Phil Phillips starts things off, with his mom explaining he was born a month premature in 1990. He had a lot of health problems and his parents were even told at one point he might not make it through the night. His dad thinks he's a wonderful young man that the world needs to meet. Phil meets up with Jimmy Iovine and will.i.am and says he's not feeling too great as he has to have his kidney stones removed that night. He tells them not to expect much as he launches into Hard to Handle, and will.i.am says he nails it. He wonders what he sounds like when he's not in pain. Jimmy think he's changed what it means to have a sick day at the show. He has no guitar tonight and sounds absolutely great. Perfect song choice.
Randy Jackson tells Phil that he knows by now, doing the show for like a minute, that he's like a fish out of water, being unique with a different voice and different style. Tonight he doesn't have the guitar and sounded like that after surgery on Thursday, He sounded amazing. That kind of a song is a great kind of song for him to do because it's very bluesy, but cool and poppy at the same time. Randy didn't know he was born that year, as it's the same year he was born.
Jennifer Lopez says it goes to prove that it's so natural to Phil. It's in every cell of his body. It just comes out of him. It was a great song for him, perfect the way he sang it, and all over him. Steven Tyler is really glad that Phil picks songs that match his voice and character. It's important for him. He needs to watch the melody, though.
Jessica Sanchez was born in 1995, and her dad
mentions that mom and grandma photographed her a lot because she was the first child. Plus, she was a little diva. Her mom says when she'd get upset, she'd cry until nothing came out, then she'd faint. She thinks that's where her lungs got started.
will.i.am tells Jessica he saw her on TV and thought she was really good. She sings Turn the Beat Around for him and Jimmy, and they're impressed, but will.i.am asks her to punctuate the modulation. Jimmy suggests she cue the band. She does, and will.i.am can't believe she took it even higher and didn't even sweat. He calls her a "swaggernaut."
Steven loves Jessica's voice, but tells her to not stray too far from the ballads, which he feels she does the best. The rhythm she sang the song with was a little shady, and he loves her pants. Of course J-Lo does too. She heard the same thing. Her voice has such a strong vibrato which is beautiful, but on this song, you need to be syncopated and on the beat, and it made it lag behind. It wasn't her favorite thing Jessica has done, but it was a good job.
Randy echoes this and tells Jessica she's one of the best in the competition, so he feels they should steer her in the right direction with constructive criticism. The problem for her was song choice. The song doesn't allow her to show that, and she needs to pick something she can play with and make her own. J-Lo's right that it's in the vibrato. It's so wide, but she needs to learn to shorten it. She always sounds good, but there are some things for her to work on.
Heejun Han's mom explains ever since he was little, he was always funny. She thinks he gets it from her. His dad prays Heejun doesn't make mistakes when she's onstage. Heejun's mom tears up saying he would always wake up with a smile on his face. He's singing Right Here Waiting from 1989. Jimmy and will.i.am warn him to get the chance pronounced correct. Heejun knows his accent can be a problem, calling this English 101. He asks will.i.am to sign his sheet music and also write down Fergie's number. But Fergie's like Will's sister, so he doesn't want to be messing up her marriage.
Randy tells Heejun tha the didn't really enjoy it at all. It was pitchy all over the place and it felt like he was out of breath the whole time. It was the wrong kind of song for him, because he remembers he had some urban R&B in him when they first met him. Jennifer admits they all heard those little notes here and there, but to her, Heejun's tone is so special and gorgeous. She could tell he was struggling a little bit, but she could feel him fighting through it at the end and it got really beautiful for her when she felt his heart.
Steven thinks Heejun stepped so far out of his circle. It was really breathy, and he was trying so hard. It wasn't a great song for him, but he loves his voice anyway. Heejun admits he was thinking of his girlfriend during the song, but 20% of it was Jennifer, and 10% Fergie.
Elise Testone is the oldest of the bunch, born in 1983. Her mom explains Elise would always be getting in trouble, but cute trouble. They went to the beach and put their bags down, and the lifeguard was blowing his whistle as she was already running into the ocean on her own. She appreciated the judges saving her last week. will.i.am is impressed with the rasp and vibrato in Elise's voice as she sings Let's Stay Together. He just wishes he could see her smile in the song and hold the title lyric a little longer. He also thinks she and Obama should have a singoff with the song. She thinks people will be making babies when she sings it tonight.
Steven tells Elise, "God, I love your voice. My Aunt Sonja loves your voice. Everybody loves your voice." It's a natural thing with the rasp and there's a beauty and soul behind it. Jennifer thinks this was showing America who Elise is. It was right on every single level. It came form the heart, she sang it beautifully, and she made it her own. Randy announces, "America, Elise is back." This is why they loved her when she first auditioned. She has the voice with a little Janis in it. The run at the end was beautiful, "like butter."
