The top 10 contestants left on American Idol season 11 had the task of taking on songs from legendary singer/songwriter/piano man Billy Joel last night.
With the help of resident mentor Jimmy Iovine and guest mentor Diddy (yeah, it made absolutely no sense to us either), the contestants tried their best to make some of Joel’s most iconic tunes their own and earn favorable critiques from the judges — Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler.
Adding to the excitement this week, designer Tommy Hilfiger was brought in as a fashion mentor, and gave the contestants a boost in the style department.
So how did it all work out for our top 10? Here’s a rundown:
DeAndre Brackensick – Only The Good Die Young: We’re treated to another performance by DeAndre filled with glorious hair-flipping, some sweet falsetto moments, and a few spot-on vocal moments. But overall, the performance was crazy corny. “First I thought it was a little too happy, but isn’t that what the world needs right about now?” Steven said, in his typical non-judging judging. Jennifer went a little deeper and actually liked it. “I thought it was a great way to start the show.” “It didn’t wow me, but it was OK,” said Randy.
Erika Van Pelt – New York State Of Mind: Erika, who now rocks a short, raven haircut, is not a New Yorker, but she showed out while showing her love to the Big Apple with her performance. Her vocals were perfection. Smoky and understated. The judges swooned. Hard. “Very, very nice,” Randy said. “It was such a beautiful, beautiful vocal,” added Jennifer. They’d both love for Erika to add more runs and vocal tricks next time, though.
Joshua Ledet – She’s Got A Way: Joshua had a hard time trying to make the song fit his voice, so he said in his pre-performance package, but Joshua can pretty much sing anything. It may not be perfect all the way through — this performance wasn’t; the beginning was shaky — but Josh will always find a way to bring it home and make you jump out of your seat to praise dance. Once the choir joined him and he started reaching for those big notes, it was a wrap. “You sing so crazy,” Jennifer said. “I just needed to feel you were connected more to the lyrics…I felt like you were singing it but you weren’t singing it.”
Skylar Laine – Shameless: “You’re not shameless, you’re fearless,” Jennifer told Skylar at the end of her performance. She really is. Skylar has taken pretty well to each theme week, no matter how far it’s taken her out of her comfort zone. She ended way better than she began, but she held it together.
Elise Testone – Vienna: Elise really needed a moment last night. She’s been in the bottom three twice already, but hopefully things will change after receiving a standing O and glowing remarks from the judges for her gorgeously bluesy performance of “Vienna.” “You were beautiful,” Steven said. “I really feel like everybody got to see your personality for the first time,” Jennifer said. “What you saw tonight, America, is the reason why this girl is in the competition,” Randy said. “She had a moment tonight…unbelievable vocal.”
Phillip Phillips – Moving Out: Phillip’s performance flew in the faces of all of the mentors. They told him to put his guitar down; he picked it up and strummed it with vigor as he jammed on stage. They told him to find a color other than gray to wear; he doubled up with a gray jacket over a gray tee. Moral of the story: if you know who you are, don’t change for anyone. Luckily, Phillip’s defiance of the mentors’ advice was applauded by the judges. “You have to be who you are and that’s it,” Jennifer said. “And you see the response…it was great.”
Hollie Cavanagh -Honesty: Hollie got a diva makeover to match her aspiring diva voice. Looking like a mini Celine Dion/Christina Aguilera hybrid, Hollie attempted to belt out Joel’s classic “Honesty,” with OK, but mostly pitchy results. “You’re one of our grand singers…tonight you were a little pitchy,” Steven said. “You gotta nail those [notes] every single time,” Jennifer said. Randy echoed. “Tune those vocals just a little. You’re better than that.”
Heejun Han – My Life: Heejun has been on a sinking ship for the last few weeks, mostly because he’s been boring ballad boy, but he probably expedited his trip to the bottom of the ocean with his performance last night. Starting in a tuxedo and crooning adlibs over a piano intro, Han stopped the song, saying, “That’s much too slow for me, and I wanna dance!,” ripped off his tux to reveal a more laid back ensemble, and launched into a insanely corny, drunk karaoke singer version of “My Life.” “I love that you brought a little fun to tonight,” Jennifer said. “The music business will kick your ass. At some point you gotta try and take it a little more serious,” Steven told this season’s resident joker. “At least you had a good time,” Randy said. “Vocally, it was definitely missing a bit.”
Jessica Sanchez – Everybody Has A Dream: Jessica is unstoppable! Her rendition of “Everybody Has A Dream” was heartfelt, soul-stirring, and downright sensational. And she really took Diddy’s advice about not over-singing to heart. She managed to make every last one of her runs count. Just beautiful. She received a standing O for her slayage. “When God was giving out vocal chords, you were sooooo at the front of the line,” Steven said. “Thank you for letting me hear you sing.” “That was a defining moment for you,” Jennifer said. “You have a moment every time you step on that stage,” Randy said. “You were flawless.”
Colton Dixon – Piano Man: How fitting! Colton’s been dying to get back on his piano and, well, “Piano Man” did the trick. Colton’s got such a keen sense of who he is and who he’ll be as an artist once the show wraps. Every song he does, he adds his own touch: slightly rock, slightly emo, all the way Colton. This performance was no different. And we loved it. “You sing with pure feeling,” Jennifer said. “I had goosies from head to toe the minute you started.” “You’re a great musician and a great singer,” Steven added. “You gave a sensitive, touching, moving performance,” said Randy.
Predictions: The bottom three will likely be Heejun, DeAndre, and Elise. It’s not looking good for Heejun.