IDOL WATCH: The Top 5 Take On the 1960s and British Pop!

IDOL-WATCH-The-Top-5-Take-On-the-1960s-and-British-Pop-20010101

Tonight's American Idol was two hours even with only five contestants left (really, Idol?) leading to another week with two categories and some strong performances: the music of the 1960s and British pop. It'll certainly be a show on which some of them struggle on one category or the other, but who'll rise to the occasion with the help of guest judge Steven Van Zandt? Find out now!

"The stress once again reaches a fever pitch," Ryan tells us earnestly at the top of the show. I wonder if he believes the things he says, or if he dies a little inside every time he has to deliver a line like that.

Hollie, the first to hit the stage, chooses "River Deep - Mountain High" because she thinks people want her to come out of her shell more. Maybe that's true, but I think Hollie's main problem is that she's got a powerful voice, but is always trying to seem more exciting. It's not a bad performance, but even with all her trying it still seems a bit boring. "It was a different type of Hollie out there tonight," J-Lo (who's wearing what can best be described as a cross between a dress and a 90s halter top) says.

The Box Tops' "The Letter" is Phil Phillips' 1960s choice, and he gives it his usual treatment (as letters fall on the screen behind him. For the second time tonight, I have to ask: really, Idol?) but this week, it's just what we'd expect and he doesn't really bring much beyond that. Still, I do like Phil and the crowd seems to as well - he gets some of the longest applause this season. "I missed the melody," Steven Tyler says (he's surprisingly coherent tonight). "But you get away with it."

Skylar performs Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," and it's two thumbs up from me - she's wearing her hair back from her face again and looks more her age, which makes it doubly impressive that she does so well at just eighteen years old. "You are born to be on the stage!" Randy tells her.

Apparently Idol is bringing back the duet/trio thing tonight. I mean, if you've read any of the other recaps you know how much I hate these, but just to reiterate: I really hate these. First up is Joshua and Phil, singing "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." Begrudgingly, I have to admit that it's actually not unlistenable and they do well together. Ryan calls them Goose and Maverick - I wonder which one is Goose, because that's a grim ending to Idol.

Jessica, predictably, chooses "Proud Mary." Jessica's sort of musically illiterate (I mean, other than her freakishly large voice), but Steven Van Zandt talks with the musical director and gives the beginning a bit of a jazzy feel so it's refreshing to hear Jessica singing something that doesn't sound like straight up karaoke. Steven Tyler can't go a whole night without being weird, though, and tells her that "There's nothing that beats experience except a sixteen year old." Oookay.

Joshua chooses to take on "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." His sleeves are comical (did Tommy pick out those?) but the song fits his voice like a glove and he does his thing. "You're like a throwback to another era," Jennifer says. "The jacket is fly," Randy adds, "And I love the flower!" After a bit of discussion, they agree that it's a tulip (it's not, it's a daffodil) and Joshua gives it to one of the girls in the front row.

Hollie picks Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" for her second song. On paper, it's a great choice for her, but her toned-down version doesn't really ever get off the ground. I feel like Hollie should be doing much better than she is - she has a strong voice, but she never really makes an impression with any of her performances. Anyway, the judges love it, as Steven says: "I loved it, I loved it, I loved it!"

Phil Phillips also chooses a British song that fits his usual style: The Zombies' "Time of the Season." It works for him - his choices usually do - but I think what I'd really like to see from Phil is something different, just once, for a little variety. Still, he does well.

The girls do a trio on "Higher and Higher," and while I don't dislike any of them individually, the performance reminds me why I really dislike these time fillers...they're basically everything people complain about with American Idol rolled into two minutes of awkward choreography.

Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" is Skylar's second choice. The arrangement is a little thin and she just sounds too...loud. Randy, who's now completely lost his critical edge, tells her it was flawless. I don't think that it'll affect her votes too much - her first performance was one of the best tonight - but flawless it was definitely not.

Jessica sings "You Are So Beautiful," another predictable choice, but the coaches help her out again with the arrangement. It's actually really lovely, mainly guitar and strings, and this is the kind of thing that Jessica should sing (though maybe with a little more kick in the second half). Maybe. "You just captivated the whole audience...you did some beautiful things there at the end." Jennifer says.

Joshua will close out the night with The Bee Gees hit "To Love Somebody" at Jimmy's suggestion. This one fits right in the part of his voice that I like best - a little below where he usually sings, but it gives him the opportunity to get an extra punch with all his extra runs and earns a standing ovation from the judges. "Wow." Randy says.

Did your favorite rock the 1960s or come to life with the British invasion? Tune in tomorrow to find out who's headed home! Plus, big performances from Carrie Underwood and Coldplay!

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