American Idol’ 11 Recap: Top 10 Perform

During the intro video package showing Shannon Magrane being eliminated last week, they then transitioned into showing the Top 10 doing a group photo shoot. And we saw some of them still upset; it didn’t look like Jessica Sanchez smiled once, she was that upset. So…did they do this photo shoot immediately after Shannon’s elimination? Couldn’t they have waited until everyone had their composure?

Joining Jimmy Iovine as mentor this week is Diddy, with Tommy Hilfiger beginning his stint as the stylist to the finalists. Diddy was an excellent mentor; he provided some much-needed advice and suggestions that suited Jimmy’s comments as well. I’ve noticed that the mentors this year are similar in this vein — they’re not afraid to speak the truth, and I like that. I wonder if Jimmy is picking which stars join him because I’m loving it. It’s not like in previous years where the celebrity guest mentors would all just go “You’re great, you’re great, you’re great.” Keep it up, Idol! And let’s get started…

1. DeAndre Brackensick: “Only the Good Die Young”
“Only the Good Die Young” is such a great and fun song. And I could tell that DeAndre had fun singing it. But he didn’t do anything more with it. Overall, it felt a little cheesy and gimmicky. On the plus side, though, there were some notes spread throughout that I really liked. What stood out most (and maybe this isn’t the best thing for his chances) was his hair bouncing.

2. Erika Van Pelt: “New York State of Mind”
The biggest surprise of all is Erika cut her hair short and dyed it black after some advice from Hilfiger. Maybe now we’ll be able to tell her apart from Elise. What I loved about her doing this song was that her voice came out beautifully. A couple bum notes when she went lower, but she’s still great. I bet the new look will get more votes for her. Speaking of the look, here’s something for all you up on your Idol alumni: Doesn’t she now look like season 6′s Gina Glocksen?

3. Joshua Ledet: “She’s Got a Way”
After Jessica topped everyone with “I Will Always Love You,” she stumbled the week after. And after Josh outshone all last week, he followed in the same footsteps and stumbled here. It wasn’t the best choice for him — the theme didn’t really suit him. I agree with Jennifer Lopez that he wasn’t connecting with it. The good was that he was able to wail at the end and show who he is.

4. Skylar Laine: “Shameless”
I was worried at first because she sounded really weak. But overall, she was able to get it together, for the most part. What sold it was some of the notes near the end, which were fantastic. The middle had nothing too wrong vocally, just nothing stood out. If voters vote based on the end, she’ll still be here.

5. Elise Testone: “Vienna”
Elise has been in the Bottom every week and voters might not be connecting with her. Did tonight change it? I sure hope so because she’s the best so far tonight. Her tone was very reminiscent of last year’s Haley Reinhart (who, by the way, will be performing during this week’s results show). Her voice was beautiful during the slow parts in the first half, she slayed it in the middle and just killed it with those final low notes.

6. Phillip Phillips: “Movin’ Out”
Diddy had Phillip get rid of the guitar in rehearsal, but he had it out on stage — what gives, Phillip? There was a major problem in season 9 with singers hiding behind their guitars (I’m talking to you, Casey James). Did Phillip hide behind it? At the start, he did. I found nothing wrong with his voice. It didn’t stand out at first, but as the song progressed, he had it by the end. The end was fantastic — without the guitar, he could’ve moved more to fit those fantastic parts there.

7. Hollie Cavanagh: “Honesty”
Unfortunately, I have some good and bad. There were some beautiful moments spread throughout, but she wasn’t always on pitch at times. She’s still a little rough around the edges in her voice, as seen in past weeks as well, that I hope she can in the weeks to come work on honing in the good parts so she can improve even more.

8. Heejun Han: “My Life”
Finally, Heejun brought his personality into a performance! — starting with the fake-out at the start that made it seem like he needed to start over, but instead said it was too slow, then the musician ramped it up and he had fun. A little cheesy, but I loved it. Having said that, his voice was quite terrible — shaky and pitchy all around.

9. Jessica Sanchez: “Everybody Has a Dream”
After last week’s stumble, she has fully recovered here. I don’t know if I’m familiar with this song, but it didn’t matter because she made me love it. Her voice was literally flawless, and she brought out her inner Whitney with those power notes. The best of the night, by far — above and beyond.

10. Colton Dixon: “Piano Man”
He’s starting to recover from the past couple weeks. And overall, his voice was pretty good — to take on one of Billy Joel’s biggest songs…risky. My problem with him is that he isn’t connecting with who he is as an artist. He says he’s punk-rock. But the one week he was closest to that, he essentially copied James Durbin, and lately, he hasn’t been anywhere close to punk-rock.

Favorite Performances: Jessica Sanchez / Elise Testone

My Votes: Jessica Sanchez (20 votes)

Bottom 3 Prediction: DeAndre Brackensick / Skylar Laine / Heejun Han

Elimination Prediction: DeAndre Brackensick

In some respect, I’m having a little bit of a difficult time choosing which exact three will make up the Bottom 3 this week. But I’m pretty sure (actually, pretty confident) that DeAndre Brackensick is guaranteed to be there. But who will join him? Let’s run through the list…

Erika Van Pelt could very well be in the Bottom. But what I believe has saved her, mainly, is her brand-new look. That stood out and made people notice her, and could save her. Joshua didn’t do very well, overall, this week. It’s unfortunate, especially after he slayed the competition last week on “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Jessica’s stumble didn’t hurt her, so I don’t think it’ll hurt Josh, either (at least not enough to outright eliminate him). Skylar Laine wasn’t terrible, by any means, but she didn’t necessarily stand out in a big way this week. Performing around the middle of the night could hurt her, so she may be in danger (or close to being in danger).

Elise Testone performed smack-dab in the middle. Again, that is a negative for her. But what she did tonight was blow everyone away (save for Jessica, that is, who delivered the top performance of the night) and is #2 this week in my eyes. As I’ve mentioned, she’s been in the Bottom every week. So it wouldn’t surprise me if she’s there again. But with how strong she was on “Vienna,” I don’t think she’s going home. Then there’s Heejun. He finally brought out his personality into his performance, though that caused his vocals to be weak. Last week, I would’ve said he’ll definitely be in the Bottom this week. Now? I don’t know anymore. He’s not getting cut, but I still hope he’s almost there.

The above names I just went through are who I believe have at least a little chance at being in the Bottom 3. Can you see why I had a hard time choosing just three with that many who may be in danger? I finally settled on DeAndre, Skylar and Heejun. I have this feeling, though, that Heejun won’t be there and instead it’ll be either Erika or Elise, since both were there last week. And also, Skylar’s fan base may be strong enough to keep her out of the Bottom, since she’s the only country singer this year. I better just stop now before I rethink my whole strategy and change all the names…

Out of those three, who goes home? To me, it’s obvious: DeAndre. He performed first, did a cheesy and gimmicky rendition of the song and didn’t make people remember him by the end of the night. He’s so much better than what he gave us during Billy Joel night. I would like to see him stick around, at least for another week or two, because we’ve seen him be fantastic before.

Who was your favorite this week? And who should be packing their bags and begging us to “Please Remember Me”?

One more will be eliminated during this week’s results show. And last year’s 3rd place finisher Haley Reinhart will perform her debut single, “Free.” And Lana Del Ray will sing “Video Games” in a pre-taped performance. See ya then…