This week’s American Idol theme of Brit Pop produced some of the strongest vocal performances of the season. Alas, after 60 million votes cast -- according to host Ryan Seacrest -- one of the Top 5 got the boot.
Sadly, that boot was fitted for country cutie Skylar Laine, the pint-sized Mississippi spitfire who livened up our screens every week with memorable performances, including The Faces’ anthem “Stay With Me” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son.”
There will be no country finale this season, despite Laine’s strong performances of the CCR classic and Dusty Springfield’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me," which resonated with the judges.
Jennifer Lopez, in particular, admired Laine's weekly adrenaline rushes upon hitting the stage, and Interscope’s Jimmy Iovine agreed -- to a point.
“She suits up and shows up every night,” he said, but noted that the lyrics of “Fortunate Son” -- John Fogerty’s full-on disgust with the Vietnam War -- may have gotten lost on her.
As for the Springfield selection, Iovine was less impressed. He especially hated the stage bench with a swooning couple in love, which was used as a prop.
“It had Nashville, Vegas and Broadway,” he said, adding the whole thing was “very strange” and missed the “darkness” of the original.
“I was not thrilled with it,” he added.
Laine shared the bottom two spots with Brit Hollie Cavanagh this week. How embarrassing would that have been if she were sent packing on the night that featured music from her home country? The Liverpool Footballers would revolt.
What may have saved Cavanagh was her upbeat pop take on Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High." Cavanagh managed to escape the Pia Toscano curse by not trying to recreate Turner's version at all.
Iovine called it "a game changer."
"She approached it like, 'I’m a pop girl. I know who I am and I am going to pay homage to Tina Turner,'" he said.
In other shocking news, Phillip Phillips emerged as the Teflon contestant, escaping the bottom spot after what could have been a journey ending performance of The Zombie’s “Time of the Season.”
Even Iovine said he did “two bland songs” and “he should be in the bottom two... on performances alone.” However, this is Idol and eye candy wins every time.
The Joshua Ledet love affair continued last night, with Iovine basically saying the boy is already signed, because Interscope won’t “drop the ball.”
“Joshua is going to be a tough one to beat,” he said, exclaiming that the “sky opened” when he sang.
“This year this was the best performance on American Idol,” he said of Ledet’s take on The Bee Gees' 'To Love Somebody.' “This kid deserves greatness.”
Ledet tried to credit his performance to a quick session with Idol voice coach Michael Orland (who tweeted that the only other contestant to give him an on-air shout out was Season 8's Adam Lambert), but sort of mangled his last name.
He also gave the audience a glimpse into what kind of an album he aims to make: Music that "speaks to people" with a "message every time."
Why keep voting, then? What about Jessica Sanchez? Oh, right, Iovine decided to lambast her outfit as not being teenager-y enough and blame the stylists for “torpedoing this girl,” as if Idol is now Fashion Star. Why do they keep throwing this poor girl under the bus?
As for her vocals on Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful,” Iovine had praise.
“She took you on a journey,” he said. "It was magnificent.”
The night also featured a scorching performance by Coldplay, who brought their arena like professionalism and glow in the dark staging to the Idol audience.
The night also marked the return of season four champion Carrie Underwood, performing the title track from her just released CD, Blown Away. Underwood was engulfed in smoke and a wind machine, and out-did Angelina Jolie with a slit dress demonstrating the correct way to “carry” that look. (Side note -- I have a slight crush on Underwood’s Texan guitarist Ed Eason. What a cutie!).
The judges looked sad to see Laine go and gave her a long overdue standing ovation, usually reserved for Ledet.
“I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and said they enjoyed Wednesday night’s show,” said Lopez.
“You all are so great," agreed Steven Tyler. "The Top 5 has never been better than this."
We at Idol Worship will miss the passion and energy Laine brought to the stage every week, but take heart: she's ready to rock it out on tour this summer.
- American Idol
- Skylar Laine
- Jimmy Iovine