'American Idol' Recap: In a Billy Joel State of Mind
In a world where pre-packaged musical artists are becoming more and more prominent every year, there's something to be said for staying true to oneself, as a certain "American Idol" contestant did on Wednesday night (Mar. 21).
Phillip Phillips, "American Idol's" guy-with-guitar rocker of the 11th season, has done very little to change his good ol' boy image since the season began. He's remained a player in the competition due to his handsome stature, raspy voice and advanced guitar playing.
But Wednesday night (March 21) marked the beginning of fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger's appearances on the show. Hilfiger's purpose? Help the budding stars find their fashion sense. While the decision to bring him on as a consultant may not be wholly necessary, it seems to be the nature of the beast these days.
But Phillip was unfazed. Rather than taking Hilfiger's advice, he stuck to his guns. The designer told him not to wear gray, as it's apparently the worst possible color to wear on TV. What did he wear? Gray on gray.
Avoiding the advice of others seemed to work for Phillip on Wednesday night, but quite a few singers actually did take the advice of Hilfiger and mentors Jimmy Iovine and guest Diddy to heart, while others decided to stay with what they know.
What worked for which contestant on a night of Billy Joel songs? Here's a list of the singers, broken into those who will probably stick around another week and those who could be in trouble Thursday night.
Colton Dixon - "Piano Man"
Colton got the hotly-contested "pimp spot" Wednesday, possibly because he sang the one Billy Joel song everyone knows. Of course, he's also the only contestant that's shown he can play the piano fairly soundly, which helped his cause with the song. His performance of "Piano Man" was updated for the "Twilight" generation, and judging by the chorus of voices chanting his name at song's end, that should mean good tidings for the singer.
Joshua Ledet - "She's Got a Way"
Here's the thing about Joshua's performance: if you've heard the original, it's probably not your bag. If it was your first time hearing the tune, you probably found it to be yet another astounding performance from the singer. So, take your pick. I thought Joshua did the best he could with "She's Got a Way" considering he'd never heard the song before -- not surprisingly, Billy Joel isn't his forte. Jennifer didn't think he felt the lyrics, while Steven thought he sang his life into the song. The performance is polarizing, but I think the general consensus will be positive.
Skylar Laine - "Shameless"
Another solid performance from the country girl. "Shameless" has been recorded by Garth Brooks as well, so her twangy rendition of the song was neither new nor special. But Skylar has shown week after week that she can get the job done with relative ease. Skylar may still need a moment -- and this wasn't it -- but it'll be enough to keep her in.
Jessica Sanchez - "Everybody Has a Dream"
Jessica rebounded from a subpar performance last week to turn in a pretty little ballad, warranting a standing ovation by song's end from the judges. She had to convince Diddy first, after the rapper claimed he didn't believe her when she sang. Frankly, I still didn't once the actual performance happened. Her singing was pitchy in places and sometimes she oversang the song, but she was still near the top of the heap.
Phillip Phillips - "Movin' Out"
I wasn't a fan of Phillip's performance this week, but it's hard to dispute his popularity, so considering him in danger of going home would be asinine. Phillip went against Hilfiger's advice, wearing as much gray as possible. He also went against the mentors' advice, playing his guitar when they told him to try the song without it. So, I guess we can expect him to be doing the exact same thing all season. Could it hurt him? Maybe in the long run. And while "Movin' Out" was a solid song for him and certainly had an aggressive feel, he still needs a big moment to solidify his standing in the competition.
Hollie Cavanagh - "Honesty"
I may catch some backlash putting her down here, but Hollie's starting to tire for me, and I have a feeling America could feel the same way very soon. Hilfiger decided to dress her down, which was a good move, but there's still something missing with her performances. What sets Jessica apart from Hollie is her ability to hit the high notes every single time; Hollie isn't as consistent. Plus, she doesn't have much of a singing presence. Steven said she was over-thinking the song -- that sounds about right to me.
Elise Testone - "Vienna"
Voters let me down last week putting Elise in the bottom three, and I have a very bad feeling this week will be more of the same. This is sad. Why? I thought Elise's rendition of "Vienna" was easily the best of the night. She was in her element taking on Billy Joel, with her rasp coming out in full effect. She was commanding onstage, drawing in the audience and showing remarkable control on the song's vocal runs. We talk about the singers having moments -- well, here's Elise's. So why's she down here on the list? Because she hasn't connected with America before tonight, and I don't think that's going to change.
Erika Van Pelt - "New York State of Mind
As opposed to Phillip, Erika took Hilfiger's advice and went all out with it. She named Pink as one of her favorite artists, and her new haircut -- reminiscent of the superstar's "Missundaztood" days, dyed black and cut short -- helped prove her point. Erika's rendition of "New York State of Mind" shows off her strong voice, and although she didn't go places with the song that I would've liked her to, she turned in a very good performance that I think will leave many wondering where she's been this competition. I put her down here because I don't know if the look change will actually help her enough.
Deandre Brackensick - "Only the Good Die Young"
Deandre got the first spot of the evening, which will never help your cause. With a performance like last night's, it's only going to hurt him more. The song needed a stronger singer, and Deandre's got more of an airy vocal suited to R&B. His fan support may keep him from going home this week, but I'll be very surprised if he isn't in the bottom three.
Heejun Han - "My Life"
Wednesday will be remembered as the night Heejun Han just started trolling everyone. Starting his performance off as he usually does -- i.e., with a ballad -- he turned to the piano player as though he forgot the words to the song. "Way, way too slow for me," he said. "I want to dance!" Then he ripped off his dinner jacket and went to town on the up-tempo "My Life," basically giving a big middle finger to anyone who wants to make him something he's not. It was hilarious, but goodness, was it bad -- nearly on par with Sanjaya Malakar singing "You Really Got Me." Steven told him he should take the music business more seriously. You know he's not going to, though. And that's what we tend to love about him... I think.
Who will be in the bottom three tonight? Did Erika's style change throw you off, and was it the right move? Does Heejun even care anymore? Let us know in the comments and check out the results show tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox.