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!

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