Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Top 13 Perform: Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder Night

After a couple months, many eliminations and more than a few awkward moments, we are finally at the Top 13. As we saw last week 10 contestants were selected by the audience, and 3 were selected by the judges. We'll see if the 3 that were not initially selected by the audience can gain some fans and stick around for awhile or if the public's first thoughts on those 3 were correct.

Tonight the females will be singing Whitney Houston songs and the males will be singing Stevie Wonder songs. Although there have been plenty of times that Whitney Houston songs have been sung on the show, it's the first time that her songs will be performed since her passing. It's been less than a month since she has passed so it's still pretty fresh in everyone's minds. Singing Stevie Wonder is pretty commonplace on Idol, several of his songs are featured every year, so tonight is no different. It'll be interesting to see how the females handle Whitney's songs.

BREAKING NEWS: Ryan puts a little caveat to the beginning of the season. Tonight's episode is Females versus Males. So tomorrow the Bottom Male and the Bottom Female will battle and the judges will decide which of the two goes home. It's an interesting way to start a season. I'm a little indifferent right now on if this is a good idea or not because they are singing from different artists and the judges might have a bit of a bias for one contestant or another, so it might be unfair, like if it comes down to someone they just picked last week will they go against that person this week?  We'll see how it plays out I guess. Let's get to it:


Joshua Ledet(I Wish)
I'm glad that Joshua chose an uptempo song this week, it seems that he goes for the more slower songs. He has a lot of energy, and definitely goes outside of his comfort zone that he said he was going to do. He definitely had fun, and his performance equaled that. There were a few pitchy moments, but very nice start to the evening.
Randy=Blew it out at the top of the show. Loves that he can now do ballads and uptempo songs.
J.Lo=Loved that she felt the performance through her body and he shows it.
Steven=Keeps getting better and better. Nailed it. Beautiful.

Elise Testone(I'm Your Baby Tonight)
She initially went in with singing "Greatest Love of All", guest mentor Mary J. Blige and Jimmy Iovine tells her to change her song and her whole feel of the song. Very nerve racking I'm sure to go in thinking one thing and come out with another. It's more big band, and rock then Whitney Houston's original. I think Mary and Jimmy did the right thing in changing the song, this seems more in her wheelhouse but it does seem a little rushed. I wish it was a little more slowed down, but other than that it was good. Last week was better, but still good. 
Jennifer=Doesn't think this was her best, there were some unsureness and some timing issues.
Steven= Has to find a better song, her voice has some much character that she can't just sing any song, needs certain songs that will fit her right.
Randy= Wasn't her greatest performance, felt like she was boxing with the song. Doesn't have to prove it every time, just needs to sit and relax with the rhythm.

Jermaine Jones(Knocks Me Off My Feet)
One thing this guy does pretty well is choose songs that fit his big baritone voice. I'm not really the biggest fan of his voice, although he seems like a pleasant fellow personally. There wasn't anything exciting about this performance, it was a solid vocal, but nothing much to it.
Steven=That song fits him like an Armani suit.
Jennifer=Such a sweetheart, but wants him to connect more to the song to connect to the audience better.
Randy=Loves that he came back. Did not enjoy the chorus, but loved the verses. Wants him to relax and not force it.

Erika Van Pelt(I Believe In You and Me)
Dressed in what seems like the red carpet of the Oscars and on her way to the Prom, Erika still looks great and looks very different then when she first auditioned. I"m gonna be honest I didn't love this version. There were parts I liked, but overall I wasn't entirely impressed. She did sound different than Whitney which is hard to do, but I didn't like the overall performance. Something was a bit missing for me. Nothing terrible, just something that could have put it over the top.
Randy= She has an amazing voice and tone. When she lets herself go it was unbelievable.
Jennifer= The way she interprets the song makes the songs really come alive. Can't wait until she stops thinking and just lets loose altogether.
Steven= Has a beautiful fantastic voice, and when she hits it where she hits it she's perfect.

