American Idol
Finalists Compete

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Oldies and the Old Country

There's a replay of Elise's ejection from last week, set to the strains of "Gimme Shelter." Does that mean she got stabbed afterward?

The judges enter, followed by Ryan, who claims that if we're looking for "two hours of incredible live music by the biggest rising stars in the business," we've come to the right place. Clearly he thinks I'm watching this in a hip bar somewhere with live entertainment, in which case I wouldn't be able to hear him anyway. After he brings out the top five, he tells us that the themes tonight are songs from the 1960s and "Brit pop," which are two categories that seem like they would have a lot of overlap. This will in fact prove to be the case.

Apparently the mentor thing is back, after an absence that dates back to when Dick Clark was still alive. The person Jimmy brought in this week is "Little Steven" Van Zandt, and since there are only five contestants left to fill a two-hour show, he gets a whole introductory tongue-bath, covering his gig with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, his career as a producer and DJ, his role as Silvio on The Sopranos and a sort of "consigliore" to Jimmy Iovine himself. Jimmy tells us that Little Steven tells him he's wrong more than anyone, other than his own kids. Little Steven (who is not all that little) only has two hours before he has to get to a show with the Boss, but he's still made time to mentor the finalists this week.

First up is Hollie, who rehearses "River Deep, Mountain High" by Tina Turner. SVZ, who apparently is unable to sit in a chair frontwards, isn't impressed, asking Hollie if she's trying to please the audience. Hollie admits as much, and he tells her to get rid of that. And it looks like she does, because when she performs it live, starting out in the audience and then marching up onto the stage while she belts it out, followed by the backup singers and horn section, she's clearly there for herself. It's something we haven't seen from Hollie, namely some energy and fun, at least on her part. The judges love it, obviously, because it's basically what they've been begging her to do for half the season. Steven says it's the first time they've seen her "use [her] blues," Jennifer gives her credit for leading a big production, and after confirming that they both loved it, Randy says he did too. Way to build suspense there.

Phillip is doing a watered-down, jazzy version of "The Letter" by the Boxtops, which Little Steven likes and Jimmy doesn't. Maybe you're more familiar with the original version, or maybe you're more familiar with the Joe Cocker version, but it doesn't sound like Phil is familiar with either one, and instead came up with his own melody after reading the lyrics online. The band tries mightily to make up for it, though, with a high-energy drummer and horn section. Afterwards, the judges chat amongst themselves while waiting for the crowd to settle down, and then Randy says that even though there wasn't much melody, he loved how Phillip made it his own. He certainly did Phil it up. Jennifer admits to not knowing the song in the first place, but appreciates his performance. Steven's been sitting back shaking his head this whole time, then leans forward to say he missed the melody, but Phil got away with it. Ryan comes out and alerts Phil that his own relationship with Julianne Hough is safe, since he found out Phillip has a girlfriend. "Sweet!" Phil says happily. His cute girlfriend in the audience looks happy about the news too.

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American Idol

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