybe something more way out of his comfort zone like if he flipped Lil Wayne, would have been more of a contrast. Umm, that’s not “old soul,” Randy.

Elise sings Let’s Get It On, and with her voice and emotions, this could be the song of the night. To help that mood along, they have her singing from a couch. I’ve never heard her so growly like this, but it’s great, as she usually is. She’s amazing in this. There might be along of babies born about nine months from tonight.

Jennifer tells Elise she always sounds so good, and it makes it hard for Jennifer to critique her, because she has so much respect for her voice and everything she does. When they asked about her dog earlier, it’s obvious she doesn’t like to show the emotions much. But with a sexy song like this, they want to see it even more. She wonders if this is why America isn’t connecting, as they want to see her connect, and everyone knows her vocal talent should keep her out of the bottom three. But this could be the ticket. Elise thought she did that, but Jennifer said it’s more about being vulnerable.

Steven thinks the song showed Elise’s versatility and believes it strung a note with every man across America and that she broke a few more hearts. He thinks she needs to take it up a note to find six or seven songs that are out of the park. Her voice is already so good, but it’s about finding the songs that will win everyone’s hearts. Jennifer butts in and says when Elise sang Zeppelin, she left it all on the stage, and that’s what she’s missing here.

Randy doesn’t think the song choice was right for her voice, and it tells him she’s not sure what is right for her voice. He thinks she oversang it, and not as simple as when Marvin Gaye sang it. Elise says it’s different if she’s singing in a club and can take six minutes to get it all right. She thinks maybe she’s oversinging it now trying to fit it all in to that 90 seconds. Jennifer says it’s a big part, just baring your soul, but it’s what makes people relate to you.

Phillip is back tonight singing In the Midnight Hour, and this is flat out perfect for him from note one. He’s guitarless, and he’s so enjoyable to watch and listen to, we don’t even notice he’s missing it. As much as the others weren’t picking the perfect song for them, he is. He’s even grooving his way across the stage which we don’t normally get to see. This guy is ready. He’s primed for success.

Randy notes that Phillip Phillips is in the house. Exactly what he needs is what he has. He takes his time with it and lets the song breath. They feel his emotion every time, and he doesn’t think he knows how to do it any other way. That to him is what makes him who he is and he loves it. That’s what it’s really about, being who you are.

Phillip makes Jennifer want to get up there and do that little step with him, It’s the feeling and soul, and they’ve been watching him, but it’s that surprise moment that even Phillip doesn’t know is coming. It’s spontaneous and from the soul. Steven knows everyone loves Phillip because of who he is deep down inside him He’s brilliantly awkward, and he loves his character. Ryan wants to see Jennifer get up and do that step in her tight little dress.

Jessica Sanchez sings Try a Little Tenderness, and she’s rocking some Diana Ross hair tonight. She sings it great and has some great soul, but for my tastes, this song still needs a little more soul in it. For her, it’s a lot of soul, but I want more, as more than anything else, she’s just screaming it at the end.

Steven notes “Good God almighty, bless my soul; you’ve done it again.” He likes the fact Jessica is stepping out and appreciates that the most, as he knows she can sing. It’s all about stepping out and winning these people’s hearts. J-Lo thinks with this performance we got a little bit of Jessica’s alter ego, BeBe Chez. She came out a little bit, but after last week, they need to keep pushing her performances. Everyone’s vocal abilities are so great, that they need to start pushing them so that America feels it from them. It has to be more than just the voice. She wants her to take it a little bit further.

Randy has to agree with Jennifer and Steven. Where Jessica needs to grow now is connecting with the emotion in the lyric. He knows the public responds to the emotion, and while she can sing like anybody’s business, it’s about going there with that emotion.

Skylar takes the stage for Heard It Through the Grapevine, and she once again has her fiddles in tow. It’s the country version of this song. What’s great about this song, though, is she’s able to slip in some of that great vocal ability she keeps hidden, something that shows glimpses here an there that she could possibly go toe-to-toe with Jessica. And unlike Jessica, when she pushes it, she doesn’t sound like she’s screaming.

Randy calls this interesting, as Skylar and Phillip have no problem feeling and connecting. They just come out and do what they do. THis was brilliant, as she just came out and had a good time, and every time she comes out he feels like it’s a party. He loves that, and it’s what they’ve been talking about feeling the emotion all night. That’s how you develop a brand. Jennifer points out she watches the little girls in the front when Skylar comes out, and they get into her and relate to her and her spunkiness. Between both of the songs, she loves them both and thinks she’s done great the past few weeks. Steven compares her to a wild horse that can’t be tamed.

Joshua is the last one up for the night singing A Change Is Gonna Come. He starts it singing it almost big bandish, but again, like Phillip and Skylar, he gets the emotion into it. He’s showing that restraint again, and I just want him to belt it out so badly. I’m waiting, as it has to be coming. Aha, there it is! He just couldn’t keep it held in too long. It produces a judges’ standing O, as Jennifer almost seems like she’s pushing the others into it.

Steven tells Joshua he has stretched his voice to the limits of the soul and notes his restraint in the beginning. That’s what made it so big when he popped. His voice just climbs inside everybody and changes them for that moment. It’s what it’s all about and he just did it again. Jennifer explains we all know Joshua can sing, and American knows these songs, but when he comes out and holds back, she still wants more in the end. She pleads with America to not send this boy home.

Randy calls this a perfect song for Joshua as Cooke grew up singing gospel as well. He took his time and let it marinade, then burst it open at the end. He wants it known the talent on this show is better than anywhere on TV. I watch all the other shows, and I’ll agree that the voices on here are definitely better than on The Voice. Joshua wants to mention Jennifer’s abs you can see in her dress, and admits he was watching her the whole time. Jennifer says if he sings like that, he can stare all day.

Ryan asks the judges who they hope will go home tomorrow night. Like they’re going to answer that? Randy doesn’t want any of them to go home. Jennifer is trying to help them, but admits it will be hard to watch any of these artists go home. Steven advises them to look back on their performances and look to see what brought the house down, and then take it double time.

Dick Clark didn’t revolutionize the music business, but definitely put his mark on it. But just as he did that, he opened the door for a show like soul train to do something similar with a slightly different spin. These shows are long gone from the airwaves, but great artists like we have on the show this year can keep that train going. Randy mentioned several times tonight who the real artists are. They’ll keep that train going, even if they get sent home tonight.

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