The American Idol
Top 12 Top 11 sing the songs from The Year They Were Born. Check out the song spoilers HERE.
But, who cares about that! The big news tonight will be the Disqualification of Jermaine Jones, who was caught lying about his criminal record! And Nigel Lythgoe has the confrontation ALL ON TAPE! We’ll be seeing that tonight. Oh goodie.
I’ll be live blogging all the drama at Entertainment Weekly. Join me there, will you? After, I’ll be back with a recap. Watch this space for photos and videos.
I’ve never seen a group of contestants so befuddled by the “Year they were born” theme. In theory, they should have had a ton of songs to choose from (the judges certainly think they do) but in reality, there is probably a short list of songs. And judging by some of the song choices, many of the choices were covers, which really made the theme seem sketchy at best.
When are Nigel and company going to get with it? Do I really have to hear “Heaven” AGAIN? Lionel Richie? Richard Marx? Tired! Song choice is everything and tonight’s show suffered because it appeared that the kids did not have much of a selection from which to choose.
I’d bitch about having to hear “When a Man Loves a Woman” for the billionth time, except that Joshua killed that song so thoroughly dead, that I hope we can finally declare a winner and put that song to bed. Joshua showed them all how it’s done. Nobody could touch him tonight.
Jermaine Jones disqualification wasn’t handled as badly as I was expecting, but it was still kinda lame to have cameras in the room while Ken and Nigel blindsided him with bad news. It was stupid to bring him back in the first place. Unless the producers were prepared to bring someone back who had half a chance to win, they shouldn’t have bothered.
I still don’t get how Idol producers missed 4 + warrants and were able to resolve it in a single afternoon. Somebody, somewhere is not doing their job.
Ryan Seacrest addresses the Jermaine Jones’ controversy right at the top of the show. “With the cooperation of law enforcement, we discovered information that left us with no choice but to eliminate one of our finalists from the competition. When you’re doing a live show ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.” Jeez, that sound like an intro to Dateline or Cops , doesn’t it?
Randy tries to drag Ryan to the front of the stage, Ryan pulls away, runs up the stairway so he can make his usual entrance–walking back down the stairway…all in the view of the cameras. Silly!
Ryan says they will be eliminating a contestant…but not until later in the show. He tries to play it up as a surprise, but everyone knows it’s Jermaine Jones and his stack of lies and warrants.
Tonight’s theme is songs from the year the contestants were born. And you know what that means, don’t you? ADORABLE BABY PHOTOS HOORAY. And to kick things off, it’s cute photos of the judges and Ryan. Will.i.am is tonight’s mentor. Remember him from last season? Phillip is up first.
Phillip Phillips – “Hard To Handle” by Black Crowes – 1991 – Phillip was a premie. When he was a month old doctors discovered he had a dead bowel and he almost died. Yikes. Phil was feeling like crap at his mentoring session because he was having kidney stone surgery later in the day. Will and Jimmy thought he nailed it anyway. Phil goes guitarless! And he survives. He growled his way through the performance, but it worked for him, He worked it out, as Randy would say. I still don’t like his voice, but tonight it was less annoying than usual. Randy was impressed. “You sound amazing.” He thinks the song would make a great single. Jennifer says, “It’s so natural for you–Great song for you. Perfect.” Steven likes that he picks songs that match his voice and character. “Watch your melody,” says Steven, “Keep it up, man.” – 1-866-436-5701
Jessica Sanchez – Turn The Beat Around by Gloria Estafan – 1995 – Jimmy and Will are impressed with her professionalism and cool head. Will calls her a “swaggernaught”! Jessica doesn’t stay on the beat perfectly, but it’s a tough song–rhythmic and fast. It could have been a trainwreck, but she pulls it off. What bothers me more, though, is that I’m still not getting a sense of exactly who Jessica is. She’s like this little machine—wind her up and there she goes—like she’s on auto pilot. The judges criticize Jessica for singing behind the beat. They feel she chose the wrong song—like they want her to sing ballads every week. NO. Randy says she needs to work on her vibrato. Jessica says she didn’t have much to choose from on her list of songs. Granted, it wasn’t the greatest song choice for her, but don’t doom her to ballads every week. She’s capable of more. – 1-866-436-5702
