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It was an extra rowdy crowd at the American Idol studio on Wednesday night, as viewers may have noticed, what with those deafening cheers during Ryan Seacrest’s opening remarks. As for the performances? They too had their share of screams with the final 5 bringing out the big guns — which is to say their big voices. Each hopeful had his or her moment, as you saw on TV. Here’s some of what didn’t make it on the air…
1. With the audience on its feet and reaching the top of the decibel range as the judges made their entrance, Steven Tyler egged them on even more with rock star-appropriate hand gestures. Of course, the crowd responded in kind.
2. Hollie Cavanagh was up first for the 60s portion of the two-theme night. On her way into the audience for the kick-off to “River Deep – Mountain High,” she stopped to say a quick hello to executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, who was seated in the front.
3. Little Steven and Jimmy Iovine certainly kept everyone entertained with their back-and-forth critiques, even taking a jab at Aerosmith, which prompted Steven Tyler to shake his head as if to say “tsk, tsk, tsk.”
4. As Phillip Phillips prepared to perform The Boxtops’ “The Letter,” he took a moment to fist-bump his backing musicians one-by-one. They seemed to appreciate it.
5. With the dramatic change in rhythm that Phillip’s arrangement called for, it seemed to be among the more stressful moments for the 21-year-old — why else would fellow Georgia native Ryan Seacrest pat him on the back and say “one down” — only two more to go!
6. Jennifer Lopez’s comment that spitfire Skylar Laine was just rearing to go was spot-on. In the seconds before launching into Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Sun,” she had to shake off all that extra energy.
7. The awkward vibe of Joshua Ledet and Phillip Phillips’ duet began during the commercial break as the two were chaperoned to stage left for their introduction. Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the studio, the band was already practicing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” taking away from the sense of surprise. Still, it sounded pretty good in the studio, if slightly disjointed. And there was one sweet moment when Phillip, upon noticing a sign from the back row that read “Phillip’s #1 fan,” busted out an ear-to-ear aw shucks grin.
8. Trying desperately to beat the clock, stage hands were still unfurling the glittery drapes that would accent Jessica Sanchez’s performance of “Proud Mary” while Ryan was introducing her video segment.
9. Joshua Ledet worked up a sweat performing “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” but waited until he was off-camera to wipe his brow.
10. Hollie sang her second number, Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love,” from atop Idol’s favorite red piano, but only after getting herself situated and fixing her dress ever so carefully.
11. It seemed like only minutes later, Hollie was back at stage left with Ryan Seacrest and her trio partners for the second theme of the night, British pop. Some last minute hair fixes and laughs with the Idol host then it was time to turn it on for Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.”
12. Following the performance, the three girls hugged and breathed a huge collective sigh of relief.
13. Who knew Randy Jackson had hosting ambitions? During the commercial break, the judge grabbed the studio microphone to introduce some special guests in the audience. They included Mandy Moore, who is married to singer-songwriter Ryan Adams, actress Minka Kelly and lawyer-turned-TV personality Nancy Grace. A quick plug followed for Aerosmith’s new album and Jennifer’s just announced tour with Enrique Iglesias, who Randy cracked is a “famous Latin guy who looks a lot like me.”
14. Skylar Laine’s choice of Dusty Springfield‘s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” had the judges sold pretty much right away, and certainly by the middle of the song, when Steven mouthed “wow” to his tablemates.
15. Idol had a true WTH moment when Ryan Seacrest ended up on the park bench used as a prop for Skylar’s performance. Even Randy was perplexed — and hilariously so.
16. The audience could tell that a dramatic performance was on the horizon when trays full of LED candles were rushed to the stage along with some black netting and the smoke machine turned up full-throttle. Sure enough, Jessica Sanchez delivered a tearjerking “You Are So Beautiful,” which she later said was sung with her mother in mind. Awww…
17. It’s sometimes hard to get side players and musicians to leave the shot quietly and gracefully. Like Jessica’s acoustic guitar player, who had to nonchalantly scooch his way off the stage while the judges handed down their verdict.
18. Joshua Ledet’s closing number, a cover of the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody,” brought out the gusto in Lythgoe, who was playing the role of orchestra conductor from his seat.
19. Jennifer was so moved by Joshua that she prompted yet another standing ovation, this time with clenched fists in the air.
20. The video recap doesn’t just remind the viewers at home of the numbers to call, it also allows the judges an opportunity to quickly recap the night’s performances. On Wednesday, it was Jessica Sanchez who stood out for Randy as the Idol vet pointed out the 16-year-old’s impressive vibrato to Jennifer by demonstrating with his hands.
And that’s all she wrote on for the Top 5 in what’s sure to be a tight vote. Who are you rooting for, Idol Worshipers?
UPDATED: As a reader pointed out, Ryan Adams was not in the audience on Wednesday night; He was playing a show in Antwerp.
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