Thursday, March 29, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 9 results with Scotty McCreery

Scotty McCreery returns to the 'Idol' stage tonight for the first time since his win last season. We'll also find out who is going home. I suspect it will be the end of the road for Heejun, but who knows!
Lots of inspiration with the cold opening tonight with a Fleetwood Mad soundtrack. Voiceover man brings out the judges and Ryan descends the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase.

Big Aerosmith news. After video of Tyler performing, Ryan brings him up on the stage to discuss the "Global Warming Tour." The tour kicks off June 16 in Minneapolis.

The Top 9 are on the couches and Ryan reads Tweets from the celebs whose songs they sang Wednesday night. Ryan says DeAndre didn't get a Tweet, but Eric Benet is here in person. Eric says DeAndre's performance was "amazing." He says the song was tailor-made for DeAndre.

Now for the Ford video. A special badge is hidden somewhere to further tantalize us. The Idols are stacking up old TVs. And they want to rock. I didn't see the badge. If you did, you can play the Ford video challenge on American You can win a Ford Escape and a trip to the Season 11 finale.

 Before the results, we watch the Idols move to a mansion in Hollywood Hills. They all  seem astounded, of course, and we see the requisite running around, jumping on beds, and checking out the bidets! "Unfortunately, one of them will soon be moving out unless the judges activate their save."

Elise, Phillip, and Hollie start us off. Here's what Jimmy has to say.

Elise: Jimmy says she took charge of the stage, led the band... she's exactly at the right age. Stevie Nicks and Annie Lennox didn't have their first hit until they were 26. She was a dark horse, but not anymore. Now, she's coming on strong.

Phillip: Whenever Stevie Nicks believes in someone, they go all the way. If his original material is anywhere near as good, he'll go a long way. He was flawless.

Hollie: She has a beautiful sound and did a beautiful job, but she lacks experience. It will come down to comparing Hollie and Jessica. Hollie has an intellectual approach. She has all the pieces, but she needs to put it together.

"Dim the lights... after the nationwide vote, Hollie, Carrie Underwood loved your rendition, but unfortunately, you are in the bottom three." Hollie goes to the stools of doom. Phillip is safe, as is Elise.

Next up, Nicki Minaj. There's so much auto-tune, it's hard to tell where Nicki stops and the background ends. It's a dancey tune! I'll tell you what, Nicki's about to bust right out of her little bikini top! Keep jumping up and down, Nicki. 

Ryan talks to Nicki and mentions that parts of the performance were "high risk!" Heh! Nicki wants to be a guest judge and asks J'Lo to scoot over. J'Lo's not having any of that, and tells Nicki there isn't room for the two of them!

More results. Ryan calls Colton, Joshua, and Heejun. Here are Jimmy's comments.thoughts:

Colton: Colton wasn't good enough.You have to go through the whole cycle - rehearsals, mentoring, backstage and performance. This is not the end of the concert where you can lose it and cry. Colton lost the fight. He didn't get knocked out, but he faces eight opponents.

Joshua: It's a tough one, he delivered 85 percent of the song, but when he cried, he lost it. When you cry, your voice closes up and you can't sing. But, Joshua killed during the Michael Jackson medley.

Heejun: It was really great to see Heejun come back... I don't think it was enough. The math doesn't work. I don't think he sings as well as the other eight contestants on the show.

The lights dim. "After the nationwide vote, Colton, an emotional night for you as we saw. America says, you are safe." Colton goes to the couches of safety.  This leaves Joshua and Heejun. "Joshua, it is you... who is safe." Heejun goes to the stools of doom and Joshua walks over to hug them."

Scotty McCreery sings "Water Tower Town." He has a great band, and the song is upbeat and fun. Love to see former Idols return to the stage. Scotty gives props to the judges and he gets a little one-on-one time with Ryan. Scotty says it feels like only yesterday. Jimmy Iovine comes out to present Scotty with his platinum album for Clear as Day! Alright Scotty.

Ryan calls the final three to center stage - Jessica, Skylar, and DeAndre. You know it's got to be DeAndre, right? Jimmy says:

Skylar: She always pulls it out somewhere - she picked a character song, rather than something with more melody. She needs to pick songs with more song going forward. But during the medley, she rose to the head of the pack.

DeAndre: I'm seeing right in the middle. There's still something missing. He needs to work his way into this and get more experience. People may or may not buy into his falsetto.

Jessica: At 16, Jessica's managed to harness enough experience it takes ten years to build. She got lost in that song, but kept her composure. I'm fully onboard with this. What we need right now is a little girl power.

Jessica is safe. "The person who is at risk of leaving us tonight is... Skylar. DeAndre, you are safe." Wow, didn't see that coming. 

We come back from the break. One person is being sent to safety, and that person is... Skylar. It comes down to Hollie and Heejun. "The person who is at risk of leaving us tonight is Heejun. Hollie, you are safe."

Heejun will sing "Song for You" for the save. The judges will not save him. Of that I am almost positive. As Heejun sings, we get closeups of the remaining eight looking poignant. The judges pretend to deliberate, be we all know it's pointless. Meanwhile, Heejun sings better than he has at any time during the competition. J'Lo has tears in her eyes. At the end of the song, he tanks everyone "so much." He knows he's a goner.

Will they use the save? Sgteven gets to drop the bomb. "Heejun, let the record show you know this was coming, ugh... unfortunately, after talking, we're gonna have to let you go, man."

Heejun smiles through his funeral video. We will miss you, darlin'.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 9 sing songs from their own idols

Now that Syracuse is out of the tournament, I can concentrate on other endeavors, including 'American Idol' and my new writing gig for Skyword. Thank goodness for Whitney and Bobby drama that continues even after her passing. We'll try to get some 'Idol' articles up there as well.

At any rate, tonight, the remaining nine sing song from their own idols. Word is Madonna will be in heavy rotation tonight. We'll be on it!

We start out with clips of the Top 9 and inspirational phrases involving dreams. Stevie Nicks' "Dreams" is playing in the background. We see a shot of the departed ones - Erika, Shannon, Jermaine, and Jeremy. Ah, their dreams are crushed, I get it.

Voiceover man does his thing. The judges appear and slap hands with the audience. Ryan makes his entrance down the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. Ryan asks the audience to indicate their favorites. Signs wave, people cheer. The Top 9 meander out to the stage. They are all wearing combinations of black and white clothing. Ryan tells us tonight, "It's our Idols taking on their Idols.

Tommy Hilfiger gets another shot to dress these people. He tells us the goal is to allow them to find their own image. Jessica comes out wearing some strange dress. The rest are paraded in front of us. Tommy says by the time we get to the finale, "the styles will be outrageous."

Lots of music tonight. The kids will be singing one song and then perform in groups of three.

Stevie Nicks is the guest mentor. We see tape of Stevie and Jimmy back in the day. Jimmy had hair.

Colton Dixon - "Everything" by Lifehouse

Colton is thrilled that Stevie knows who he is. This is a worship song and Colton tells us church is how he got into music. Stevie misinterprets this as a song to a woman. Jimmy says he is "in" on Colton this week all the way.

Lots of strings on stage. Colton is suitably subdued and reverent, gazing upwards (when he doesn't have his eyes closed). He's pitchy. The song starts out very slow and mournful. I keep expecting a kick and finally it comes. I think he's trying for the Lambert effect. It's not working. Not really a fan of this one.

Colton ends the song on his knees. The judges seem impressed. Steven says Colton is a dream come true for a judge on 'Idol.' "You've got that star quality, which puts you over the top." J'Lo is moved by "hearing his song... you're a performer, great job." Randy likes the white coat. He says he's been a fan since his first audition. He finds Colton believable. "I feel your heart and passion in everything you do." Randy says that performance was unbelievable. He says he thinks he's looking at a contender for the title.

Colton takes a deep breath. He says this is his favorite worship song of all time. He gets all choked up again. I think he's sincere, but the winner? I really don't think so.

Skylar Laine - "Gun Powder and Lead" by Miranda Lambert

Stevie and Skylar sing together. Stevie urges Skylar to remember she's a major storyteller. Jimmy thinks Skylar has to be "in her game" to do this.

I have no idea why they keep putting this girl in tops that flare out at the hip. Sheesh. Anyway, she comes out strong. She's got the attitude, that's for sure. Skylar's nasally twang is a bit annoying, but for what she does, I suppose it's appropriate. She may be the best female country singer on this show since Carrie and that's saying something.Solid job.

The audience approves. Randy is grinning from ear to ear. J'Lo says the Skylar part of the show is "unbridled, can't keep it in the can energy." She reminds us Skylar sang this earlier in the auditions. Steven says it was over the top and it was like singing to her old friend. "That was beautiful." Randy says "Mississippi was in it... more of that dirty south." He reminds Skylar that it's all about telling a story. He loved that at the end she showed her range. "You are a powerhouse singer. I like what you bring to this. Good looking out."

Ryan tells us our first trio is coming up after the break and "Heejun fights back!" Goody.

Colton, Elise, and Phillip are the first trio and sing a Fleetwood Mac medley. Colton is clearly the featured act in this trio. PP is totally off key, but Elise manages to hold her own. I really hate these trios tossed in the middle of a performance show. Why? Oh, right, they want to keep the show to two hours and it's harder to do when you only have nine people.

Steven says it was "most excellent." He tells us he just had a birthday and had dinner with Mick Fleetwood. Whoopty do.

Heejun Han - "A Song for You" by Elton John

Stevie calls it effortless. Jimmy says Heejun came in with a sparkling new attitude. Stevie says he's letting people into his world. So that means no more crazy, fun Heejun? Boo.

No joking around tonight. Another boring ballad. You wimped out Heejun. He is definitely subdued. He stays completely true to the melody and really, his voice is quite lovely. Still, I miss the fun of last week.

