American Idol 11: Second Final (Round of 12… um… 11)

The rumors started early Wednesday.  One of the Idol finalists was going to be disqualified.  Then Jermaine Jones tweeted that he wouldn’t be performing… a tweet sent from his Idol-owned account.  Then Jones’ account was terminated, which all but confirmed the story.  Then Idol posted that “someone” was going to be disqualified on its social media outlets.  THEN they posted that “rumors” were out there, and to watch the show to find out the truth.

Got all that?

THIS… is American Idol!

The “controversy” is sort of addressed at the top – Ryan claiming that “with the cooperation of law enforcement”, they “found” information leading to the elimination of a contestant (as yet unnamed)… and cue the titles.  No opening montage this week.

The theme is songs from the year of the artist’s birth – an annual rite of Idol passage – and the disqualification isn’t going to be addressed until later.  So instead of the usual group introduction of the Top 12 11 (which would give away the DQ), we get baby pictures of the judges and host.

The guest mentor is… and we’re off.

Phillip Phillips (1990) – “Hard to Handle”, Black Crowes version (originally by Otis Redding, 1968, thanks for the catch, Barry!)
Phillips was dealing with kidney stones during the rehearsal session… it’s unclear whether he’s had them cleared out yet, but if he’s performing in pain, he’s hiding it well.  This is definitely the right song for Phillips, and he does a solid job kicking off the show.  Even with the Death Spot, it’s likely that – if there is even an elimination this week – it won’t be Phillips.  The judges “force” Phillips to mention that the surgery was done last week – like he needs the sympathy vote?  He’s already got the WGWG vote…

Break… as they take the two most pimped members of the roster and toss them up first and second?  Please don’t tell me the producers are playing fair for once…

Jessica Sanchez (1995) – “Turn The Beat Around”, Gloria Estefan version (originally by Vicki Sue Robinson, 1976)
For the first time, we see a bit of weakness… this song may have been far too big for the Pinoy Princess.  You need a big, booming, over-the-top voice… and she wasn’t up to it.  Now this wasn’t “bad”, just not up to the standards she set on her way to being heavily pimped.  That said, there’s no way she’s leaving yet – she has a built-in voting bloc that will keep her here…

Oh wow… we could have comedy gold next…

Heejun Han (1989) – “Right Here Waiting”, Richard Marx
Oh.  My.   This is NotGood.  Absolutely the wrong song – he’s breathy, off-key, and generally a not-quite-hot mess.  After this train wreck, it may turn out that the beneficiary of Jermaine’s DQ will be Heejun – as it’s likely nobody else will be eliminated this week, this terrible performance won’t be voted off.

And now we get into the filler portion of the show… two singers who will make the tour, and then vanish quietly…

Elise Testone (1983) – “Let’s Stay Together”, Tina Turner version (originally by Al Green, 1972)
Egad. Vocal problems by the fourth word?  She’s already on shaky ground, that’s not going to help… the best part of the segment was the “duet” with President Obama (he spoke a line from this song in a January fundraiser, which was cut into rehearsal footage)… the song went from “egad” to “meh” during the performance… another singer who should be glad there probably won’t be an elimination this week.

Deandre Brackensick (1994) – “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, Elton John “Endless Love”, Luther Vandross & Mariah Carey version (originally by Lionel Richie & Diana Ross, 1981)
Now THAT’S a headline… he was talked out of the Elton John song by the mentors… and wound up with this song which may have been a little bigger than he is… I mean, there’s no way he’s doing Luther… but his version doesn’t stray far from Lionel Richie’s part of the original, and in that, it was good enough to get through another week.  I actually agree with the judges, though, in that I’d liked to have seen him do the Disney song.

Oh, goodie, the reigning VFTW pick is up next…

Shannon Magrane (1995) – “One Sweet Day”, Mariah Carey & Boys II Men
Wow… they used her segment to sneak in a sponsor plug for a new phone… interesting choice, only one of the biggest #1 hits of the rock era… and she just doesn’t have the voice to tackle a song that soars like this one does.  I get the sense this was forced on her, and it shows, and Vote For The Worst is going to love this… it was OK.  Not great, and probably not bad enough to get her punted, but she needs to think about song choice a bit more…

White Lion?  They were obscure when the song came out… I’m sure the producers pushed this one on Colton…