Heejun Han – “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx – 1989 – Heejun’s parents are so cute! They speak in Korean with subtitles. Mom says he gets his humor from her. Jimmy and Will help Heejun with his diction. Heejun asks for Fergie’s number. Har. This is not a good performance. Every one of his vocal flaws was on display here. Pitchy in spots, super breathy throughout, still with the diction issues and a lack of power—the performance was like very bad karaoke. I hope there’s enough good will amongst viewers to get him through for at least another week. I really want to see him on tour. Randy calls him out on his pitch and breath problems. He wants Heejun to go more urban. Jennifer refused to critique him. “I felt your heart in the song,” says Jlo, “in the end I really loved it.” Heejan points out his pretty girlfriend in the audience. – 1-866-436-5703
Elise Testone – “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green (Tina Turner cover) – 1983 – Will loves her rasp and her vibrato, but suggests she smile. “Tonight when I take the stage,’ people are going to be making babies,” giggles Elise. Oh look. Elise is duetting with Obama, via the magic of editing! Elise puts her super-raspy spin on this tune. I loved most of it–she’s got great phrasing, but she overcooked some of the lines. Sometimes it’s cool just to sing a song straight. But she gave the song her own unique spin, which I appreciate. I’d rather listen to an imperfect, but unique vocal rather than to someone who hits every note but puts me to sleep. The judges feel like she redeemed herself totally this week. I’m relieved, because I want to see her on tour this summer. I only wish she had performed a little later in the lineup. “America, Elise is back,” declares Randy. – 1-866-436-5704
Deandre Branckensick – “Endless Love” – 1994 – Initially, Deandre wanted to sing “Can You Feel the Love” but Will and Jimmy didn’t like it. They convince him to pick another song and for some reason I can’t fathom, they pick “Endless Love” which I associate with Diana and Lionel and the early 80’s. There were no other songs from that year suitable for Deandre? Really? Will yammers on about mastering and blastering through the competition. Or something. He needs to GTFO, because this proves to be a terrible song choice for Deandre. He warbles his way pitchily through the song. He’s trying, but it’s a dumb, drab tune. He hits a few clunkers, especially in his upper register. I suggested a Prince song for Deandre. There were so many dope urban songs from that year he could have picked. It’s ridiculous. The judges openly disagree with Jimmy and Will, hating on the song choice. “Jimmy steered you wrong,” says Jlo. “It wasn’t you.” Randy calls the song choice, “boring and safe.” Deandre says finding a song was hard. He had been dreading this theme since the beginning of the season. – 1-866-436-5705
Shannon Magrane – “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men – 1995 – Jimmy wanted Shannon to sing No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” and despite admitting that she had a long creative list of songs to choose from—after Jimmy plays her a bunch of songs from his Vivid phone (PRODUCT PLACEMENT!) she chooses a tired Mariah Carey song. OY. They suggest she practice the song lying down to work on her breathing. She’s pitchy, and her phrasing is dull, she tries for some Mariah Carey-like high notes, and doesn’t quite nail them. She’s got no style or flavor. BORING. And I get now why she picked this song. It’s about God and heaven. Guess she’ll be sticking around for another week. The judges were scared for her, but thought she did a great job. Randy couldn’t get by without dropping his very special relationship with Mariah. They call her fearless. REALLY? Jlo and Randy are under the impression that the contestants have “thousands” of songs to choose from. In reality, they were probably handed a very short list of songs. – 1-866-436-5706
Colton Dixon – Broken Heart by White Lion – 1991 – Aw. Colton and Chris Daughtry are twitter pals. They went out to dinner last week. I don’t have a problem with contestants singing obscure songs. But if they do, they better be killer. This tune, which sounds only vaguely familiar to me—is mediocre. I’m not going to remember it 2 seconds after I heard it. The upside is that was the most consistent vocal I’ve ever heard Colton deliver. Now he needs to combine the two—a killer song choice combined with a consistent vocal. At this point, Colton would have to screw up pretty badly to be in danger. His angsty “rock” is very appealing to the adult females that make up Idol’s core audience. Jennifer called Colton “a lover”. “You look pretty when you sing,” she says. Steven didn’t like it, “Wrong song for your voice and your passion.” Randy doesn’t think the song mattered—I was paying attention to you. What?!? – 1-866-436-5707
