Colton Dixon, “Broken Heart”: So, Colton’s picked a song we’ve never heard before by a band (White Lion) that we’ve never heard of. This could either be a very good idea or a very bad one. We’re going with... good one! The song actually suits him really well, and it’s catchy enough that we don’t mind not knowing it. Colton’s super into the performance, too, which helps. We approve! “I thought you did really, really well, and I think you look pretty when you sing,” Jen says. “I thought it was the wrong song for your voice and your passion... I didn’t feel the song go anywhere, man,” Steven says. “I could care less about the song, but the song didn’t matter,” Randy says.
Okay, first of all: drama! One of the contestants has been booted off for previous bad behavior (spoiler alert: It was Jermaine Jones), which means our Top 12 has suddenly become a Top 11. Ryan promises to tell us more about that later.
On to the music. Tonight’s theme is Songs From the Year You Were Born, which is designed to make us all feel old. Yay!
Phillip Phillips, “Hard to Handle”: Jeez, Phillip just had surgery for his kidney stones, so what can we say about his performance? It’s not our favorite of his — without his guitar he seems a little twitchy — but it’s damn impressive, considering. Plus, he’s still awfully pretty, and this song is a good choice for him. “You’re kinda unique for us this year... good song choice,” Randy says. “This is just so natural for you, it’s in every cell of your body... it’s just perfect, I loved it,” Jennifer says. “You pick songs that match your voice and character,” Steven says.
Erika Van Pelt, “Heaven”: Finally, a song choice that’s pretty decent! Erika has a weird background of moving stairs behind her that’s making us a little dizzy, but otherwise, we’re feeling this. She looks gorgeous tonight (even if her black lace dress is a little witch-y), and the song works well for her. “I think you were too busy all over it... when a song is that pretty you’ve gotta stay with it,” Steven says. “I feel you coming together as an artist... you’re just coming together in the best way,” Jen says. “I kinda liked it — for me it was a nice 8 out of 10,” Randy says.
Uh oh, time for a segment about Jermaine getting kicked off for having multiple outstanding arrest warrants under multiple names. He sits down to get lectured by the producers and then has to try and awkwardly explain himself, and clearly this is just to fill the time that should be used for his performance. Long story short, Jermaine is dunzo and we will not be able to hear him sing “Somewhere Out There.”
Jessica Sanchez, “Turn the Beat Around”: Okay, so first of all we just have to note that Jessica is wearing high-waisted silver sequined bell-bottoms. That’s a thing that’s happening. Jessica really raised the bar for herself last week — this isn’t even coming close. She’s not bad, but it’s kinda karaoke, and during the tricky fast part she gets all mumble-y. “I love your voice, but you can’t stray too far from what I think you do best, which is ballads,” Steven says. “You’re one of the greatest in this competition so I feel like we should always steer you in the right direction... pick something more that you can really make it your own,” Randy says.
Heejun Han, “Right Here Waiting For You”: Richard Marx, Heejun? SIGH. He doesn’t sound great, either — he’s not enunciating the lyrics well, and he sounds a little out of breath, and it’s boring, and... oh, Heejun. We want to love you! Do better! “I didn’t really enjoy it at all... it was pitchy all over the place,” Randy says. “It wasn’t a great song for you... I love your voice no matter what anyway,” Steven says.
Skylar Laine, “Love Sneakin’ Up On You”: Ha, in Skylar’s pre-performance clip, Jimmy and Will.I.Am (we haven’t been talking about them because they’re mostly not that interesting) mess with her by suggesting she sing Gin Blossoms or Coolio. Skylar has no idea what they’re talking about. Huh, this performance is a little weird — we expected Skylar to be more lively, but she seems oddly restrained, both vocally and performance-wise. “You’ve got so much heart and soul, I haven’t heard you sing a song bad yet,” Steven says. “I didn’t love that the song didn’t have more of a chorus, but you still did your thing,” Jen says.
Joshua Ledet, “When a Man Loves a Woman”: This is the first performance tonight that we stopped typing to watch, because it’s. freakin’. AWESOME. Joshua just blew away everyone that song before him, holy cow. Vocally stunning and the performance itself was fantastic — he shed his jacket halfway through like the Smooth McSmoothington he clearly is. Hot damn, Joshua Ledet! “That was so good we were up halfway through it,” Steven says. “Joshua Ledet, that was phenomenal, incredible on every level,” Randy says. “The best thing I’ve ever seen on American Idol,” Jen says.
Elise Testone, “Let’s Stay Together”: We were really happy last week when the judges decided to save Elise, and this performance is definitely reminding us why. This song works soooo much better for her than last week’s Whitney, and she’s doing a great job of making it her own. It’s still not as good as her Adele cover a few weeks ago, but it’s a very big step back in the right direction. “You’ve got beauty and soul the voice behind it, I just love you, man, I love your voice,” Steven says. “That was showing America who Elise is to me... that was right on every single level,” Jen says. “America, Elise is back!” Randy cheers.
DeAndre Brackensick, “Endless Love”: Ugh, this song. Not loving the song choices tonight at all, and DeAndre is really not doing anything to improve this song. He’s actually making it worse — he’s off-key and missing notes and he looks completely lost onstage. Painful! “You can sing anything, and you sang that beautifully... but I didn’t think it was the right song for you,” Jen says. (She’s lying — he did not sing it beautifully, y’all.) “It was boring and very safe for you at the wrong time, I feel,” Randy says.
Hollie Cavanagh, “Power of Love”: Oh good, a Celine Dion song. Hollie’s rocking a gold sparkly dress that looks a little bit like she’s headed to a sorority formal, but she’s working it. She sounds really nice, but after the force of nature that Joshua was, this is a little underwhelming. Her voice also cracks on the big last note, oops! “With you and Joshua, they really saved the best for last... it was beautiful,” Jen says. “It was a little pitchy here and there, but it was beautiful,” Steven says. “This song... you blew it out the box,” Randy says.
Shannon Magrane, “One Sweet Day”: Girrrrrl are you seriously following up last week’s trainwreck of a Whitney performance by taking on Mariah? Shannon’s wearing gold sequined formal shorts (maybe they’re friends with Jessica’s silver-sequined pants) with a matching jacket. She sounds better than last week, luckily, although there’s still no need for her to be singing Mariah. Shannon’s got a big voice, but she doesn’t have enough of a handle on it to keep taking on these icons — she misses some notes and covers them up with growls. “I was honestly terrified for you... but you did a beautiful job with that,” Jen says. “I think you sing your best when you don’t try so hard, that was beautiful,” Steven says.