The pre-credits sequence reminds us multiple times that after Skylar's exit last week, we're down to the top four. And it also replays Carrie Underwood's new single that she sang on the show last night. Which I'm sure is just a coincidence.
The judges and Ryan come out to greet an unusually noisy crowd. Ryan polls the audience on their favorite, (who this week appears to be the finalist named "EEEEEEEE!"), then brings out the top four, telling us that one of them will be the next American Idol in fourteen days. But who's counting?
Ryan dismisses them from the stage, then says that the first theme will be "California Dreamin'," meaning songs by artists from California or songs about California (luckily for the finalists, there are plenty of artists from California), then the second theme is songs they wish they'd written. So how do four contestants fill two hours? Well, there's going to be a long farewell-style montage recapping each of their runs so far.
In Phil's, he overplays the modesty card, saying he never expected to make it past the first round of judging. He does tell us that his family has been encouraging, which he knows is sincere by how his brother-in-law told him how rough "Time of the Season" was. I agree with Phil's brother-in-law. Phil's California song "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Which is not really about California, necessarily, but CCR is from California and there are lots of surfing clips playing on the screen behind him, so I guess it counts. He's singing it sans guitar, but as another duet with that blonde saxophonist who's always auditioning for a gig in Phil's eventual touring band.
Steven tells him he's proof that "the road to success is always under construction." How many needlepoints are on the walls of his house, anyway? Jennifer liked the different vocal quality Phil used this time, and Randy, dressed like a gay used car salesman in a pink plaid sportcoat and tie with the "YO" pin, basically says it's all about having a good time. Ryan chats with Phil about his concerns about forgetting the lyrics, and Phil says he mostly got them. That's another thing about California; it's laid back.
Hollie's recap goes all the way back to her Season 10 auditions in Austin, when she saved herself from red-faced, crying ignominy by singing "The Climb" and then got cut in Final Judgment, and then came back this year to Galveston (not that we saw her at the time). Throughout the clip, she's talking about her growing belief in herself, not to mention Jennifer's. She sings "Faithfully" by Journey. It's at this point that I start to think I need to go back and make sure I understood what the California theme meant. In fact, this song is explicitly about being in multiple states, but Journey's from California, so there you go. Now that Hollie's made it to the top four (in other words, two or three weeks longer than she probably should have), she seems to be coasting a bit.