J'Lo totally grooves to the tune and the three judges give Heejun a standing ovation. He bows politely. Steven says Hee-Man turned it around. He doesn't think Heejun knows how good he is. "You make it come alive like no one else can." J'Lo asks him what he's doing up there. She says he is here because they know he can sing that way. "When you connect, and you really sing to us, you move people... that was beautiful." Randy says it wasn't perfect, but he loves Heejun's "buttery, beautiful tone". He says the Heejun they loved in the beginning has come back. And the Heejun I love has disappeared once again.

Ryan asks what Heejun we'll get each week. He says he showed the fun side last week, but wanted to show the serious side because he doesn't want to let people down.

Another songwriting competition. Jason DeRulo is writing a new song for Coca-Cola. He's got a blinged-out neck collar on as he broke his neck. He's written a song that fans can finish and will perform the collaborative effort on the finale.

Hollie Cavanaugh - "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood

Stevie tells Hollie her mother died two months ago and she doesn't have any problems. Not sure exactly what that means in terms of singing. Hollie says she felt the pain that Stevie felt. They share some whispered words. She thinks the world will believe Hollie.

Hollie gets the wintertime snowy background and a sole fiddler on the stage. It's tough singing a song that's so closely identified with another Idol. Not sure this was the right choice for her as it emphasizes her somewhat odd accent. She sounds like Celine Dion singing Carrie Underwood. She finishes strong, but for me, it's a tiny bit karaoke.

Randy says he didn't know Hollie was such a Carrie fan. He thinks she did a really good job, although it wasn't perfect. The audience boos. "Pretty good job, man. I was impressed." J'Lo disagrees with Randy and says this was one of Hollie's best. She says it was the first time she really connected with the song. "I felt it emotionally, I really did and thought it was one of your best." Steven says he's not gonna mess with Jesus or Carrie! He wishes she'd sung a different song. "It was just okay for me." He says she picked up on the passion, but didn't feel the full range of her voice in that song. Hollie says she gets emotional thinking about her interaction with Stevie.

DeAndre Brackensick - "Sometimes I Cry" by Eric Benet

Stevie says the song isn't doing it for her because it's too fast and tells him to slow it down. Lots of falsetto in this one. Jimmy and Stevie advise him not to forget about the camera. Jimmy says he's one of the guys in jeopardy and he needs to pull it together.

The song is perfect for his range. He seems to be concentrating on the camera, which seems to be circling around him. The performance is exactly what you'd expect from this song. Very Maxwell-esque. Personally, I think he was outstanding. Good for you DeAndre. You might just have bought yourself another week.

The judges give DeAndre a standing ovation. Steven says, "100 percent passion."  J'Lo says for her, DeAndre has the most special voice in the competition. "People pick up your phones and vote for DeAndre... I need to hear this voice for some more weeks." Randy says he's happy that DeAndre is back to the whole Maxwell, Prince thing. "Guess who else is back in the house... DeAndres's back." DeAndre is emotional and says he's glad he got back to himself.

Another hour to go.

Jessica Sanchez - "Sweet Dreams" by Beyonce

Stevie says Jessica's a good student. Jessica has always idolized Beyonce. Jessica has red doors and a red harp on the stage. She's slowed this song down and it feels very different, almost unrecognizable. I continue to hear Jennifer Hudson in Jessica's voice, but with a little more polish than where J'Hud was while she was on 'Idol.' This girl has a very powerful, clear and clean voice. And her performance skills are top-notch.

J'Lo says if Beyonce heard it, she might think she should do the song that way too. "You left all of us wanting more." Steven says he thinks Jessica's a star no matter what. "You really know your notes... it was delicious, it was beautiful." Randy says "stars are truly born." He says she's one of the best singers he's heard in many years. He loves her resolve. "You told a beautiful story in a beautiful way... Colton threw down the gauntlet... this girl wants it too!"

Now for another threesome. DeAndre, Heejun, and Joshua are singing a medley of Michael Jackson tunes. Joshua is the star of this one. He can sing and he can dance! J'Lo says it's a good thing they are not here for 'So You Think You Can Dance."

Phillip Phillips - "Still Raining" by Jonny Lang

Stevie says if PP had been around back in the day, he would have been invited to join Fleetwood Mac. We get a little love-fest between Jimmy and Stevie. Stevie thinks PP is going to be a big star and she thinks he's georgeous. PP is playing his guitar. The song is what he does best, a little blues, a little rock, and a little PP. Of all the WGWG, I think he may be the best yet and maybe, just maybe, he will hit it big. Hey, Daughtry did it, and in my opinion, PP is way better than Daughtry ever thought of being.

Another standing ovation from the judges. J'Lo says, "This is too much." She says he wants them to feel and experience the music, and is in the moment and makes everything go away. "That was a great performance. Amazing." Steven says every song PP sings he owns and he thinks there someone in there trying to climb out. Randy loves PP, the artist that he is, the individuality. "Dude you got big things in front of you. Big props. I loved it."

I love that once PP stops singing, he reverts back to his good ole boy, pawn shop worker demeanor. It's like he morphs into someone completely different when he performs! An interesting character.

Dionne Warwick and Jordin Sparks are in the house. Jason DeRulo is sitting with them.

Joshua Ledet - "Without You" by Mariah Carey

Jimmy says the first time the song came out, it was a guy singing it. Stevie says he'll be a goner if he comes in on the first not and is flat. Not loving this song for Joshua. He sings it well, no question about that, but I don't know.  I don't feel he's really committed to it. But then he turns the song inside out and infuses it with emotion. This guy is so good. At the end, he is so emotional, he looks like he's about to cry. I do believe Mr. Ledet has surpassed himself. I would love to see him win this.

Another standing ovation from the judges. Randy says he was talking to Mariah yesterday on her birthday (name-dropper).  He says he loves Joshua, it was flawless, and emotional. "That's what the audience feels, that's what they want." Steven says everyone has been pushing themselves beyond their own limits. He says Joshua had an emotional breakdown because he pushed himself so far on the song. J'Lo wonders if Joshua was singing to her. "You're a phenom. You're an absolute angel from heaven. That voice is a Godsend."  She says this group is phenomenal, but he is special. Joshua says he knows he can help someone else by singing this song. Ryan wonders when was the last time they had a show that was this emotional. Never?

Hollie, Skyar and Jessica are singing a Madonna medley. Again, I hate these medleys. They were the best of the trios, though. Randy loves the medleys, natch.

Elise Testone - "Whole Lot of Love" by Led Zeppelin

Stevie says Robert Plant would be very proud. Elise and Stevie sing "Dreams" together. Stevie says she felt a kindred spirit with Elise and if she needed a singer, she'd hire her in a minute.

Rock it, Elise. I have mixed feelings about this. It's completely out of what she's been doing on the show and shows another side of her. Risky. But was it effective? It's not what I would consider a "singer's song" and requires a bit too much screaming. I think she gambled and might have lost. Just my humble opinion.

No standing ovation from the judges. Oh, wait, they stand up a bit later. Maybe they were told too? J'Lo is screaming "You made me get up!" I think the producers made them get up. Steven said Elise made Robert Plant proud. J'Lo said that was "some real rock star stuff." Randy says he doesn't know what's in the air tonight, but they all want to win it. "Dude, you did an amazing job. Congrats."

Elise and Steven have on the same pants!

Best and worst

This was actually one of the best 'Idol' performance shows in years. While some were definitely better than others, no one had a bad performance. Best of the lot? I'd put  PP at the top of the list tonight closely followed by Jessica and Joshua. Skylar, DeAndre, and Hollie are my middle three, leaving Colton, Elise, and Heejun in the bottom. I think this week will be Heejun's last stand.

Ryan asks who is in danger. Randy says it hard to say. Steven says it was like a "magical mystery tour of talent and emotion." He urges them all to keep this up. J'Lo says there were so many standout moments she couldn't stay in her chair. 

Tune in Thursday for results, Scotty McCreery, and Nicki Minaj.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 10 sing Billy Joel

'American Idol 11' Top 10

This week, the remaining ten finalists take on the music of Billy Joel. So much for relevance! I have nothing against Billy Joel, but really feel it's time for 'Idol' to take a look around. It's 2012, and Billy Joel is, well, rather passe. These themed shows have long-since run their course. At any rate, it is what it is.

I also read online today that Heejun is promising to do something crazy every week during his performances. Now that gives us all something to look forward to!

The show opens with... no sound? It appears the contestants are crying about Shannon, who was eliminated last week. At least it's captioned so we know what's going on. Maybe it's my TV? But no, the repeat of Two and a Half Men had sound and 'Idol' is silent on the other TV as well. I do my own Voiceover man intro of the judges and Ryan. My cat runs over the keyboard in protest.

Well four minutes in, the audio is back. Thanks Time Warner

Diddy is the mentor this week and Tommy Hilfiger is going to do a little styling.

DeAndre Brackensick - "Only the Good Die Young"

Diddy tells DeAndre Billy was hot during this song. Jimmy says the repressed young Catholic boy is all about him. I love Diddy. Jimmy tells DeAndre he should sing it to J'Lo. "If he doesn't have fun with this song, he done," says Diddy.. The arrangement is a bit reggae, which I suppose is okay if that's all you can do. DeAndre's vocals are a bit strained, and he doesn't seem to be singing in a key that's comfortable for him. And his dancing, if that's what you want to call it... well, let's just say he's a bit off and call it a day!

Steven says DeAndre has some fans. He tells him the song is about why he and Randy are still here. J'Lo says this was a great way to start the show and loves his island vibe. Randy says he wasn't jumping up and down because he didn't see anything special. "It didn't wow me, but it was okay." My sentiments exactly. Not good that DeAndre performed in the death spot either. They really want a girl to win this!

A Facebook friend says he had sound from the start, so that must have been a local feed problem.

Erika Van Pelt - "New York State of Mind"

My girl from RI tells us the song is an anthem for New Yorkers. Diddy and Jimmy are afraid of her over-singing. Diddy wants her to deliver this like a New Yorker. She says she's a Rhode Islander.  Tommy asks Erika who is her style icon. She says Pink. Ralph says Erika's hair is taking away from her look. So she gets a haircut and we won't get to see it until she sings!

