American Idol 11 – Top 10 – Recap, Videos and Photos

The American Idol 11 Top 10 sing the songs of Billy Joel. P. Diddy will be assisting Jimmy Iovine with the mentoring! And Tommy Hilfiger helps the kids out with styling. Check out the Song Spoilers.

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I’ll be live blogging all the action at Entertainment Weekly. Join me there, will you? After, I’ll be back with a recap. Watch this space for photos and videos.

Entertainment Weekly Live Blog

The show opens with the Idols crying after Shannon Magrane’s boot last week. Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” is the backdrop. I’m kind of pissed none of the Idols will be singing my favorite song from the piano man’s catalog. OH WELL.

But after watching the show tonight, I’m kind of pissed they sang Billy Joel at all. As I feared, the oldy moldy theme completely threw the youngins. Look. Billy Joel made his mark when we baby boomers were younger. He’s not the Beatles, or Michael Jackson. There is no reason for any of the kids to know who he is.  Only the older contestants, Elise Testone and Erika Van Pelt “got” the theme. Everyone else floundered around to various degrees. Jessica Sanchez was able to find a song that fit into her wheel house. Those 3 were the best performances of the night.

Please, Nigel, give these kids some relevant music to sing. I’m begging you, once again.

I really hope to not have another all female bottom 3 this week. But I would not be surprised to find my girls, Elise and Erika in danger, with one of them eliminated.  Hopefully, the judges would use the save to keep them on.

Tommy Hilfiger was totally useless. The segments were all about filler, so it’s not like he’s giving the finalists any real advice. But still, watching most of the kids totally ignore his fashion suggestions was pretty funny.  If he doesn’t at least appear to be helping them, the segments will be a bigger joke than they already are.

Steven says if you can’t sing Billy Joel, you can’t sing at all. What about people who claim to be Billy Joel fans, but have never heard one of his most beloved tunes? I could not believe that Steven had never heard “Just The Way You Are.”

Jimmy Iovine brought in Diddy to help mentor the Idols performances. I’d give Diddy above average marks. Some of his advice—to Jessica and Erika, for instance, was great.  But for some others—like Phil and Deandre, not so much. He seemed much better working with the females, oddly.

Deandre Brackensick – Only the Good Die Young –  Tommy tells him to let his hair go free.  Please don’t go back to whipping it around, Deandre.   He chose “Only the Good Die Young” which seems to be totally the wrong song for him.  Jimmy has to tell him to smile when he performs. That’s not good. When Diddy explains that Deandre has to channel Billy Joel and his hot lifestyle when he sings the song, he looks thoroughly confused. “If he doesn’t have fun with that song,” says Diddy. “DOA,” says Jimmy.  Deandre smiled plenty, but he totally lacked the bad boy swagger necessary to pull off this song. His broad vibrato should have been toned down, but at least he didn’t overuse his falsetto. He really does sound good in his middle range. But without that glint in his eye as he sang, the performance never rose above competent karaoke.  Steven: At first I thought it was a little too happy. I guess that’s why you and I are still here, Randy!  Jlo:  She thought it was a good way to start the show. Liked his laid back vibe. Showcased who he was. Randy: He wasn’t “jumping up and down…it didn’t show me anything special.” – 1-866-436-5701

Erika Van Pelt – New York State of Mind –  Erika is aware that “New York State of Mind” is an anthem. Diddy tells her to hold back a little bit, and pay respect to the song. Jimmy is afraid of her over singing. Diddy tells Erika to sing it like she’s in Yankee stadium. Erika is adorable as she worries about what  RED SOX NATION! will think. We’re cool! ‘Cause she’s a Rhode Islander. Ha ha.  Take some risks, says Diddy. In her style session, Erika says she admires Pink.  Tommy suggests she cut her hair short and color it brown. So she gets a do that’s a cross between Adam Lambert and Gina Glocksen.  With the brown hair and edgy clothes, she looks fantastic! Her vocal performance is exquisite. That beautiful, husky alto wrapped itself around Billy’s song like a warm soft blanket. She hit the notes hard when she needed to, but didn’t over sing.  Randy: I love the look! It’s hot. I love the vocals. You’re one of the best singers.  You can clearly sing the phone book. Those that can do should—at the end you can go to some runs. Very nice. Jlo: Beautiful vocal. I’d love to see you let loose vocally, and all through your body. I wanted to see you unplant your feet.  Steven: You could have put in more character, but later for that.  Argh, judges! Quit telling her to over sing! Jimmy is right! – 1-866-436-5702

Check out Erika’s new dark do!