Colton Dixon(Lately)
This is definitely out of Colton's genre, but he did a lot with this version. It's different than the other 15 times that I have heard this song on this show. I like the changes that he did, and he didn't lose himself in the song, meaning he didn't lose what he is good at and convert to something else. Really amazing job.
Steven= That last note was beautiful. Well done, beautiful job.
Jennifer=Knows he was the most challenged with the genre tonight, but thinks he did an amazing job with it tonight.
Randy=Technically it wasn't picture perfect, but when he hits his power notes it is flawless, needs to work on the softer stuff so he can get better later.

Shannon Magrane(I Have Nothing)
Maybe I thought that Shannon was going to do more because her packaged piece with Mary J. Blige seemed like it went it well, but tonight was a mess for Shannon. One of her high notes screeched, and her tone was all over the place. There were a couple notes that sounded decent, but their were a lot of more bad moments than good in there. The performance never really took off. She is in definite danger of going home.
Jennifer= Thinking won the best of her this time. She knows she can sing that song but she didn't do it tonight. Needs to relax and tell the story better.
Steven= The nerves got the best of her. The hugeness of the song got to her. She crashed and burned at points.
Randy=Everyone knows that she can sing, but everything she went for didn't quite make it.

Deandre Brackensick(Master Blaster)
With his hair held back tonight we could really focus on his voice and I actually enjoyed it. It was a fun performance, he relied on his regular voice rather than just his falsetto. He threw in the falsetto in spots but it wasn't there for the entire performacne. It's better when it's balanced like that. I enjoyed the performance overall. It's kinda like what Naima did last year, it's a mix of reggae and blues.
Steven= He's the male Naima[Whoa!] Liked it all tonight.
Jennifer= Has rhythm and soul. Loved what he did with the song tonight.
Randy= Loved that he didn't just use his beautiful falsetto and that he can show two different sides to himself.

Skylar Laine(Where Do Broken Hearts Go)
She definitely made this song not even sound like a Whitney Houston song. She did a complete country version of the song. When she hit that chorus and big note it was incredibly powerful and controlled. The beginning which was slow wasn't as exciting or that interesting, but that middle to end of the song was pretty flawless. So the performance wasn't her best, but if this is her when she's just decent then that's pretty good.
Jennifer=The front part was a little nasally but kept it together and gave the biggest moment of the night later in the song.
Steven=Was a thing of beauty. The front of it was beautiful and she let the whole thing build.
Randy=The front of the song was iffy, but she proved that she can sing any song and do it well. It was hot!

Heejun Han(All In Love Is Fair)
By not having the band behind him in the beginning of the song you can hear some of the flaws in his voice. There were some very tender moments, for sure, but without the band it wasn't as clear. Once the band came in his voice blended better. I liked his last note a whole lot, I wish he brought that throughout the whole performance. Sometimes being too subtle and soft can make a performance a little sleepy, and for a guy with this much personality it shouldn't be as sleep inducing.
Jennifer=Loves him. Loved him before loves him now.
Steven=Something beautiful about it.
Randy=Wasn't perfect but was really good. 

Hollie Cavanagh(All The Man That I Need)
All the high moments she was supposed to hit, she hit, all the softer points she had to hit, she hit. In essence this was a great performance. I felt like that it was a complete performance, energized, soft, tender, just all sorts of good. The way she hit that last note, and then went really soft was so smart and worked.
Randy= Took one of Whitney's big songs, and nailed it.
Jennifer= She might be "The...". Stopped short of saying "The One". Feels it might be 2 girls battling it off in the final. [Um, is J.Lo allowed to say who she wants in the final at Top 13?]
Steven=Nailing it every time and tonight is no different.

