The rankings are getting juicy and important now, so let’s get formalities out of the way: If I were a contestant on Idol during ’80s week, I’d obviously have selected “Nasty Girl” by Vanity 6. I’d coo, “I’m looking for a man that’ll do it anywhere / Even on the limousine floor,” and it would be disgusting and inspirational. Steven Tyler would be like, “One time I got squirrely with Holly Robinson Peete on the roof of a limousine outside Shreveport. Beautiful girl. But bumpity-bumpity, guess who’s humpity? Me, man. Beautiful job, Louis. Just Beautiful.”
And now, the rankings! Contestants on Idol don’t remember the ’80s anymore, so we have to assume they’ve seen The Breakfast Club on TBS, which is the same thing. Onward.
8. Joshua Ledet, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”
Controversy. I know J-Lo flapped her lashes at Joshua like a proud transsexual warlord, and I know the average Idol watcher loves Joshua’s weepy sangin’, but I found this performance downright disconnected. So songlessly super-sung! I should say that I appreciated the vocal aeronautics, but I just didn’t care about them — because, frankly, Joshua doesn’t care about his own song! That’s sort of a recurring issue I have with him: He’s too busy hollerin’ like a baby seal’s interior designer to acknowledge the message of a song. He’s the best male singer in the competition, and like Michael Lynche before him, he’ll bleat and boohoo to compensate for artistic intention. I want to rank him higher because of his faaaaabulous duet with Jessica, but the deed is done. Weeping sealion gets last. No fish for this clapping kid.
7. Hollie Cavanagh, “What a Feeling”
I hate that I’m regurgitating Steven Tyler’s derision and placing Hollie in seventh, because I’ll tell you something: This might be my favorite of the periwinkle princess’ performances. She was joltin’, y’all. She twirled, sashayed, skipped, and beamed like Ariel in a live performance of Disney’s ’The Little Mermaid’ on Gay Motherf*cking Ice, and I grant her snaps for the preteen chutzpah. Perhaps she was pitchy, but I’d rather see her treat the stage like the Double Dare obstacle course than the Albert Hall. You rage on, you ice-dappled hummingbird! You hoot “I’m So Excited” with DeAndre and saturate America with hip swivels! Shed your frozen tears and reemerge. Even if you’re eliminated tomorrow. Because I think you may be eliminated tomorrow.
6. Elise Testone, “I Want to Know What Love Is”
We all know Elise is my precious Brett Butler figurine, even when she’s dressed as “Kabuki Mamie Eisenhower” like last night. Yeesh. And she’s still my girl when she picks songs that no one needs to hear again, like “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Come the H on, Elise. Mariah Carey covered that yarn. You’re not Mariah Carey. You’re a raspin’, Rickie Lee Jonesing shy boho freakshow, and you need to represent that with song choices and ankle-length skirts. Such a disappointing transition from “Whole Lotta Love” last week to Foreigner’s Monster Ballads ode. If the Idol viewership spares you, thank your lucky stars, strap on your moon pendant, and get back in the game.
5. Colton Dixon, “Time After Time”
I’m crying into my hands and thanking God that Colton didn’t cry into his hands and thank God this week. Man, that was uncomfortable. With his crying family standing in the audience like funeralgoers from Our Town? Ugh! It was like reliving Catholic trauma from my childhood — much the way Madonna felt when watching the first cut of “Oh Father,” I expect. In choosing “Time After Time,” Colton graduated from what looked like “stifled homosexuality” to “regular ole homosexuality” last night (though maybe I’m projecting). That means I’m crying into my hands and thanking God AGAIN. But in joy! Not a bad rendition, either. Cyndi would mew approvingly. Sure, Colton is about 20% skinny-panted Cobra Starship sewer scum, but the other 80% is a quite honest, unafraid rock balladeer with a hundred thousand feelings. And I guess he loves painting faces? Cool!
4. DeAndre Brackensick, “I Like It”
Mad purrs to Lion Teen Brackensick this week, because choosing a DeBarge tune is (seriously) super, super cool. Particularly when you’re the lost fetal member of DeBarge, as DeAndre is. I worried we were in for an antiseptic performance in the vein of his “Endless Love” cover at first, but he started bopping and flailing like Simba’s silly cousin during the second half. Total locomotion. Some “Master Blaster” flashbacks for me, too, which is nice. In fact, DeAndre had the most inspired song choice of the night, and I hope voters considered that. I’m thinking he’s in the bottom three with Elise and Hollie this week, but he’s too damn fun and Minnie Riperton-y to leave now. Manny Riperton? Fine. Bottom line, if he finishes last, I think the judges would still use a save on him? So I’m not too worried? Ugh, I’m worried.
3. Phillip Phillips, “That’s All”
Killer trilling from Philly Phillz in both his solo performance and his duet of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Elise Testone. I’m really buying the sex appeal now, since he pairs bloodshot eyes with staccato torso convulsions, which remind me of surprisingly inspired lovers I had in college. Wouldn’t have instinctively matched Phil with the Genesis catalog, but I’m proud of him for going there. Some nervy intuition from The Man Who Prefers Gray Shirts. Actually, he could’ve revved up some Peter Gabriel solo stuff, in retrospect. “Sledgehammer” would’ve ruled, and “Big Time” would’ve been best. And if he picked “Shock the Monkey,” I’d have cried. And if he picked George Michael’s “Monkey,” it would’ve TOTALLY BLOWN MY MIND, and I’d have tracked him down and performed the first ever citizen’s arrest/wedding ceremony combo pack. I’d be marrying and handcuffing him simultaneously. Like David Copperfield and Claudia Schiffer.
2. Jessica Sanchez, “How Will I Know”
Numerical list to ensure I cover everything: 1) Fierce Whitney slinging, mostly; 2) Occasional lags in stage presence, and I wished she’d pounded the floor during the “Ohhhh-oooohhhhhh HOW WILL I KNOWWWWW” break; 3) Tacky to cover “How Will I Know” when I chose it for myself two weeks in a row; 4) the girl is just believable, full stop; 5) Unlike some American Idol contestants who harass me on Twitter (hello again, Pia Toscano!), Jessica relishes every up jam and even assigns a ferocious alterego to handle the theatrics. That’s the kind of delusion that makes a star. We need more exciting delusions on Idol! Remember when Naima Adedapo decided she was Jamaican one week? That’s the stuff/crazy I’m talking about. Jessica gets it. I wish Naima Adedapo had jumped out of the audience — you saw her there this week, right? — on a skateboard emblazoned with the Jamaican flag and joined Jessica for some jommin’!
1. Skylar Laine, “Wind Beneath My Wings”
Damn. First of all, Skylar’s lucky she triumphed this week, because her introductory clip package was just infuriating. Ugh. I’m so sure Skylar misses “her gun” from home. She wasn’t just pandering to the zealous voter contingent of the American South. Right. That’s not annoying. Right. Ugh! But blow me down, the girl selected one of my least favorite songs, loaded it up with gunpowder, lead, and the angst of a 45-year-old lady cop, and transformed it into a murderous, heartstoppingly urgent power jam. The awful condescension of the lyrics melted away, and Skylar drenched us in victory sass. As I’ve long claimed, she’ll make the top five. She’ll outlast Ledet, Cavanagh, Brackensick, and Testone, I suspect — maybe even Dixon too. And Phillips? Actually, Jessica’s not out of the picture either. Skylar Laine could win American Idol, and it’s time for us to decide if that’s a livable circumstance. Hmph. In her defense, she wasn’t bad as the star of Saving Grace.