Somewhere in a dark, tiny room in the basement of American Idol HQ, Nigel Lythgoe is dusting off a clear plastic box containing a bright red button marked with two words that have the power to divide the Idoloonie Nation: “Judges’ Save.”
Now look, I’ve got no inside information that Randy, J.Lo, and Steven will use Season 11 Top 7 Week — focusing on songs from 2010-2012 — to save an ousted contestant (in the tradition of Matt Giraud, “Big Mike” Lynche, and Casey Abrams), but a review of the facts makes it a pretty solid bet. First and foremost, the judges must utilize their veto power before Top 5 Week, which means it’s either tomorrow or next Thursday. (And come on, the idea that they’d pass on the ego gratification and headline-generating buzz of the Save is too silly to entertain.) But perhaps even more importantly, Top 7 night produced one stellar vocal after the next — even the weakest performances were pretty much in tune — to the point where it would almost seem like a terrible buzzkill to cap off the festivities by sending some innocent hopeful to the Idol guillotine.
Anyway, I’ve got a full episode recap to write — look for it on Thursday right here at TVLine.com — but before I do, let me give my pithy opinion of the evening’s performances:
Skylar Laine: Kellie Pickler’s “Didn’t You Know How Much I Love You”
While barrels of fire are typically used on TV to signify “homeless people living under the bridge,” after tonight a part of me will always associate them with Idol‘s country firecracker giving a blazingly emotional, breakout performance. Don’t forget to vote just because she went first, America!
Colton Dixon: Skylar Gray’s “Love the Way You Lie”
Call me crazy, but tonight marked the first time I’ve been as excited (more excited?) about Season 11 Colton as I was about Season 10 Colton. So how come the judges were so muted about this sublime, subtle performance?
Elise & Phillip: Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”
Not sure what that pre-performance edit was about — cue mental image of Randy being the only person in the audience laughing — but their duet crackled with love-hate tension.
Jessica Sanchez: Jazmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering”
Liked the risky song choice, loved the spot-on vocals, lllluuuuuuuvvvved the silver-and-white striped jacket with crazy collar and shoulders.
Joshua Ledet: Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby”
Words can’t express how I felt about Joshua bringing the uptempo funk, so let me use a link to a Patti LaBelle gif instead.
Skylar & Colton: Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
Agreeing with Randy is about as fun as pointing and jeering at roadkill, but the dawg was right: The not-dating couple fell a little short of the original.
Hollie Cavanagh: Pink’s “Perfect”
I’m not sure if I was unknowlingly influenced by Jimmy (cut to me shopping for a baseball cap, blue leather jacket, and Beats headphones next weekend), but while Hollie definitely improved off her last two efforts, there was something a little bit “talent portion of the pageant” about the performance. But hey, if she goes home tomorrow, at least her dress will have a second chance at success as an Olympic figure-skating costume.
Phillip Phillips: Maroon 5′s “Give a Little More”
Hollie, Joshua & Jessica: Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”
That didn’t kill me, but it did give me a strong(er) urge to find the mute button. The musical equivalent of firing 100 paintball pellets at an origami swan.
Elise Testone: Lady Gaga’s “You and I”
Apparently, the judges needed ClearChannel to tell them “You and I” is a good song, since they hated it last year when Haley Reinhart covered it (before it was released by Gaga as a single). (Insert side-eye here.) But while nothing compares to Haley’s rendition (not even Gaga’s), I thought this had some really pretty moments. I just kinda wish Elise had stayed at the piano and kept the arrangement quiet and stripped-down, to differentiate it from the original, y’know?
What did you think of Season 11 Top 7 night? Who’s at risk of going home? And who was your favorite? Sound off in the comments! And for all my Idol news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!