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‘Idol’ recap: Judge not

The final five can (apparently) do no wrong

I'm pretty steamed up about last night's show but before we get to that, I just need to check something: was there a Steven Tyler Burger King commercial last night or did I imagine that? Because it really freaked me out. It was like The Who Sell Out album cover with the band posing with a can of beans.

Entirely fitting I guess for what is going on with American Idol this season, which is beyond outrageous. I hate to drag Steven, Jennifer and Randy back to reality, but the pixie dust is wearing off. You need to come out of your Phillip Phillips' spell.

See, back when David Cook started the whole alt-rock reinterpretation fad in season seven of Idol, he did it by actually adding new resonance to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean".

But now, you're praising Phillips for the very idea of altering a song, even when you acknowledge he is diminishing it in the process. This is what you said last night, Randy, of P.P.'s "The Letter", comparing it to the original: "Maybe it didn't have as much melody…I loved it." Say what?!

(Short aside: Jennifer proudly declared that she was unfamiliar with the 1967 song. Randy coaxed her, "The Boxtops!" Um, Randy, ever hear of Alex Chilton? Thought not.)

In picking the song, P.P. said, "I'm not crazy about the original version so I changed it up." You pretentious, little…ahem. Yeah, you changed it alright. You surgically removed the groove. And for that dubious achievement, the judges praised you lavishly.

Remarkably, Phillip, you did the same thing with your second selection, stripping the tune from the Zombies' 1968 hit "Time of the Season". Oddly, none of the judges faulted you for falling woefully short on every high note in that song.

I see a recording career in which Phillips takes on different eras, bleeding all the life out of their best music. Phillip Phillips Mutes the '70s.

It was an off-putting night all around. Hollie, who looks more like Petula Clark every outing, took on "River Deep – Mountain High" and "Bleeding Love".

Skylar screamed her way through Creedence and then dusted off Dusty Springfield. Check this out. I think it's an Idol first.

Note the couple on the bench. A posed romantic tableau. We're one week away from Jessica singing "My Heart Will Go On" while a cast of thousands reenacts the sinking of the Titanic on the Idol stage.

BTW, did you notice that Skylar cut a big arc out of the front of her gown for this number? For reasons that escape me, this girl really likes to show off her knees.

Speaking of Jessica, she got on her Tina at the same time she got on her 8" heels for a truly bizarre performance of "Proud Mary". It was like watching someone try to iceskate on a tightrope. She followed it up with a mawkish sitdown version of "You Are So Beautiful". Personally I prefer Beach Boy Dennis Wilson's rendition.

That left Joshua, who turned in the night's best moment with his cover of the Temptations' "Ain't to Proud to Beg." (see above) His grandiose version of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody", earning him a standing O.

This is where I usually make my freakishly accurate predictions. But this week, I'm going instead with my projections. Phillip, Skylar and Hollie in your bottom three. Phillip goes, deflating the American songbook as he leaves the building to a standing O from the judges.

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