Deandre Brackensick was born in 1994. His dad says as a kid he was all over the place and crazy and running himself ragged. At 2 years old he would try singing everything he heard on the radio. His mom liked to listen the Music Man musical, and he memorized every word in the movie. He gets angry at her for showing the video of him performing 76 Trombones. When he was 4, they knew he could sing and people started predicting they'd see him someday on American Idol.
Originally Deandre chose to sing Can You Feel the Love, but will.i.am isn't feeling the love with the choice. He's worried Deandre will be one of the guys that goes home because he can't pick the wrong song. He compares it to choosing the right tool for a job. Jimmy suggests Endless Love instead, and Deandre makes the switch. will.i.am says he killed it last week with Master Blaster, so this week he needs to be the master and blast through the competition.
Jennifer tells Deandre he can sing anything and he sang it beautifully. However, she thinks Jimmy and Will steered him wrong, even though they were on point with everyone else. She didn't think it was the right song for him. She didn't feel he felt it was the right one and hopes America sees past it. For him to be able to sing it that well, despite it not being him says a lot about who he is as an artist.
Steven loves Deandre as an artist and loves what he can do with his falsetto, but he also doesn't think it was the right song for him. He loves his voice, and he knows he'll find it. Randy agrees it was definitely the wrong song for him. Mariah and Luther sang the "I don't know what" out of the song. What happened was it paled in comparison, and was boring and safe at the wrong time. He needs to have excitement every time and songs to show what he can do. It was way too boring and Jimmy and Will were wrong with it.
Shannon Magrane is another born in 1995. Her dad says the first song she sang that was in heavy rotation around their house was Thumbelina. There were a lot of time he was pitching on the mound and he'd have that song stuck in his head. Jimmy puts in a request to hear her sing Don't Speak and shows her a video on an AT&T Vivid Phone.
However, she chooses One Sweet Day.Jimmy notices something with her voice, so Will advises her to practice singing laying down for breath control. She still seems to be running out of breath as she sings it tonight, though. If you don't have the breath for a song, don't sing it.
Jennifer knows it wasn't an easy undertaking, to follow on the heels of Mariah and Boys II Men. She was terrified for her, but she did a beautiful job with it. She deserves a little happy dance at the end, as she had some beautiful little runs in it. Steven thinks she does her best when she doesn't try so hard. Something seems to be wrong with Steven tonight. He's unusually quiet and his comments seem slightly more negative than usual.
Randy was terrified too, because he worked with Mariah, and knows she and Boyz II Men "sang the I don't know what" out of it, and it was one of the biggest songs of Mariah's careeer. They like Shannon, America's falling in love with her, and she's fearless. The front of the song was cool, but the three of them looked at each other and thought, "Yo, this girl got somethin' goin' on." Ryan thanks her for wearing flats tonight.
Born in 1991, Colton's mom admits he was a great baby. He loved sports, and baseball was his favorite. He asked his dad if he could quit ball to do music, and his dad told him he didn't care what he did, as long as you put 100% into it. Colton thinks it was a good choice. HIs song choice this week is Broken Heart. The band doesn't even know the song, but Colton promises to put his own twist on it. Will thinks he did such a great version of it, it will now be Colton's song.
Jennifer didn't know the song, so it was a Colton song to her. She loved the beginning and thought he delviered it really well. She watched it and thought Colton is a lover. The best singers to her are the ones who fall in love deeply, get their heart broken and then are traumatized and sing about it. She feels that from him. Plus, she thinks he looks pretty when he sings.
Steven, the rocker, thought it was the wrong song for Colton's voice and passion. He's heard him sing other songs and didn't feel it going anywhere. Again, something seems to be wrong with Steven. Randy thinks it's a case that the song doesn't matter, because he performed it dope, and he was paying attention to him, and couldn't care less about the song. Plus he likes the fly jacket/vest thing and the hair.
Erika van Pelt was born in 1985, and her mom thinks she was born with music in her. She was just always … loud. They wanted silence in the house sometimes. She was always the alpha. She didn't want to play softball and wanted to play hardball. The town asked her to sing the national anthem, and she would, then would play the game afterwards. She wonders how many parents are as lucky as she is. Erika is singing Heaven, and Jimmy thinks it's a good fit and puts a break into the song. She has a shaky start tonight, but she gets over that really quickly. She does have one pitchy moment, but all-in-all it's good.