Colton Dixon (1991) – “Broken Heart”, White Lion (re-release, originally from 1985)
Product Placement Zone interview, giving them a chance to connect Colton with Chris Daughtry (who’s performing this week, surprise!)… it was probably a good idea to do a song nobody knows… well, it would be if he could keep his voice from spiking out of key… he did rein the song in and did a pretty solid performance.  If he’s able to stay in the harder-rock genre, he may last a while… but the week they force country or R&B on him, he’s probably cooked…

Break… while the judges Google “Broken Heart”…

Erika Van Pelt (1985) – “Heaven”, Bryan Adams
Interesting… Iovine worked with Adams on the song in 1983… no conflict of interest here… wow.  No complaints here – she found her groove in the song, and did a really nice version of it.  And she’s not wearing a red tent this week, which helps, too… good for her, and definitely good for another week.

And now, we address the disqualification of Jermaine Jones.  We get to see Nigel Lythgoe inform Jones that they’ve “found” his criminal charges (under false names) that weren’t disclosed before the show.  Apparently, there are 4 warrants out for Jones.  We also get to see Jones give the defense that is going to fail in court.  Lythgoe says they’re “not allowed” to have someone with open warrants on the show.   And with that, he’s dismissed.  For some reason, we get rehearsal footage of “Somewhere Out There”.  Clearly, they needed to fill the time allotted to Jermaine’s song – and they’re trying to help him in some twisted way while shoving him out the door.   Ryan claims that we’ll get the tour lineup on the results show, but he did say the lowest vote-getter is “at risk of elimination”.  Weasel words if ever I heard them… expect a “save” of some kind later tonight.


Skylar Laine (1994) – “Love Sneaking Up On You”, Bonnie Raitt
Product-Placement Zone interview about how “mean” the judges have been…  I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that she ignored’s “ghountry” suggestion of a Coolio track… the bottom line is that Skylar needs to keep to the country vibe, because she’s got a strategy, and it has nothing to do with winning Idol.  She just has to maintain her credibility so she can cross right over to Nashville once she’s free of her Idol commitments – and she did a good job of that here.


Joshua Ledet (1992) – “When A Man Loves A Woman”, Michael Bolton version (originally by Percy Sledge, 1966)
Must be running short, with another Product-Placement Zone interview… featuring a short course on crawfish with a few “lucky” audience members (who were terrified of the Cajun delicacy)… I played Percy Sledge’s version many times in my 7 years of oldies radio, and there was no way he was getting near that… but you know what?  I definitely liked it better than the Bolton cover – solid performance, with a bit of the gospel influence (which the song really does need)… enjoyable, and more than good enough to get through.

While the cast chows down on crawfish, and the Pimp Spotlight is prepared, we take another… break…

Hollie Cavanagh (1993) – “The Power Of Love”, Céline Dion version (originally by Jennifer Rush, 1984)
Nooo… not the Evil Wind From The North… nooooooo… wow, Hollie really does have a lot of power for such a tiny person… and she’s far more under-control than the Evil Wind will ever be… I think she’s found her groove for her post-Idol career.   Best performance of the night.  Too bad America hates cute blondes, otherwise I’d give her a chance to win this thing.

After the montage, I can’t see anyone but Heejun going home – if anyone goes home at all.  Because it would foul up the schedule, I can’t see Idol eliminating another singer on top of Jermaine’s disqualification – but, of course, they may eliminate one now and pull out a save later in the season, because they’re sneaky and manipulative like that.

Results tonight (plus Demi Lovato and Daughtry), my recap tomorrow morning.  See you then.


Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, slightly less occasional improv player/ref/tech, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

2 thoughts on “American Idol 11: Second Final (Round of 12… um… 11)”

  1. I love reading your AI blog. It means I still get the laughs without suffering thru the show.

    Two thoughts: if you count that Hard To Handle was originally done by Otis Redding in the mid-60s, then SEVEN of the eleven songs were cover versions or re-released The year the contestant was born. While that isn’t against the rules, I don’t think it’s in the spirit of the theme. Born in 1991? Then you have to sing a crappy song written/ performed in 1991, not some crappy song from White Lion released in 1985

    Second thought: I’m old enough to remember White Lion, and, probably like 98% of the viewers and the judges, I have never heard of the song “Broken Heart.”

    Keep up the great writing.

    Too bad no one sang “I Fought The Law”, THAT would’ve been worth watching!


  2. I’ve edited the post to reflect the original source for “Hard To Handle” (I didn’t think of tracking covers until “Turn The Beat Around”, and forgot to go back and add the sourcing on the first song)… stunned that I missed it… 🙂

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