It’s Billy Joel night on American Idol! Yay! (That’s a completely non-ironic yay, by the way. We love him.) And in a totally logical turn of events, the person helping Jimmy Iovine mentor the contestants this week is Diddy, because when you hear “Billy Joel” the obvious mental leap is “Diddy.”
Well, let’s see how this goes, shall we?
Phillip Phillips, “Movin’ Out”: In his pre-song clip, Jimmy and Diddy try and get Phillip to ditch his guitar. Tommy Hilfiger tells him not to wear gray. So what does Phillip do? He wears gray and plays his guitar and proceeds to be freakin’ awesome. We always like Phillip, but he’s clearly doing much better health-wise this week than he was last week; it’s noticeable in every aspect of his performance. “You are who you are and you have to be who you are... it was an awesome performance,” Jen says. “I was hoping that you would do that, I’m glad you wore gray,” Steven says. “You know who you are, you an unbelievably talented artist... stick to your guns,” Randy says.
DeAndre Brackensick, “Only the Good Die Young”: Jimmy and Diddy want DeAndre to have fun, because this is “Billy Joel at his hottest.” That’s... kind of true, actually. DeAndre is clearly having a blast on stage, and he seems like he kind of gets what this song is about, but the performance really doesn’t have the sexual edge that it really probably should. He sounds good, though, and overall it’s a nice way to kick off the night. “At first I thought it was a little too happy, but isn’t that what the world needs right now?” Steven Tyler says. “I thought it was a great way to start the show... I thought it was a good job, it really showcased who you were,” Jennifer Lopez says. “I wasn’t jumping up and because it didn’t show me anything special... it didn’t wow me but it was okay,” Randy Jackson tells him.
Hollie Cavanagh, “Honesty”: Considering how she tiny and adorable she is, Hollie sure comes across as older than 18 in her performances, doesn’t she? Allegedly she’s supposed to be dressed younger tonight, but a white pantsuit is not working. Anyway! She sounds lovely belting the song out, and although she misses a few notes, the overall effect is pretty decent. “The sound of your voice is one of my favorites in the whole competition,” Jen says. “The truth is that we give you guys constructive criticism because we think you can be that great... just tune the vocal up a little bit,” Randy says.
Erika Van Pelt, “New York State of Mind”: Okay, so first of all we have to talk about Erika’s new hair. She went from longish blonde hair to a very dark brown (or is it black?!) pixie cut. She looks beautiful, but we’re not sure whether we like it more than her former ‘do. It gives her a bit more of a rocker edge than she’d had, but it’s such a drastic change that it’s kind of distracting, as evidenced by the fact that we’re going on about her hair instead of her singing, which is just gorgeous. This was a great song choice for Erika. “First of all, I love the look... those who can, should, those who can’t, shouldn’t, and you can,” Randy says, encouraging Erika to let loose more vocally. “It was such a beautiful, beautiful vocal... I’d love to see you let loose a little more in your body,” Jen says. “I think you put a lot of personality into it... outstanding,” Steven says.
Heejun Han, “My Life”: So for the past few weeks we’ve been wishing Heejun would put his fun, funny personality into a performance, right? Guess what? We take it back! Actually, the whole performance (maybe unintentionally?) feels sort of a like a screw you to... someone. The judges? The show itself? Hard to say. Or maybe he’s just trying to be funny. Either way, he runs around like a crazy person, and his vocals suffer for it. “He-Man... I’m a little tongue-tied, are you happy that you took the piss out of that song? The music business will kick your ass,” Steven says, obviously annoyed. “At least you had a good time, you were entertaining... I was just happy to see you have a good time,” Randy says.
Jessica Sanchez, “Everybody Has a Dream”: This is one of the few Billy Joel songs performed tonight that we didn’t already know, but Jessica’s voice and stage presence are so fantastic, we don’t mind. There are moments where she oversings a bit, but by the end of the song she’s really bringing it home. It’s not as good as “I Will Always Love You,” but it’s a million times better than “Turn the Beat Around” last week. “When God was giving out vocal chords, you were so at the front of the line,” Steven says. “That song was like written for you... that was a defining moment for you, a defining song,” Jen says.
Joshua Ledet, “She’s Got A Way”: Josh starts out the performance sitting backwards on a chair, looking pretty debonair in a tux. He admitted in his pre-song clip that he was out of his element tonight, which is super apparent in this song choice. Why didn’t you sing “River of Dreams,” dude?! He should’ve called us. About halfway into the song he brings in a choir and it gets all intense in that way Joshua has, but for the whole first half, he kind of seemed like he was waiting for his turn at the DMV, for all the emotion he showed. “I felt like you were singing it but you weren’t singing it,” Jen says, wishing he’d connected more to the lyrics. “You sang your life into it and you made a song that I didn’t know come to life,” Steven says.
Colton Dixon, “Piano Man”: This is a bold choice — it’s Billy Joel’s signature song! Colton’s making really smart choices with it, though, keeping the melody mostly intact but letting himself do his Colton thing, which means this kind of sounds like Coldplay or The Fray, and it totally works. His voice gets a little strained a few times, but otherwise it’s a terrific performance, and the crowd loves it. We do, too! “You sing with pure feeling, I had goosies from head to toe from the minute you started,” Jen says. “Your choice of chords when your voice resolved was stunning,” Steven says, going all musician on us, and the audience only sort of claps because they probably don’t know what that means, ha!
Skylar Laine, “Shameless”: We love Billy Joel, but this isn’t a song we know. Hmm. Skylar’s pretty energetic, but when she takes a spin through the audience, she loses her breath and her singing suffers for it. While she’s on stage, though, she’s pretty much rocking it. It’s not the best we’ve seen her, but it’s not bad, plus we just like her spunky stage presence. “It was a little pitchy in the intro, but by the middle of the song you got in your comfort zone... I don’t know if it was your best but it was pretty good,” Randy says. “What I love about you is your attack — you’re not shameless, you’re fearless,” Jen says.
And that’s it for tonight! We think Colton, Phillip, and Elise were the best of the bunch — who were your faves tonight? And who do you think will go home? Let us know!
Elise Testone, “Vienna”: Oh, Elise. Elise has that whole “I’m an artist so I’m going to sing the songs that I love!” thing happening, which is great if the songs that you love happen to be extremely well-known. “Vienna” is not one of those songs, really. On the other hand, she sounds gorgeous, and the song really is perfect for her. She’s connecting to the lyrics and really performing it — she’s the best of the night so far, and gets a standing ovation from the judges. “You were all over the place and you still stayed in the room... just brilliant, you were beautiful,” Steven says. “I’m so happy for you I just want to shake you and hold you and squeeze you,” Jen says. “What you saw tonight, America, is the reason this girl’s in this competition... she had a moment tonight,” Randy says.