‘American Idol’ 11 Recap: Top 7 Perform

At the top of the show, we get an immediate filler video of the Top 7 with Tommy Hilfiger. But at this point, Tommy’s becoming kinda pointless since the finalists aren’t really taking his advice.

Joining Jimmy Iovine as mentor this week is Akon. Also, during the intro videos for each contestant, we see footage of people from each of their hometowns supporting and rooting for them.

1. Skylar Laine: “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You”
I don’t know if anyone has ever covered American Idol‘s own Kellie Pickler before on this show. But Skylar picked the perfect song for her genre, style and vocal range. The belting parts were exceptional–this is obviously an indication of what she needs to do post-Idol. Her problem though (and it’s not her fault; it’s out of her control) is that she went first, and voters won’t remember her. And with only seven left, that’s the way the cards have to fall.

2. Colton Dixon: “Love the Way You Lie”
Whoa! Colton just provided his best and strongest performance yet; and for the first time, I found him worthy enough of being in this competition. The overall performance was heartfelt, breathtaking and beautiful. For once, he was on key. And the tone he gave to his voice drew me in instantly. Regular readers of my recaps here will know that I’ve always hated on his performances, but I can’t do it this time.

Elise Testone & Phillip Phillips: “Somebody That I Used to Know”
Is it a coincidence that Glee just did this song the other night? I don’t know. Because of the passion that Matt Bomer and Darren Criss put into it on Glee, this Idol version felt a little tame, but that’s a moot point in a way. I really enjoyed listening to this. Elise just killed it–her tone was beautiful. And while there wasn’t anything wrong with Phillip, he didn’t really bring any passion to it–he just stood there and reminded me a little of season 9′s Lee Dewyze (no expression).

3. Jessica Sanchez: “Stuttering”
Like Jimmy, I have never heard this song either. But she made me love it. When she’s on, she’s exceptional–like with this. The R&B feel once in a while came forth through her voice at times, which felt right. The falsetto was effortless for her. This is the kind of song I could see her doing on her album.

4. Joshua Ledet: “Runaway Baby”
Before his performance, Fantasia sends a video message wishing him a Happy Birthday. Since Josh is the male equivalent of Fantasia, wouldn’t you just love to see the two of them duet at the finale? That would be epic! They could have a wail-off! But onto the performance: This song is a really fun song. I’m sure I’ve heard it before, but I loved it. My favorite parts were the chorus, where he really found his stride. He had a lot of control without being subdued, striking the right balance. This could be a great iTunes recording.

Colton Dixon & Skylar Laine: “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
It’s the second Idol song of the night! I absolutely love this Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean song–it’s one of my favorites of the past year. And fortunately, Colton and Skylar both lived up to the original, overall. Skylar was the breakout of the duet, as she should be; she’s really coming into her own this week.

5. Hollie Cavanagh: “Perfect”
Coming into tonight, Hollie was most in danger of going home. She needed a game-changer. This is a great song, and what I loved is that she didn’t do it as is–she did an acoustic arrangement, which helped her because she kept a lot of restraint in her voice. This was her best in weeks, so why did the judges throw her under the bus? Maybe they know her time is pretty much up on the show?

6. Phillip Phillips: “Give a Little More”
I think Phillip might be getting into a bad habit of starting to sound the same every week now, regardless of the jazzy moments here. Because he has the voice that he has, he has to be really on, or else he ends up falling into this trap. I’m sure he’s got a strong following, and going near the end won’t hurt.

Hollie Cavanagh & Jessica Sanchez & Joshua Ledet: “Stronger”
And it’s the third Idol song and second Kelly Clarkson song of the night! Another fantastic song selection tonight. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as into it as the judges were for this trio. When Jessica first stepped out, she wasn’t as strong. Hollie wasn’t her best either. Joshua was obviously the stand-out here.

7. Elise Testone: “You and I”
To take on Gaga is risky. And what’s interesting is that she and alum Haley Reinhart are so much alike vocally and stylistically, and Haley did this song last year to much praise. (I do have to say that Haley probably won between the two.) Except for a few bum notes, her tone suited the song really well. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if some say it was too much like the original; in a way, I can see that.

Favorite Performances: Jessica Sancez / Joshua Ledet / Colton Dixon

My Votes: Jessica Sanchez (40 votes) / Joshua Ledet (40 votes)

Bottom 3 Predictions: Skylar Laine / Colton Dixon / Hollie Cavanagh

Elimination Prediction: Hollie Cavanagh

Up until this point, for the most part it’s been pretty easy to guess who’s going home or who may be in the Bottom 3. Most of the eliminations have been warranted and not shocking at all. Because of that, we’re almost due to have a shocker happen either this week or next. We’re in the final two or three weeks of the judges being able to use their Save, so it could happen now.

Hollie has the best chance at being in the Bottom 3 this week. Before tonight, I would’ve said Elise is going to join her. But Elise performed last, and when Elise goes last she’s never been in danger. Then again, since we’re getting down to the wire, her time may be waning as well. Even though I loved Skylar’s take on the Kellie Pickler tune, I believe she will join Hollie in the danger zone.

As for that final spot? It could either be Colton (only because he went near the start of the show) or Joshua (even though he was brilliant) or Phillip (even though he sang near the end of the night). I have to put all these addenda with each name because each has a reason for staying as well. So this is hard. I keep going back and forth on this choice, but I am ultimately going with Colton. I don’t want to pick either, but it’s the way it is. Even if either Colton or Phillip end up in in the Bottom, I doubt either will have the lowest votes. Then again, if we’re due for a shocker, then maybe Colton has to sing for his life? Who knows.

I’ve said before that once Heejun left, that opened the door for Deandre to leave next. And now that Deandre’s off, this opens it up for Hollie to be the next to go. Even though she was excellent this week, the judges threw her under the bus completely. I don’t think they heard the same thing I did. Maybe that trashing will get her fans to rally around her strongly. But her days are numbered. If not this week, then next. If we have a shocker, it’ll either be Skylar or Colton and the Save will be used, especially so for Colton. But I’m ultimately predicting Hollie’s demise. I hate to say it, but it’s her time.

Who was your favorite this week? And who should head home?

During this week’s results show, not one, but two former Idol finalists will be performing: Oscar winner and powerhouse Jennifer Hudson, and last year’s rocker, James Durbin. Oh, and there’s an elimination as well. See ya then…