Carly Smithson, Siobhan Magnus, Casey Abrams, Kellie Pickler, Phil Stacey, Cristina Christian, Anoop Desai, meet Elise Testone – the latest (and perhaps the greatest?) member of the Stupid Awesome Sixth Placers club. This result was hardly a shocker, but that didn’t make it hurt less, especially since she earned my undying love and devotion no less than three times this week.
First she tackled one of Queen’s most melodically barren anthems after We Will Rock You and transformed it into a flowery musical wonderland armed only with a tambourine and her raw, gorgeous voice.
Second she breaks out Jimi Hendrix’s Bold as Love, attacking it like the second coming of every second-wave feminist singer-songwriter I idolized growing up in the 90’s, except that she’s more musically advanced than most of the Ani DiFrancos and the Tracy Chapmans of the world ever aspired to be. It was stupid cool, and probably among the most musically intelligent things I’ve seen on the Idol stage since The Unspeakably Awesome Incident of 2011.
Then, finally, just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love her any more, she states matter-of-factly and with genuine sincerity, on national TV, that she really thought EVERYONE knew “Bold as Love.” Oh Elise, you beautiful, beautiful creature: please stay away from the soul-sucking black hole that is the pop music industry. Please?? You and your unique style – the room services flowers in your hair, your amusingly thorough (in this case to a fault) candor, your clear love of music in its purest form, your instinctual jazzy inflections – are too good for an industry that turns this into this. Keep your spirit unbroken, keep your integrity close, and keep on making beautiful music. I for one will be waiting excitedly to see what you do next.