Joshua Ledet – She’s Got A Way –  After Joshua tells Tommy he’s chosen an all black outfit, the designer says, “I think you’re more special than that,” and then suggests he wear a tux. Really?  Josh looks at him like WTF? Joshua has never heard “She’s Got a Way” before. He’s unsure about singing a pop song. Diddy tells him not to go so harsh in some spots. He’s not connecting with the song. I love me some Joshua, but this is totally the wrong song for him. He tries to do too much with it. The choir comes out on the bridge. This song really doesn’t lend itself well to the gospel treatment. He tries to mask his discomfort with runs and riffs. I am not feeling this at all. The tune’s power  comes from its simplicity.  Jimmy and Diddy should have helped him dial it back. And whoever suggested the gospel choir. NO. Joshua basically pooped all over this song. Jlo: For me, with a song like that, I needed to feel like you were connected more to the lyrics. Steven: I think that you took a song that I don’t know, you sang your life into it. You sang the sweat out of that song. Randy: They’re both right. In the end you made it your own.  Wait…so Steven never heard of “She’s Got a Way”? Really? – 1-866-436-5703


Skylar Laine – Shameless –  Country girl Skylar flipping out at the sight of Diddy had me cracking up. She’s like a total stan. I think Jimmy was a little jealous. Diddy thinks Sylar’s performance felt forced. “You don’t have to force it. The truth will set you free,” says Diddy.  Tommy wants to punch up her country look with some color. The advice Diddy gave Skylar about toning it down went out the window when she hit the stage. She seemed nervous, and having her move around the stage affected her vocals in a negative way. She sounded harsh, pitchy and shouty. Randy: Attributes the song to Brad Paisley but gets it wrong. It’s Garth Brooks. ‘Oh, he did it too?’ says Randy. Oh geez. Thought the key was low for her, but liked the middle part. Not her best. Jlo: Says she’s not shameless, she’s fearless. Steven: Slow in the beginning, pitchy, but she still breathes life into the song. – 1-866-436-5704

Elise Testone – Vienna –  Jimmy is afraid of Elise doing a song that nobody knows, but she sticks to her guns.  “Let’s step up to the challenge,” says Diddy, “and let’s make it special.”  Diddy suggests she start with the mic stand but then take the mic and have some fun.  In her fashion consult, Tommy suggests high-wasted bell bottoms. Another suggestion she totally ignores.  Man, Elise makes every single note count. Her phrasing is so beautiful and so intricate, but never too much. I’m not sure she should have roamed stage as Diddy suggested—it was a little distracting—but everything else about that performance was perfect. She made me feel every word. But I’m afraid the unfamiliar song will go over viewer’s heads. The judges give her a standing o. Steven: You were all over the place, but still stayed in the room. That melody! Brilliant. Jlo: I’m so happy for you…it was such a beautiful thing. Everybody got to see your personality for the first time. Randy: I like what you guys have done tonight. You’ve made it your own. She is unbelievably talented. She had a moment tonight. Ryan brought up Elise’s music students from the audience. The teens were both crying.  I honestly hope all the overpimping helps her, because she deserves to stay. As it is, Elise may still end up in the bottom 3. – 1-866-436-5705

Phillip Phillips  – Movin’ Out –  Tommy finds the gray clothes he’s wearing really dull, but Phillip resists the designer’s attempt to style him up.  Tommy makes a ridiculous case for Phillip’s lack of style harming his performance. I think the folks voting for Phil right now don’t care how he dresses. Phil says the music comes first. The session with Diddy doesn’t go much better. Diddy wants Phil to put down his guitar. Out of his cold, dead hands, Diddy!  Diddy wants him to “groove”.  Phil believes he’s already doing that. Phil wasn’t digging the girls Diddy brought up for him to sing to.  IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC MAN. Phillip ain’t down with Diddy.  Defiant, Phil performs wearing gray and playing his acoustic guitar.  Phillip does his typical “flip” on the song. How is it that no matter what song Phil sings, they all sound the same? His song choices vary wildly, but his performances don’t. There are so many fans convinced he’s going to win. I’m not. Jlo: I felt like you were taking out a little aggression on your mentors! Phil says the guitar isn’t a shield for him..It’s part of who he is. Steven: You took that song and you Phillip Phillips it. Steven throws his scarf to Phil. Don’t ever stop being you. Randy: Those that do should…you are an unbelievably talented artist. That’s one of the best renditions of that song ever. Stick to your guns. –  1-866-436-5706