Erika's hair is now black and short and greasy looking. She looks ridiculous. It looks like a bad wig. I can't even concentrate on the singing, the hair is so bad. She looks like a 40-year old lounge singer. I don't even know what to say! I guess it was okay. It doesn't matter, anyway, because she is done. How do I know this? I just do.

Randy says he loves the look. He says he thinks she's one of the best singers in the whole thing. One piece of advice. "Those that can do, should." He thinks she should have ignored Jimmy and Diddy and oversang it. I guess that's what he's saying. J'Lo says it was a beautiful vocal. She also loves the hair and thinks it's hot - very Pat Benatar. She also wants Erika to put more in it. Steven agrees and says she wore it like beautiful.

Ryan says the Twitter response has been positive... about her hair, I guess. Is there something wrong with me?

Joshua Ledet - "She's Got a Way"

Tommy says he wants to see Joshua in a tuxedo and says this will make him look like a superstar. Joshua says he didn't connect with the song at first and was feeling defeated. Diddy says once Josh was present, it was magic. Joshua does not wear the tuxedo. So much for Tommy's advice. Don't really like this song, and it drags until the middle when the chorus comes out and he takes it to church. This dude can deliver. I love the key changes in it. I like this guy a lot.

J'Lo says that Billy Joel wrote his life in his songs and you have to feel it when you sing it. She wanted to feel that he was really connected to it. "You were singing it, but you weren't singing it." Steven says he took a song he didn't know and sang his own life into it and made the song come to life. "I think you sang the sweat out of this song." Randy says he can see where they are both coming from. He tells Josh never to feel defeated. "Always just jump in and grab that lyric and make it your own."

Skylar Laine - "Shameless"

Skylar is completely awestruck at meeting Diddy. He tells her to make the whole thing feel like it's coming from her heart. He says when you overcompensate, you lose who you are. She gets an autograph. Now for her styling. He wants to evolve her look without abandoning the boots. He wants punch and color.

Skylar doesn't look much different. She walks around too much at the beginning of the song and messes up her breathing. When she stops prancing around and stands still, she is fine. Girl's got a little attitude, and I like this song a whole lot better as a country tune. My only complaint about Skylar is that she sounds the same every week.

Randy says he remembers a version of this song Brad Paisely did. Skylar says she was thinking of Garth's. He pretty much agrees with me. J'Lo says she loves Skylar's attack. Steven says he amazed that every time she hits the chorus, she sings with conviction. She says it's a little low in the beginning, but she left it in so she could do the high part at the end. I don't think she's going anywhere, anytime soon.

Elise Testone - "Vienna"

Jimmy wonders if she shouldn't sing something that's better known. Diddy instructs her on opening with the mike on the stand and then opening up. Off to the stylists. Tommy thinks she's over-layered. he wants her in a pair of high-waisted bells Ugh. They're going for a Janis look.

Elise opts for a dress and long vest. And she sings the crap out of this song. I love the tone of her voice, her commitment to the lyrics, her conviction. She breaks free of the mike stand and walks to the other side of the stand, never losing a breath or a beat. Fabulous.

The judges give her a standing ovation. Randy is bowing. Steven says the melody was so fantastic, great singing... "You were beautiful" J'Lo says she wants to shake her it was so beautiful. Randy says he likes that they've all made these songs their own. Randy says that vocal performance was a "moment!" He says the run she did at the end was unbelievable. Two of her students come up on stage to give Elise a hug. The girls are crying and say she was amazing. Nice moment.

Phillip Phillips - "Movin Out"

PP gets some alone one-on-one time with Ryan. They talk about the pawn shop biz. Tommy says PP needs some help. We learn that gray is the worst color to wear on stage. Tommy says he must do something different because America wants to see a star. No, no, no Tommy. PP is this year's WGWG. He can wear whatever he wants and he'll get votes. Meanwhile, Diddy doesn't want PP to play the guitar. They want him to get in the groove. They bring some girls in for him to sing to.

PP totally ignores everyone - plays his guitar, wears gray, and doesn't dance! Never heard anything quite like this. He's completely PP'ed the song, but once in a while a little hint of Billy's arrangement peeks in, shyly. It's Dave Matthews meet Billy Joel and strangely, it works.

The audience loves it. J'Lo says she felt like PP was taking out a little aggression at the end. "Awesome performance." PP says the guitar is him. Steven says PP PP'ed the song. That's what I said. Steven is also glad he wore gray and tosses PP his scarf. Randy points out all the things PP did that the experts told him not to. "You know who you are. You are an unbelievably talented artist... it was brilliant."

Yay PP for defying everyone! Ryan asks PP if he considered any of the suggestions. Nope, says PP. He is who he is and basically doesn't give a damn what anyone says. He tosses Steven's scarf to the fan girlies.

Hollie Cavanaugh - "Honesty"

Jimmy thinks they dress Hollie too old. Tommy agrees. She loves sparkly dresses. Diddy helps her understand the meaning of the song, and urges her to put the anger and disappointment into it.

So, they want her to dress young, but now she looks like a 1930s movie actress. Her natural beauty disappears. As for her vocals, they are not as spot on as usual. The arrangement is boring and somewhat choppy. Not her best, but I blame song choice here.

Steven says she is "one of our grand singers," and says she was pitchy. J'Lo says she takes on big songs, but at the end of the day you have to hit every note. Randy says the choruses were great, but the verses, not so much. "Tune the vocal up a little bit." She says this was a tough week and agrees with the judges.

Haley Reinhart is in the house.

Heejun Hun - "My Life"

Heejun wants to talk about the harsh criticism last week. Jimmy says use it as fuel to push forward. Diddy wonders if Heejun is an actor or a con man or what. Now for the stylist. Heejun is wearing a Heejun is Love tee shirt. Heejun says he looks up to Jessica Sanchez and Madonna for fashion. Oh, and Michael Bolton.

He starts out slow, then tells Ray it's much too slow. "I want to dance." He whips off his shirt and launches into the song. Heejun prances around the entire stage, sings to Randy, touches J'Lo. "I don't care what they say anymore, this is my life!" Probably the most fitting song choice ever. He's even using a totally different singing voice. Nigel is loving it. This is great!!! Yay, I say out loud!

J'Lo loves that Heejun brought a little fun and it was like a breath of fresh air. She says he didn't hit the vocal just right because he was running around, but it was a lot of fun. Steven calls him "He Man." He's tongue tied. He says, "You showed 'em." He says at some point Heejun needs to take it more serious. No, Steven. No. Randy says at least Heejun had a good time and it was entertaining. He's happy to see Heejun having a good time. I know I was entertained. I would bet Heejun has finally earned himself the endorsement of VFTW with this one!

Heejun says the stage is pretty big and he'll never do it again. He bows to Ryan as he leaves the stage. Heejun walks off and Ryan calls him back.

Jessica Sanchez - "Everybody Has a Dream"

We jump right back into Jessica's styling. Tommy advises her to shorten the dress. Diddy tells her she's oversinging and he doesn't believe her when she sings it. He thinks she has to pull back from all the tricks. Jimmy wants her to sing the song to Diddy. "I believe you now," he says. He wants her to pay respect to the song.

She does have a pretty voice when you strip away all the theatrics. She a tone similar to Jennifer Hudson, actually. She holds back early in the song, but then takes it back up when the choir joins her. See she gets a choir too. And she pops in a few of her signature high notes as well. Excellent performance.

Jessica gets a standing ovation from the judges. Steven says Jessica's gone beyond his level of judging. J'Lo says it was as though Billy Joel wrote the song for her and says this is her defining moment. Randy says it takes consistency to win and every week you have to have a moment. Jessica does this. He also says Jimmy, Diddy, and Tommy all did her well. She says she sang what she believes in and this is her dream.

Do you think, maybe, they'll get Colton to rid himself of the skunk stripe?

Colton Dixon - "Piano Man"

Colton wants to create his own style and be edgier. Tommy is, rightly so, concerned about the hair. Colton says his hair's his baby and hates that Tommy immediately discredited it. Jimmy says the song is tailor-made for him. Piano. Man. I get it. Diddy says he wanted to buy the song. Jimmy says Colton knows where the song lives.

Colton is playing a red piano and is bathed in spotlights. He's had his hair layered or something. He reminds me of Matt Giraud on this one. He under-sings this if that's possible. And he's off pitch in spots. I think the arrangement is too simple and he doesn't really have the vocals to pull that off. Naked vocals have to be perfecto ala Bo Bice's "In A Dream." Colton misses it.

J'Lo says she had goosies and referred to Diddy as Puffy (in case we forgot she and he used to be an item). Randy says it was a sensitive, touching performance. Randy says, "Stay an individual, be an individual."

Best and worst

Elise and Jessica are tied for first with me, followed by Joshua, Skylar, Phillip, and Hollie. Wasn't really feeling Colton, and while I liked Erika, I don't see her getting out alive this week. She'll be joined in the bottom 3 by Heejun and DeAndre, both of whom will be safe because, well... they are guys. Sorry RI homey, you're going home this week.

No recap tomorrow. My beloved Syracuse Orange is playing Wisconsin in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen at 7:15 p.m. SU in the Sweet 16 or the 'Idol' results show? Hmmmm...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 12 (minus one) perform songs from the year of their births

It's performance show night, and the remaining contestants will be singing songs from the year of their births. But, of course, there's a whole lot more going on than just the singing as viewers will also be tuning in to see how the show handles the ouster of Jermaine Jones.

What we know is that he has some rather serious legal issues pending in his home state of New Jersey. He allegedly gave a false name to police on two occasions and has several outstanding warrants open against him. And, from everything I've read, he disclosed none of this to 'Idol' producers. Of course, one wonders, how is it that all this escaped the show's background check. They do a background check, right? The Smoking Gun was able to unearth two warrants after all.

