Wednesday, March 21st 2012
And So It Goes...
by The AI Insider
With the race to the title closer than ever, on Wednesday night the ten remaining contestants tried to set themselves apart as they sang from the incredible songbook of Billy Joel. As Steven put it, "I'm thinking if you can't sing Billy Joel, you can't sing at all."
Resident mentor Jimmy Iovine, guest mentor Diddy, and image adviser Tommy Hilfiger gave the Top 10 contestants suggestions on how to improve their performances, wardrobes, and even their hair — starting with DeAndre Brackensick.
Tommy suggested that DeAndre take his ponytail out, calling it a "waste" of good hair. Jimmy told DeAndre to smile while singing "Only the Good Die Young" — and claimed he knew what he was talking about. "The whole repressed Catholic thing is my area, afraid to walk up to a girl at 17 is my area," he said. Jimmy also asked DeAndre to "look straight at Jennifer" (a Catholic girl) while singing the first four lines. Diddy added that DeAndre should "channel Billy Joel's life" at that point: "He has Christie Brinkley off to the side, and money is falling out of the sky."
In the end, the judges thought it was a great way to open the show. "At first, I thought it was a little too happy, but isn't that what the world needs right about now?" Steven asked. Jennifer and Randy called it a "great way to start the show," but Randy added that he "wasn't jumping up and down." He told DeAndre, "You didn't show me anything special."
Erika Van Pelt was up next with "New York State of Mind," and Diddy urged the Rhode Islander to "be a New Yorker when you're singing this song." Jimmy cautioned her against "over-singing," and Tommy suggested that she cut her hair short, which she did (and she dyed it black, too).
"First of all, I love the short 'do — it's hot!" Randy told her. "I loved the vocals. I think you're one of the best singers in this whole thing." Jennifer also loved the vocal and Erika's new "Pat Benatar vibe," but she suggested that Erika "let loose" a little bit. Steven agreed that she "could have put more character in it, but later for that. You wore it beautifully." Ryan chimed in: "Not since Sanjaya's ponyhawk have we seen such a transformation on this show," noting that fans were loving it on Twitter.
Joshua Ledet followed with "She's Got a Way," and Tommy urged him to wear a tux to "look like a very experienced superstar." Diddy cautioned him not to make it so "harsh and screamy," and to really focus instead on the song.
Jennifer was on the fence about Joshua's performance. "Billy Joel wrote his life in his songs in such a beautiful and descriptive way. I just needed to feel you were connecting more to the lyrics," she told him. Steven disagreed. "You made a song I didn't know come to life," he said. "I think you sang the sweat out of this song."
Country cutie Skylar Laine chose to sing "Shameless," but Diddy thought it felt forced. "Try to make the whole thing come from the heart," he told her. Tommy liked Skylar's boots, but he suggested adding more punch and more color to her outfit.
Randy liked — but didn't love — the performance. "In the front, the key was a little low, a little pitchy," he said. "It was pretty good; I don't know if it was your best." Jennifer told her, "You're not shameless, you're fearless! By the end of the song you have the whole entire audience with you." Steven agreed with both judges. "Every time you hit the chorus, you sing it with such conviction," he said. "It was a little slow in the beginning, maybe a little pitchy, but you still breathe life into a song."
Elise Testone, who spent the last two weeks in the bottom three, hoped to turn things around with "Vienna," but Jimmy was afraid of her "doing a song that no one is going to know." Diddy, however, urged her to "be a star and step up to the challenge." Elise stuck to her guns, and she also rejected Tommy's suggestion to wear bell-bottoms, going with a dress instead. In the end, she earned a standing ovation from the judges.
"You were all over the place, and you still stayed in the room," Steven said. "That melody was so fantastic, just brilliant." Jennifer added, "I'm so happy for you I just want to shake you. That was a beautiful thing — I feel like everybody got to see your personality for the first time." And Randy noted that Elise had a "moment." "That run at the end, I don't know any singers who can sing that other than you," he said.
Phillip Phillips chose to sing "Movin' Out (Anthony’s Song)," and Tommy urged him to spice up his wardrobe and avoid wearing gray. Diddy suggested that he ditch the guitar to show he's "willing to take risks."
In the end, as Randy put it, Phillip "didn't take the guitar off and wore gray on gray" — and it paid off. "That was one of the best renditions of that song ever!" Randy told him. "Stick to your guns. It was brilliant." Jennifer added, "I felt you were taking out a little aggression on your mentors. You are who you are . . . awesome performance." Steven agreed, saying, "You took that song, and you Phillip Phillips-ed it. Don't ever stop being you."
Last week, Jimmy complained that the Idol stylists dressed Hollie Cavanagh "so old," and Tommy agreed that they dressed her "like a grandmother." This week Hollie chose to sing "Honesty," and Jimmy thought she looked a little too happy to be singing about "disappointments."
In the live performance, Steven thought she was over-thinking a bit. "You're one of our grand singers," he said. "[But] tonight you were a little pitchy, like you hadn't sung it enough." Jennifer told Hollie that she "wants to win and can win," but warned her that she has to "know every single note." Randy added that she "can be that great," but that she had some "pitch issues."
Heejun Han was urged to sing something more uptempo this week, so he picked "My Life." Tommy suggested that he work on finding his own style — and he did just that. He started off with a tuxedo and a slow version of the song, then stopped the music and said, "This is much too slow for me. I wanna dance!" He then stripped off his tux to reveal a T-shirt and proceeded to parade around the stage, swinging the mike and singing to the judges.
"I loved that you brought a little fun to tonight, that was like a breath of fresh air," Jennifer said. "Because you were running around, you didn't hit the vocal exactly the way you'd like to, but it was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed it." Steven said that Heejun "took the piss out of that song," and he was glad he did, but he warned him that "at some point you gotta take it more serious." Randy said that the performance was "vocally missing a bit," but he was "entertained."
Fashionista Jessica Sanchez was up next, and Tommy counseled her to go shorter with her dress. Diddy thought she was over-singing on "Everybody Has a Dream," and he suggested that she "pull back on the showing off the tricks."
On performance night, Jessica wound up getting a standing ovation. "When God was giving out vocal cords, you were so at the front of the line," Steven said. "Thank you for letting me hear you sing." Jennifer said that it was a "defining moment" for Jessica. Randy agreed, saying, "It takes consistency to win. You have a moment every time you step on that stage. You're flawless, you're perfect."
Tommy urged rocker Colton Dixon to change his hairstyle, and Colton was kind of shocked. "My hair is my baby," he said. Colton sang "Piano Man," and Diddy wanted to buy the record.
In the last performance of the night, Jennifer said she had "goosies from head to toe." Steven called Colton's choice of chords "stunning . . . just outrageous." And Randy told Colton he gave a "sensitive" and "touching" performance. "I love the hair, the voice," he said. "You're a rock star. Stay individual!"
So who had the biggest "moments"? According to Randy, it was Jessica, Elise, Colton, and Phillip. Steven agreed with Randy's picks, and Jennifer chose Elise, Colton, and Jessica. On Thursday night, we find out the results of the nationwide vote, plus we'll see performances from Haley Reinhart and Lana Del Rey!