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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 29 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

3 of the Best Moments From ‘American Idol’ as Top 7 Pay Tribute to Prince

On Sunday night, American Idol fans were giving another two hours worth of performances to consider in deciding which five contestants deserved to advance from the Top 7.

Once again, Idol opened the voting to the entire country during the two-hour broadcast and, after everyone had performed twice, the results were finally delivered. The contestants had two chances to impress the voters with one song from Prince’s legendary catalog featuring his stellar drummer Sheila E., and one from the year they were born after being mentored by pop star Nick Jonas.

Let’s see who did the Purple One justice and whose performance sounded like “the kind you find at a second hand store”…

Changing It Up

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The Top 7 await the results after singing twice to try and earn America’s votes [Credit: ABC]

With songs as well-known as Prince’s, there’s a temptation to put a new spin on them to avoid being compared to his iconic status. For some, the change was a welcome one, giving a fresh take on an old classic while, for others the remix might have fallen short of the original and left the audience cold. Up until now, country singer Caleb Lee Hutchinson has struggled to breakthrough to the top of the pack, but his take on Prince’s “When Doves Cry” was unexpectedly original and heartfelt, highlighting the best parts of his vibrato-laden twang. For the song from the year of his birth, Caleb went a little more predictable with Lonestar’s “Amazed” and felt stiff without his guitar, but his second performance more than made up for it.

 

Rocker Cade Foehner’s take on Jewel’s “Who Will Save Your Soul” was definitely different than the original but even judge Katy Perry, who has heretofore been a big fan of his, told him to dial it back a little for his second performance. It was solid feedback because Cade’s pitch has a tendency to run away from him when he’s going for his signature rock wails. His second performance to Prince’s “Jungle Love” felt slightly more tame by comparison, but still wasn’t as exciting as past performances. Next week, we are sure audiences would like him take a risk, but stay focused on the vocals rather than just the performance, similarly to how Caleb did this week.

An Off Night

Ever a misfit, Catie Turner said outright that Sunday night just wasn’t her night after forgetting the words to Prince’s “Manic Monday,” written for The Bangles. The judges did all they could to prop her up after that performance, but the singer definitely felt like the writing was on the wall for her after failing to nail her Big Band remix of Britney Spears’ “Oops!… I Did It Again” during round one. The discrepancy was definitely stark compared to the high marks she received last week. So much so that during the results, when it was down to her, Jurnee, and Michael, the young signer was adamant that one of them should advance over her.

Michael J. Woodard also struggled somewhat with his take on Prince’s uptempo hit “I Would Die For U.” The performance felt rushed and his unique tone, which has begun to remind some of R&B singer The Weeknd, felt off kilter for the first time all season. When Michael went back to his comfort zone, crooning on Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” his voice soared in some parts, but there were definitely more lows in between those highs than in weeks prior. Like the judges, it was appreciated seeing both sides of Michael, though if he has his sights set on the finale, he’ll need to turn in higher quality performances next week with such steep competition.

Make It Count

With two performances to their name, there was a tendency for contestants to pour more effort into one performance in hope that one standout might earn them enough votes to secure their spot in the Top 5. For Maddie Poppe and Gabby Barrett, this tactic worked. For her first performance, Maddie hit the bullseye with her song choice, choosing Prince’s hit “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which was also released by Sinead O’Connor. Maddie busted out the piano for the first time during the live rounds and was able to create such an intimate moment with the song that it was almost impossible not to be moved by it. For her second performance, it felt like Maddie may have chosen something a little easier and low effort for herself with Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy,” which definitely took her astray from that sweet spot of her voice, but with the performance of the night under her belt by that point, it hardly mattered.

Despite being in her country wheelhouse with her first performance to Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance,” Gabby seemed to lack the emotional connection necessary to really nail the song. Her tone also verged on nasally for the first time all season. With her second song – Prince’s “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?” – Gabby was able to channel her “church roots,” giving it the necessary R&B gusto to really elevate it beyond just a middling performance. It is for this reason that many view Gabby primarily as an R&B singer with the ability to venture into country, despite having the All-American Country Girl look about her. That said, she should try to find songs that blend both styles.

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Jurnee exudes Beyoncé vibes as she delivers a playful version of Prince’s “Kiss” [Credit: ABC]

Alternatively, Jurnee’s all-in investment in one performance didn’t pay off in the same way. Her flirty take on Prince’s hit “Kiss” almost had a Beyoncé-esque quality to it, with the swagger and look that she adopted and while she sounded great, her decision to sing her parent’s wedding song — Boyz II Men’s “Back At One” — for her second performance felt like the anchor that dragged her down. Her voice didn’t falter as much as some of her competitors, but the arrangement drained the life out of the performance and made it one that was perhaps too easy to forget situated between Gabby’s showstopper and Catie’s trainwreck.

In the end, the voters punished Catie for forgetting the words, making her one of the night’s two eliminees. Jurnee’s run as the show’s last remaining wildcard also came to an end, leaving Cade, Caleb, Gabby, Maddie, and Michael to travel to Nashville next week and meet with mentor and Idol alum Carrie Underwood.

It will certainly be an interesting fight to the finish, with no indication of which of these five is at the top or bottom of the pack, it could be anybody’s game and it might all hinge on how well they perform going forward.

Which contestants had your favorite performances? And did America make the right choices? Let all of us know in the comments below!

 Featured image: Twitter / @americanidol
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