'American Idol' Top 10: Billy Joel? Who's that?
Jessica: This Is The Time, Erika: New York State of Mind, Elise: The Lights Go Out on Broadway, esp. with piano, Hollie: Honesty, Skylar: You May Be Right, Phillip: River of Dreams, Heejun: She's Got a Way, Colton: The Stranger, esp. with piano and whistling, Joshua: Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel), DeAndre: Just the Way You Are. Let's see if we get any right... (we are really keeping our fingers crossed for Erika on "New York" and Colton on "The Stranger").
Also, how many of these kids do you think don't know a single Billy Joel song? That's sad.
Diddy's here to help pick out songs and give advice? Hmm. Also, the filler this week of the Tommy Hilfiger style sessions? Not needed. Couldn't we have cut this episode to 90 minutes?
1. DeAndre Brackensick, "Only the Good Die Young"
Huh. Not a fan of the song choice for him. A repressed, horny Catholic vibe is not what we get from DeAndre. DeAndre's like ... asexual. Plus, DeAndre doesn't have the flavor to pull this off. Without flavor, this is just boring. And then he starts and wow. Yikes. This is awful. You can only understand like every other line and it's just a boppy, soulless karaoke performance, plus he clearly doesn't know the words and that really bugs. The best part is the piano player, can we just listen to him for two minutes? Kthx.
If DeAndre really wanted to show off his falsetto, he should've tackled "Longest Time." Steven Tyler says it was too happy, but that's what the world needs right now. Ughhh, heave. Also, Randy is dressed like the Mad Hatter tonight, he just needs a big hat. Randy says it didn't wow him, it was OK. That's being generous, that performance was terrible.
2. Erika Van Pelt, "New York State of Mind"
Yes! Called it! This is the perfect song for her. Whoa, short black hair! Diggin' it. She looks hot and props for not having a meltdown like the girls on "ANTM" do when they get makeovers. Anyway, vocally, this suits her - but she's futzing with the melody in a way that doesn't help her. It's really off-putting. The song is almost unrecognizable at times and the ending is terrible. She should've brought it home by ending it the way the song actually ends. Kind of a disappointment, considering how excited we were about her singing this.
The judges praise her new look (yes!), but also praise her vocals and while there wasn't anything wrong with her tone or her pitch, the arrangement gave us a bad vibe. The Pat Benetar comparison is spot-on, though.
3. Joshua Ledet, "She's Got a Way"
The reason we wanted to hear him on "Lullabye" is because he's been so powerful all these weeks, we would love to see him have a "moment" on a sentimental slow song. "She's Got a Way" might do the trick, though, but we'd like to hear him leave the vocal acrobatics at home a little.
Vocally, Joshua starts off beautifully. The little runs he throws in are actually very nice. This is lovely. He's making a song that could be very boring not boring, which is a feat in and of itself. The bridge really takes off and the ending is great. He was just the right amount of restrained and wild for our taste. That was gorgeous.
J.Lo's critique about Joshua connecting more with the lyrics is valid, though that can be hard when you just heard the song for the first time ever. Speaking of which - really, Steven Tyler? Really?
Also, you can't penalize 12-year-olds for not connecting when you pick an artist their grandpas like.
4. Skylar Laine, "Shameless"
This is a good choice for her - we always forget this is by Billy Joel and not Garth Brooks only. That makes it feel like cheating, but yeah, this is a great choice for Skylar. Hey, a steel guitar player! You don't see that every day, very cool. It's also hilarious how they sit her next to a guy in a flannel shirt and cool-but-still-trucker-y hat, who cannot clap in time with the beat. That is like - all we can focus on. That awkward L.A.-idea-of-country guy.
Anyway. This is pretty solid. The song lacks a little oomph because she can't hit the low the way a man can. It gets better when she gets higher and goes into the chorus, though when when she gets yell-y and starts shaking her finger at us, we could do without that. It's too angry. The ending is nice. Not Skylar's best, but probably good enough to keep her in the competition.
Randy nails her on it being too low and her not being able to hit the low stuff. He calls it pretty good, not her best.
5. Elise Testone, "Vienna"
Her first choice is "Vienna," which ... hmm. We know this song, but we are huge Billy Joel fans. This is not going to be known by 98% of the audience and that's rough, especially for a girl who can't get out of the Bottom 3. It suits her voice perfectly, though, we can't believe we didn't think of this choice for her. We barely typed a thing the entire performance, because we were just enjoying her vocals. It's also very apparent she knows this song, so that's major music cred props to her. And then the ending gives us tingles. Wow. We might download that, no joke.
6. Phillip Phillips, "Movin' Out"
This was our second choice for him, this is a terrific song. However, the mentor session, when they bring the girls in? That's super weird and awkward. Anyway, the arrangement of this song is rubbing us the wrong way. The chorus is better, but ... wow. We hated that. We're so sorry, we love Phillip Phillips, but that was so bad. Is that just our Billy Joel bias? The fact that we love that song so much may have clouded our judgment?
Wow. We don't hope he goes home, but that was terrible for us. Please weigh in in the comments, guys. Are we completely alone in our distaste? Steven says he "Phillip Phillips'd it," but ... not in a good way. Sometimes songs are just great on their own.
7. Hollie Cavanaugh, "Honesty"
This is our pick for her! So excited about it. The verse is a titch low, but not too bad. And the chorus is beautiful, really nice for her voice and raw in a way that makes you think she's really connected, even if she's faking it. Not every note is perfectly on pitch, but compared to the rest of the field, it's great. The bridge and into the final chorus is very powerful - way to make the song your own without completely bastardizing it. And the ending is gorgeous. Well done, Hollie.
Haley's in the audience! And that faux-trucker guy is there! Can't stop staring.
8. Heejun Han, "My Life"
He is such a weirdo in his video package, it's rather awesome. But then - his performance. Holy crap on a stick, WTF? He starts off all slow and then stops the piano player, rips off his suit jacket and starts bopping around like a hipster and sings "My Life" with the thickest accent we've heard so far. And he's twirling the microphone and being 1000 kinds of ridiculous. This is ... wow. Is this some brilliant double-secret-probation commentary about this show in recent years on the part of Heejun? Or is he just nucking futs? Wow. That was. Something.
We really long for Simon Cowell's acidic wit at times like this. This is like the worst thing we've seen since Sanjaya's "Bathwater" debacle of 2007.
9. Jessica Sanchez, "Everybody Has a Dream"
Hmm. Not as familiar with this one as the others. But Jessica sings it like she's known it forever, so at least she can fake it if it's brand new to her. It's also a beautiful song for her voice - it doesn't sound like Billy Joel at all, she just turned it into a soaring female power ballad about empowerment. The high stuff is gorgeous, the key change is awesome. Very well done.
10. Colton Dixon, "Piano Man"
Ughhhh. Colton can actually play the piano and this is the song he chooses? It's so overplayed! Nooooo. "The Stranger" would've been so much better, dude. OK, fine, no it woudln't - doing a song the audience knows is always better than doing one they don't know, but we really had our hearts set on "The Stranger." YouTube it, you'll see.
OK, but then he sings it and admittedly it's awesome. The staging is perfect and Colton sounds fantastic on it. He's making just a few changes here and there to stylize it, but it's still instantly recognizable, which is perfect. The final big chorus is goosebump-inducing. Colton definitely had his moment on this one.
It's a shame the downloadable version won't be the full-length song.
So, who's in trouble? Well, it seems like a pipe dream that any boys will be Bottom 3. But if we're choosing based on talent and tonight's performances, DeAndre, Phillip and Heejun should be in the bottom. Of course, they won't be.
What do you think, "Idol" fans?