American Idol Top 4 Recap

A fun night of Elvis songs.

The songs of Elvis and the counsel of music producer Tommy Mottola proved to be a winning combination on American Idol tonight. The whole show was smoother than last week, in large part because they only had to squeeze eight songs into 40 minutes instead of ten. Let’s get right to it.

Singing order was Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, Elliott Yamin, and Katharine McPhee.

Here’s how I ranked them, from best to worst, using their combined scores.

1. Taylor Hicks (23.5 + 21 = 44.5/50). Taylor sang “Jail House Rock” in the first round. Tommy Mottola was cool and gave good advice to Taylor, who even looked like Elvis in this song. Taylor gave the type of performance that his fans – and music fans in general – love. It was full of energy, hot, and flawless. An Idol moment for Taylor. Simon, who made reference to the “real world,” is clearly not living there himself, and his criticism of Taylor was totally off base, prompting Paula Abdul to yell at him and him to snap “shut up” in reply. America, thankfully, is no longer listening to Simon, who is increasingly becoming a parody of himself.

In the second round, Taylor sang “In The Ghetto.” While I thought this was great, I actually preferred Taylor’s first song. But this performance looked even better following a tepid performance by Katharine. Tommy Mottola said (twice) that Taylor’s rendition was very impressive, and he got that right. Rich and interesting, with nice high notes, higher and smoother than we’ve heard from Taylor all season. Simon said that Taylor sung his way into the semis.

2. Elliott Yamin (18 + 21.5 = 39.5/50). Elliott sang “If I Can Dream” in the first round. This was the only song I was not familiar with. Tommy Mottola said that the song needed practice and seemed concerned. Listen to Tommy Mottola, his comments are right on point. I thought the song was a bit rough before the modulation, better afterwards. I thought it was not a home run, and that’s what Elliot needed to stay in this competition.

In the second round, Elliott sang “Trouble.” Note that Simon had nothing snappy to say about the name of the song. That’s because this performance was Elliott’s home run. The bluesy style served to highlight Elliott’s strong vocals. I wrote that it was his “best performance ever” on my notes, only to hear Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul say the exact same thing. The lyrics and title of the song do not matter, Simon.

3. Chris Daughtry (19 + 19.5 = 38.5/50). Chris sang “Suspicious Minds” in the first round. But not until America learned that he wears boxer briefs. Whatever. Chris sang the song well but the performance felt lethargic. Chris was out of tune before the second chorus, which none of the judges seemed to hear. As Randy would say (but didn’t this time), it was just OK for me, dog.

In the second round, Chris sang “A Little Less Conversation.” This is a very stylized song that nobody but Elvis can pull off. The song was actually re-released within the last five years and was on the charts, so the audience might be familiar with it. The song was too low for Chris at the start, and I kept waiting for him to raise it up and octave like Elvis does in the original. He finally did at the end, which saved it for him. He added a yell at the end, which sounded very much out of place.

4. Katharine McPhee (17 + 18.5 = 35.5/50). Katharine sang a medley of “Hound Dog” and “All Shook Up” in the first round. A medley. Like they do in high school. Hundreds of great Elvis songs and Kat sings a medley. Yuck. I thought it was karaoke. Simon called it manic, like a bad audition. Plus she forgot her lyrics and turned her back to the camera to try to cover up. This was as close to a train wreck as there was tonight.

In the second round, Katharine sang “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” This was a signature ballad for Elvis and Kat did not do it justice. Tommy Mottola encouraged her to emote but not to yell, and she did not take his advice. At the start, she sang in a whiny style and the song was way too slow. Then she looked nervous and rushed after the modulation. I thought it was really rough. Simon said it was like apple pie plus a gallon of cream, which is his way of saying that it was over the top.

Interestingly, I ranked the performers in the same order this week as last week, which probably says more about my preferences than my ability to predict how America will vote. But I think that the more people watch, the less important power voters, fan clubs, VFTW, bloggers, and Simon Cowell become. At some point, you cannot fool America. The best performer will win.

I also think that, as people are eliminated, Taylor, Elliott, and Katharine are likely to inherit voters from each other, but that Chris will be left with only his hard-core fan base. So when Katharine is eliminated, her votes will go to Taylor and Elliot. Then Elliot will be eliminated, with his votes going to Taylor. And Taylor will win it all going away. What the heck.

Erik’s blogging promise: I hereby swear and affirm that, as always, I have not consulted other blogs (including DialIdol.com) before making my predictions. I am linking to others here, for your convenience, before having read the opinions of the other pundits (which I’ll be doing shortly). I will be updating the URLs in the chart as other posts become available.

Erik’s rankings (best to worst): Taylor, Elliott, Chris, Katharine.

Erik’s pick to go home: Katharine.

(ErikJHeels.com is 77% in picking the bottom American Idol contestants over the past five weeks.)

See also:

Erik’s List of American Idol Pundits
Pundit Bottom 2-3 Accuracy Bottom One Accuracy
DialIdol.com 85% (11 for 13) 60% (3 for 5)
The Woes and the Prose of an American Idol Junkie 85% (11 for 13) 40% (2 for 5)
Reality TV Magazine 77% (10 for 13) 60% (3 for 5)
Erik J. Heels 77% (10 for 13) 40% (2 for 5)
Various and Sundry » American Idol 69% (9 for 13) 60% (3 for 5)
USATODAY 69% (9 for 13) 60% (3 for 5)
American Idol Season 5 Blog 62% (8 for 13) 40% (2 for 5)
High Lord Dave’s Blog 62% (8 for 13) 40% (2 for 5)
Flipping A Coin 50% 50%
Vote For The Worst 31% (4 for 13) 40% (2 for 5)
Simon Cowell NA 40% (2 for 5)
Zabasearch.com – Most Searched American Idol Contestants no historical data no historical data

7 Replies to “American Idol Top 4 Recap”

  1. Interestingly, the bloggers tonight are picking the bottom two as follows (so far):

    6 picks for Katharine in the bottom 2
    5 picks for Chris in the bottom 2
    3 picks for Elliott in the bottom 2
    0 picks for Taylor in the bottom 2

    Which is consistent with how I have the final four ranked.

  2. Wow! Elliot clearly has a fantastic voice, but, tonite he looked hot, too! He just keeps getting better. I really want to see him keep soaring!

  3. Poor Katharine. She really got outclassed, outsung and out the door last night. For the very first time, I think the possibility of a Taylor/Elliott finale is a real possibility. I thought, overall, the show was top rate, not vocally to the point of Standards night, but in terms of excitement and drama, it’s why I keep watching.

    And you’re right about Simon. His cutesy quips, which used to be funny, are getting a bit tiresome.

    My ranking: Elliott, Taylor, Chris, Kat.

  4. I think a lot of people will vote for Katharine because they know she CAN sing and because she’s beautiful. Even though she didn’t have a great night, people will still vote for her. I’d say either Chris or Elliott will go home, and Elliott just gets better and better.

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