I’ll admit right now that I wrote the title of this article before I even watched the episode and based it purely on the choice to use the songbook of [eye roll] Billy Joel. Wow. Seriously? First we do Stevie Wonder for the boys, then Birthday Year tunes and now Billy Joel? Holy crap, you’d think with all the money behind this show that they’d actually be able to gather up some RELEVANT songs for these poor kids to actually appeal to audience with. I’m guaranteeing you that 90% of the voting audience- 11 to 14 year olds- have NO clue what more than half these songs are. Oh well, just another failed decision and dated choice by the rotting skeleton that is exec producer Nigel Lythgoe who likely thought Billy J was the “bee’s knees” when he was younger.

I’m going to resist picking up my rant from last week as the judges suddenly add “Sing for Your Life” and that they’re the new deciders of who stays who goes or that apparently boys vs. girls isn’t a thing anymore, rather focus on tonight’s performances and see if there’s anything worth saving from this episode. You know, like some actual talent and good performances? Do those still even matter ? P Diddy- is that what he calls himself these days- is the mentor and I’m less than enthused considering his style is SO polar to everyone on that stage but who knows, oh and Tommy Hilfiger is back with “fashion advice”- HA. Let’s take a deep breath and see!

DeAndre Brackensick – “Only the Good Die Young”

First up is my wholly least fave of the entire bunch: the falsetto queen himself. His background to the performance today consisted of Tommy Hilfiger (WHY Idol… why??) telling the child failure to let his hair flow and get a “cool” vibe and mentors Jimmy and Diddy’s direction bouncing off him as he smiled and giggled through his “training”. Singing god knows what, he bops his mop-head around the stage like it’s the opening song from an 80s sitcom that sucked as much as this performance did. THANKFULLY, he was prevented from hitting the glass shattering octaves he’s use to annoying us with due to the restraints of a manlier song. Hit outfit is of course atrocious (thanks for nothing Tommy Hil) and his lyrics are pretty much the same words over and over and over again. I’m assuming memorizing more than 3 lines is out of his range so good choice on that Jimmy Iovine. That said, the judges (as per direction from their bosses to keep him in the running) didn’t say much more than good job and let him get away with an emotionless performance with no real power to it.

Erika van Pelt – “New York State of Mind”

My girl Erika came next with some interesting tips from the mentors. Diddy wanted her to throw herself completely into the NY feel of the similarly titled song and Hil got her to embrace her not-so-secret-inner Tegan and Sara and butch the hairdo with a touch of rock. The new look definitely acknowledges the true Erika and I appreciate that: further, the song itself was a good match for her voice. She sounded amazing, very talented…….. and I still think she’s gonna be up for eviction. They are NOT playing this girl young and she.is.going.to.suffer.for.it. No joke, this competition is not for the old of face and the voting this year has clearly shown us this fact. Erika is a brilliant and mature performer and really should have saved her talent for something that accepts and relishes experience and age like “X-Factor”. The judges again did their placid approval but called HER out on lack of umph and feeling behind it while mop-head got all smiles for his bubble gum crap. Bullshit and fake reality judging is all I have to say.

Joshua Ledet – “She’s Got a Way”

Next is as-of-last-week frontrunner Joshua who gets pushed into formal attire to match his suppose “uniqueness”. While this type of outfit ages a man and is a dangerous move for this show, I’m just happy to see some nice clothing so I ain’t gonna complain. Singing something we’ve never heard (that’s 3 for 3 on HUH? songs), he fills the room once again with his booming voice and does a very good job. Unfortunately coming off last week where J Lo said some idiocy like: “Best Song on Idol EVER” (really??), there was no real way to match up. Still, he was good up there for sure. His tone and pitch I find are always great and he captures the audience 100%. He’s also called out on lack of feeling (MAYBE THAT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE GIVING THEM SHIT SONGS THEY’VE NEVER HEARD OF, IDOL) but of course gets accolades and will for sure live to sing another day.

Skylar Laine – “Shameless”

Told some random advice about boot matching, Skylar is a country gurl and knows what she’s doing and looks great tonight. After old man fashion is sent away, we get some good direction from Diddy who asks Skylar to maintain her cool during tonight’s song rather than kick and scream at the top of her lungs. And, she does it! Her first few notes are admittedly a bit shaky but as she quickly finds the rhythm, the song sounds sweet and sincere and I liked her once-again country version of an old “classic” (I saw classic as it’s Billy Joel, but of course I have no idea what the hell this song was). J Lo does NOT agree with Diddy. Finding that she should have put more into it, I think the judges need to allow the kids to experiment rather than stick to their famed routes. Bad judging on Skylar and I’m worried it’s gonna convince more than a couple voters out there to miss her this week.

Elise Testone – “Vienna”

Talent whirlwind and crowd DISpleaser, Elise is up next as she nearly gets spun into fashion bell-bottom disaster by idiot Hilfiger and gets warned by Jimmy she’s taking a risk with an unknown song. HELLO JIMMY: no one knows any of these songs. In a lovely full-length magenta number, she keeps the leather-jacket-clad look and bad boy sound to her voice as she rocks this unknown tune. Just like Erika, Elise commands the crowd with confidence and experience that shadows every single other contestant and yet again, I’m still worried. Elise looks a little vampiric and I’m thinking that’s gonna come off as old and that she’s not going to get any of those precious votes again this week. Her final run is outta control with talent and precision and she kills ever single god damn note. Thankfully, the judges wake up and get out of their seats for this brill-balls performance and give her full credit where credit is due. They lover her; I love her; America hates her, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow, cause if she doesn’t get the votes I’m giving up on the USofA all together.

