American Idol: Top 13 - March 7, 2012

TOP 13 - Stevie Wonder & Whitney Houston Night - March 7th, 2012

This is the first time in Idol history (that I can remember) where the theme was different for girls and guys. Also the first time that male and female contestants are being directly pitted against each other in a non-semi-finals show. Not really sure how I feel about this.

1. Joshua Ledet - "I Wish" B+
Overall, an incredibly fun performance and proof that Joshua won't be pigeonholded into a ballads-only contestant. He brought a lot of energy to the performance. I felt like his voice was straining at times; it sounded very much sung from the back of the throat with a scratchy quality. I liked it though overall.

2. Elise Testone - "I'm Your Baby Tonight" C+
There was just something dead in Elise's eyes like she did not want to be singing this song, and based on her pre and post performance interviews, it is clear that was the case. It was nowhere near the right kind of song for her bluesy voice and she was smart to avoid the rap-like middle section that Haley Reinhart tackled and barely got by on last season. The hoarseness works for her though. Now that I think of it, it is INSANE how far she fell this week from her fascinating cover of Adele's "One And Only" last night.

3. Jermaine Jones - "Knocks Me Off My Feet" A-
This made me smile. Jermaine sang it very smoothly and effortlessly. It sounded like it could be his own song. J. Lo gave him some solid and well-put advice after the performance concluded. I wasn't really a fan of Jermaine's before this performance but I think I will definitely be downloading this one.

4. Erika Van Pelt - "I Believe In You And Me" B+
I am a huge fan of the original Whitney Houston version of this song so I was a bit skeptical at first. I thought Erika's version in the rehearsal with Jimmy Iovine and Mary J Blidge was better than the live show version. The first half of the song started out somewhat shaky but she really sailed into the second half and brought the song home. Oh God I sound like Randy now.

5. Colton Dixon - "Lately" A-
I was transfixed by this performance and that is one of the greatest compliments I could give. The first half of this song was better as the second half got a bit screamy and over-sung. Just as I was writing down on my notepad "Restraint is good", Colton dialed it back and ended the song on a beautiful, haunting, subtle note. I can see Colton being a star - his image and persona is really relevant in this music environment.

6. Shannon Magrane - "I Have Nothing" C-
Mary J. Blidge gave her great advice during the rehearsal so I was hoping for a great performance. Unfortunately Shannon's voice went sharp at times to the point of being unpleasant. Her voice wavered throughout the song and didn't deliver the strong vocal this song demands. Her voice completely broke at the building point of the music. That said, it wasn't a complete disaster - she didn't implode on the Idol stage like I've seen many times before, but I seriously think she is in danger of going home tomorrow.

7. Deandre Brasensick - "Master Blaster" C+
I didn't like the beat of this song. I'm not familiar with the original, so I'm not sure if the original has a Jamacian beat to it, but I wasn't feeling it. His voice sounded decent but I wasn't a fan of the almost rap-like cadence towards the end of the song. Not the kind of thing I would listen to again. That said, I like Deandre and I think he can do amazing things with his voice (who am I, Randy again?) so I hope he sticks around.

8. Skylar Laine - "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" A
Skylar really reminded me of Carrie Underwood tonight - how she could sing lots of different genres of music (both on the Idol stage and in her touring live show) but still make it sound like Carrie Underwood singing the song. For proof of this, just check out Carrie's beautiful covers of Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home" and Skid Row's "I Remember You". Anyway, back to Skylar. This was above all fun to listen to, knowing the Whitney Houston version so well. It was interesting to see the choices Skylar made throughout. I could see this song being a country hit WITHOUT A DOUBT.

9. Heejun Han - "All In Love Is Fair" B+
I have never been a fan of this song, but I think Heejun did a good job. It wasn't perfect but I really liked it. (Again, I wrote that down BEFORE Randy said it on the show. I promise.) There is something about this performance that had a very 90's style to it. Not complaining of course! I am curious what Heejun would do with an uptempo song. He needs to work on his phrasing at times, but I see an improvement from last week. When I listen to his audio track alone, he reminds me of Justin Guarini.

10. Hollie Cavanagh - "All The Man That I Need" A
This was truly gorgeous. I love her delicate choices with the notes. I have a feeling this is a version of the song I will listen to over and over again and get something new out of it each time. I like it more each time I listen to it. She has a pretty voice but there's something a bit darker in it too.

11. Jeremy Rosado - "Ribbon In The Sky" B-/C+
I am NEVER the type of person that automatically calls a slow song boring, but I have to say this one was. Again, I'm not really a fan of this song. It's just not a performance I'll ever remember much past this week. The ending of the song was good. There's no denying that Jeremy gave an incredible performance last week on Carrie Underwood's "I Know You Won't" which moved me to tears. I just couldn't say this one was very good.

12. Jessica Sanchez - "I Will Always Love You" A
Wow! She gave me chills. What a beautiful rendition of this amazing song. She included one of my favorite parts of the song which is the quiet outro that most people never hear because it gets cut off or covered up by radio DJs. That is really what bumped up this performance to an A for me. She has such incredible poise and seems likeable. I am excited to see what she'll do throughout the season. I am impressed at how well she tackled an uptempo Jennifer Hudson song last week - proven that, like Joshua, she will not be stuck doing ballads for the next few months.

13. Philip Philips - "Superstition" B-
I am a fan of Philip's but I was just not feeling this performance. It was certainly not as good as some of his others. It was fun but came off a bit strained at times. I liked his interaction with the band which proves that he can perform live in a more concert like setting. Again, I've never really been a fan of the song "Superstition". I am just dying to know why no one sang "I Just Called To Say I Love You" which is by far and away my favorite Stevie Wonder song.

Best of the night: Hollie, Skylar, Jessica
Worst of the night: Shannon, Deandre