American Idol 11: Top 13 Perform

Tonight is American Idol’s 400th episode. Mary J. Blige is their mentor this week. It’s Whitney Houston or Stevie Wonder week.

Joshua Ledet starts off the show doing “I Wish” by Stevie. He’s out in a skinny suit kinda looking like Erkel a bit if you asked me. A dancing brass section joins him while he brings a real growl to the low end. His voice is much bigger than his body. Pretty solid performance, high energy. Randy Jackson liked him doing a rocking number instead of ballads, flawless. Jennifer Lopez, whose hair looks great tonight, really felt it. Steven Tyler says he nailed it.

Elise Testone is doing Whitney’s “The Greatest Love of All”. Tough song. She has to go big or go home. She switches it up and decides to do “I’m Your Baby Tonight” for the show. Safer I guess. She’s singing it pretty well but it seems a bit mechanical to me. Like a mechanical wedding singer actually. Decent job, not great though. J-Lo says she has a great voice but it wasn’t her best. Steven says she has to find just the right song and this wasn’t right. Randy says she didn’t need to prove with every line that she has a great voice.

Jermaine Jones is bringing his deep voice to “Knocks me Off My Feet”. This might be first song he sings that’s not totally depressing. Well maybe I was off on that. There’s something about his voice that makes me sleepy. He’s got his thing I guess. I’m just not a fan of that thing. Steven says his voice fit the song perfectly. J-Lo would like to see him connect with the song more, loosen up a bit. Randy didn’t like the chorus but loved the verses and he just needs to relax.

Erika van Pelt is doing Whitney’s “I Believe”. Her voice is much lower and raspier than Whitney’s and it starts off a little uncomfortably low before she settles in towards the chorus and gives us a bit of a sultry belt-out and a slow pretty ending. Excellent performance EVP. RJ says she has an unbelievable tone and she can sing anything. JLo likes the way she interprets the songs and they really come alive.

Colton Dixon will be doing “Lately”. It’s not really his style but Jimmy Iovine says rely on your vulnerability. He’s out with a spiky do this week, kinda turning Stevie into a moody alt-rock number, vocally speaking. He’s really slowed the song down, holding out the long notes, sounding tortured and rocking with a falsetto at the end. Killed it. Just killed it. Steven Tyler says that was outstanding. J-Lo says he showed his heart which is why it was great. Randy says he was a little flat in the middle but nailed it by the end.

Shannon Magrane will be doing “I Have Nothing”. Mary J. Blige gives her some sage advice and we’re off into the spotlight. She has a big voice well suited for this type of big note song. It sounds a little pitchy or something off to me, like she’s really overthinking it instead of just feeling it. J-Lo agrees with me, saying the thinking got the best of her and she needs to relax. Steven says the nerves got the best of her and she crashed and burned.

Deandre Brackenstock and his hair will be doing Stevie’s “Master Blaster”. JImmy says it’s going to take more than just flopping hair to get through. Lucky for us, he’s got the mane tied back. I’m not sure if this scatting style song is really showing off his vocals enough but it’s pretty good energy and he only uses his falsetto at the end, so overall I’d say pretty decent. Steven says he took over the stage. JLo says he has rhythm, soul, and swagger. Randy says he showed a whole other side of him tonight and nobody wanted it to stop.

Skylar Laine will be doing “Where do Broken Hearts Go?” She could lend an interesting countrified take on it. Great song. She’s planted on a stool, really giving the song a nice twang. I’m really digging this and here comes the big notes which she is nailing with a strong vocal. She has a unique style, excellent job Skylar. JLo says this was the biggest moment of the night. Steven called it a thing of beauty, she climbed the ladder and nailed it. Randy says she proved she can sing any song.

Heejun Han is doing “All is Fair in Love”. He comes out in a cloud of smoke singing softly. It almost feels like a Broadway number, a ballad, just belting it out with the strings behind him. Beautiful. J-Lo says she loves him. Steven says he loves his voice, very special. Randy says it wasn’t perfect but it was really good.

Hollie Cavanagh will be singing “All the Man I Need”. Big song, can she handle it. She’s surrounded by a cool lighting effect that looks like a ton of candles onstage. She has a strong voice well suited for this song and she’s not afraid to use it. Confident and just giving it everything, huuuuuge note to end it there. Randy says she loves taking on big songs and she nailed it. J-Lo thinks she might be in the finals.

Jeremy Rosado is doing “Ribbon in the Sky”. He has a good voice for Stevie songs, soulful and melodic. I’m just not sure if this is the right song to prove to America that he deserves to stay. However, the crowd and judges seems to like it. Steven says he has a velvety smooth voice. JLo likes his interpretations of songs. Randy says it wasn’t his best, not enough swagger in it.

Jessica Sanchez is taking on “I Will Always Love You”. Small girl, big song. She starts off singing without the band, solo in the spotlight, soft and sweet before they join her for the chorus. She’s nailing it, it sounds just like Whitney Houston, which normally sounding too karaoke is bad but with a song this big it can’t be a bad thing. Bravo Jessica. Standing ovation from the judges. Randy says she is legit, one of the best talents in the whole country! Jennifer is speechless, says it was just amazing, beautiful. ST says she might be the one, she just made 40 million people cry.

Closing out the night is Phillip Phillips doing “Superstition”. He says it’s never been done how he’s going to do it. He’s out with his acoustic guitar. He sounds just like Dave Mathews to me, again. But hey, Dave Mathews doing “Superstition” is pretty good stuff. He’s growling, and rocking out with a full band and horn section. Fun fun performance. JLo was worried about him and says he made it his own. Randy liked his interpretation.

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