Hollie Cavanagh  – Honesty –  Hollie’s brother says Hi from home with her cute little puppy. Tommy thinks Hollie doesn’t need to dress like her grandmother. Hollie wants to look shiny and glamorous. Jimmy thinks she’s too innocent to sing Billy Joel. They try to help her understand the meaning of the song. But only someone with experience, or an old soul would get it.  It turns out to be the wrong song for Hollie. Not only does she skim over the bitterness of the song, she’s pitchy all over the place. Pretty sure I never wanted to hear this particular tune given the Celine Dion treatment. And her outfit? She still looks way older than 17. Steven: One of our grand singers. Tonight you were a little pitchy. You were overthinking the song. Jlo: You take on these big songs, at the end of the day you have to know every single note of the song. You have a beautiful sounding voice, but you have to nail them. Randy: The choruses where great–in the verses there were these little pitch issues. Hollie looks really really upset.  She  says it was a tough week–she never heard the song before. – 1-866-436-5707

Ryan introduces Haley Reinhart from the audience. She’ll be performing her single “Free” on the results show tomorrow night.

Heejun Han – “My Life” –  Heejun is still reeling from last week’s criticism. Diddy and Jimmy tell him to use it as fuel to push him forward. If he can’t, the business may not be for him. Despite the advice, Heejun is still freaked out.  “I don’t know if he’s an actor, or a con man,” says Diddy, “I haven’t figured him out yet, we got to keep an eye on him.” Oddly, we see nothing of his performance in front of the mentors. Hm.  Heejun’s session with Tommy is hilarious. He basically trolls him in front of his face.  When Tommy asks him whose style he admires, Heejun answers, “Jessica Sanchez.” When he asks him to name a man whose style he admires, Heejun deadpans, “Michael Bolton.” God I love Heejun so effing much. So, Heejun starts off singing a ballad, and stops. For a second I thought he was pulling a Brooke White. But it’s part of the act…he rips off his jacket and launches into “My Life”.   Heejun is full of confidence in a fun and funny performance, but there are vocal issues all over the place. There is no getting around the fact that he’s a subpar singer. And as lovable as I find him, I’ll be really pissed when he inevitably knocks out one of my favorite singers. I am torn. Jlo: I love that you brought a little fun. Breath of fresh air. You didn’t hit the vocal exactly the way you would have liked to. Steven: Are you happy that you took the piss out of that song? They were right, The music business will kick your ass. At some point you got to try to take it more serious. Steven looks none too pleased. Randy: At least you had a good time. There were still some vocal problems. I was just happy seeing you have a good time.  Heejun wanders off the stage before he’s supposed to. Ryan has to call him back. He’s so cute. – 1-866-436-5708

Jessica Sanchez  – “Everybody Has a Dream” –  She’s the only one who is really excited about working with Tommy. He thinks she could be a fashion icon. Diddy tells Jessica he doesn’t believe her and that she’s oversinging. “You have to pull back on showing off the tricks,” says Diddy, “Tricks aren’t going to get you to that superstar level…less is more, too much vibrato.” Diddy nails it. Whatever, she appears to take Diddy’s advice, because she nails her vocal performance without oversinging. She hits the high notes beautifully. I liked this better than “I Will Always Love You”, which was nothing more than expert karaoke. Finally, I felt her really interpret a song in her own unique way without a ton of OTT flash. She could win this thing if she continues to bring it. Steven: When God gave out vocal cords, you were so at the front of the line. Jlo: That was a defining song for you. Randy: Everytime you step up on that stage, you have a moment. That was flawless (She had a moment even last week, Randy, when you dissed her? I love catching Randy stepping in bull sh*t). He compliments Jimmy, Diddy and Tommy on their mentoring. “That was perfection,” says Randy. – 1-866-436-5709

Colton Dixon – “Piano Man” –  Colton sees his image as edgy and punk rock. Excuse me while I BWAG. Tommy doesn’t like his hair. Colton is pissed that he picked on his hair, so he’s not going to change it. Colton is ready to play the piano again. Jimmy thinks Colton has the advantage tonight. Diddy wanted to buy the record after he heard it. While Jimmy wants Colton to stick to the melody, Diddy likes that he changed it up. I don’t know. He’s got this weird catch in his voice that’s distracting. He overuses it, like a trick.  The performance was engineered to be a moment, with the red piano and the smoke and the lights, but it was just alright for me. Jlo: You sing with pure feeling. I had goosies from head to toe. She almost calls her ex “Puffy”. Oops. Steven: He liked his choice of chords on the piano when his voice resolved. “Stunning,” he says, “you’re a great singer and a great musician.” Randy: You gave a very sensitive touching moving performance. You definitely are a rockstar. Be an individual. Colton tells Ryan that in the moment before he started to play he was praying. “God use me, I want to shine through you first and foremost.” Pander away, Colton. Well played. – 1-866-436-5710

About mj santilli 35048 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!