“American Idol”‘s remaining nine contestants competed for the nation’s vote Wednesday night by singing songs from their own musical idols.
The Idols kicked the show off by getting their fashions together for the week with Tommy Hilfiger, while Jimmy Iovine brought in Stevie Nicks to help with the mentoring sessions.
Judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were there to share their thoughts, and the contestants sang in trios in addition to their regular solo spots.
Here’s what happened:
Stevie Nicks told Colton Dixon not to let anyone tell him to cut his signature mohawk-style hair for the rest of the season. Colton was glad someone finally understood his connection to the hair, and hoped to get his musical style across by singing the Christian worship song “Everything” by Lifehouse. The performance featured a string section and continued Colton’s preference for making obscure song choices. Steven said Colton was “a dream come true” for an “Idol” judge. Jennifer was really moved by Colton’s delivery, and Randy said Colton had believability and could win the whole competition.
Skylar Laine is clearly influenced by Miranda Lambert, so it was no surprise she went with the country star’s fiery hit “Gunpowder and Lead.” Stevie Nicks actually sang backup for Skylar in the mentor session and told her to really deliver the story of the song. Jennifer said Skylar brought unbridled energy and thought it was a perfect song for her. Steven said it was “over the top,” and Randy loved that Skylar showed off her vocal range at the end.
The first trio of the night was made up of Colton, Elise Testone and Phillip Phillips. They paid tribute to this week’s mentor Stevie Nicks, singing her Fleetwood Mac classic “Landslide” before kicking it up a notch with the solo hit “Edge of Seventeen.” The medley ended with a reading of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.” Steven called the trio “most excellent.”
Heejun Han returned to his ballad comfort zone singing the Donny Hathaway version of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” this week. He hoped to impress viewers after landing in the bottom three last week. The judges gave him a standing ovation this week. Steven said Heejun really turned it around this week by letting his natural talent shine. Jennifer said Heejun’s voice was beautiful, and praised him for really connecting this week. Randy said it wasn’t perfect, but this week’s performance reminded him why Heejun was still in the competition.
Hollie Cavanagh took on former “Idol” champ Carrie Underwood’s debut hit “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” and Stevie tore up during the mentoring session thinking of her mother, who died two months ago. Hollie and Stevie really bonded over the song in the mentoring session, and Hollie seemed to take that emotion onstage with her as she sang. Randy said Hollie did a great job with it, though there were a few pitch problems. Jennifer disagreed with Randy, saying it was one of Hollie’s best performances yet. Steven didn’t like the song choice because it didn’t showcase Hollie’s vocal range.
Deandre Brackensick went with Eric Benet’s “Sometimes I Cry,” and Stevie encouraged him to slow the tempo down. This song really allowed Deandre to use his signature falsetto throughout. Steven said it was “100 percent passion,” and Jennifer called Deandre’s voice one of the most special voices in the competition. Randy loved seeing Deandre go back to his R&B foundation.
Jessica Sanchez took on Beyonce’s up-tempo hit “Sweet Dreams” and slowed the tempo down to make it a ballad. Beyonce actually did the same thing during a run of shows at the Wynn Las Vegas a few years back, and Jessica virtually recreated Beyonce’s vocal intricate vocal runs for this performance. Jennifer thought it was a beautiful rendition of the song and it left her wanting more. Steven called it “delicious” and “beautiful” and Randy said Jessica was the best singer he’s heard in years.
Deande, Heejun and Joshua Ledet delivered the second trio number of the night with a tribute to Michael Jackson. It started off with “The Lady in My Life” from “Thriller” and then went into “Rock with You” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).” Jennifer thought their voices were great, but she joked their dance moves were good enough for a spot on “So You Think You Can Dance”.
Phillip Phillips sang the Jonny Lang song “Still Rainin” this week because he identified with Jonny’s voice. Stevie predicted Phillip would become very famous and even said he could have been a member of Fleetwood Mac in their ’70s heyday. The judges gave Phillip a standing ovation for his passionate performance. Jennifer said Phillip was very present when he sings and said the performance was amazing. Steven agreed, saying Phillip owns every song he sings, and Randy praised Phillip’s individuality and gave him big props.
Joshua Ledet chose to sing Mariah Carey’s version of Harry Nilsson’s “Without You,” since she is one of his idols. Stevie and Jimmy told him he had to really nail this song, or he’d be toast. Joshus was surprisingly restrained through most of the song and became overcome with emotion towards the end. The judges gave yet another standing ovation for this performance. Randy said Mariah would be very proud of Joshua this week, and called the performance flawless. Steven said Joshua pushed himself a lot, and Jennifer called Joshua a “phenom” and an “angel from heaven.”
Hollie, Skylar and Jessica performed a Madonna medley for the final trio number of the night. They kicked it off with “Like a Prayer” before launching into “Borderline” and finishing with “Express Yourself.” Randy said it was fun and enjoyed Skylar putting her twang on some Madonna hits.
Elise Testone gave the night’s final performance with Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” She’d sung the song before with her band, and Jimmy said she killed it. Elise and Stevie had some fun singing Stevie’s Fleetwood Mac hit “Dreams” during the mentoring session. Stevie said she’d hire Elise to sing with her in a second. Elise definitely had a rock goddess vibe going on for the actual performance. The judges gave yet another standing ovation for Elise. Jennifer said Elise made them give her that standing ovation, and Steven said she made Robert Plant proud with that performance. Randy congratulated Elise on an amazing performance.
During Wednesday night’s show, host Ryan Seacrest announced the launch of the Coca Cola Perfect Harmony songwriting contest. This season, the celebrity collaborator is urban star Jason DeRulo. Jason took the stage wearing a blinged-out neck brace because he broke his neck rehearsing for his tour earlier this year. He was inspired by his injury to write the new song, “Undefeated,” and fans can help him finish the tune. Details are at AmericanIdol.com. Jason will perform the finished song on the Idol finale May 22. Jordin Sparks and Dionne Warwick were also in the audience this week.
Someone is going home on Thursday night’s “American Idol” results show airing at 8:00 Eastern time on Fox. Reigning “Idol” champ Scotty McCreery is set to sing his new single “Water Tower Town” on the show, and Nicki Minaj will perform too.