Yes, a Highlander reference. And if you can puzzle out why, then you loved tonight's theme.
Because for the first time this season, there's actually a good theme for the songs! Queen! Well, at least for the first round...
Queen is a band that rose to their heights in the 80s, making the popular rock scene bearable again. It's crazy to think that it's been more than 20 years since Freddie Mercury died. Queen was the band that people were lucky enough to listen to at a time when the majority of music wasn't watered down, recycled pop tracks. Ironically, Queen's corpse was plundered to fuel the tired trend of bad hip-hop derivative garbage, when the fantastic "Under Pressure" was sampled to begin the nauseating career of Vanilla Ice.
I wonder which Queen song Skylar is going to countrify tonight...
Beelzebub Has a Devil Put Aside For Me
Each performer sings one Queen song, and then a song they pick on their own. Which means that the second part of the evening is likely to be much less cool.
The Idol kids start off the show with a medley of Queen tunes, supported by the band. The intro of "Fat Bottomed Girls" gives way to "Another One Bites the Dust," which awkwardly kicks into "We Will Rock You." This softens perhaps predictably into "We Are the Champions," which is a good note to go out on.
Personally, I was hoping for an ensemble rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Talk about a wasted opportunity.
Instead, it's Jessica that begins the evening with that end-of-the-evening-when-everyone's-drunk-at-the-wedding-reception staple. It's a song that is meant to be sung by a wide range of simultaneous singers, but if any one of the remaining performers could attempt that daunting task reserved for an array of voices, it's little Jessica. She solidly performs it, her considerable range doing well to compensate for that fact, and it was nice to get a little change of pace from her. And finally, she has sung a song I actually like.
She picks Luther Vandross' "Dance with my Father" as her song, which is about losing innocence and a father, which I don't know how relevant that is for a 16-year-old girl, so while it was beautiful and well-performed, I don't think the song itself was fitting material for her to genuinely connect with. Her Queen performance was more rousing and authentic.
The Queen song that gets countrified this week by Skylar is "The Show Must Go On," one of the last songs that Freddie Mercury ever recorded. It was the final track on the final album Queen released before his death, and during the recording, all of the pain dealing with his illness came with him into the studio. Skylar's performance is a shadow of that emotive display, but I will admit that this gave her the foundation that provided us with her best performance to date.
Brace yourself, but Skylar decided to choose a country song for her second performance, this time the insufferably pop-country "Tattoos on this Town," by who cares. I was glad when it ended.
Joshua does "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," and nails it. The judges give him a standing O, which he had coming this week. Very solid and emotive, and he manages to maintain that rough edge through the entire song, which I felt accentuated the performance considerably.
For his follow-up, he picks the-fun-name-to-say India Arie's "Ready for Love," which he confidently again nails out of the park in the opposite direction of smoothness, with an absolutely fantastic downward run leading him to a lower register he should utilize more. So smooth and solid. A great coda to his high-energy first song.
Who Woulda Thunk It?
Elise does "I Want it All," one of Queen's lesser-known full-out rock songs, but ishigh-energy nonetheless, which is what I was hoping for and expecting from Elise. She is great as always, and the performance is solid. But whether it's solid enough to raise her above Hollie and keep her safe in an elimination that will almost certainly see one of the girls going home remains to be seen. She has the best vibe and look of anyone on the show, and I'd hate to see her go.
She follows up with an even more fantastic song, Jimi Hendrix's "Bold as Love," which is a great tune, and her love of it is clear in her emotive performance of it. She is the only contestant in this show who regularly picks good music. It's too bad that the majority of people out there seem to be happy with dreck.
Oh no, I was hoping "Fat Bottomed Girls" would have been relegated exclusively to the intro medley. But unfortunately Phillip Phillips is forced to sing it. It's the second-goofiest, first-most objectifying song that Queen ever did, the only song goofier being "Bicycle Race." Admittedly it suits his voice, and of course Steven Tyler loves it, as resident pervert. It also provides J. Lo with her own self-conscious moment.
For his own pick, the inevitable finally happens, and the Dave Matthews-esque singer finally performs a Dave Matthews Band tune! He sings "The Stone," another good song choice. Again, too obscure for the majority of Gaga-listening, whatever-is-on-the-radio-is-my-fave-jam-ever middling crowd, who are -- unfortunately -- the largest volume of viewers for this show. But hey, he's going to be safe. It's the girls who need to worry this week.
J. Lo calls his "The Stone" performance "too artsy." That's code for not pop enough.
Hollie decides to go with "Save Me," which, as one of the more subdued Queen songs, was not a good choice when the theme concerns a band known for their high energy. Not the best choice for a first song. She also probably shouldn't be singing a song called "Save Me," considering that makes the danger she is in transparent.
She makes an even more horrible choice for her follow-up, the unbearable "The Climb" from the even more unbearable Miley "I'm Famous Because My Dad Released an Obnoxious Single in the 90's" Cyrus. Closing the evening with a song from a talentless hack did not win me over.
Of course that crap lands her her first standing O. Ugh...
...but tomorrow, it's almost certain that a girl will be going home tomorrow. I'm hoping it's Skylar. Regardless, both Hollie and Elise will once again enter that familiar zone of the bottom three.