Phillip Phillips – “Moving Out (Anthony’s Song)”

Next up is my sexy boyfriend whom Hil seems to think needs “a lot” of help. First off, he’s sexy in a paper bag you old lech. Second, you put him in grey? GREY? That’s your big advice? Charcoal pants, grey undershirt, grey button up? You’re an idiot Tommy and I hope they don’t pay you for this crap. Diddy wants him to try a song without the guitar and while I’d be interested to see him without out, it is his safety blanket so it’s no real surprise when he sticks to it. The song was… pretty good. I love him to pieces (have I mentioned we’re dating?), but apart from the red face, sexy, scratchy, hot ending notes, the rest was a bit meh. However, I’m blaming this on Idol again for offering such crap pieces to these YOUNG kids to choose from. He’s a great performer and there’s no real chance he won’t be safe- the judges and the screaming fans always love him- but I’m still waiting for Phil to get something modern to try out and kill.

Hollie Cavanagh – “Honesty”

Hollie gets some back story kicked into her stage time tonight which always helps out getting the voters to connect to a contestant. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who smells producer intervention to keep this girl in: I’ll bet she got the bare number of votes last week and they don’t want to risk it again. Cynicism aside, we move onto Hilfiger thankfully reading her right as he begs her to go younger in appearance and Diddy and Jimmy tell her to go softer and more emotive. So how was the sweeter version of Hollie? Eh…. She wasn’t amazing. Definitely an off night for her compared to the last she didn’t ace this puppy. I hated her pants- let’s get that out of the way- and her makeup was still too severe to read as young and her voice was messed up. She kept running and tripping into notes rather than just hitting them on the first attempt and it came across as off tune and nervous. For the first time, the judges see the cracks in this girl and make sure that we saw them as well. God, those last few words were BUSTED, Hollie. This girl might be in trouble this week.

Heejun Han – “My Life”

Ugh. That’s my summary of Heejun this week: ugh. The contestant who could have used the most help from all mentors, Heejun wasted his time with Jimmy and Diddy complaining about how he was received last week and spent his minutes with Hilfiger doing his awful humour crap. Then there was his performance. Blending his new-found ability to mask with accent with a more obvious sound from old school Heejun, this kid blew it tonight. Trying to be funny with the whole “I need to dance” joke with the pianist, the only thing more disappointing than his karaoke version of the song was his atrocious outfit. Some pastel, geometric, XL shirt on top a bright red button down, Heejun looked as bad as he sang tonight, but surprise surprise, the judges miss out and laugh where they should be critical and guide. God I hope America sees through this “America’s Got Talent” mix of crap performance.

Jessica Sanchez – “Everybody Has a Dream”

Gorgeous Jessica gets her best advice this week from the mentors who tell her to respect the original and not overkill it. Unfortunately, this is what they told Skylar earlier and the judges did NOT seem too happy with that direction so let’s see how it pans out for this girl. Looking a bit flat in the hair (ages her: bad choice) she sings the song with total ease. She’s got the biggest voice on this show alongside Joshua and Hollie and she does well to show it off with her performances even if Diddy wants a bit less powerhouse sometimes- which I nonetheless see the value of. I’m one of those guys that love hearing the huge rise and power endings to songs when the singer can pull it off without sacrificing their pitch and Jessica is hands down one of those performers. Her final notes BLAST the judges to their feet and she goes a bit off from what Diddy wanted but earning her a great round of approval from the panel. She’ll be safe for sure.

Colton Dixon – “Piano Man”

THANKFULLY someone tries to gets Colton away from his faux-punk hair crap but he’s completely unreceptive (ugh): lame. Having a much easier time with the voice mentors, Colton ends up getting Billy Joel’s arguably biggest and best known song of the night with “Piano Man”. Not sure how they quite decide back stage who gets the big bad ones like these- oh right, Nigel hands them to whom he wants to win- Colton gets lucky. Still, it is a good fit for the boy and he combines his au moment screech sound with the old tune and updates it while giving the original a strong nod of respect. It’s a very good performance and will likely be the clip that Idol will play in recaps of this night as: “How the evening went” in ads this week, so good for him for being the face of Billy Joel night. That said, I think the boy is a bit coddled by producers and judges who go balls out crazy for this performance. He’s in NO trouble this week.

Well, that’s Billy Joel HUH? Week. I have no clue what about 8 out of 10 of those songs were and I’m super pissed that Nigel has screwed yet another opportunity to give these kids the room to show off. We’ll see what America thinks with these performances as I slowly come to the realization that my “Top 3 Picks to Go” need to reflect not talent but what U.S. voters have come to show matters to them: cute boys and young girls. Anything else is in trouble and so because of that, here’s my choice for those in trouble.

Adam’s Loser Picks for Thursday:
Heejun Han (needs.to.go)
Skylar Laine
Erika van Pelt

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