‘American Idol’ Top 11: Bad SongChoices and Disqualifications

Jermaine Jones, the proclaimed
“gentle giant” who was brought
back to the show after being
eliminated prior to the semifinals,
was announced Wednesday night
(March 14) to be off “American
Idol” — for good this time.
His elimination follows the
revelation of a previously-
unknown criminal record, and as
executive producer Nigel Lythgoe
stated in an interview with
Jermaine, the show is not allowed
to have contestants with arrest
Though most knew of the
elimination prior to the episode’s
airing, it was revealed officially
about halfway through the show.
Why did “Idol” televise Lythgoe
and Ken Warwick’s talk with
Jermaine? Your guess is as good
as mine. Perhaps producers
expected the singer to break
down into tears as he did when
he was first eliminated. Was it a
ratings grab?
So with one contestant already
out, you might think the
remaining 11 would be safe this
week. Nay! The show will still
eliminate another one of its own
Thursday night.
The theme was “Songs from the
Year You Were Born,” which is
always a great way to make
viewers feel suuuuper old. The
range this year was 1983 to 1995
Song choice was an issue,
according to both the coaching
team of Jimmy Iovine and guest
will.i.am **, as well as the three
judges. Very rarely did a
performance end without
someone noting this. Perhaps,
then, the powers that be should
be putting better tunes on the
potential songs list?
As usual, here are my picks for
the singers who will be through
to the next round, who should be
through, and who may be in
trouble. I feel pretty good about
these picks, but as we saw last
week with Joshua Ledet, even I
have my off-weeks.
Definitely in:
Joshua Ledet – “When a Man
Loves a Woman”
I know, I know — if he was in the
bottom three last week, is he
really a definitive yes? Are viewers
even feeling the guy? After last
night, they should be. J-Lo called
his performance “the best thing
she’s ever seen” on “Idol,” and all
three judges were on their feet —
halfway through the song. Joshua
showcased a brilliant falsetto that
might leave even Deandre
squirming. Even if he’s in the
bottom again — and dare I say it,
the lowest vote-getter — he’ll be
fine, because the judges WILL use
their save on him.
Hollie Cavanagh – “Power of
Hollie had been a bit quiet until
last week, when she took on “All
the Man That I Need.” This week?
Celine Dion **. Concerned yet? Go
ahead, it’s okay to be. It’s a big
song, but Hollie pulled it off nicely.
She was pitchy in some parts, but
she does power ballads in the
way J-Lo thinks Erika Van Pelt can
do them (and in the way Erika
wishes she could). Winning
potential? Maybe not just yet, but
she’s improving.
Phillip Phillips – “Hard to Handle”
I’m probably never going to be
able to say that Phillip’s got even
a shot of going home until the
very end — the cheers from the
crowd last night solidified this.
He’s a popular guy, and his
rendition of the Black Crowes’ **
version of “Hard to Handle” fit him
like a glove. He performed with
no guitar, which was weird to
see (remember when Crystal
Bowersox ** performed alone
two years ago?), but even after a
kidney stone operation days
before, he’s still one of the men to
Skylar Laine – “Love’s Sneakin’
Up on You”
Skylar and BONNIE RAITT — a fine
combination. After being dubbed
‘ghuntry’ – ghetto country — by
will.i.am, the country girl came out
with a rockin’ version of the tune
that showed off her country
pipes yet again. It was nothing
spectacular, but it was yet
another solid performance from
the teenager — and at this stage
in the contest, consistency is
Probably in:
Jessica Sanchez – “Turn the Beat
Here’s where the song choice
woes began. Jessica sang the up-
tempo Gloria Estefan ** hit, but
the judges seemed to be
expecting another ballad. Why
pigeonhole her? Sure, staying
within your comfort zone works,
but very rarely do singers make a
career of singing just slow
ballads, so I’m not sure what the
judges want here. But Jessica still
commanded attention with the
performance, with only minor
pitch issues, so it’s hard to see
her leaving just yet.
Colton Dixon – “Broken Heart”
Colton sang a song that
apparently no one knew (what?!
No one remembers two-hit
wonder WHITE LION? For
shame!). Verdict? A solid
performance for the rocker,
who’s beginning to show a
frontman’s presence with his
performances. According to
will.i.am, the song is now Colton’s.
According to Steven Tyler, it was
the wrong song choice. Can’t win
them all, I suppose. But the
performance should keep his
fanbase fairly happy.
Elise Testone – “Let’s Stay
I’m saying this in my best
pleading voice, guys — can we
PLEASE keep Elise around this
week? If her performance was
any indication of how the votes
will go, she’s good. But barely
being saved over Jeremy Rosado
last week causes concern. She did
the TINA TURNER version of the
song, and the rasp and unique
tone of her voice was perfect for
it. “Elise is back!” proclaimed
Randy. Let’s see if the voters
In trouble:
Deandre Brackensick – “Endless
The coaches thought Deandre’s
first choice — “Can You Feel the
Love Tonight” — was a wrong
step, so they chose another song
for him. And you could tell he
wasn’t feeling it through the
entire performance, especially at
the song’s end. That doesn’t bode
well for Deandre, who needs solid
showings every week in order to
stay alive. I’m glad he’s not relying
on his falsetto like he was early
on, but this was just uninspired.
I’m not blaming him for it, but
something good needs to happen
for him and his luscious hair
Erika Van Pelt – “Heaven”
Erika’s issue — as it has been
since she joined the competition
— is connecting with the
audience. I don’t want to call her
performance of the BRYAN
ADAMS classic karaoke-esque,
because the vocal was much
better than that. But Erika simply
isn’t giving the performances that
will make viewers want to vote
for her. This is a singing
competition, yes, but there needs
to be more to the performance
than the vocal.
Heejun Han – “Right Here
Would it pain the guy to move
around when he sings? The fan
favorite is starting to get really
boring, really fast. His Richard
Marx ** cover was just about the
same showing we’ve seen from
him each time. He sang, he stared
into the camera, and he took
Michael Stipe’s advice of standing
in the place where you work. If
Heejun stays next week, he needs
to make his performance a little
more exciting.
Shannon Magrane – “One Sweet
Shannon needs to catch up to the
other contestants in a hurry,
because they’re starting to leave
her in the dust. There’s been no
progression with the young
singer, and she tackled a big song
by attempting Mariah Carey **.
She’s just not good enough to do
that, and it showed. She’s young
and has potential, but she’s just
not showing it these last few
weeks. I see Shannon being most
in trouble this week, along with
What did you think of the
contestants’ song choices?
Should the judges and coaches
lay off or keep bringing the pain?
Do you miss Jermaine? Who’s
your vote this week and who’s
going home? Tell us in the
comments, and check out the
results show tonight at 8 p.m. on


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