‘American Idol’ 11 Recap: Top 8 Perform

Joining Jimmy Iovine as mentors this week are Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal from No Doubt. I understand bringing in Stefani, since she’s so well-known, but I don’t think people really know who Tony is.

1. Deandre Brackensick: “I Like It”
Now that Heejun’s gone, Deandre came into this week most in danger of going home. And he needed to deliver. Did he? Well, he wasn’t bad. The start didn’t do anything for me. But the latter half was much better, bringing in the falsettos more. Going first will hurt him, but with Ryan mentioning that fact, he may just eke it out.

2. Elise Testone: “I Wanna Know What Love Is”
Foreigner is a great choice for her, and she nailed it overall. She knows how to pick songs that suit her vocals just right. I’m trying to figure out why the judges didn’t like it. What’s up with them? Yes, it’s hard to beat her killer “Whole Lotta Love” from last week, but you can’t say she was bad. She better get more votes than Deandre.

Colton Dixon & Skylar Laine: “Islands in the Stream”
After last week’s trio songs, and now duets this week, I’m not a fan of these filler performances. Colton and Skylar were pleasant, but it was nothing more than that. It doesn’t sway voters either way. Remember the Top 4 duets of seasons 8 and 9? (Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta on “Slow Ride,” anyone?) Those were fantastic.

3. Phillip Phillips: “That’s All”
The song definitely fits his style. And it is a great song; I love it. But he didn’t do the best with it. There were moments during the chorus that I liked, but overall, he was sloppy at times throughout the song, especially in the last half. The part where he stopped the guitar was an awkward transition.

Hollie Cavanagh & Deandre Brackensick: “I’m So Excited”
Hollie seemed uncomfortable at first–a little awkward. But she loosened up more later on. Their voices were pretty good together. But as with the previous duet, just pleasant and nothing more.

4. Joshua Ledet: “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”
I’m not surprised Josh picked a song like this. I was worried at first because he was very subdued and mellow. Then about three-quarters of the way in, he hit that falsetto (the type that Deandre is used to doing); that was the high moment of the performance. Then he didn’t hold back anymore and let the fantastic wails fly.

5. Jessica Sanchez: “How Will I Know”
This is the third time now that Jessica has taken on Whitney Houston (two if you don’t count the Whitney Houston theme night). What’s good about this time is that she went away from the power ballads and sang an uptempo. She needed to do that to show she is versatile. It wasn’t on the same level as last week’s “Sweet Dreams,” but still some solid vocals.

Phillip Phillips & Elise Testone: “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”
Now that’s how you do a duet! This is the perfect pairing. The rasp and growl in their voices complement each other beautifully. Maybe you have to have strong vocalists like them to make it right, and they did.

6. Hollie Cavanagh: “What a Feeling”
Weeks ago, Hollie could’ve been the underdog in the race. But she’s been losing that holding. She’s another that does a lot of ballads, so it was nice to see an uptempo. Unfortunately, she was weak; she was shaky when holding out her notes, and pitchy. I like that she tried to have fun, but there were times it felt a little forced.

Joshua Ledet & Jessica Sanchez: “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me”
Now that is how you do a duet! Even more than Phillip & Elise. Again, these duets work with the right pairing, and that’s what this was. The song wasn’t cheesy for the moment; it allowed both of them to show off the depth and breadth of their voices. And I loved the growl that Jessica put in at one point. Jessica and Josh are my personal Top 2 this season. And after seeing this duet, I would absolutely love to see the two of them in the finals. And even Jennifer Lopez said as much.

7. Colton Dixon: “Time After Time”
This theme should be right up Colton’s alley. And with this song, it could end up being very karaoke, especially since it’s a been there/done that kind of a song. For Colton, it was karaoke; he didn’t do anything to put his mark on the song, which is nothing new for him–he’s never made a song his own. There were pitch problems all over the place. How come the judges hated on Elise, but praised Colton here? It’s obvious that their favorite is Colton and they’ll praise him even if he’s bad and want Elise gone. They need to get their hearing checked, big time.

8. Skylar Laine: “Wind Beneath My Wings”
With a song like this, they gave her the pimp spot to try to give her a moment. Did she? Not completely. The first half was weak and shaky at times. But I will admit that the power notes in the latter half were exceptional and that’s what’ll carry her through to next week. But with that first half, this isn’t who she is. The song didn’t really fit her, I don’t think.

Favorite Performances: Joshua/Jessica Duet / Phillip/Elise Duet / Elise Testsone

My Votes: Jessica Sanchez (25 votes) / Joshua Ledet (25 votes)

Bottom 3 Prediction: Deandre Brackensick / Elise Testone / Hollie Cavanagh

Elimination Prediction: Deandre Brackensick

We’re down to only eight left, so it’s hard sometimes to choose who should leave, because even though there are some that are weaker than others, they still have had their shining moments. What can I say, this is a strong bunch this year.

But I think it’s a given that Deandre will be in the Bottom 3; it’s hard to get around that. Even though I really liked Elise’s performance, the judges hated on it and going near the start of the show may hurt her, so I have this feeling that she’ll be joining Deandre. Now about that third spot…it could either be Phillip or Joshua or Hollie. I hate to include Joshua in this possibility list, but for some reason, I’m always worried that’ll voters will tire of his wailing and he’ll be in the Bottom. I’m pretty sure that Phillip has amassed a strong following, so I don’t see him going anywhere anytime soon, but you never know with him performing third (or fourth, if you count the duets in there).

So that leaves Hollie. What she’s got going on her side is performing closer to the end of the show (fourth to last). But she was one of the weaker ones tonight, unfortunately. And she was in the Bottom 3 last week, so her time may be waning. I think she’ll be in the Bottom again, but with all the critiques that the judges gave to her, her fans may rally around her.

I predicted Deandre would go home last week. But I’m glad I got that one wrong because I was ecstatic that Heejun was eliminated. But Deandre won’t be around much longer. And I’m predicting that his time will be up this week (next week at the latest). I think it’s going to either be him or Elise, but I’m sticking with Deandre again.

Who was your favorite this week? And who will be heading home?

During this week’s results show, another Idol alum will be stopping by. This time it’s Kellie Pickler! Can’t wait. And one more contestant will be eliminated. See ya then…