While Colton, Jessica and now Elise are playing the Idol song-selection game in strikingly original ways, other contestants are fumbling. This week's '80s theme offers a wide-open field, so here's a look at three fine singers with a crucial need to improve their choices.
Hollie Cavanagh: The single-minded one
Hollie began the finals as one of two tiny singers with huge voices, both looking like front-runners. After a monotonous run of big-chorus ballads, Hollie's critical ratings have plunged, the judges are picking out flaws in her delivery, and the voters dumped her in the bottom three last week. At this point, even something as trite as a Pat Benatar rocker would be a relief, but she's got to change that draggy tempo somehow and start showing people what else she can do.
Joshua Ledet: The confused one
Joshua is nearly as narrowly focused as Hollie, applying the same over-the-top church-derived shouts, screams and soars to everything he sings, whether it's appropriate or not. He's so spectacular that he's gotten away with it so far, but a reprise of Billy Joel week, when he appeared to be dazed and confused about his song and proceeded to bludgeon it into an unrecognizable mess, could be fatal. He needs to be more invested in his songs (as he was with Without You last week), and a bit of subtlety wouldn't hurt.
DeAndre Brackensick: The limited one
DeAndre seems to be stuck in two grooves: a reggae-flavored, good-time upbeat approach, and a falsetto marathon on sluggish R&B ballads. So far he hasn't shown much inclination to shake things up, and his frequent bottom-three appearances (he was fortunate to escape last week) hint that he hasn't much time left to raise his game. Something radically different is called for, and it can't come too soon.