With a little help from Jimmy Iovine and P. Diddy, who tweeted earlier today that he had mentored the contestants for this week’s show.
P. Diddy mentoring contestants on how to sing Billy Joel songs?
Doesn’t sound like a natural fit, but at least it’s not another week of Will.i.am, so I guess we shouldn’t complain.
As for the theme, come on Idol, can’t we have something a little more current?
Jessica Sanchez, one of your top contestants, said she was having problems picking a song because she’d never listened to Billy Joel music before.
Surprised? Well, remember, the girl’s just 16 and wasn’t even born when most of Billy Joel’s hit were hits.
I’ll be live blogging throughout the show and grading each performance as it happens, so keep checking back.
Deandre Brackensick: The guy with the curls is going to sing “Only the Good Die Young,” a young song for a young contestant. And he’ll be letting his hair down because Tommy Hilfiger (or whoever, told him to). And he’s advised to have fun with the song. Deandree seemed ot take that advice to heart. Problem is, this isn’t a very good vocal. It’s coming off as a bad karaoke version of the song. Not a great way to start the night, Deandre. Besides the hair, there wasn’t anything special about that performance. The judges are letting him off way too easy. Grade: C-
Erika Van Pelt: She’ll sing “New York State of Mind.” P. Diddy’s advice: Don’t oversing, but take some risks and show some guts. And now Tommy Hilfiger convinces Erika to cut off most of her hair and dye it dark. Don’t like the look one bit, Tommy. Please get the heck off this singing show. That said, Erika sang that song very well. Much better than the first performance of the night. I mean, pitch perfect from start to finish. Only problem, it was a little boring, and Erika is performing second tonight. Meaning an hour and a half from now, I’m not sure folks will remember Erika’s performance. Grade: B-
Joshua Ledet: He’ll sing “She’s Got a Way.” Hmm, it doesn’t look like he’s wearing a tux, does it? Way to go, Jacob. Ignore Tommy. But my, my, my, this young man can sing. I mean, what else is there to say. He’s got the same range Jacob Lusk had last year. But he has so, so much more control. Simply fabulous. But Jennifer is going to make a good point — some of the emotion was missing from the performance. Grade: B+
Skylar Laine: Look at that, the country girl knows P. Diddy and is awestruck when she meets him. As for her song, she’ll sing “Shameless.” Oh, cute, she asks for Diddy’s autograph. Tommy suggests adding color for Skylar, then dresses her in black and gray. Makes sense, right? OK, at first I didn’t recognize this song. Now I do, and I must say, I don’t like the country version one bit. It sounds forced. It sounds like Skylar is shouting as much as singing. The best part of the song was the final note, and that can’t salvage a so-so performance. Grade: C.
Elise Testone: She’s 100 percent in her song choice — “Vienna.” Jimmy isn’t so sure because it’s not one of Billy’s better-known tunes. And, Elise, he notes, finished in the bottom three last week despite a strong performance. Elise ignores Tommy’s advice, too. And she looks great in what SHE DECIDED to wear. Dang, girl. Bottom three two straight weeks and Elise comes out and slays that song, proving there’s no way she belongs there again. Just a really, really great performance. That was her best performance. And it all seemed so natural, unlike last week when she seemed a little stiff. Grade: A-
Phillip Phillips: Tommy Hilfiger complains about what Phillip wears. Diddy complains about how he performs. Just let the guy sing. Gee, he’s wearing gray, the most boring color on stage. You know what Tommy, I think he’ll survive to sing again next week. He’s singing “Movin’ Out.” And he’s putting his own twist on the song. Ambitious. Not sure I love it. But it’s interesting and shows Phillip isn’t afraid to take a risk. All in all, another solid performance. Phillip says the guitar isn’t a shield, it’s just part of me. Cute touch: Steven throws him a scarf. Randy calls it one of the best performances of the song he’s ever heard. Grade: B.
Hollie Cavanagh: She’ll sing “Honesty.” Not sure Billy Joel and Hollie are a very good match, but we’ll see. Meanwhile, it looks like Tommy succeeded in decking out our “good diva” with a new, younger look. Hold it, this is supposed to be a younger look? The hair style doesn’t look young at all. Anyway, on with the singing. Hollie isn’t going to hide her big booming voice in a Billy Joel ballad. She’s turning it into a Hollie Cavanagh power ballad. Not sure that was my favorite Hollie performance. Except for the end, it was lacking emotion. The judges criticize Hollie for straying off pitch, occasionally. Probably the harshest critique of the night so far. And Hollie concedes she’d never heard the song before last week. Grade: C.
Heejun Han: He admits he was hurt by all the criticism last week. The advice from Diddy and Jimmy: It’s part of the game. Unbelievable. Heejun shows up on stage wearing a suit. A musician starts playing the piano. Heejun proclaims it’s too slow. He wants to dance. So he rips off his suit to reveal a wild T-shirt. And launches into “My Life.” He jumps all over the place, greets the judges, dances with the crowd. The performance was Grade A fun. The vocal was Grade D. Grade: C
Jessica Sanchez: Hey, Tommy, Jessica looked amazing last week. She needs no help. She’ll sing “Everybody Has a Dream.” Diddy advises her not to oversing, too. Brilliant opening by Jessica, who seems to have taken the advice. Then builds to a big ending. And thanks for the advice, Diddy. Because that wound up being very believable. This girl could be a threat to end the guys’ winning streak on Idol. Easily one of the best performances of the night. And Jessica looks great again. Grade: A-
Colton Dixon: He has a tough act to follow, just like Hollie did last week when she followed Joshua to the stage. Colton says he’s missed a piano, so he’s performing “Piano Man” while playing the piano, of course. Hey, this is a solid performance, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be as thrilled with it as Colton’s fan base or the judges. I thought he went sharp in a couple of spots. And the vocal didn’t quite match what Jessica and Elise delivered tonight. Grade: B.