Erika Van Pelt – “Heaven” by Bryan Adams – 1985 – I’m not sure the song needed all those “cool” little “breaks” Jimmy suggested. The arrangement messed with the flow of the melody. Combined with the 1:30 edit, the overall feel was disjointed. I still love Erika’s smokey alto, although she didn’t sound as effortless as usual. I’m glad she didn’t sing at the top of the performance order, or she would have been in real trouble. The judges thought the arrangement was “too busy”. Jlo compares her to Janis Joplin. “I feel you coming together as an artist,” says Jlo. For Randy, it was 8 out of 10. Randy thought she over sang it and basically tells her not to take bad advice from Jimmy. 1-866-436-5708
We’ve finally come to the time in the program when Ryan reveals who was disqualified last night. Of course those paying attention already know it’s Jermaine Jones. I’m not sure witnessing a GOTCHA moment on camera is necessary. But oh heck, we’ve got some time to kill if Jermaine won’t be singing. Ken and Nigel sit down with the embattled finalist and begin ratting off the criminal charges against him from a sheet. Jermaine seems a little confused. Ken says there were 4 active warrants and explains if Jermaine had come clean in the beginning the show could have helped him. Jermaine’s explanation for why he lied comes off as disingenuous—especially his description of what went down when he was arrested for disorderly conduct. “I fell down the stairs and the cops came.” WHAT? When Ken and Nigel press him, he admits he had a disagreement with a friend, but there was no violence. Nigel explains that they can’t allow people on the show with outstanding warrants. Ken says “We have to let you go.” Just so we know, there’s a clip of Jermaine singing his song choice, “Somewhere Out There” from rehearsal as he leaves the premises in a car. “That’s the best we ever heard you,” says Ken. Bah.
Ryan says tomorrow the person with the lowest number of votes will “be at risk” for elimination. At risk? Sounds like the kids might be getting a free pass tomorrow.
Skylar Laine – “Love Sneakin’ Up On You” by Bonnie Raitt – 1994 – “Y’all are being mean!” says Skyler to the judges. It was really hard picking the songs this week, she says. Still, don’t bitch out the judges for doing their job! Jimmy doesn’t like Skyler’s song choice, so he has her consider a bunch of different tunes she’s never heard of–but in the end she sticks with Bonnie. Will wants her to sing Coolio. I’d kill to see that. The performance is a little shouty, but Skyler has great stage presence. I loved the way she jammed with the backup singers. This week’s performance felt a little forced, like she’d never sing this song if she didn’t have to. It seems to be a pattern tonight. “We do you guys a disservice if we’re not honest with you,” says Jlo. What, like all last season? Nevertheless, Jlo says she killed it. Randy liked it too. – 1-866-436-5709
Joshua Ledet – “When a Man Loves a Woman” by – 1992 – Ryan brings Joshua a mess of crawfish from Louisiana. They look yummy! Not too many notes from the team. Joshua is perfect. He brings the house down. It’s the best performance of the night, simply. Joshua has got this incredible soulful rasp and he sings like he means it. Really means it. He knows how to hit a high note, or add a frill WHERE IT COUNTS. His phrasing never sounds gratuitous or like showboating. He’s incredible. And he works the stage—stripping his jacket off at just the right time—like the reincarnation of James Brown. The judges give him a standing ovation. Jlo is screaming. She says it’s the best Idol performance she’s ever heard ever. OK, I wouldn’t go that far. But it’s definitely one of the best. “You gave it up so big, God came through your eyes,” says Steven. 1-866-436-5710
Hollie Cavanagh – “The Power of Love” – 1993 – Oh Hollie’s dad is so cute, pretending he’s got something in his eye when he tears up talking about her. Hollie has a fantastic voice—a really strong instrument. I love her tone. She says now is the time not to play it safe. But isn’t choosing a big cheesy Celine Dion ballad doing exactly that? If she comes out and sings big boring ballads every week, she’s going to get Pia’d. Yes, she can hit those notes—mostly–but so what? I just have the feeling Hollie’s got more going on, and I wish she’d show it. The judges note a few pitch problems, but overall great notes. Randy notes she’s got “more swag than that” but she blew it out the box. Please show your swag, Hollie. Do it soon – 1-866-436-5711
Last words: Randy says Joshua is safest. Heejun may be in trouble. He also namechecks Phillip, Hollie, Skyler, Elise and Colton as having good performances. Jennifer says Joshua, Hollie and Phillip did a good job. Steven says Joshua, Skyler, Elise and Phillip were notable.