The cynic in me wonders if producers did know about all of this and brought him back for the drama. However it plays out, it will be interesting to see how the show deals with this story. Also, I wonder, will anyone be eliminated this week?

Ryan opens the show and addresses the Jermaine issue. "When you're doing a live show, anything can happen," he says. Voiceover man welcomes the judges. J'Lo is wearing a mustard-colored dress. Ryan comes down the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. No tie again, Ry?

Ryan tells us that one of the finalists had to be eliminated, but will get to more of that later in the show. We see baby pictures of Randy, J'Lo, and Steven. And, of course, chubby little Ryan. This week's mentor is Will.I.Am.

Phillip Phillips – September 20, 1990 - "Hard to Handle"

PP was a premature baby and had some sort of bowel problem as an infant. PP tells Jimmy and Will.I.Am he has to have kidney surgery that night. But he nails the rehearsal. Jimmy wonders if he'll be able to do the show.  No guitar tonight for PP. He sings it straight, not much tinkering with the arrangement. Nothing super special, but certainly enough to get him to next week.

Randy says PP is like a fish out of water, but tonight, after surgery, sounding like that! (He had the surgery Thursday). "Good song choice!" J'Lo says this is so natural for him. "It just comes out of you... it was a great song for you. It was perfect." Steven is glad PP picks songs that are right for his voice and character.

Jessica Sanchez – August 4, 1995 - "Turn the Beat Around"

Jessica was a cute baby! Her mother said she'd cry until she would faint. Will.I.Am is a fan, but wants her to punctuate the modulation. He thinks it's daring to pull of a power stunt. Not sure what that means, but okay. Will.I.Am is impressed she's OMG only 16 and calls her a "Swaggernaut."

I hate this song. The background vocalists sort of drown her out in front. This song really does nothing to show off her power or range. It's a dance tune without much of a melody. She's screechy and somewhat out of breath. Not a good choice at all. Nope. Too much going on onstage too.

Steven says he loves her voice, but thinks she can't stray too far from ballads. He thought the rhythm was a little shady and he loves her pants. J'Lo says her voice lagged behind, lost energy, and didn't have the rhythm. Randy agrees. He thinks they need to give her great constructive criticism. He urges her to pick something more that she can do a lot with.

Jessica says there wasn't a lot to choose from in her year and she had to do a lot of work on it.

Heejun Han – April 20, 1989 - "Right Here Waiting"

Heejun's parents are adorable. Speaking in Korean, his other says he was always smiling!  Jimmy and Will work a little on Heejun's accent. He gets an autograph from Will. Heejun wants Fergie's number! Will reiterates that Fergie is married.

Heejun seems to be planted on the stage and just sings. He's out of breath and very out of key. It's incredibly boring and uninspired. It seems like he's just given up. Or maybe this is really all he has. Whatever. I think Heejun is in trouble this week.

Randy says, for him, he didn't enjoy it at all. "It was pitchy in at least five or six spots... it felt like you were out of breath the whole time." He misses Heejun's R&B swag. "Not a great performance for me." J'Lo says he was struggling, but by the end, she felt the heart of the song. Steven says Heejun stepped so far out of his circle to do it and it wasn't a great song. "Love your voice no matter what." J'Lo says his voice is still special. Heejun says he was thinking about his girlfriend, who is in the audience! Awwww.

Elise Testone – July 29, 1983 - "Let's Stay Together"

Elise's mother tells us she was always getting in trouble as a child. Elise says when she takes the stage, people will be making babies. We see a sing-off between Elise and the president. Simon would call this "loungey." It's over-arranged and she's trying to do too much with it. Her vocals are solid, though. Probably the best so far. Too jazzy, though. Can't imagine what a record producer would do with her.

Steven says his Aunt Sonya loves her voice. He loves her voice. J'Lo says that was showing America who Elise is. "It was a beautiful thing." Randy says, "America, Elise is back." He says this girl is dope, and loved the run at the end. "Like butta." She points out her cousin Amanda.

DeAndre Brackensick – October 21, 1994 - "Endless Love"

His father says DeAndre was a ham as a child. His mother like 'The Music Man' and memorized the whole movie. We see him as a child singing in a church choir. Someone told them after the show, he would be on 'American Idol' some day. They have him change his song from "Can You Feel the Love." Good move Jimmy.

DeAndre starts out singing with just a piano. Another boring song, but he gets the swaybots going. Too much vibrato for my taste, and he stays too long in his lower register. It's adequate, but forgettable. He hits a high note at the end that feels like it's in the wrong place or something. He worked too hard at something that wasn't worth it.

J'Lo says he sang it beautifully, but didn't think it was the right song for him. That makes her upset and she hopes America sees past that. Steven says he loves DeAndre, but agrees that wasn't the right song for him. Randy agrees. He says it was boring and very safe for him at the wrong time. "Way too boring." J'Lo says a song loses the sweetness and beauty of the melody when you change the key. DeAndre says he got comfortable with it after a while.

Shannon Magrane – October 21, 1995 - "One Sweet Day"

Shannon's father says the first song she sang was "Thumbalina."  Jimmy gives a plug to a new AT&T phone. Will recommends she practice singing laying down for better breath control. Shannon is surrounded by a string section. She starts out okay, but gets off-track in the middle. She's just singing the words - no real conviction. This is not a song to smile while your singing!

J'Lo says this was not an easy undertaking and was terrified, but says Shannon did a beautiful job with it. Steven says she sings her best when she doesn't try so hard. Randy says he was also terrified (of course, he worked with Mariah... no, really?). But Randy says she has "mad potential and is fearless." He says the front of the song was cool, but the run was cool. Shannon says laying down helped. Ryan wonders how difficult it is to choose a song from one year. Not really, says Randy. There are thousands of songs. Ryan is happy Shannon is wearing flats tonight. Doesn't dwarf him so much.

Colton Dixon – October 19, 1991 - "Broken Heart"

Colton is onstage with Ryan. Colton says he had dinner with Chris Daughtry the other night. Daughtry's advice is to pick songs people know. He was "baby of the week" when he was born. Colton was an excellent baseball pitcher, but quit for music. Apparently the band doesn't know this song so Jimmy and Will.I.Am have him sing it with just a piano. Will.I.Am says it's now Colton's song.

I really hate this guy's hair. As for the performance, it's exactly what you'd expect from Colton - lots of fake emo faces and angst.  The song is overly-arranged, too many strings. He started out okay, but the end lost something. Picking a song that no one knows is not a good idea at this stage of the game. Too bad he didn't listen to Daughtry!

J'Lo says this is the first time she heard this song. She loved the beginning and says, "Colton is a lover." She thinks he looks pretty when he sings. Randy says he didn't notice that either. Steven thinks it was the wrong song for his voice and his passion. "I didn't feel the song going anywhere." Randy says there's millions of songs, but this is a case where the song didn't matter, it was about Colton. He says Colton's always consistent and liked his fly jacket.

I guess they're saving the Jermaine story for the end to force everyone to sit through the entire two hours.

Erika Van Pelt – December 12, 1985 - "Heaven"

Her mother says Erika was born with music in her and was always loud. She wanted to play baseball Mom says she is lucky to have the daughter she has. Jimmy has her put a break in this one too. Erika is dressed fairly appropriately this week. She sings the hell out of this song, but really? This song? I love the tone of Erika's voice. She is consistent and "gets" it. Again, the song is poopy, but she was great!

Steven says she was too busy all over it. Someone boos. J'Lo says this is such a powerful song and she has the chops to rock it out. She didn't like the arrangement. She says she loves to see the contestants shape and form right in front of them. "I feel you coming together as an artist."  Randy says he kind of liked it, but warns her not to make too much out of a classic. "Don't let anyone tell you to do that."

Jermaine Jones 

Jermaine enters a room with Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick. Nigel says there have been a lot of things going on this week and they've been given further information. Nigel is reading from a paper and asks Jermaine if the charges are true. Ken says there are four warrants out for him. He says if contestants come clean about this, they can help.

Nigel wonders about a fight. Jermaine is clearly caught by surprise and says it wasn't a fight. Nigel wonders why he didn't say anything about any of this. Jermaine says he thought he could just pay the fines. He didn't want to be judged. Nigel says the show is not allowed to have anyone on the show with outstanding warrants and they have to let him go. Jermaine goes quietly.  We see his remarkable rehearsal performance of "Somewhere Out There." Nigel says it was wonderful. And then we watch as Jermaine gets into a limo and drives away. Such a waste.

Skylar Laine – February 1, 1994 - "Love Sneaking Up on You"

Skylar says the judges are being mean! She says everyone is taking the criticism well. Dad says she was a handful and headbanger as a baby. Jimmy says her original choice was not a good choice for her. They suggest all kinds of songs, but she's sticking to her guns.  I don't think this was her best choice. The tempo is weird, not fast or slow, sort of medium. It feels sluggish. She sings it well, though.

Steven says he hasn't heard her sing back yet. J'Lo says they do them a disservice if they aren't honest. "If I got to keep it real, you really killed it." Randy says this is our rockin' in-house country girl. He says whatever you sing, you just have to sing it good. He says it doesn't matter about the song, she did it well.

Joshua Ledet – April 9, 1992 - "When a Man Love a Woman"

Ryan says he was in Louisiana over the weekend and remembered that Josh said he missed crawfish. They wheel out a big tub of crawfish, which Josh then shows us how to eat. Four young girls are onstage, but don't want to eat them.

Josh was the youngest of eight kids. Mom says he always wanted to sing in church, but she didn't want him too because he was a rascal."  Will.I.Am says Joshua flashed back to his own days in church. Josh is a preacher's kid. Here's an example of someone picking the right song. This is an oldie, but Michael Bolton recorded it in 1992.  Now Josh takes us to church with this. He puts everything he has into this performance. Everything.  He takes his jacket off mid-song. J'Lo loves it. The judges are standing. J'Lo is jumping up and down. Joshua owns the night on this one! Yeah! Makes me want to say Amen.Wow.

