American Idol returns tonight with the Top 12 contestants singing a hit song from the year they were born. This weeks’ American Idol mentor was Will.i.am and the contestants were thrilled with the opportunity to work with him. Prior to the start of the show there were multiple internet rumors and conspiracy theories related to the story that Jermaine (the Gentle Giant) Jones had been disqualified from the show.
Jermaine tweeted Tuesday night, “Awww I will no longer b on the show.” The tweet and his account were quickly deleted a few hours later. Internet rumors suggested that Jones was disqualified after producers found that he had been arrested and that he still had a number of outstanding warrants. At the beginning of the show, Ryan Seacrest confirmed that one of the contestants has been disqualified and in an attempt to create a false sense of drama he told viewers that the contestants name would be revealed later in the show. Finally after performances by eight contestants, Ryan announced that Jermaine had been disqualified. Instead of letting him leave quietly and with some of his dignity intact, in a classless act, the American Idol Executive Producers chose to show a video notifying Jermaine of his disqualification. Confronting him on television was a low blow and painful to watch. While I am sorry for the way it played out, I was never a big fan of Jermaine and said on multiple occasions that he had absolutely no chance of winning the competition. I wish him well in the future.
Moving on, let’s focus on the remaining talented contestants and their performances.
Phil Phillips: when meeting with Jimmy Iovine and Will. i., Phillip announced that he was in a lot of pain and that immediately after rehearsal he was going to the hospital to have a kidney stone surgically removed. Phil went on to sing a terrific version of the 1991 Black Crowe song “Hard to Handle.” If he was in pain he should sing in pain every night because he was terrific. It was a great performance to start the show and all of the judges loved it.
Jessica Sanchez: born in 1995 sang a good version of Gloria Estefan’s “Turn the Beat Around”. While it wasn’t as good as her Whitney Houston performance last week, it was still one of the better performances of the evening. She looked beautiful and sounded great. She is confident in her ability and looks and acts like a star. She is one of the top performers and is still the one to beat.
Heejun Han: born in 1989 sang a boring version of Richard Marx’s hit song named “Right Here Waiting”. As usual Heejun was a better comedian than he was a singer. In a funny moment during rehearsal Heejun asked Will. i. am for Fergie’s phone number. Based on his performance this might be his last chance for any celebrity’s phone numbers. In my opinion, his performance earned him a spot in the “Bottom 3” and he could easily be heading home.
Elise Testone: sang “Lets Stay Together”, the 1993 Tina Turner cover of the Al Green song. I am having a hard time figuring out Elise. She has a great voice and I love the way that she sings. However, during last weeks performance she looked totally disinterested. In a complete turnaround, Elise gave an inspired performance. She looked great and sang with real passion. I love the rasp and growl in her voice and she definitely used it to her advantage in this performance. Jennifer said “this performance showed America who she was,” and Randy said “America, Elise is back, welcome back.”
Deandre Brackensick: who was born in 1994 wanted to perform the Elton John hit, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, but both Jimmy and Will.i.am thought it was the wrong song for him. The two mentors convinced Deandre to sing Lionel Richie’s, “Endless Love”. When he came on stage he looked terrific. With the long hair and good looks he really looked like a star. Unfortunately, his performance didn’t match his looks. From the very beginning, it was obvious that the change in song choice was a bad move for him. His performance lacked confidence and was actually boring to watch. It was clearly the worst performance of the evening and I would be absolutely amazed if he isn’t in the “Bottom 3”.
Shannon Magrane: born in 1995 sang “One Sweet Day”, by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. Shannon took the stage knowing that she needed a good performance and she delivered big time. She looked beautiful and her outfit was perfect. She looked and sang like a star and from my point of view her performance earned her a coveted spot in the “Top 10.”
Colton Dixon: sang an unknown (at least to me) 1991 version of White Lion’s “Broken Heart”. In a funny moment during rehearsal with Jimmy Iovine and Will.i.am, they admitted that the song was so obscure that even the band didn’t know it. But it didn’t matter, Colton did a great job on the song and I thought it was definitely one of the better performances of the night. Colton is really unique and he looked and sounded like a rock star. Randy and Jennifer loved the performance as well, but Steven Tyler didn’t feel the same way. He thought it was more Pop then Rock and it was a bad song choice for Colton.
Erika Van Pelt: 1985 sang a rock version of Bryan Adams “Heaven.” Erika is another contestant who needed a good performance but she failed to deliver. While I love her voice the changes that they made to the song arrangement definitely didn’t work and left me feeling unsatisfied. She picked a great song but the arrangement prevented her from getting to heaven. On the positive side she looked amazing, her hair and dress were just perfect. I really like Erika and hope that fans find a spot for her in the “Top 10”.
Skylar Laine: born in 1994 sang Bonnie Raitt’s, “ Love Sneaking Up On You.” Will.i.am and Jimmy Iovine tried to convince her to do another song because they thought the song didn’t show off enough of her voice, but she stuck to her guns. She looked and dressed perfectly. While it wasn’t my favorite Bonnie Raitt song she did a good job. It wasn’t a performance the American Idol fans will be talking about today but she did enough to earn a spot in the “Top10”.
Joshua Ledet: born in 1992 sang Michael Bolton’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Trying to show everyone that the voters got it wrong when they put him in the “Bottom 3” last week, Joshua sang an inspired version of the Michael Bolton song. It was easily the best performance of the evening. I am sure that Joshua went back to his hotel room happy with his performance and happy that he had some fresh Crawfish that Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest brought back for him from Louisiana.
Hollie Cavanagh: born in 1993 did a terrific version of Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love”. For the second week in a row Hollie had the second best performance of the evening. Last week she finished second to Jessica Sanchez and this week she was just behind Joshua Ledet. Overall, she has been the most consistent performer and has been absolutely great since clinching her spot in the “Top 24”, with her amazing performance of Carrie Underwood’s “Change.” Her song choices have been perfect. She has a big voice and isn’t afraid to show it off. Hollie can definitely win this thing.
It wasn’t a great night for American Idol or the contestants with a lot of average performances. The three contestants that should really be worried are Deandre Brackensick, Heejun Han and Erika Van Pelt. While I would send Deandre home I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone of the three went home.