American Idol Episodes

2002, TV Show

American Idol Episode: "10 Finalists Compete"

Season 11, Episode 21
Episode Synopsis: The finalists perform.
Original Air Date: Mar 21, 2012

American Idol Pays Tribute to Billy Joel, Heejun Strips, and Diddy Rips Everyone Season 11, Episode 21

I'm not sure why, but tonight we start off with an "In Memoriam" style tribute to last week's eliminee Shannon Magrane. Guys... it's not like she died. She just happened to be the worst singer, and lowest vote-getter last week. She'll be fine.

It's a good thing we have Billy Joel to revive our spirits after that downer! Tonight, the remaining 10 contestants take on the songs of the piano man, and what mentor is more Billy Joel-appropriate than Sean "Diddy" Combs? I, personally, could think of over 100 more appropriate choices, but that's just me. As it turns out, Diddy was kind of amazing and his critiques were incredibly on-point. Dude does not beat around the bush, that's for sure. More on that later. Let's get to the performers, shall we?

Style icon and American designer Tommy Hilfiger is in the house tonight, and truly, his addition to the program could not have come sooner. Good Lord do these train wrecks need help! Specifically, Deandre Brackensick — who is singing "Only The Good Die Young." Jimmy Iovine reprimands him for being too serious while singing such an uptempo song, and Deandre overcompensates with a very forced, almost Prozac-induced gleeful performance. He's wearing an awesome outfit though, so major points to Figs (that's my pet name for Hilfiger, FYI). Like every single one of Deandre's performances before this, it was mediocre. "I wasn't jumping up and down because it didn't show me anything special," says Randy. "It didn't wow me."

Diddy tells Erika VanPelt that in order to sing "New York State of Mind," you "gotta be a New Yawka." Which is just the boost of confidence a Rhode Island-native needs right before she performs in front of millions! She takes the stage debuting a darker, shorter, sleeker, Tommy Hilfiger-inspired 'do — it's positively polished and perfect. Another win for Figs. Her performance, on the other hand, was just so-so. The judges and I seemed to be agreement: it felt a bit constrained. "I'd love to see you more let loose vocally, but also let loose all through your body," says J.Lo.

Last week's standout Joshua Ledet is singing "She's Got a Way" -- a song that Steven Tyler has allegedly never heard of. For real. He actually admits this during his critique. Baffling! Anyway, it's a departure from Josh's soulful roots, but in spite of this, he manages to make the song work for him. It certainly isn't his best performance, but it also isn't his worst. J. Lo and Steven didn't buy it. "In the end when the choir came out, you made it your own," says Randy. "It was kind of a half/half for me. But, you're still one of the greatest singers here."

Boot-crazy Skylar Laine performs "Shameless" (sans boots), and for me, there were a few strange moments. For starters, it seemed like she was talking her way through the intro, and then...all of a sudden she was caressing a guy playing with a synthesizer on stage? What in the hell was that? It got better toward the end when she started to belt out the song, but ultimately it was still kind of pitchy and...eh. "I'm amazed that every time you hear the chorus you sing it with such conviction," says Steven. "It may be a little pitchy but you still breathe life into a song."

Elise Testone, who has been in the bottom for the past two weeks, will attempt to change her fate tonight. Unfortunately even though she's one of this season's most unique singers, I just don't think the audience is connecting with her. She sings "Vienna," and it was a stunning performance. The song choice was perfectly suited to her raspy tone, and more than ever before, she seemed confident and totally committed to it. If she finds herself in the bottom again tomorrow, it won't be because of a poor performance. "I'm so happy for you! Everbody got to see your personality for the first time. And it was really beautiful," says J. Lo.

Phillip Phillips, fashion disaster and owner of a booming pawn shop business, takes the stage to sing "Movin' Out." Whenever Phillip sings, and especially tonight, the intensity in his stare is just... what was I saying again? Those twinkling blue eyes, and the way he moves while he's singing — if that performance doesn't get every single female vote from tweens to Golden Girls, I don't know what will. "You know who you are. You are an unbelievably talented artist. That's one of the best renditions of that song ever," says Randy while lifting his jaw off the ground along with every lady in America.

Diva dog owner and sometimes-Brit Hollie Cavanaugh sings "Honesty," and while she's attempting a more age-appropriate look tonight, I really don't think she accomplished it. The performance was a little too mature for an 18-year-old, and the thing that ordinarily compensates for this — her stellar vocals — also didn't deliver. "Tonight you were a little pitchy. It seemed like you were overtaking the song a little bit," says Steven.

"I don't know if he's an actor...or a con man?" says Diddy, about the loveable Korean-born Heejun Han. "I don't know if he's even Asian. He may be black. I haven't figured him out yet." Which is, incidentally, what everyone else has been thinking this entire time. Anyway, the con man/questionable Asian/actor takes the stage and something suuuuper awkward happens: just as the piano guy leads Heejun into the intro, Heejun lets out an exhasperated sigh, and then stops — seemingly having forgotten the lyrics — and says to the piano man, "Sorry. That's just much too slow for me. And I wanna dance!" Next thing we know, Heejun is ripping off his clothes, and bopping around the stage to "This Is My Life." Vocally, it wasn't the best thing I've ever heard, but it was fun, unexpected, and a refreshing change from his typically solemn ballads. Props to the con man for taking a risk! "I loved that you brought a little fun to tonight," says J. Lo. "I think that you didn't hit the vocal exactly the way that you would have liked to... but it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it."

Apparently Diddy has made it his business to kick a-- and take names tonight — and front-runner Jessica Sanchez is no exception. He basically calls her a show-off and tells her to chill with the oversinging and "tricks." Here's what we've confirmed tonight about Diddy: He has the ability to make just about anyone feel like a piece of crap. She sings "Everybody Has a Dream," and it's a classic, blow-out performance that we've grown to expect from Jessica. It was powerful yet effortless at the same time. "When God was giving out vocal chords, you were soooo at the front of the line. I've got nothing to say except thank you for letting me hear you sing, baby," says Steven.

Edgy punker rocker Colton Dixon finishes us off this evening, and FINALLY — someone calls him out on his hair. In this case, that someone just so happens to be Tommy Hilfiger. Not surprisingly, Colton takes the stage and his hair is exactly the same, which is a bit of an "F you" to the world-renowned clothing designer. Tonight, Colton is making his big return to the piano for the appropriately selected "Piano Man." It was an engaging and melodic performance — it allowed Colton a significant amount of creative freedom, but he still stayed true to the essence of the original. "You gave a very sensitive, touching, moving performance," says Randy. "You definitely are a rock star. Stay individual."

So what did you think, guys? Are you campaigning for presidency of the Phillip Phillips Fan Club like me? Are you staying loyal to Jessica Sanchez? Or do you have another favorite altogether? Let us know your thoughts below!

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I'm not sure why, but tonight we start off with an "In Memoriam" style tribute to last week's eliminee Shannon Magrane. Guys... it's not like she died. She just happened to be the worst singer, and lowest vote-getter last week. She'll be fine.

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Premiered: June 11, 2002, on FOX
Rating: TV-PG
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Premise: The smash reality series showcases wannabe pop stars competing for a record deal by crooning for a panel of judges, including, most entertainingly, the acid-tongued Simon Cowell, who departed the show in 2010 after serving for nine seasons. The judges review a performer's talent (or lack thereof), and at-home viewers then vote for their favorite potential star. The show helped launch the careers of such artists as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert.

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