He gets a standing ovation from the judges. Randy says they needed a moment tonight. "Somebody needed to come out and regulate. That was phenomenal and incredible on so many levels." J'Lo says it's the best thing she's ever seen on 'Idol.'" Of course, she's only been on the show one full year, and really, what did we see last year, right? Can you even remember last year?  Randy says what made this special was the crawfish. Steven says "God came through your eyes." Your eyes? Maybe the voice.  J'Lo wants Ryan to stop her. Ryan wonders if they can skip the commercial. Someone brings out a platter of crawfish. Ryan indulges.  Mayhem ensues.

I hope the combination of Joshua's singing placement (second to last) and judges praise will be enough to get votes. This kid should never have been in the bottom six last week.

Hollie Cavanagh – July 5, 1993 - "The Power of Love"

Hollie was born in England, now living in Texas. That would explain the accent. Dad gets choked up. Will.I.Am wonders where all her power comes from. She says this is not the stage of the game to play it safe. Hollie is totally glammed up tonight and has the stage of candlelights. And she powers through the song. There's a lot of depth to her vocals and she has perfect pitch. Again, the arrangement is a bit sluggish, maybe it's just the way it's supposed to be. She goes for the glory note in the end and I'm not sure she hits it.

J'Lo says they really saved the best for last. She said there were a couple of tiny things but to criticize would be silly. Steven says it was a little pitchy, but her voice came from above. Randy says she was in her wheel house and she "blew it out the box... very well done!" Her brothers pretend the song was so-so!

Randy says the safest is Josh and the one in trouble Heejun. J'Lo says the safest is Josh, Hollie, and Phillip. She's going to let America decide. Steven would say Joshua is our Jessica this week. He won't say who's in trouble.

Best and worst

Best of the night Joshua and Hollie, followed by Erika, Skylar and Elise. Middle of the pack would be Jessica, Colton, Phillip, and DeAndre. Bottom two - Heejun and Shannon. If someone is eliminated this week, I think it will be Heejun. But I don't think anyone will go seeing that we lost Jermaine and all.

Tomorrow night - Daughtry and Demi Lovato, plus, some exciting J'Lo news.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jermaine Jones disqualified from 'Idol'

TMZ is reporting that one of the 'Idol' Top 12 has been disqualified from the show. According to the site, the contestant failed to reveal several criminal charges pending against him. Allegedly, the contestant also has outstanding warrants.

TMZ says the show's producers confronted the contestant on camera today and the footage will be part of Wednesday's show.

Again, according to TMZ's source, the contestant was charged with two crimes in 2011, and at the time, gave a false name to police when when he was arrested.

Tuesday night, someone tweeted from Jermaine Jones' official 'Idol' Twitter account (@JJonesAI11) "Awww I will no longer b on the show." The tweet has since been taken down and TMZ has since confirmed it is Jones who will be leaving.

Earlier today, Jermaine was embroiled in yet another controversy involving an alleged phone call he had from his long-lost father. But, according to his father, Kevin Jones, he and Jermaine have been in touch, and in fact, Kevin Jones was in the audience both nights last week to watch his son perform.

Jermaine originally did not make the cut to the Top 24, but was brought back as a surprise Wild Card pick. He performed during Top 13 and made the cut.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 13 results show recap

Jessica Sanchez performs on 'Idol' Wednesday

Wednesday's Stevie/Whitney theme night delivered some decent performances and some that were, well, not so good. The general consensus seems to be that Jessica Sanchez won the night with her stellar interpretation of Whitney's monster hit, "I Will Always Love You."  One viewer, Jennifer Hudson, who performed the song at last month's Grammy ceremony, was so impressed that she tweeted “Yes Jessica! That’s it!!” High praise indeed.

The other stand-out performance came from Phillip Phillips, who indied-up Stevie's hit, "Superstition." But, according to TMZ, PP was taken to the hospital this morning, after complaining of severe stomach pain. His father has stated PP has had trouble with kidney stones, but is determined to stay in the race. He has been released from the hospital and expects to take part in tonight's results show.

One more tidbit from TMZ. Apparently, Jermaine Jones' long-lost father called him last night. Jermaine was none too happy about the call.

All that being said, let's get to the results, shall we?

We start out with clips of the Top 13 hitting the blue carpet last week. "They Were on Top of the World" a banner reads. All was well until last night! Harsh words for some, high praise for others.

Voiceover man brings out the judges and Ryan. J'Lo and Randy are holding hands. Ryan strolls down the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. He's wearing a tie tonight.

Lauren Alaina will perform tonight as will this week's mentor, Mary J. Blige. Ryan reminds us that the girl and guy with the lowest votes will be revealed and the judges will decide who goes home.

And it's time for the season's first ga-roup number! The boys come out and lead off with Stevie's "Always." They sound awful. No harmony at all. Phillip looks relatively healthy! The dancing is too much to handle. What a weird group. Erika dances like she is stomping grapes. The only distinctive voice in the mix is Jermaine's.

The judges give them a standing ovation.

The contestants are sitting on a two-tiered couch. Ryan intros the first Ford video. They are giants tromping around L.A. Then it's time for a message from Jimmy Iovine. He says God made Whitney Houston by hand, while the rest of us were mass-produced. Thank you Jimmy for that inspiring message.

Ryan calls down Jessica, Elise, and Hollie. We start out with Elise's video from last night and the sorry comments. Elise says she wants tough criticism. Jimmy says he watched the performance four times. "She didn't rise to the occasion. I think she's in trouble."

Hollie's next. Jimmy says Hollie was at an advantage and she delivered on the promise. "She was fantastic." They save Jessica for last. Jimmy says her performance was the best he's ever seen from anyone on 'Idol.' He's concerned she'll buy into the hype too much.

Dim the lights. "America has decided that Jessica, you are safe." Now there's a shocker! This leaves Elise and Hollie, and not surprisingly, Elise is in the bottom three girls. She walks over to the stools of doom on the right of the stage.

Heejun, Jermaine, and Colton walk to the center of the stage. First, we watch Heejun's clip. J'Lo still loves him. Jimmy says the last thing he would do would be to give Heejun a Stevie song. Now for Colton. His hair seems to change every week. Jimmy says Colton took great direction. He's concerned that Colton is attempting something that is not true to him.

Jermaine has his turn. He says he disagrees with Randy. Jimmy says Jermaine was thinking too much. And to Steven, he says, Armani doesn't make suits that big. Jermaine doesn't want to answer if he agrees with Jimmy. He doesn't want to answer.

"Colton, America did not like what they saw. They loved it!" He is safe. Heejun is also safe and Jermaine lumbers off to the stools of doom. No surprises yet.

After the break, Lauren Alaina. Once again, we see the J'Lo commercial for her new clothing line for Kohl's. She's also in a L'Oreal commercial. Making some bucks off 'Idol,' eh J'Lo?

Ryan congratulates J'Lo on the success of her new show, which debuted with 30 million viewers. She says it's a joy to discover all the Latino talent. No comment on her ex!

Lauren is singing what I presume to be her new single, "Georgia Peaches." Looks like she has lost a bit of weight... more than a bit, actually. She's very Carrie Underwood. Skylar is most likely enraptured. Lauren sings to Randy. Lauren sits on the couch with the boys. Vocally, she's rather screechy.

The judges stand for her too, but we don't get any Ryan time. Instead, we go to break.

We come back from the break and begin results again. Erika, Shannon, and Skylar join Ryan center stage. We start with Erika. Jimmy says Erika's problem is her presentation, but she did a good job with the song. Shannon is next. Poor Shannon. She still thinks she did a good job on this. Jimmy says nerves got the better of her last night. Nerves cracked her vocal chords. "She has a lot of talent, she just needs more experience." Finally, we see Skylar's clip. Jimmy says he likes nasal!

Dim the lights. "After the nationwide vote, Erika will be taking one of those spots." The audience boos. She hugs Elise. Crazy. Skylar is safe, and Shannon goes to the stools of doom.

Phillip, Jeremy, DeAndre, and Joshua are called up for results. Joshua is first. I don't think people are going to "get" him, but I like him. Jimmy says he's very good, but he's concerned people will get bored of his voice. We see DeAndre's clip. He doesn't know what Jamaican patoi is! Jimmy says DeAndre was a pleasant surprise. "It worked for him." PP is up. He says he did not go to the hospital, but did go to the doctor. Jimmy says PP is a great musician. He is a little nervous that the girls have a lot of vocal fireworks and that might get him. Still pushing a female winner, eh Jimmy? Of Jeremy, Jimmy says he did not deliver and all the girls out-performed him. "I think Jeremy will go." And so do I.

Randy doesn't agree with all of Jimmy's comments. I think Jimmy should be a judge.
Phillip is safe (OMG, how shocking). Jeremy is not. Off you go to the stools of doom, Jeremy. "DeAndre, you are going to have to endure the stress of the competition for one more week." Joshua sits with the bottom six. Ryan walks over to the stools and says we will have to wait to find out who is safe... like Erika and Joshua. They both kind of look at him for a sec... what did you just say? "You are safe, run to the couches." And run they do. The pride of Rhody lasts another week!

Remember the days of the 30-minute results show? If only...

Mary J. performs her latest single, "Why."

If the bottom two is going to "sing for their lives," we'd better get a move on.

We return from the break with seven minutes to go. The bottom four are with Ryan center stage. Ryan asks Steven if any of them deserve to leave. He says, "Jeremy." The audience boos. Jeremy says this stinks. You're going home dude.

The lights dim. Ryan calls Jermaine's name, walks over to him, and says, "safe" in a low voice. The girl who is safe for another week is... Shannon. Ryan asks Randy if America got it right. He says they didn't get it exactly right, but sorta. The judges will deliberate (for about 15 seconds) over the break. Gotta be Jeremy.

I kinda like the J'Lo Kohl's rainbow-ish silky top.

