American Idol returned tonight with their 400th episode and it was a good one. Mary J. Blige was the celebrity mentor and she seemed very comfortable in that role. The girls were tasked with singing Whitney Houston songs and the guys performed Stevie Wonder Songs. While the girls had a much tougher assignment, they were up to the task and clearly dominated the evening.
Then top 3 performances were all by girls. Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh and Skylar Laine clearly established themselves as the overall favorites to win American Idol. In fact, I think we could save a lot of time if we just had a sing off between the three to determine the next “American Idol”.
In the best performance of the night, Jessica Sanchez sang an absolutely perfect version of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love”. Jessica looked beautiful and gave a flawless performance. The judges and audience clearly loved the performance and Steven Tyler said, “You may be the one, you made 40 million people cry tonight”.
Not to be out done, Hollie Cavanagh sang a beautiful performance of “All the Man That I Need”. While Jessica is clearly the favorite to win it all, if she stumbles Hollie will be right there to grab the top spot. Her performance was so good that my wife actually cried. Hollie’s last three performances have been outstanding and she has gone from someone who just made the “Top 24” to a real contender. Don’t underestimate Hollie.
Skylar Laine sang a terrific country version of “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”. The judges clearly loved the performance and so did I. I originally had Skylar rated as the number 3 country singer in the “Top 24”, and I never thought she would make it to the “Top 13”. However, her performances the last two weeks have been outstanding and if she can keep performing at this level the country vote will keep her in this contest for a long time.
Unfortunately, one of my favorite girls Shannon Magrane had a terrible night. She sung an off key version of “I Have Nothing” and tonight, she had nothing. While she looked and dressed great, her performance was a miss. She is clearly in danger of going home. The judges thought her nerves got the best of her. While I would like to see her get another chance, I just don’t think that she can consistently compete at the level required to keep up with Jessica and Hollie.
Despite good performances, Erika Van Pelt and Elise Testone were completely lost in the shuffle, and I will bet that most viewers can’t even remember what they sang. While Shannon’s performance was clearly the worst of the evening, any one of the three could end up on the bottom.
With the exception of two male performances of the evening, the guys were just ok. Phil Philips did a terrific version of Stevie Wonder’s, “Superstition”. He is so talented that it is scary. I would pay to see this guy in concert right now. Colton Dixon was a step behind him, singing “Lately”, and bringing his rock style to Stevie Wonder’s voice. While I enjoyed the performances of Joshua Ledet and Jeremy Rosado, they were clearly multiple notches below the other men and most of the girls (though the judges seemed to disagree). While I consider all four of these guys as safe, they are going to have to improve tremendously if they want any chance of winning.
Performances by Deandre Brackensick, Heejun Han and Jermaine (the Gentle Giant) Jones were boring and uninspiring. I will admit that Deandre gave his best performance in two weeks and showed he knows how to entertain and work the crowd, but it still isn’t good enough to warrant keeping him in this competition. While I like Heejun, his jokes and the humor that he provides has become more interesting than his soft voice. Jermaine’s performance was clearly the worst of the evening. While he has a distinctly low voice, to me, he looked completely lost and doesn’t belong in this competition. The judges made a huge mistake in bringing him back and then wasting a “Wild Card” pick to save him.
The bottom vote getter in both the boys and girls categories will be announced tomorrow evening and the judges will determine who will be going home. While Jermaine and Shannon are clearly in trouble there are a few other contestants who won’t be sleeping soundly tonight.