|'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...