American Idol Episodes

2002, TV Show

American Idol Episode: "9 Finalists Compete"

Season 11, Episode 23
Episode Synopsis: The finalists perform songs by their own idols.
Original Air Date: Mar 28, 2012

American Idol: The Night of Five Standing Ovations Season 11, Episode 23

Tonight the final nine will be channeling their own personal icons. "It's gonna be our idols taking on their idols!" says Seacrest. Awwww... a play on words for Ry Ry! So cute. Speaking of cute — how fabulous do the finalists look this evening? They're all coordinated in black, white and metallic and it seems like Hilfiger might finally be getting through to them.

Curveball! Tonight, they're also going to be performing in trios. And Stevie Nicks will mentor. Will she live up to the legend of Diddy? We're about to find out...

Church-going Colton Dixon kicks the night off with his favorite worship song, "Everything," by Lifehouse. Which is shocking, mostly because I was unaware Lifehouse had a song other than "Hanging By a Moment." Stevie calls him the "third dark horse." Colton looks particularly ethereal tonight. As a whole, the performance didn't do it for me. Admittedly, I might be bias because I've never heard that song before — and I'll go out on a limb and say the audience feels the same. In spite of this, we can tell how emotional the song is for him, because he made a really ugly cry-face at the end. But apparently the joke's on me, because the judges loved it. "That performance was unbelievable," says Randy.

Miranda Lambert is Skylar Laine's idol... too bad she didn't try out for The Voice! (Lambert's a mentor and judge Blake Shelton's wife). She sings "Gunpowder and Lead," and it's definitely a more upbeat and lively performance than Colton's. I appreciate her enthusiasm, but at certain points she starts going so excitedly nuts on stage it's like she's having a seizure. Overkill. There are some weak moments when the pitch goes lower than Skylar can handle (she's battled this issue in the past), but overall I think it was an appropriate, better-than-average performance for her. "Skylar, that was over the top," says Steven. "That was beautiful, good for you."

TRIO TIME: Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac
Colton — "Landslide"
Elise — "Edge of Seventeen"
Phillip — "Don't Stop"
An awesome performance. Perhaps the best group number we've seen so far — each song could not have suited its singer better. Love all around.

Heejun (or Hee-new-jun, according to Jimmy) decided he's going to start taking the competition more seriously after the Billy Joel debacle. He's selected "A Song For You," by Donny Hathaway, and it could not have been more different than last week. It was a moving performance, and I was surprised by his sophistication. Equally as shocked, the judges lauded his performance with a standing ovation. "You have that buttery, beautiful tone. Finally the Heejun that we selected came back to us tonight," says Randy.

Coca-Cola probably thought that by bringing Jason Derulo on stage in a blinged out neckbrace people might pay attention to their promo. But all I heard was "Blah, blah, blah, Coca-Cola plug, blah blah blah." #MarketingFail

Like Colton, Hollie Cavanaugh is bringing her religious game face tonight with "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood. During rehearsal, Stevie Nicks tells her she needs to be more emotional, and goes off on a super depressing tangent about how her mom just died and she has no problems anymore. Hollie just kind of stood there, awkwardly. Her performance is very typical Hollie — powerful and controlled — but it's still missing a spark, and ultimately, that's why she doesn't have a chance to win the competition. Crazy thing, though. Jesus totally took the wheel during the song because it started snowing on stage! Real, actual snow... in Hollywood! I know, I couldn't believe it either. "I don't think it was perfect. There were some pitchy moments in there," says Randy.

Deandre (who coincidentally has the same hair Stevie Nicks once had), sings "Sometimes I Cry" by Eric Benet. While I think it was one of his better performances, I still find the high-pitched situation to be really annoying. Like if I were sent into a torture chamber, someone could play Deandre on repeat and I would inevitably go insane. But maybe I'm in the minority, because the judges sang his praises. "You have one of the most special voices in the competition. People pick up your phones and vote for Deandre!" says J. Lo.

It's a night of ballads, and Jessica Sanchez continues the trend with a slowed-down version of Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams." I was really digging the performance until I began to analyze the significance of all those red doors on stage. What was with that? Trying to escape the nightmare? Who knows. Anyway, Jessica was fantastic per usual. She demonstrated restraint and control better than she ever has before. "You really know your notes. It was delicious. It was beautiful," says Steven.

TRIO TIME: Michael Jackson
Deandre — "Rock With You"
Heejun — Totally got shafted! No solo for Hee-new-jun
Joshua — "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
If it weren't for Joshua, this would have been a nightmare. Deandre whispered the entire time, and Heejun clearly can't dance in unison with others.

"I think he's going to be very famous," says Stevie Nicks, about heartthrob Phillip Phillips. She also tells him he could have been a member of Fleetwood Mac back in the day. Sounds like someone is trying to steal my man. I don't blame her though. He chooses Jonny Lang's "Still Rainin'," and it pains me to say this — but it wasn't my favorite performance of his. It seemed a little... predictable? Also: Hilfiger needs to stage in intervention. The baggy jeans and corduroy blazer say "down-home country boy" instead of  "future American Idol Superstar." Fashion emergency aside, he still had more passion than most of the contestants combined. "I love the artist that you are, I love the individuality. You got big things in front of you," says Randy. "I loved it."

Joshua Ledet is attempting to touch the untouchable. He's chosen Mariah Carey's "Without You," one of the most challenging five songs you could ever sing in pop music, according to Iovine. But if anyone is capable of executing this song, it's Joshua. And based on that performance, capable would be an understatement. It was brilliant, heartfelt and truly did the song justice. His tearful breakdown at the end sealed the deal. Easily the evening's top performer. The judges were floored. "You are an absolute angel from heaven," says J. Lo. "That voice is a God-send."

TRIO TIME: Madonna
Jessica — "Like a Prayer"
Hollie — "Borderline"
Skylar — "Express Yourself"
Boring. Is it just me or did they seem tired? Not enough practice, maybe? Skylar was the group's standout, but that isn't saying much. Guys, this is Madonna — it should be fun!

Elise Testone is taking on "Whole Lotta Love," by Led Zeppelin, and Stevie Nicks thinks this could be her night. The performance as a whole was orchestrated perfectly — from her '60s/'70s-inspired outfit, to the flashing lights, and rocking band. Hands down, Elise's best performance so far. It was unique and intense — and best of all, it seemed like she really had fun with it. The audience roared as the song ended. "That's the hardest song in the world to sing. All the flavor you put in that... you did an amazing job. Congrats!" says Randy.

So who did it for you tonight? Would you rather rock out with Elise, or get snowed in with Hollie? Do you think Joshua nailed Mariah? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Tonight the final nine will be channeling their own personal icons. "It's gonna be our idols taking on their idols!" says Seacrest. Awwww... a play on words for Ry Ry! So cute. Speaking of cute — how fabulous do the finalists look this evening? They're all coordinated in black, white and metallic and it seems like Hilfiger might finally be getting through to them.

Curveball! Tonight, they're also going to be performing in trios. And Stevie Nicks will mentor. Will she live up to the legend of Diddy? We're about to find out...

Church-going Colton Dixon kicks the night off with his favorite worship song, "Everything," by Lifehouse. Which is shocking, mostly because I was unaware Lifehouse had a song other than... read more

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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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