Jeremy Rosado(Ribbon In The Sky)
I like Jeremy, I think he is a sweet guy, but I didn't love this performance that much. I don't think the song choice did much to make him different than what he has been doing. J.Lo continues to get emotional when Jeremy sings, but I didn't feel it as much tonight. He didn't get into the Top 13 by the audience's help, so if the same audience that didn't vote for him before, don't feel like tonight provided anything special then they won't vote for him again.
Steven=Beautiful, velvety voice. Nice passion, didn't fly like he usually does, but it doesn't matter.
Jennifer=Loved his interpretation of songs. Found it really really beautiful.
Randy=Not his best performance. Needed to put more swag into it to make it believable and tonight didn't have it.

Jessica Sanchez(I Will Always Love You)
I was wondering who would be brave enough to sing this song, and Jessica is the one. I give Jessica so much credit for going for Whitney Houston's biggest hit, it's a completely tall order. But man oh man did she do one of the best performances that I've  heard on that Idol stage in recent memory. For a Top 13 performance no less! If she's doing this now I can't imagine what she'll be doing in several weeks when she's less nervous and more confident. Holy crap was that good. I literally was clapping like an idiot when the song ended like I was actually there. She gets the most deserved standing ovation of the season by the 3 judges.I've heard this song performed countless times, especially recently, but tonight's performance was one of the best I've ever heard.
Randy=Nailed the song. She's the best of the night, potentially best of the competition, maybe best of the country.
Jennifer=Just amazing. Speechless. Beautiful.
Steven ="You May Be The One".

Phillip Phillips(Superstition)
As Phillip said, this song has been done countless times before, but he did so much to make this version his own distinguishable version. This guy is sailing into the next round. He has the looks, creativity and seems like the most humble guy ever. I loved this version. It sounded like it was his own song. So much credit to him for that.
Steven="You just are".
Jennifer=Took this song and made it his own and killed it.
Randy= He is needed in this competition. Waiting to see every time he reinterprets songs.

Best of The Night?
Jessica Sanchez

Worst of The Night?
Shannon Magrane

Bottom Males?=Jermaine Jones and Jeremy Rosado

Bottom Females?= Shannon Magrane and Elise Testone

Going Home?= Shannon Magrane

Final Thoughts:

*First night jitters really hit home tonight. Many contestants were told by the judges that they needed to relax. Shannon obviously had the worst time of it, but several other contestants were definitely all up inside their heads.

*I loved Mary Blige's comments tonight. She was almost perfect in her thoughts and critiques. She seemed to really be on point with her comments, even though a few of the contestants didn't quite live up to their rehearsal with her.Her energy was high, and she seemed really into helping these contestants out.

*Tonight show's what is great about Idol and what shows like X Factor lacks, which are the small, quieter moments. The beginning of Jessica's song was lightly instrumental, maybe even acapella, it added so much to the build up of that performance. She delivered, and although I watch X Factor I miss these quieter but rather magical moments. Sometimes having an audience screaming is great, but Jessica's performance tonight proved why sometimes less is way more.

*I complained last year that the public at times wasn't voting the right person home and I wanted more judge's input, so I get my wish for at least this week. We'll see if my wish bites me in the behind.

*Check out our new poll found under this blog. You can vote on who you think was the best performance and who was the worst. The poll closes right before the beginning of tomorrow night's show. We'll do this every week and you can see how others also feel, and if you agree with our opinions or not.

*As Steven said his two standouts tonight were "Jessica Sanchez and....Jessica Sanchez". Nuff said. 

Come on back here tomorrow for the interesting results. We'll learn who the Bottom Male and Bottom Female were and we'll see which one the judges decide to let go. So until then, see ya!

1 comment:

  1. I really liked the mentoring segments with Jimmy and Mary. I also really liked the judges being more like judges (except Steven, and sometimes Jennifer, are still too nice). I can't believe Randy is actually being the judge who is most critical. A few comments. (1) Randy should ignore the crowd booing when he gives critical comments. (2) They need to ban the performers holding up their fingers during the "call this number to vote for..." segments. (3) I really don't like or understand the performer walking and touching the fingers/hands of the fans along the stage. So corny. If they were proven stars, maybe. That's it. Thanks for another great recap!