Quick break. We are ready for the results. J'Lo announces the decision. "With the two we've been presented with by America, we've come to the decision that we're going to save Elise." End of the road for Jeremy.

We watch Jeremy's funeral package set to Scotty McCreary's "Remember Me." Not much of a video package. Poor Jeremy won't even make the tour. He's trying to hold back tears. He says it's been awesome. The remaining 12 embrace Jeremy. And I eagerly switch over to 'Project Runway.'

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 13 sing Stevie and Whitney

The countdown to the finale begins tonight at the Top 13 sing music by Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston. Not much to say about this! I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be.

Cold opening with Ryan walking through a line of the contestants and greeting the judges. Seriously, J'Lo, what's with those pants?

Voiceover man intros the judges. Steven is wearing pants with a woman's face on them. Once again, Ryan is in a vested suit with no tie. Is this some kind of new trend?

Ryan tells us it's the 400th episode of 'Idol.' He intros the girls. The styolist from hell is hard at work once again, I see. The boys come out. People are waving signs already. Ryan reminds us that one of these individuals will be the next American Idol.

This week, it's boys against girls. The girls sing Whitney, the boys Stevie. Thursday, the bottom boy and bottom girl will be called out and the judges get to decide who goes home.

Joshua Ledet - "I Wish"

Mary J. Blige is working with Jimmy Iovine tonight. Poor Josh is in the death spot. He stays on key and manages to move around the stage cleanly. He's got a horn section on stage with him. Josh really has not problem with this song. He's got great energy and a nice gospel twang. I think he did well.

Randy says Joshua blew it out and loved that he "came out rockin'" "Flawless, dude." J'Lo isn't going to punch Joshua tonight. She says she felt him and liked his hand thing, which Joshua calls his "Mantasia." Steven says J'Lo wants to punch Joshua in the arm because he keeps bringing it. Joshua is excited.

Elise Testone - "I'm Your Baby Tonight"

Elise started out with "The Greatest Love of All," but Jimmy suggested "I'm Your Baby Tonight." Elise doesn't know the song. She's singing with somewhat of a jazz vibe. She reminds me of Haley from last season. I'm not loving this arrangement at all. It feels very choppy and doesn't really allow her vocals any real flow. If she crashes and burns, it'll be Jimmy's fault for not letting her sing her first choice.

J'Lo doesn't think this was Elise's best. She wonders what happened. Steven says Elise has to find the just right song and he missed this tonight. Randy says this wasn't Elise's best performance. Randy says it sounded like she was "boxing" with the song. Elise says she didn't know the song at all and says if she had known it for a month, she could have relaxed and made it her own.

Jermaine Jones - "Knocks Me Off My Feet"

Mary J says she's feelin' it and offers Jermaine some decent criticsm. Jimmy loves the timbre of Jermaine's voice. Mary J says his voice is gigantic. Jimmy is thrilled the judges brought him back. Jermaine pretty much owns this song. His voice is so rich. It's cool he chose a lesser-known Stevie song too, because then there's no comparison. I'm telling you, this guy has a great voice. He also has the bubble backdrop.

Steven says this song fit Jermaine like an Armani suit. J'Lo says he is such a sweetheart. She wants to see him connect more with the song and sing it to someone. She wants him to relax and forget about his face. Randy says Jimmy's right. He loves Jermaine being in this. He loved the verses, but didn't like the chorus. The audience boos. He reiterates that Jermaine needs to relax. Jermaine says he felt pretty good about what he did. Then I sit back and marvel at how tall this guy is!

Erika Van Pelt - "I Believe in You and Me"

Erika's wearing a red gown. She gets a sit-down with Ryan. Mary J. loves Erika's tone (calls it "steak and potatoes"). Jimmy says she'll be just fine if she does her own style. Erika starts out very low, and she does change it up to suit her vocal range. She connects with the lyrics and sells this fairly convincingly. Go Rhodey!!! I think she did very well.

Randy says J'Lo said she got "goosies" watching the video. He was sold. "Let yourself go." J'Lo loves the way Erika interprets the songs and the tone. She feels Erika is holding back a little. She can't wait til Erika lets loose. Steven feels the same way. "It was perfect. I think you're great."

Colton Dixon - "Lately"

Jimmy and Mary J. weren't feeling Colton, so they had him play a song of his own. He bellows out something, which they say they love. "Rely on your vulnerability," Jimmy suggests. Colton gets the strange moving tile background. It's an odd song for him, but he does seem to get some of the emotion. He sounds like Barry Manilow to me. He starts out a little rough, but by the end, he seems to get it together and pulls it off.

Steven says it was outstanding. J'Lo says Colton probably was the most challenged by this theme. Randy says it wasn't picture perfect technically. But, by the end, Randy says, he was flawless. "You slayed it. Dude, well done."

Shannon Magrane - "I Have Nothing"

Mary J tells her not to think so much. Shannon gets the Whitney arrangement. Her vocals are somewhat overwhelmed by the band early on. If Simon were here, he would call this karaoke. Oh, man, she clomps over a couple of notes in the end. This is not only karaoke, it's bad karaoke.

J'Lo says the thinking got the best of her. She tells her there's no rush or big notes - nothing she has to think about. Steven says her nerves go the best of her. He points out she crashed and burned in the turn around. She says she can sing her butt off in that song. Randy says they know she can sing that song, but her nerves got the best of her. He uses the derailing word. Oh boy. End of the road for Shannon? Possibly.

DeAndre Brackensick - "Master Blaster"

DeAndre has a sitdown with Ryan. We see some weepy footage from last week. DeAndre is mortified! Mary J and Jimmy encourage him to have some fun. Jimmy says he has to sing in perfect rhythm. And DeAndre gets to start off on the Adam Lambert memorial staircase, which has been colored Jamaican colors. DeAndre is definitely into this and reggaes it up to within an inch of its life. His performance reminiscent of Naima, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. He bringing some positive energy to this performance at least.

Steven says DeAndre has the male Naima in him! Hey, that's what I said. "I've always loved it and I liked it tonight," Steven continues. J'Lo says he loved what he did with the song. She says he has rhythm and soul. "I liked it a lot." Randy says he and Josh showed two different sides of themselves. "We didn't want it to stop. That's how good it was. You showed America both sides. Job well done." I think he'll sail through on the girlie vote.

Skylar Laine - "Where do Broken Hearts Go"

She says she's never sung Whitney. Mary J advises her to soften up the opener, rather that hitting all the big notes early on. She gives MJ goosebumps. I'd almost rather hear someone sing a completely different arrangement than try to do it Whitney's way. This girl sometimes sounds garbled. Maybe it's the accent. She nails the chorus, though. I don't particularly like her voice, but she's good technically. And she definitely nails this performance.

J'Lo says Skylar is the picture of composure. She says Skylar was nasally in the beginning, but brought it in the end. Steven says it was beautiful. "That was fantastic." Randy says the front of the song was a little iffy, but by the end, it was great. He says she just proved she could sing any song. "That was hot." Why do they dress this girl in angular clothing that seems to emphasize her hips?

Looking more and more like Jessica is closing this out and my bet's on "I Will Always Love You."

Heejun Hun - "All is Fair"

Heejun has a chance to show off some of his very own PhotoChops, including one where DeAndre's on a plate and he's eating him like noodles. He brought Jimmy a picture of himself. "I Love You Jimmy!" To Mary, he writes, "I love you more than Jimmy." Heejun starts out very softly with just the piano. He looks scared to death. He's off-key and the arrangement is bor-ring. Another karaoke performance. He's such a love, though, I hate to say anything negative about him.

J'Lo says she loves him and always has. Heejun wonders why he didn't get a hug from her last week. Steven says it was fantasitc. He loves his voice. Randy says, "It wasn't perfrct, but it was really good." At the end, he hugs Ryan and bows to the audience.

Hollie Cavanaugh - "All the Man That I Need"

Mary J tells her to relax and be comfortable. Is Hollie British? Mary J. says, "Your voice is sick." Hollie gets the candlelit stage. Hollie has the vocal depth to do this one, but not the maturity. Again, it's a bit karaoke, but not as bad as Shannon. This girl does surprise me. I never would have expected her to be able to sing like this, karaoke or not. Baffling.

Randy says Hollie loves taking on big songs. "Dude, you nailed it." J'Lo says this is the Hollie they loved last year and this year. "We just might have a sing-off with two girls in the finals." She stops just short of endorsing Hollie for the win. Steven has nothing much more to add.

Jeremy Rosado - "Ribbon in the Sky"

Jimmy says Jeremy is vulnerable and has a lot to prove. And he does. "If you deliver it, you're gonna crush everyone," says Jimmy. Jeremy starts out really rough, but you can almost see when he gets into the groove. His phrasing is very choppy and his enunciation on "ribbon in the sky" is odd. I really don't get why they kept him. Reed would have been so much more entertaining.

J'Lo is smiling from ear to ear. Steven calls his voice "velvety." J'Lo says she loves to hear his interpretations of song. "That was really, really beautiful." Randy puts a damper on the love fest and says it wasn't quite believable - not enough sway. Thank you Randy.

Jessica Sanchez - "I Will Always Love You"

Jessica acknowledges this is a huge risk. Jimmy says Jessica nailed it. Mary says it was impeccable. Jessica's version is a bit softer. She actually sounds like Jennifer Hudson. She nails the money note and knows it. In ten seasons of 'Idol' I can honestly say I've never heard anyone sing this better. Outstanding. The judges give her a standing ovation.

Randy says "Jessica Sanchez is legit." He says shes' one of the best singers in the whole competition. He says Jessica is one of the best talents in the whole country. J'Lo is speechless. "It was beautiful, Jessica, you're so talented." Steven says, "Jessica, you just may be the one. You just made 40 million people cry." The official anointing of Jessica Sanchez has begun.

But she doesn't close the show... nope, I seemed to have forgotten all about Phillip Phillips.

