What does it mean when the most anticipated American Idol episode of the season is the one in which we know a contestant's getting the boot for concealing their criminal record? I'm not sure... but I'm not mad about it!
Rather than addressing the (extremely large, baritone) elephant in the room, Seacrest tells us we'll get to it later in the show. How rude! Whatever, Seacrest. You were the ugliest, most tragic looking baby of all time.
Apparently there are people that have to sing tonight, or something. The contestants will be performing a song from the year they were born, which inevitably means we'll be hearing a lot of Backstreet Boys. And here they are...
Phillip Phillips, 1990
Baby facts: Born premature; endured various health issues
"Hard To Handle," The Black Crowes
Hey, Phil — kidney stones look good on ya, man! But seriously. Phillip sang the hell out of "Hard To Handle" tonight, despite the fact that he just had surgery to remove the stones or whatever. It was a nice change to see him without his guitar — it gave him a bit more freedom to move around, shake his hips, and generally be his sexy self. Guy has swag! And he was less Dave Matthews-like tonight, too. "It just goes to prove that this is so natural for you," says Jennifer. "It's in every cell of your body. Not to get too medical."
Jessica Sanchez, 1995
Baby facts: Self-described "diva;" used to cry until she fainted
"Turn The Beat Around," Gloria Estefan
Jessica showed a fun, upbeat side of her that we haven't seen a lot of yet. Tonight more than ever before, she seemed like a natural-born performer — she was interacting with the band and making great use of all the space on stage. But as the judges all point out, soulful ballads are really where her strengths lie. The song wasn't an ideal fit for Jessica. "The rhythm that you sang with this song was a little... a little shady," says Steven. "But again, I love your voice. I love those pants."
Heejun Han, 1989
Baby facts: Gets sense of humor from mom; always woke up smiling
"Right Here Waiting," Richard Marx
It pains me to say it, but this was easily Heejun's weakest performance. He sounded shaky and off-key — the song simply did not work for his voice. I was praying for it to be over 30 seconds after it started, and by the look on Heejun's face, it seemed he felt similarly. "Uhhhh. Duuuude... I didn't really enjoy this at all," whines Randy. "It was pitchy all over the place... not a great performance for me."
Elise Testone, 1983
Baby facts: Always getting into "cute" trouble; saved by a lifeguard one time
"Let's Stay Together," Tina Turner
What a complete turnaround from last week! This performance was a great example of choosing a perfectly voice-appropriate song. Adding in her signature raspiness, Elise made the song her own. "That was showing America who Elise is to me," says J. Lo. "That was right on every single level. It was a beautiful thing." Randy said it was like "buttuh." (Butter).
Deandre Brakcensick, 1994
Baby facts: self-described "ham;" frequently dressed up as a band leader
"Endless Love," Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross
I don't know what to say about Deandre anymore. He just doesn't do it for me at all. There was truly nothing standout about the performance (other than his hair, of course). It was empty, lifeless and lacked commitment. J.Lo kindly tried to put the blame on the mentors. "I think Jimmy steered you wrong," she says. "I just didn't feel like it was the right song for you, and I feel like you didn't feel like it was the right song for you."
Shannon Magrane, 1995
Baby facts: Parents were partial to putting her in bonnets; loved singing Thumbalina
"One Sweet Day," Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
Here's the thing: after her insufferable performance last week, Shannon should not even be here right now. And I'm not a fan of second chances — (cough, Jermaine) — but you know what? I actually think Shannon rocked it out tonight! Girl really redeemed herself! It wasn't the most original thing I've ever heard, but it was Mariah, and she didn't completely screw it up. That, in and of itself, is an accomplishment. Even though both Randy (who has worked with Mariah and Boyz; also: does not miss the chance to name-drop) and Jennifer were admittedly terrified, it was a hit with the judges. "You sing your best when you don't try so hard," says Steven. "That was beautiful."
Colton Dixon, 1991
Baby facts: Voted "baby of the week" in the hospital (by all the other newborns)
"Broken Heart," White Lion
Did you know Colton and Idol alum Daughtry are like BFFs now? They totally hooked up at the Belmont in L.A.! I know, because Colton said so. Anyway, like any good BFF, Daughtry advised Colton to "sing songs people know," so tonight, Colton is singing a song no one has ever heard of — not even the band! It was a risky move, but in this case, I think the risk was worth the reward. Because the original version was relatively unknown, the judges and audience were able to listen to it without any preconceived idea of what it was supposed to sound like. Ultimately, we can all agree the song was very Colton — and I give him props for thinking outside the box. "The song actually didn't matter. It was about you. I was paying attention to you, and I could care less about the song," says Randy. "This kid is always in the zone."
Erika Van Pelt, 1985
Baby facts: Always loud; refused to keep mouth closed in photos
"Heaven," Bryan Adams
What started out as a good song choice for Erika quickly morphed into a strange, overwhelming version of the original. I blame Iovine! (Just kinding, Iovine does no wrong in my eyes). There were some strong moments, but for the most part it fell flat. "You are this year's Janis Joplin, as far as I'm concerned," says J.Lo. "The arrangement left us a little... wanting more."
Speaking of wanting more — time for Seacrest to drop the bomb about the Idol criminal. To the surprise of no one, it's Jermaine Jones — the news leaked everywhere last night. The show's producers sit Jermaine down and proceed to read off his criminal charges, one of which, was giving a fake name to police — Joel Jones! Can you believe the creativity he must have channeled to come up with that one? We learn that there are four active warrants out for Jermaine's arrest, which begs the question: Who is dumber? The producers for not finding out sooner, or Jermaine, for thinking he could get away with being on a show that averages 18 million viewers? There is no correct answer here, because the whole situation is impossibly stupid. They send Jermaine on his way, and everyone feigns devastation.
But no one's getting off easy this week. Tomorrow, it's business as usual — and someone will be sent home. Back to the singers.
Skylar Laine, 1994
Baby facts: Dad calls her a handful, head-banger; mom described her as "a mess"
"Love Sneakin' Up On You," Bonnie Raitt
This was probably my least favorite of Skylar's performances so far. For a girl with unbelievable power, the song and the background melody seemed to eat her alive. She gave us the same enthusiasm and fervor as usual, but overall, there was nothing special about her tonight. The judges all say they like it ("You came out and rocked it," says Randy), but to me, they seemed to be a bit indifferent about it.
Joshua Ledet, 1992
Baby facts: Youngest of eight; always wanted to sing in church
"When a Man Loves a Woman," Michael Bolton
Hands down, one of the best of the night, and Joshua's most passionate performance yet. He owned the stage, and had everyone — including the judges — on their feet. It's hard to put a finger on exactly why this performance was incredibly special... it was just so apparent how much Joshua was feeling it tonight. "That was phenomenal, incredible on every level," says Randy, and before he can finish... "The best thing I've ever seen on American Idol," interrupts J. Lo. A bold statement, Ms. Lopez. But well-deserved.
Hollie Cavanaugh, 1993
Baby facts: Extremely untidy; parents didn't know she had music ability
"The Power of Love," Celine Dion
Hollie is undeniably talented, and she further confirmed it with her Celine rendition tonight. But at this stage in the game, when every single move is scrutinized, I think the song choice was a major misstep for Hollie. It just seemed... old. In fact, the whole thing seemed old. And that dowdy dress did not help her case either. The judges don't feel the same. "There was a little pitch here and there, but your performance was great," says Steven.
So that's it. Am I being insensitive about Jermaine? Are you going to miss him? Did you think Joshua's performance was the best thing you've ever seen on Idol? Who's going home tomorrow? Weigh in below!