‘American Idol”s top 10 contestants sang the songs of Billy Joel Wednesday night as music mogul Jimmy Iovine brought in Diddy to help coach the contestants on their performances. Designer Tommy Hilfiger was on hand to help them work out their clothes, and Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson offered their opinions from the judges’ table.
Here’s what happened:
DeAndre Brackensick was up first, singing “Only the Good Die Young,” and Jimmy told him to have fun with it. DeAndre worked the stage well, but he looked like he was concentrating on remembering the lyrics for most of the performance. Steven thought it was a little too happy, and Jennifer thought it showcased who DeAndre is as a performer. Randy wasn’t jumping up and down over it, but he thought it was “Okay.”
Erika Van Pelt knew “New York State of Mind” was an anthem for New Yorkers going into it. Jimmy and Diddy warned her about over singing. As for her style, Tommy convinced Erika to chop her hair off and dye it black. It was a stunning transformation, and the new look paired nicely with Erika’s smoky yet strong voice. Randy loved the new look, and he also loved her vocals. Jennifer didn’t even recognize Erika when she hit the stage, and encouraged her to engage her body a bit more in future performances. Steven called Erika’s performance “outstanding.”
Joshua Ledet wore a tailored, upscale look at Hilfiger’s suggestion. As for his song choice, Joshua went with “She’s Got a Way,” which he didn’t know before the competition. It was a challenge for Joshua to connect the song to his soul and gospel background at first. He definitely put that soul stamp on it for the performance and was backed up by a 10-piece vocal group for the big finish. Jennifer didn’t feel that Joshua connected with the lyrics very well. Steven had surprisingly never heard “She’s Got a Way” before and said Joshua made it come to life for him. Randy saw where Jennifer and Steven were coming from and encouraged Joshua to be confident in his talent.
Skylar Laine chose to sing “Shameless,” the Billy Joel song Garth Brooks turned into a country smash. Diddy told her not to force it, and Skylar ended up getting Diddy’s autograph. Hilfiger incorporated Skylar’s boots into her new look. Skylar showed off her fiery personality with this performance, but the song didn’t do much to showcase her vocals until the very end. Randy mistakenly thought Brad Paisley had the country hit on “Shameless,” but Skylar gently corrected him. He thought she had pitch problems at the beginning and said it was pretty good. Jennifer said Skylar was fearless, and Steven said she breathed life into the song.
Elise Testone chose Billy’s song “Vienna,” but Jimmy was afraid that no one would know it. Elise seemed to be in her comfort zone vocally though. She was in full control of her performance from start to finish, and the judges ended up giving her a standing ovation. Steven said she had so much heart with this one, and Jennifer thought everyone could see Elise’s personality for the first time. Randy called Elise unbelievably talented, and applauded her complicated vocal run at the end.
Phillip Phillips was taken to the fashion woodshed by Tommy Hilfiger, who said Phillip may lose votes for his shabby style. Phillip chose to sing “Movin’ Out,” and Diddy had him put down the guitar during rehearsals to get Phillip out of his comfort zone. The guitar was back for the actual performance, and Phillip seemed to channel Dave Matthews more than ever this time around. Jennifer felt like Phillip was taking out aggression against the mentors for trying to change him in the performance. She went on to say the fans love Phillip as he is though. Steven said he “Phillip Phillipsed” that song, and threw Phillip a shiny scarf to jazz up his outfit. Randy also applauded Phillip for staying true to who he is.
Hollie Cavanagh got an updated look for her performance of “Honesty” wearing a shimmering white pant suit with a little midriff showing below her silver top. Diddy gave her perspective on the anger behind the song, and Hollie’s performance played to her dramatic, diva strengths. Steven called her one of the grand singers of the show, but told her she was a bit pitchy tonight. Jennifer told her she had to know every note of the tune to really nail these big songs. Randy said Hollie was better than the vocal performance she turned in last Wednesday night.
Heejun Han was freaked out after getting criticized by the judges last week, but he still had fun messing with Tommy Hilfiger when they tried to pick out his outfit for the week. Heejun started out in a tuxedo singing a slow song, but then he told the piano player to turn it up a notch. Heejun ripped the tux off to reveal a casual outfit and finally had a lot of fun onstage singing “My Life.” Jennifer loved the fun vibe, calling it a breath of fresh air, though his vocals were off at times. Steven said Heejun would eventually have to start taking the music business seriously, and Randy liked seeing Heejun have a good time onstage.
Jessica Sanchez could be a fashion icon as well as a music icon according to Tommy Hilfiger. She chose to sing “Everybody Has a Dream,” and Diddy warned her about over singing the song. Jessica took his advice and turned in a nuanced and powerful performance onstage. Steven said, “When God was giving out vocal cords you were so at the front of the line.” Jennifer thought this was a defining moment for Jessica, and Randy called it “flawless” and “perfect.”
Colton Dixon got some grief from Hilfiger about his mohawk-style hair before sitting at the piano to perform “Piano Man.” Diddy said he wanted to buy a recording of Colton singing the song once the rehearsal was over. Colton sang the song straight until the very end when a key change kicked it into power ballad territory. Jennifer said Colton sang with pure feeling, and Steven said his musical choices were “stunning.” Randy said it was a “touching, moving performance” of a Billy Joel classic.
Somebody’s going home on ‘American Idol”s results show Thursday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Fox. Season 10 finalist Haley Reinhart returns to the show to sing her new single “Free.”