Tonight was the 400th episode of American Idol, and was a battle of the guys vs. the girls as well. The guys took on the songs of Stevie Wonder, while the girls paid tribute to Whitney Houston. And before we go any further, Whitney? Really? One of the artists with the most challenging songs to master? Somehow, this just didn’t seem fair. Resident mentor Jimmy Iovine brought in Mary J. Blige to work with the singers.
Joshua Ledet was up first, with I Wish. He said that he was out of his comfort zone, but brought his gospel vibe and energy to the song. Steven felt he nailed it, and commended him for listening to Mary J.’s advise. J-Lo felt his performance, and also commended him on taking the advise on how to punch the chorus. Randy told him he blew it out at the top of the show, and was pleased to hear him do something other than a ballad. Safe.
Elise Testone planned to sing Greatest Love of All, but based on the look on Mary J,’s face, and Jimmy telling her it was a bad song choice, she opted for their suggestion of I’m Your Baby Tonight. With reluctance. She also resisted their feedback, since she was more focused on just having learned the song. It was mediocre at best. Steven told her that she needed to find the right song for her voice. J-Lo wanted her to make the song her own, since she has a specific style. She also mentioned her timing issues, and said it wasn’t Elise’s best. Randy agreed that it wasn’t her greatest, and felt that she’d fought the song. It just wasn’t good. Follow-up with Ryan, and Elise saying that changing the song hurt her, as she didn’t really know it. Then she admitted that it wasn’t an excuse. True dat. I do believe she’s in trouble.
Jermaine Jones sang Knock Me Off My Feet. He does have a beautiful tone, and Mary J. thought the song was perfect for his voice. Steven thought the song fit him like an Armani suit, while J-Lo would have liked to have seen a little more connection with the words and song. Randy didn’t enjoy the chorus, but loved the verses, and advised that he relax into the songs. Will the voters like him enough to sing another day? Maybe.
Erika Van Pelt showed her powerful lower range with I Believe in You and Me.I like Erika, but here’s someone who had to work to make the Whitney song her own, or risk bombing. Mary J. described her voice as meat and potatoes. Steven loved her beautiful, fantastic voice, and thought she was perfect. J-Lo got goosies just from seeing the rehearsal, and felt her interpretation of the song and tone made it come alive. Randy thought her voice was amazing and tone was unbelievable, and said she had sold him. He advised her to stop thinking and just let herself go. Safe.
Colton Dixon had to shed his rocker comfort zone for the ballad Lately. Jimmy and Mary J. asked him to sing one of his original songs to hear his context, and Mary J. told him that he had to do him when he sang the song. Steven thought it was outstanding and well done. J-Lo thought that he’d be especially challenged by the song selection, but that his heart came through. Randy said it wasn’t picture-perfect technically, but that the power notes were flawless, and he slayed the end with his falsetto. Safe.
Shannon Magrane sang I Have Nothing, and is in danger of having nothing after this performance. This song was way too big for her, and Mary J told her to stop thinking and just sing the song. Yeah, that wasn’t enough. All 3 judges commented that her nerves got the best of her, and Steven noted that she crashed and burned in the turnaround. Yep, she did. J-Lo said she overthought the song. Randy said she failed to hit the big notes, and just wasn’t great tonight. She’s in trouble.
Deandre Brackensick pulled his hair back for his reggae-flavored Master Blaster. He was appropriately energetic with his moves, and wasn’t as falsetto-heavy as usual. Mary J. had advised that he belt it. Steven told him that he has a different flavor from everyone else;J-Lo liked his rhythm, soul and swagger and Randy agreed, saying it was a job well done. Safe.
Skylar Laine had never sung Whitney before, and made Where Do Broken Hearts Go truly her own. She gave Mary J. goosebumps in rehearsal. Steven called the performance a thing of beauty, and said she more than nailed it. J-Lo called her the definition of composure, and said that thought it wasn’t perfect, she kept it together, surprising her with the big finish. Randy liked seeing another side of her. Safe.
Heejun Han sang All is Fair in Love, and entertained with Twitter pics, and also gave Mary J. and Jimmy autographed pics of himself. He loves Mary J. more. Mary J. loved his tone. His performance was soft and tender, and he had a powerful ending. Steven thought it was fantastic, and loves his voice. J-Lo loves him, and Randy said it wasn’t perfect, but reeeeaaalllllyyyy good. Safe.
Hollie Cavanagh sang All the Man I Need, and Mary J. advised she get comfortable with the song, because her voice is really sick. Finally! Someone with enough power to handle a Whitney song! She was flawless. Steven said she’d been nailing it every time, while J-Lo predicted that she’s make it to the very end (don’t jinx her!). Randy said she nailed it. Safe. Very safe.
Jeremy Rosado sang Ribbons in the Sky, and Mary J. said there was something about his voice she really loves. Jimmy advised he get out of his head. Steven liked his velvety-smooth, high, beautiful voice, though he didn’t get to fly as usual, because the song didn’t warrant it. J-Lo loves to hear his interpretation of songs. Randy thought it wasn’t his best performance, as it was a difficult song. He didn’t quite believe the performance. Maybe.
Jessica Sanchez took on I Will Always Love You. Oh, yes she did. How does that voice fit in that tiny, young frame? WOW! She got a well-deserved standing ovation from the judges, and Steven said she might be the one, and that she had just made 40 million people cry. Well, applaud, yes. Cry? No. J-Lo was speechless. Randy proclaimed that Jessica Sanchez is legit! He said it was the best vocal of the night, and that she was one of the best in the whole competition. Safe. No doubt about it.
Closing the show was Phillip Phillips with Superstition. Jimmy is a fan, saying that he comes with batteries included, and is a rare find of great musician and great singer. Mary J. said he needed to work on the ending, as he gets lost in the music. This guy gave the song his own indy/alt rock flavor, and did it incredibly well. Steven said he has interesting character, and the “forget about it” in his voice. Huh? What does that mean? J-Lo said he made the song his own and killed it. Randy said he was the most different artist that they have this year, and loves what he does. He look forward to seeing how he reinterprets songs in the future. Safe.
Ryan asked the judges who they thought were the 2 in trouble, and the 2 standouts. Randy had no idea who would be in trouble, but named Jessica and Joshua as standouts. J-Lo thought Shannon would be in trouble, but didn’t name another person. She also didn’t name any standouts, other than she thought the girls were stronger as a whole. Steven wasn’t nearly as shy, and said that Elise and Shannon were in trouble, and that Jessica Sanchez and Jessica Sanchez were standouts. I guess his math needs help.
Results tomorrow night.In a special one-night-only twist, Ryan will reveal the bottom guy and the bottom girl, and the judges will decide which one of them will get to stay.
Who’s in trouble?I think Steven was right on the money with Elise and Shannon. I say Elise, because her attitude did not win me over at all. Of the guys, I think Jeremy and Jermaine. Of the two…neither will last much longer, so buh-bye to Jermaine. Or Jeremy. Too bad. They’re both nice guys.