‘American Idol’ 11 Recap: Top 13 Perform

At the top of the show, Ryan Seacrest announces that this is American Idol‘s 400th episode! Wow — 400! That’s a big deal.

Idol‘s changing it up this week with the results. Since the girls have one theme and the guys have a different one, they’re ramping it up even more with the girls vs. guys deal. On results show night, the bottom group will consist of the girl with the lowest number of votes and the guy with the lowest number. Then the judges will make the final decision on who’s being eliminated. What’s funny is that the audience didn’t really know what to make of this news. There were a couple disgruntled reactions off to the side somewhere, but overall, the audience was pretty much silent. I don’t think they really like this idea.

This week’s celebrity mentor is Mary J. Blige. She joins record executive Jimmy Iovine to mentor the contestants as they practice. And after seeing how MJB did as a mentor, I have to say this — bring her back! Or better yet, maybe Simon Cowell should take notice and consider her as a judge for season 2 of The X Factor USA. She provided some fabulous critiques and comments.

1. Joshua Ledet: “I Wish”
Hearing he was doing this song, I got excited. It’s right up Joshua’s alley because it allows him to bring out the growls and musical sass. His voice was in top form with a high energy. Loved it! I hope going first doesn’t hurt him. And since his nickname is Mantasia, this performance has a connection to his female counterpart. Fantasia performed this song for the Happy Feet soundtrack.

2. Elise Testone: “I’m Your Baby Tonight”
Elise was brilliant last week on Adele. This week, Jimmy changed her song late in the game from “The Greatest Love of All,” and a part of me believes it was the right decision because this suits her better. And her voice was still great, but I agree that there was a disconnect here.

3. Jermaine Jones: “Knocks Me Off My Feet”
This would’ve been a good night for Jermaine to show why the judges might have been right to bring him back. But he didn’t. I’m not a big fan of him anyways, but he didn’t commit fully. I have no idea what song this is, which won’t help. Overall, very forgettable.

4. Erika Van Pelt: “I Believe in You and Me”
Like Elise, I love her tone. Whitney’s version might have made a bigger impact because of some of the big notes that Whitney did that Erika didn’t do. There were moments that I thought Erika would belt it out more but didn’t. But it’s hard to criticize that voice — and that excellent falsetto near the end. I have to say, Elise and Erika are very similar and I think that they will end up splitting votes, hurting one of them more than the other.

5. Colton Dixon: “Lately”
Colton was a disaster last week. Can he recover? He did, somewhat. His voice improved drastically. But the song wasn’t believable for him; I didn’t buy it. A ballad can show a different side to someone like him (Adam Lambert pulled it off a lot), but it has to be the right song.

6. Shannon Magrane: “I Have Nothing”
I have a feeling she’s going to get into a habit of only doing ballads. And that’ll be the “death” of her on this show. She has the voice to pull off this song, but there were a few pitch problems, and her voice was a mess when she went to hit that high note.

7. Deandre Brackensick: “Master Blaster”
I’ve said before that I love his falsetto. And I’m glad he didn’t heavily rely on it this time — it shows he’s not a one-hit wonder, so to speak. I liked the reggae style, and overall I really enjoyed this performance.

8. Skylar Laine: “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”
She’s definitely at a disadvantage here, with her twangy country taking on big ballad pop. The first half was just okay (she was definitely out of her league there). But once she hit that power note about halfway in, she shined. And I loved the final note — that’s what’ll keep her in.

9. Heejun Han: “All is Fair in Love”
When talking, he uses a lot of humor. But then he goes and sings this? It’s the complete opposite — and not in a good way. His voice was nice, I guess, but it all was just completely boring. I couldn’t take it.

10. Hollie Cavanagh: “All the Man That I Need”
I wasn’t sure if she could pull it off at first. But you know what? She very much did. Her powerhouse of a voice could very well take her far. Just beautiful.

11. Jeremy Rosado: “Ribbon in the Sky”
I think a little bit of Heejun rubbed off on Jeremy here, especially with the excitability factor — there was none. Again, nice voice, but nothing particularly wow about it. He needed to put some soul into it like Ruben Studdard did back in season 2 with this song. Heejun’s more popular, so Jeremy may be the one going home.

12. Jessica Sanchez: “I Will Always Love You”
With this being a Whitney theme, I didn’t think anyone would take on this song — the biggest one of them all. But out of all the girls here, Jessica’s the only one who could have pulled it off. A few shaky notes, but I think that’s just a moot point. The quiet at the start, the build-up, the final notes at the end where the notes go up and up and up slowly — everything about it was breathtaking. Whitney would be proud, indeed.

13. Phillip Phillips: “Superstition”
How can you follow what Jessica just did? But Phillip was the right person to do it. This song’s been done to death on Idol, but he breathed new life into it. And for once, I didn’t mind that he kept his guitar.

Favorite Performances: Jessica Sanchez / Joshua Ledet / Phillip Phillips

My Votes: Joshua Ledet (15 votes) / Jessica Sanchez (15 votes)

Bottom Group Prediction: Elise Testone / Jeremy Rosado

Elimination Prediction: Jeremy Rosado

As I mentioned at the start of this recap, the structure of the results will work a little different just for this week only since they’re pitting the guys against the girls. The girl with the lowest votes and the guy with the lowest votes will make up the bottom group. And the judges will decide who stays and who goes home.

Elise Testone was one of the best last week on Adele, but an average performance this week combined with going second may doom her. I would like to see Jermaine Jones in the bottom, but I doubt that will happen. Shannon Magrane could be there on the girl’s side, but she may have more support than we may think. Jeremy Rosado provided a very boring performance, so I would be shocked not to see him in the bottom.

If it does come down to Elise and Jeremy in the bottom, who goes home? I wonder if they’re going to do a Sing for Your Life thing during the results show where the two in the bottom will perform again and then the judges will make their decision. Either way, Jennifer won’t vote against Jeremy; she for some reason likes him. I don’t know if I’m remembering correctly, but were the judges harsher overall on Elise than Jeremy? If so, Elise could be heading home. For me personally, Jeremy needs to go. Elise, unfortunately, had an off night this week. I would like to see her bounce back next week with a second shot. So I’m ultimately predicting Jeremy as the first to be eliminated.

What did you think of the Top 13 performances this week? Who did Stevie and Whitney justice, and who didn’t? And was it too soon for Idol to be doing a Whitney Houston theme week?

During this week’s results show (US / 8-9pm/UK / 9-10pm on ITV2), one will be eliminated. And we’ll have guest performances by mentor Mary J. Blige as well as last year’s runner-up, Lauren Alaina. See ya then…