Phillip Phillips - "Superstition"

PP does his thing and Jimmy and Mary love him. He's onstage4 with two other guys with guitars. It's what we've come to expect from PP, but a little jazzier. I hear a tiny bit of Jim Morrison in his voice. Really? Yes, really. He jams with the other two dudes. He seems like such a bumpkin, but he's actually interesting.

Steven likes him (of course) and J'Lo comments on his interpretations of songs. Randy says PP "drives his own car in his own lane." He loves it.

Best and worst

Best guys for me - Joshua, Phillip, Jermaine. Best girls - Jessica, Hollie, and Erika. Middle of the pack, Skylar, Phillip, DeAndre. Bottom - Shannon, Heejun, Jeremy, and Elise. Bottom two? Shannon and Jeremy? Might be Josh or Jermaine, but I think Shannon is toast.

No hints as to Thursday's guest performers. I'm guessing Mary J. will sing and maybe we'll get a surprise visit from Stevie? Show starts at 8 p.m., and blessedly, is only an hour this week!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

'American Idol 11' - And the winner is...

Will Phillip Phillips be the fifth WGWG to win 'Idol?'

This week, the Top 13 perform the music of Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston. Interesting in that in previous seasons, contestants have been warned to stay away from songs from these two icons in that they are almost impossible to perform without coming off as karaoke. Of course, 'Idol' is framing this as a tribute to the late Ms. Houston, while potentially boosting ratings. Gee, what better way to honor an iconic vocalist than to allow singers to butcher her classic tunes on national TV!

No matter. If the past four seasons are any indication, the rest of this season may only be a preamble to the coronation of the fifth white guy with a guitar (WGWG), Phillip Phillips.What, you say? Isn't it too early to make such a rash prediction?

Anything can happen, of course, and quite honestly, I'd be happy to be wrong, but facts are facts. A female hasn't won since Season 6 when Jordin Sparks took the crown. And how did that happen? Well, Jordin ran virtually unopposed against Blake Lewis. Jordin was young and appealing, and her only competition, Melinda Doolittle, got knocked out in the third round. Blake was irreverent and his bee-bop schtick had long worn thin. By the end of the competition, he was calling in his performances and his finale performance of "This is my Now" was one of the most delightfully horrible finale performances ever! He could not win after that!

The WGWG winning streak began with Season 7. David Cook, perhaps the best of the WGWG, was a breath of fresh air in the 'Idol' karaoke wonderland. His taking classic tunes and twisting them up was inventive, and he struck a chord with viewers. He was a nice guy with a cool, indie vibe and his win was well-deserved.

Kris Allen followed, and although he was almost completely overshadowed by Adam Lambert, in the end Adam was just too out there for mainstream America. Lee DeWyze (who?) took the Season 9 title from Crystal Bowersox because he was male. There's really no other reason I can think of to explain his win!

Last season, two country singers, Scotty McCreary and Lauren Alaina, made it to the finals. Scotty was the frontrunner all season and was better than Lauren. Plus he's a guy. And, while some may argue he does not fit the WGWG profile, he's white and he plays a guitar. End of argument!

Phillips is the perfect successor, and actually, may well be the best guitarist and most interesting of  the lot. And, even though he's not a country artist, he's from the South and that fact will certainly bring votes his way no matter what he sings. He's got all the qualifications.

Consider the competition. This season, there are four R&B singers in the mix (Joshua, Jermaine, Jeremy, and DeAndre).  Of the four, the most impressive vocalist is Jermaine, but as we've learned, 'Idol' voters are more concerned with how "cute" the guy is than how well he sings. At six-foot eight inches tall and 280 pounds, Jermaine cannot conceivably be considered "cute!" Nope, the audience seems to love DeAndre and Jeremy has stolen the hearts of the judges, J'Lo especially. Joshua and Jermaine will most certainly fall in the early rounds, and one of the other two will make Top 6 at least.

What's ironic is that young, black male artists are what's hot in popular music today, yet only one black male has ever won the show (Reuben Studdard, Season 2) and only a couple (George Huff and Michael Lynche) have made it out of the basement. There have been any number of black female contestants who have done well in the competition, but 'Idol' viewers have never embraced a good R&B male singer. Other shows ('The Voice' and 'X-Factor') have not ignored this demographic, but but 'Idol' seems bent on finding the next Bieber rather than nurturing someone who could be a legitimate force in the music biz. There are probably any number of reasons for this, but I'm not going there!

So who's left? Colton? I think he will appeal to the Lambert set, and may well end up challenging PP for the title, giving us a repeat of Season 9. Heejun? Much as I love him, and I truly do, he is the weakest of all the male vocalists, and I think his self-deprecating humor will eventually become tedious. But, because he's gotten so much air time, he'll be around a lot longer than he deserves to be, and will most likely last longer than Joshua or Jermaine. Top 7, I say.

As for the women, Jessica Sanchez would be my bet for the top finishing female, coming in third. At this point, I think she's the only female who has even a chance at the Top 2. Skylar could beat her, though, just because she's the only pure country artist in the lot. And 'Idol' voters seem to love their Southern country artists.

As for the rest, Hollie Cavanaugh is a good vocalist, but a rather boring personality. Elise could be a spoiler, but may be too polished and mature for 'Idol' viewers to relate to. I see Erika and Shannon eliminated this week.

So what can we expect this week?  PP will come up with some kind of inventive, indie-rock Stevie arrangement and the judges will fall over themselves to praise him,  The R&B quartet will do traditional arrangements (hope Jermaine sings "Sir Duke"). Heejun should be okay with this as well. I have no idea what Colton will do to Stevie!

Elise and Jessica will be fine with Whitney, and I'm betting Skylar will sing the Dolly Parton version of "I Will Always Love You."  I don't think Hollie has the vocal "umph" to do any justice to Whitney. And, while Shannon and Erika can pull off a Whitney song, I think they're both doomed no matter what they do!

All of this is pure speculation, of course, which is all part of the 'Idol' game for those of us who continue to watch this show.  As for me, I'm getting ready to do my 'Idol' poll picks for the season, so we'll see if I'm right!!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 24 results show recap

Will Jessica Sanchez make the Top 13?
Looks like we're on the fast track to this season's Top 12 or 13 or whatever. Rather than having several semi-final rounds where contestants are weeded out a little less frenetically, this season, it's happening all in one night. Maybe the old tried and true formula just wasn't dynamic enough anymore given the spinning chairs of the competition and all.

Anyway, from what I can glean from the Internet, tonight, the five guys and five girls with the highest vote count will get an automatic bye into the final group. Then, each judge will select his or her favorite to round out the Top 13. Sounds like a good way to ensure people like Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet who may not have appealed to the voting masses, but who are probably the best singers in the lot, will make it through. I like it.

I've read several different spoilers, and it they are true, the results will be somewhat disconcerting. You can be sure the Season 11 "White Guy With a Guitar," Phillip Phillips, will make it through!

How they are going to fill out two hours is a mystery to me, but I'll be watching so you don't have to!
The show opens with clips of the various contestants and their auditions. DeAndre shows off a cake, Hollie doesn't know how she got there, Hallie comments on going from being a waitress to someone everyone knows. Well, not everyone.  I can see how they're going to fill out the two hours.

So much drama!

Voiceover man welcomes the judges and Ryan. J'Lo is wearing a very short red sparkly number. Ryan, please give us the good word. The guys are sitting on the right side of the stage and the girls on the left. Ryan tells us over 33 million votes came in over the last two nights. We say hey to the guys and then the ladies. "The harsh reality is, half of those faces will be leaving our stage before the end of the evening." The audience boos.

Ryan fills us in on the way this is going down and we get the chance to see the ten stools of victory where the those who have been chosen by America's votes will sit once they are safe. Ryan stresses that this is America's Top 10. Not Canada's, not England's, America's. In other words, you voted and this is what you got.  I think it's important that I make this distinction just in case there's any confusion about just whose Top 10 it is.

After the break, we start with the guys. Ryan calls Chase, Phillip and Jeremy. Chase says it's beyond belief how nervous they all are. Jeremy says he feels his heart beating outside his chest. First, we're going to have to watch the performances and then Jimmy Iovine will give us his take as only he can. Now Jimmy doesn't pull any punches, so this should be interesting!

Jimmy does not like Jeremy.. He says Chase is a good looking guy, but there are plenty of them on TV right now., He says you have to be fresh and Chase is not. Jimmy would sign Phillip on the spot.

Ryan asks Randy if he agrees with Jimmy that it takes more than good looks. J'Lo thinks Jeremy has the whole package (heh, she said package).  Steven thinks Chase's voice came through - climbing out from the inside. "After the nationwide vote, Jeremy, you have not made the Top 10." Jeremy sits to await the judges decision. Chase is not in America's Top 10, but surprise, surprise, Phillip is. PP takes the first stool of victory.

Ryan calls down Hollie, Hallie, Jessica, and Brielle.This is going to take forever.

Jimmy thinks Hollie could have been a little more believable, but given the right material, she could be a factor.

He says Brielle has a lot of energy, but wonders why she picked "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay."  JAs for Hollie, Jimmy says this was her best show so far. "Lot of blondes on this show, not sure who America is going to vote for, though. It might not be her." And then there's Jessica. Jimmy says he would sign her on the spot tonight and calls her the winner. Seriously. That's what I said.

So what did America think?  Brielle still stands by her song choice. She says she'd tell Jimmy she's respectful and loves him. J'Lo says Hallie had a good performance, but doesn't think it was a standout.

Brielle is not in the Top 10. Phew. Two have made it. Hallie did not. And so two of my favorites, Hollie and Jessica are in it to win it. Yay!!! America, you got it right!

Back from the break. We see Phillip, Hollie and Jessica, America's Top 3, on the stools of victory. More results. Ryan brings down Joshua, Heejun, and Adam. He asks Adam about the intensity of all of it. He says his feelings keep neutralizing each other. "We all love each other so much. It's a blast."

