Television
Mar 22, 2012

AMERICAN IDOL CHANNELS BILLY JOEL

Tonight the American Idol “Top 10” will be performing the songs of Billy Joel. I grew up listening to Billy Joel and the contestants have some really great songs to choose from, so  I can’t wait to hear what songs they decide to sing. Since Billy is more known for his song writing and piano playing, and not for having a really big voice, this could be a slight advantage to the guys. Like they need another advantage!!! Along with Jimmy Iovine, P. Diddy will be the celebrity quest mentor.

Last week, America got it wrong and put three girls in the “Bottom 3”. Hopefully they will do a better job voting this week. Speaking of voting, Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh, Skylar Laine, Joshua Ledet, Colton Dixon and Phil Phillips are clearly the class of the competition. They have been consistently good each week and with the exception of Joshua, they all appear to have developed a strong fan base. Unless they forget the words or do something really stupid, they should all move on.

On the other hand, a bad performance by either Deandre Brackensack, Heejun Han, Erika Van Pelt or Elise Testone could mean the end of the line for them. While they have all had some good moments, overall their performances have been inconsistent and they are clearly behind the previously mentioned top singers in the competition.

A recap of the contestants performances are listed below in the order of their appearance.

Deandre Brackensick: sang an above average version one of my favorite Billy Joel songs “Only the Good Die Young.” He seemed more comfortable and relaxed than last week and more importantly stayed away from the falsetto voice that sometimes gets him in trouble. Overall, a better job than I expected and with the young girl fan base, he should be safe for another week.

Erika Van Pelt: picked another great Billy Joel song, “New York State of Mind.” In a radical change, fashion consultant Tommy Hilfiger, suggested she try a new hair style. She went from long hair to short hair and blond to black and the transformation was dramatic. She looked fantastic and sang even better. It was clearly her best performance in weeks, and the judges all agreed.  We are off to a good start with two good performances to start the show.

Joshua Ledet: Unfortunately it couldn’t last and Joshua sang a boring and unemotional version of “She’s Got A Way.” The song didn’t really show off his range and it sounded off key in multiple spots. Definitely not one of his best performances and he could end up in the “Bottom 3”, for the second time in three weeks.

Skylar Laine: sang a country version of Billy Joel’s “Shameless.” It definitely wasn’t one of my favorite Billy Joel songs and I am sure many fans weren’t even familiar with the song. She definitely started out slow but quickly found her comfort zone. While it wasn’t her best performance, it was still very good. She looked terrific and will definitely be back to sing another week.

Elise Testone: sang a jazzy, raspy version of another lesser known, but terrific Billy Joel song, “Vienna”. Being a big Billy Joel fan, I loved her performance. Unfortunately, I am not sure how many young people out there are going to recognize the song and the subtle changes that she made to it. She took a big risk with this song, and I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt her. On the positive side, the judges all loved her performance. I just hope America feels the same way and keeps her another week.

Phil Phillips: was the definite star of the evening. His performance of “Moving Out,” was totally original and easily the best performance of the night. While he definitely has a Dave Matthews vibe he is his own man, and he proved that in resounding fashion tonight. Prior to his performance, mentors Jimmy Lovine and P. Diddy recommended that Phil lose the guitar for this song and Fashion Consultant Tommy Hilfiger told Phil not to wear “grey.” Totally disregarding their advice, it was a jaw dropping moment when Phil strode to the stage in a grey shirt and his guitar over his shoulder. Using the guitar to his advantage, he gave one of the best performances of this years’ contest. Phil definitely knows who he is and has decided he is going to succeed or fail on his own terms.

Hollie Cavanagh: sang Billy Joel’s “Honesty.” The bad news is this was easily her weakest performance of the contest. The good news is her performance was still better than 50% of the other singers. She clearly struggled with the arrangement changes and would have been better off singing it exactly the way it was recorded. The judges thought she was thinking too much instead of singing, and I agree. While she was in the middle of the pack tonight, based on her past performances I would be totally surprised if she ended up in the “Bottom 3″ and still see her as a frontrunner to become the next American Idol.

Heejun Han: the last few weeks have been tough for Heejun. His performances have been just average at best and when talking to the mentors, you could tell he was struggling to find his confidence. He tried to turn it around with an upbeat performance of “My Life.” While his performance was entertaining there were major pitch problems throughout the song. Moving around the stage, you could tell he was struggling to catch his breath. Unfortunately Heejun just isn’t as good as the other singers and despite trying hard will probably find himself in the “Bottom 3.”

Jessica Sanchez: looked beautiful in a short dress and sang a terrific version of “Everybody has a Dream”. She started slow but really kicked the songs ass with an amazing finish. While I still think Phil Phillip’s performance was the best of the evening, Jessica’s performance was definitely a strong second.

Colton Dixon: Sitting behind a beautiful red piano, Colton played the Billy Joel classic “Piano Man”. While it wasn’t Billy Joel, it was certainly very good. Colton looked and sounded like a rock star. “Piano Man” is definitely Billy Joel’s most popular song and making changes to the arrangement were certainly a risk, but Colton pulled it off. While Colton, doesn’t have the best voice in the competition he knows who he is as a singer and seems to be growing in confidence each week. He is definitely safe for another week.

Overall it was one of the better nights of the season. Unfortunately, someone has to go home and based on their performances I think Heejun and Joshua will be in the “Bottom 3”. Based on her song choice, Elise could also find her way into the “Bottom 3”. While I like Heejun, his performances the last three weeks have all been average at best. He is definitely having confidence issues and I think his run is going to end tonight.