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American Idol: The Heat is Officially On

I think I’m finally starting to get sentimental about the end of Idol. I almost made it through the entire show tonight without anything snarky to say. The right people have risen to the top, the judges didn’t allow America to screw up the final three weeks and tonight’s performances were seriously awesome. I wasn’t distracted by Jenny’s outfit, everyone looked fly and David Cook was back on the Idol stage! Ok, the opening bit was like a bad infomercial and Scott Borchetta trying to be funny is not funny. That’s it, the rest of tonight’s recap is sunshine and roses.

First-hour mentor was Steven Van Zandt of the E-Street Band so the theme for the first hour was Rock songs. Steven is a pretty seasoned rocker dude and he gave some good advice. Trent said he was like a cool uncle, which makes sense. Second-hour mentor was the mysteriously amazing Sia so hour two was filled with songs written by her. I won’t comment on how much better the kids did with new mentors coaching them. No cheesy stage antics and everyone seemed almost comfortable with what they were doing tonight.

On we go…

First, to safety was La’Porsha Renae with a new hairdo (is that still a word) that took something like 15 hours to accomplish. I kind of missed the afro but this new do gave her a whole different personality tonight! For her first song she chose Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi and I’m pretty sure she has a steel horse hiding somewhere. Girl seriously DUG into this song and gave it growl and attitude that made it work. Borchetta wasn’t feeling Porsha being a cowboy but I think we know who won that battle. Well deserved pass to the hometown visits lady!

Next up, and on to his hometown next week, Mackenzie Bourg who opted for Cheap Trick’s I Want You to Want Me. Of course, he slowed it down and did his MacKenzie thing to it. I thought the band was a little over-powering behind MacKenzie tonight but, again, what I loved about this performance was the smile on his face and his look of accomplishment at the end. He didn’t look like someone held a knife to his throat and made him prance around doing things he didn’t like. I love real MacKenzie. I’m also starting to wonder if Adam Levine is going to come on Idol to crown MacKenzie the winner as he predicted a few year’s back on The Voice. That would be something wouldn’t it?

Time out for my personal favorite Idol winner David Cook. I didn’t even know he was appearing tonight so it almost felt like Christmas. He performed his single Heartbeat from his latest album Digital Vein. The kicker was the Idol montage playing in the background with Fantasia and Ruben and Carrie and all the feels and the confetti and the reminder that it’s all coming to an end. Thank you for that moment Idol bosses.

Next up was Trent Harmon who was back to dapper Trent – but for good reason. His song choice was Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top and if I’m honest, this might have been the best performance of the night. Words thrown around after this performance were swampy, muddy, dirty and some word that sounded like fungal in Spanish. I don’t care what word you use…this was Trent’s best. He started out slow and sexy (yes, Trent was sexy) and he took the song to a jazzy, bluesy place that I want to hang out in. He’s making all the right choices at the right time.

Ryan created a little drama with the reveal of the last person to make the Top 4. Yes, we did still have to eliminate someone tonight who didn’t even get to perform one song. Sonika Vaid and Dalton Rapattoni were revealed as the bottom two with Sonika getting her ticket home (not to her hometown visit – totally different). Sadly she was the first one all season to get the clip-reel and the going home song which then reminded me how we haven’t had any of that all season and how much I’ll miss those good-bye montages.

Dalton took the stage to perform God Only Knows by The Beach Boys. Here is where I had trouble with the theme and the song choice thing. What on earth makes this a Rock song? I honestly didn’t like anything about this for Dalton. He sang fine but he looked like a lost puppy wandering around the stage, singing a sad song, sitting down for a minute and then getting back up to await the judges critique. So staged and boring for me. The judges loved it and said he was vulnerable and really won the moment and that he chose the most complex song. I didn’t get it.

Another time out for Idol alum Katherine McPhee to reprise Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which was one of those pivotal moments for her during season five. Although she didn’t win her season, coming in second to Taylor Hicks, she really has had quite a career. I got emotional again thinking what it must feel like for these kids to come from nowhere, achieve their dreams and then come back to this stage. It’s either really emotional or like a nightmare. I guess we’ll find out which when the movie about American Idol comes out.

The Sia hour starts with a visit to her home where she encourages all the contestants to wear wigs while they are working. I love Sia.

La’Porsha chose Elastic Heart and made Sia cry during rehearsals. My favorite part of this segment was Sia saying that La’Porsha should stay true to herself and if someone didn’t let her she would “high karate kick them in the throat.” I think she might be talking to you Borchetta. La’Porsha on stage was perfect and she is already a pro so there is really not much to add here. I did get a little Mad Max vibe from her outfit tonight and it wasn’t my favorite of the night but she killed her first song so no big thing. Round One (A-) and Round Two (B+)

MacKenzie pulled out Titanium and I was skeptical. That’s a seriously big song for a guy like him but he took it slow, like he does, and made it very emotional and even had a little Maroulis smolder going on toward the end. There was a squabble amongst the judges about Sia encouraging MacKenzie to hit the high note for impact even though he wasn’t comfortable with it. Harry didn’t like that she tried to make it all about THAT note but MacKenzie hit the note so I guess we’re all ok. I think MacKenzie will be fine but I worry that he was buried in the No. 2 spot and Dalton kind of killed his last song in the pimp spot. We’ll see how that works for my boy. (Bravo to the person that picked out the satin jacket for him tonight BTW) Round One (B) and Round Two (A-)

Sia performed her new single Cheap Thrills during our last competition time out tonight. Her performances are always so interesting and I loved that she had dancers on the show. Then I was reminded how I’m usually really excited for So You Think You Can Dance to start right after the Idol finale and how angry I am at Nigel Lythgoe for messing that up.

Trent was up next and I need to comment on his one liners tonight. He’s a funny guy. He said meeting Sia was kind of like seeing a Unicorn. He chose Chandelier and wore the wig and glasses almost better than she does. Trent is in it to win it. This is a hot one right here. I thought he mumbled a little in the beginning and was having a little trouble with the lower parts of the song but then he hit parts that gave me the goosies. I really had them. I get it JLo! Not that he could ever be a dark horse but I didn’t get the Trent hype earlier. I’m getting it now. Round One (A) and Round Two (A)

I complain every week that I miss the Dalton from the early auditions. That Dalton makes an appearance here and there but he just hasn’t seemed like the guy who grabbed our attention back in January. That guy was back tonight and he was every bit as raw and emotional as La’Porsha was last week. Dalton chose Bird Set Free and bonded with Sia over their shared bi-polar condition. This was such a release for Dalton and I think it was something he needed in his life as much as he needed it to stay in the top three. Giving Dalton this moment at the end of the show may spell trouble for MacKenzie but I’m so glad we got to see this side of him again. Round One (B-) and Round Two (A)

Next week is anybody’s guess. Do the voters pick cute boys over power vocals or are the older viewers in control of this train? Hard to tell. I’m thinking Dalton will go next week but this last performance has thrown me off my game. I’m not sure how the format of next week will go but we will be having hometown visits and hearing three songs from at least three contestants; one judge pick, one Borchetta pick and one chosen by the constant as a tribute to their hometown. Keith Urban will open the show and we will be one step closer to the three-night finale event. Get out your tissues folks, it’s (almost) all over but the crying.

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