Joshua, oh Joshua. Jimmy says he's the real deal. "He sang great on the show and there's no question he's going to get through." He doesn't want to turn it into 'Sister Act 3.'  As for Adam, Jimmy wonders about the large black woman and doesn't think he's pulling it off. And then we have Heejun. Dear, sweet Heejun. Jimmy is confused by Heejun. "This isn't American Comedian, it's American Idol," he says. Heh!

Heejun says "Who's that" when asked about Jimmy's comment about the comedian. Joshua says singing in church taught him to sing from his soul. Adam says he wishes he could pull back his comment about the large black woman. "After the nationwide vote," Ryan says and then whispers in Joshua's ear, "Joshua, you are in the top 10!!!"  And Heejun is also in America's Top 10. He bows.

Baylie, Chelsea, Skylar, and Shannon hit center stage. Skylar is up first. Jimmy thinks she did herself a great turn by picking this nice blend of country and rock. He says he would have voted for her. Then there is Baylie. Jimmy says she has all the pieces, but they didn't all come together.Of Chelsea, Jimmy says she has a really nice voice, but "Carrie Underwood karaoke isn't going to fly." I love Jimmy.  And finally Shannon. Jimmy likes Shannon, but thought she was dressed more for the prom than a live performance. "She needs help in the styling department." Seriously.

Shannon is crying. She says she's gone through so much and doesn't want it to end. J'Lo looks pensive. Baylie says if she could have changed anything, she would have sung on key and not be so shaky. That's kind of the point, Baylie. What is Skylar wearing anyway?  She says she loves that song and the people in the audience were getting into it. She knows what kind of artist she wants to be and it shows.

"After the nationwide vote, let's start with you, Shannon. Congratulations, you've made it through." Elise has a horrible face on! Ryan asks Randy if there's room in the competition for more than one country girl. He says one of them really stood out. And that was... Skylar Laine, who's joining America's Top 10.

We go to break. An hour and fifteen minutes left. This is excruciating.

We see America's Top 7. Ryan brings down Aaron, Creighton, and Reed. Oooooo. Reed, I think. We start with Reed. I wonder if he's going to play the drums every week? Jimmy says he's real talented. "Way too kitschy for me. Not going to make it like that."  Aaron is next. Jimmy is confused by the standing ovation. He calls it cheesy and a bit "Don Cheadle."  And Creighton... Jimmy says he has an interesting voice, but the top end is screechy. "Judges loved him. I didn't."

J'Lo thinks Jimmy should come to the show. She thinks what he hears in his "little room" is different. She wants to punch him. Randy says they were too lenient on the boys and thinks Jimmy has some points. Steven curses. J'Lo doesn't think Jimmy's being too critical, but she wouldn't say them the same way. Randy loves Don Cheadle. Steve thinks Reed is good because he shows off everything he can do. J'Lo thinks there's room for all kinds of artist.

Dim the lights. Aaron does not make it. The audience boos. He returns to the couches. Creighton has not made it either. They hug. And neither is Reed. The audience is ready to rebel. Wow.

Elise (who is wearing a ridiculous hat), Erika (in a hideous, short purple dress), Haley, and Jen are next. We start with Jen. Jimmy says Jen has a really nice voice, but he advises everyone to stay away from Adele. Erika, my Rhode Island home girl is next. She really has a great voice. Jimmy likes her a lot. "She has music in her blood." He likes her restraint. Then there is Haley. Ouch. We see her crying back stage after Randy's comments. Jimmy says what he can't get around is robotic mimicking. He agrees with Randy. We finish with Elise. Jimmy agrees with the judges and wants to hear her sing her own material. He thinks she needs to hold back a bit to hold on to her voice.

J'Lo says she wants everyone to do their best every time. Elise says she's really distracted and is sad about some people leaving. Then we get to Haley. She says she has no regrets. She felt she did her best and makes all kinds of excuses. If that was her best, I would hate to see her worst!

Dim the lights. After the nationwide vote... Haley does not make it. Oh there's a shocker. Erika does not make it either. J'Lo shakes her head. Elise and Jen are left and only one spot. "After the nationwide vote, that lady is... Elise."

Now, back to the guys. DeAndre, Eben (the girlies scream), Colton, and Jermaine. He is huge! They are all really nervous. Ryan fakes us out. As if we weren't going to have to endure the clips and Jimmy's wise words.Go Jimmy!

I realize this recap is boring as all get out, but trust me, the show itself is worse.

Okay, one more round. Ryan reminds us, again in case we've lost our minds during all of this, that the people in the stools of victory are America's Top 10. That's America's Top 10. He asks the judges what they think about all of this. J'Lo says she hates to see some people go home, but she agrees with America on who has been put through. She thinks we have one hell of a competition. Steven wishes he could give some people another chance. He agrees with America. Randy says America is on fire. He thinks any one of these people could win it all. We rock, America.

Jermaine starts us off. I love Jermaine and his mother! He won't make it, of course. Jimmy says he could listen to an entire album of Jermaine's songs. He's rooting for Jermaine. DeAndre gets his shot. He is commercial. Jimmy thinks DeAndre has enormous potential, but needs a coach. Then there's Eben. I'm betting he makes it. Jimmy doesn't think Eben is ready for prime time. He'd like to see him come back, but he can't come back because of the rules. X-Factor is holding auditions soon, Eben. And Colton. This is a tough group. Jimmy thinks Colton is one of the most talented kids on the show. He thinks if he paces himself, Colton could win the show.

Colton says, "Wow." Eben says he loves the song and felt good about his performance. He kisses up to the judges and says he'll step it up if he gets through. Dim the lights. DeAndre does not make it. The audience boos. He flips his hair. Ryan "Colton, you are not... going to be disappointed." Good fakeout Ryan.

It's down to Eben and Jermaine. "After the nationwide vote, the person in America's Top 10 is... Jermaine." Alright! I did not see that coming.

We have 45 minutes left, and it seems, now we must endure performances from six contestants who will sing for survival. I wonder if they'll call them up one by one and leave them all hanging.

Fifteen people are eligible to sing now. Randy gets to pick first and it's Jen Hirsch. She doesn't think her song went wrong, but she didn't stand out enough.

Jen is singing "Oh Darlin'" Reed is getting into the groove. She squats too much. But she is selling herself with this one. Oh yeah. Wish you'd sung like this last night, sweetie. You'd be sitting in the stools of victory right now.

Randy says they like it when they sing for their life. He says Jen showed the reason she's here. "We'll have to see how the others fare." J'Lo says Jen really did sing for her life. Steven says he loves someone with a big voice. He loves where she went at the end. Five more songs to go.

Who's next?  J'Lo tells us they have chosen Jeremy. He's singing Carrie Underwood's "I Know You Would."  Skylar is singing along. He sings the stuffing out of it. J'Lo looks like she's going to cry. The contestants stand for him. He starts to cry at the end.

Jeremy says this is his dream and promises the judges won't regret it. He thanks the Lord. J'Lo is beside herself. She says she believes in him and he has one of he most beautiful voices he's heard. Randy says Jeremy is such a cool guy and he loves him. "I loved what you just did up there." Steven says we just saw the real. That was real.

Steven calls up Brielle. I shout, "No, no, no." She's singing Adele's "Someone Like You." Didn't you hear Jimmy? No more Adele. Mom is howling in the audience. But Brielle's still pitchy and screechy. Not good.

Steven says she was pitchy in some spots. "I just didn't hear it." Randy doesn't think it was great either. J'Lo says she should be proud of that effort. Judges, you wasted a pick. Of course, they've probably already decided on Jen. Hey, maybe they'll bring back Haley!

DeAndre gets a second chance. He's singing "Georgia." This kid has some range. I like him a lot. Kiddo, I think you just bought yourself a seat in the Judge's Top 3.

Randy says, "Yo, nice way to come out." He loves this fight for their lives. "Bringing out greatness in all of them." J'Lo says he should sing like that every time he gets up there. Steven loves his voice.

Now it's Erika (I called it before J'Lo said it). Rho, Rho, Rhode Island!  She's singing "Edge of Glory." And she rips it up. Haley has an awesome b....h face going on!  Erika is killing this. Seriously. Eben looks like he is praying.  You go girl! Better than Jen.

She gets a standing ovation from the audience. Well deserved. Randy is saying "This girl has got to have it." J'Lo says she loves someone who can fight through the tears. Steven says, "We're living on the edge."

Who will be the last person to get their shot? I'm calling it for Reed.

Fifteen minutes to go. One more singer. Then we'll send home the couch potatoes and drag out the naming of the wildcards.

The seating is quite complicated this year. We have the America's Top 10 stools of victory, the six wannabe stools, and the couches of doom and sadness.

Steven names Reed Grimm. That means the for the rest of them, the journey ends. Goodbye Adam with the large black woman inside, no more baby Eben... they march off the stage to obscurity. Reed takes off his shirt. He's singing "Use Me" by Bill Withers.  He's such a happy guy.  America's Top 10 dance. Reed crouches and jumps and scats. Heejun gives us a sign. Reed finishes strong, but I think DeAndre was better. Steven says he loves the artist in Reed.

So, who's it gonna be?  I'm going with Erika, DeAndre, and Reed.

Oh boy. Ryan tells us this is one of the most tense moments so far this season. America's Top 10 get another shout out.

Randy is first. The first wildcard pick is my home girl, Erika!  Alright! J'Lo picks Jeremy. He falls on his knees and cries. He wants to go hug J'Lo. Ryan tries to hold him back, but that's not happening. It's very emotional. He hugs all the judges. I love live TV!

Who gets the last stool? DeAndre! He cries too. We say goodbye Jen, Reed, and Brielle. Ryan tells them they can leave the runway.

Ryan has America's Top 10 and the Judges Top 3 stand up and tells us our next American Idol is standing on that stage.

And it's a wrap.

Next week, the boys sing Stevie Wonder and the girls Whitney Houston. Now that'll bring us back to reality.