Another off week for our intrepid finalists, largely because Elton doesn't write the type of music most of these kids excel at. There were a few diamonds in the rough, of course, but for the most part, another disappointing night, made more so by the fact that Elton didn't stick around to guest judge.
Tonight, George proved that he can bring his own unique attitude and style to virtually any song. The challenge for him in this performance was to prove that he can sing well in genres of music that his voice is not necessarily built for, and he met it head on with a rendition of Take Me to the Pilot that both respected the original recording and made it his own. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the competition is the versatility required to excel each week in often vastly disparate musical styles. On top of the great show he put on tonight, we've yet to see his excitement and enthusiasm for the show flag. Many of the singers looked flat-out tired this week and last, but George is every bit as punched-up as he's been since we first met him back in February. While none of the contestants this season has been consistently great, of the nine remaining finalists, George has come the closest. If you assume, as many have, that votes for LaToya and Fantasia will eventually begin to cancel each other out, George could easily become the front-runner to finish at the top of the heap this summer.
After more than one sub-par week, Jennifer bounced back in a big way tonight with a Broadway-worthy version of Circle of Life. It was a dangerous song choice for her as the performance could have veered very easily into a cheesy, showy mess. It's a testament to her control and skill as a performer that she managed to let the song work to showcase her voice rather than the other way around. By keeping the effusive hand gestures and facial expressions to a minimum, Jennifer kept herself in check enough to please both the judges and the audience. It will only help that she performed last tonight and will thus be at the forefront of most voters' minds as they begin dialing in votes. Based on her track record, there is still an outside chance she'll end up in the bottom three. Based on tonight's performance, she's in the top three, no question.