Idol shocker alert! The Top 12 was reduced to the Top 11 this week as one contestant was eliminated from the competition. With the help of information from law enforcement, producers were left with no choice but to make the disqualification.
As for the remaining contestants, they each sang a song from the year they were born, starting with Phillip Phillips, who was born in 1990. Phillip was born premature with many health problems, and doctors told his parents that he might not even make it through the night. This week he was still suffering from health problems: Phillip was scheduled to have surgery for kidney stones just hours after his mentoring session with Jimmy Iovine and guest mentor will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. After hearing him sing, will.i.am was impressed. "That's what he sounds like in pain!" he raved. Jimmy added that Phillip has "changed what it means to have a sick day on American Idol."
On Wednesday night, Phillip performed the Black Crowes' "Hard to Handle," and the judges loved it. "Dude, you're kind of unique for us this year," Randy said. "You got a very different voice and a very different style, you don't have your guitar . . . After surgery to sound like that, I don't even know what's going on!" Randy added that "Hard to Handle" could be a single for
Phillip when he's done with the show. Jennifer and Steven were also fans, but
Steven urged Phillip to "watch his melody."
Next, Jessica Sanchez — fresh off her "moment" last week with Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" — sang Gloria Estefan's "Turn the Beat Around" from her birth year, 1995. Will.i.am described the 16-year-old as a "swaggernaut."
"She took it even higher and didn't even sweat!" he said. However, the judges weren't as impressed. "I love your voice, but you can't stray too far from things you sing the best, like ballads," Steven said. "The rhythm was a little shady." However, he noted, "I love those pants!"
Jennifer also loved Jessica's sparkly silver pants, but she didn't think her strong vibrato" worked in this song. Randy agreed that the song wasn't the right fit. "You're one of the greatest in this competition," he told her. "You have a big old voice; the song doesn't allow you to show that."
Heejun Han was up next, singing Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting" from 1989. Jimmy and will.i.am coached him on his pronunciation, and the South Korea-born Heejun admitted, "Whenever I'm singing, the accent is a problem." But in typical Heejun fashion, he also had a joke up his sleeve, asking will.i.am for his bandmate Fergie's number. "Fergie's married!" he responded. The comment got laughs, but the song wasn't a hit with the judges.
"I didn't really enjoy this at all — it was pitchy all over the place," Randy said, adding that Heejun seemed out of breath the whole time. Jennifer agreed that Heejun was "struggling," but she noted that "toward the end, it got really beautiful for me." And while Steven agreed with Randy that it "wasn't a great song" for Heejun, he added, "I love your voice no matter what."
Elise Testone — who was "saved" by the judges last week — was up next with Tina Turner's version of "Let's Stay Together" from 1983. "Tonight when I take the stage, people are gonna be making babies," she vowed. Will.i.am said that she should have a sing-off with President Obama, who recently sang that song. And she may have sung it better than Obama did. "God, I love your voice, my Aunt Sonia loves your voice, everybody loves your voice," Steven said. "That was showing America who Elise is to me — that was right on every single level," Jennifer added. "America, Elise is back!" Randy proclaimed, noting that the run at the end was "like butter."
DeAndre Brackensick performed Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross' version of "Endless Love" from 1994, which Jimmy and will.i.am persuaded him to sing. "He could be one of the guys who goes home if he picks the wrong song," will.i.am
said. But the judges weren't happy with the song choice. "I think Jimmy and will steered you wrong — I just didn't think it was the right song for you," Jennifer said. Steven and Randy agreed, with Randy calling the performance "way too boring."
Shannon Magrane, who wound up in the bottom two girls last week, sang Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey's "One Sweet Day" from 1995, after will.i.am coached her on her breathing. The judges thought that she pulled it off. "That was not an easy undertaking. I was terrified for you, but you did a beautiful job," Jennifer said. Randy said that he was also "terrified," but not for long. "The front of the song was cool; by the end, that run you sang we were like, 'Yo, this girl got something going up there!'"
Colton Dixon followed with White Lion's "Broken Heart" from 1991, despite the fact that his personal Idol, Chris Daughtry, recently advised him to "choose songs that people know." Jennifer enjoyed the performance. "Colton's a lover — the best singers fall in love deeply, get their heart broken," she said, adding, "I think you look pretty when you sing." Steven, however, wasn't feeling it. "I think it was the wrong song for your voice and your passion — raspberries."
Erika Van Pelt chose to sing Bryan Adams' "Heaven" from 1985. Jimmy called it a "really good fit," and he gave her some notes on how to change the arrangement. Steven didn't like what she did with it, telling her, "I think you're too busy all over it. It's a beautiful song — when a song is that pretty, you gotta stay with the melody. But I still like your voice." Jennifer agreed that the arrangement "left us wanting more," and Randy gave it an "8 out of 10," despite the "jerky" arrangement.
By this point, fans were wondering which contestant was eliminated from the show, so Ryan broke the news: It was "gentle giant" Jermaine Jones. Jermaine failed to disclose criminal charges against him, and he still has four active warrants out for his arrest, meaning Idol producers had no choice but to let him go. "We'll miss Jermaine's talent on the show, and we wish him the best of luck for his future," Ryan said.
Country girl Skylar Laine was up next with Bonnie Raitt's "Love Sneakin' Up on You" from 1994. And no, she didn't take will.i.am's advice to sing something "ghountry" (ghetto country), such as a Coolio song. The judges liked the performance. "You have so much heart and soul," Steven said. "I haven't heard you sing a song bad yet." Jennifer added, "If I gotta keep it real, I gotta say that you really killed that."
Joshua Ledet followed with Michael Bolton's version of "When a Man Loves a Woman" from 1992, and Ryan had a special treat for him. The Louisiana native said he's been missing crawfish, so the state of Louisiana sent over a giant bucket just for him. The church boy got the judges on their feet midway through the song. "That was so good we were up halfway through it," Steven said. "You gave it up so big, God came through your eyes." Randy said that the judges had been waiting all night for a "moment," and Joshua finally had one. "That was phenomenal — incredible on every level," Randy raved. And Jennifer called it "the best thing I've ever seen on American Idol."
Last up was tiny Hollie Cavanagh, who sang Celine Dion's "Power of Love." Impressed, will.i.am wondered if she had "amplifiers" in her little body, and the judges were blown away, too. "With you and Joshua, they really saved the best for last. There were one or two tiny little things, but for the most part to even criticize them would be silly," Jennifer said. Steven agreed that it was "beautiful," despite being a little pitchy. Randy also noticed the "one or two things," but he said Hollie "blew it out of the box" and had another "moment."
So who's safe, and who's in trouble? Randy thought that Joshua was "safest," but Heejun might be in trouble. Jennifer agreed that Joshua was safest, and she said Hollie and Phillip also did a great job. Steven agreed that "Joshua is our Jessica this week." Thursday night, you'll find out who made the Top 10 — and who's going on the summer tour!