Steven tells Elise it's a good song, but to be honest, he thinks she was too busy with it. It's a beautiful song, and when that's the case, you have to stay with it and stay with the melody, but he still likes her voice.
Jennifer understands what Steven means about the arrangement, as it's such a powerful song. and she has the chops to really rock it out. She's this year's Janis Joplin and has the vocals to give them all that stuff. But the arrangement left them wanting more. But what she loves about her journey and others is seeing their image shape and form in front of them. She looks amazing and has always had the voice, and J-Lo feels it's all coming together. Randy kind of liked it, calling it an 8 out of a 10. She does look amazing, but tells her to be careful not to do too much with a great song, and not to let anyone tell her to do that.
Ryan goes back to the contestant with the legal troubles and announces it's Jermaine. The executive producers, Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, sat down with him just last night. They called him into their offices to discuss it with them and brought the cameras with them. They mention the charges against him, two from just last year. He didn't disclose those to them, and in fact he has four active warrants against him. Ken says they're not judgmental, and if people are honest from the beginning, they can help them. And he wasn't honest with any of it.
Jermaine denies the one fighting charge, saying it was just him and his friend fighting, but it wasn't anything like fist fighting. He didn't tell them because he didn't want to get judged or penalized. He was hoping to just pay for them and have them go away. Nigel explains they aren't allowed to have anyone on the show with outstanding warrants, so they're sorry, but they have to let him go. Yet they admit they both love listening to him sing. He thanks them for the opportunity. As he walks out, we hear his rehearsal from yesterday afternoon. He was singing Somewhere Out There.
Ryan explains they will miss Jermaine's talent and they wish him the best luck in his future. He notes it's still business as usual and the person with the lowest amount of votes is still "at risk" of going home.
Ryan announces in 1994 Aerosmith was enjoying success with their Get a Grip album, and Skylar Laine was born. Ryan mentions it being a tough night for the contestants, and Skylar replies, "Y'all are being mean!" However, she mentioned everyone seems to be taking the criticism with the intention given, just resolving to take it into consideration next week. She's admits to being more nervous than normal.
Skylar readily admits she was a horrible child. Her parents back that up with her mom saying she was a mess and her dad saying she was a handful. When she was a baby she'd bang her head on the wall or sidewalk when she'd get mad. She wonders if that's why she does it performances today. She wants to sing Love Sneaking Up On You, and once again Jimmy and will.i.am try to get her to change her pick. She doesn't budge. Will compares her style to ghetto country, or ghountry.
Steven tells Skylar she has so much heart and soul. He hasn't heard her sing a song that was bad yet, especially the country. It's beautiful. Jennifer brings up Skylar saying they're being mean today, and she's sorry, but they'd be doing them a disservice if they aren't honest. To keep it real, though, she really killed that. She didn't love that the song didn't have more of a chorus, but she still did her thing. Randy refers to Skylar as they're rockin' in-house country girl. He loves that she could have picked a country song, but good on her as they've been beating up on the song choices all night. Whatever, she just needs to sing it good. and she came out and rocked it.
Born in 1992, Joshua is the youngest of eight kids. He calls the big family fun, and his mom talks about him always wanting to sing, being such a rascal. Tonight he's singing When a Man Loves a Woman and Will refers to him as the soulman and notes he felt his pain. He felt like Joshua took 'em to church. Joshua explains his daddy is a pastor. They compare that they both say "yes, ma'am" to their mamas, and Will shows that his mom chipped his tooth. He thinks Joshua will tear the roof down, in a nice way, otherwise his mama will whip his butt. As promised, he tears it down.
The judges give him a standing O before he even finishes.
Steven brings that up, saying it was so good, the judges were up halfway through it. He has no other words than that. Randy mentions they have some amazing singers this year, and he's been saying all night they need a moment tonight and someone to come out and blow it out of the box. They needed someone to come out and regulate. "Joshua Ledet, that was phenomenal, incredible on every level. And I think …"
J-Lo interrupts him and tells Joshua it's the best thing she's seen on American Idol … ever. Randy's theory is that what made the performance special is he and Ryan were in New Orleans and brought back the crawfish. Steven tells him he gave it up so big God came through his eyes. It was just the most beautiful performance he's ever seen. Randy knows Percy Sledge would be proud. Ryan's thinking it's a moment to maybe just not go to commercial, just have an appetizer and stay there until tomorrow. They need the crawfish.
Hollie Cavanagh was born in 1993 and thought she was an angel.Her dad thinks she's kind of goofy, but her mom thinks she has a great personality, which she gets mad at for some reason. Her dad can't even speak, because he's so broken up. She's singing Power of Love this week. Will asks where the power is coming from in such a little body. He's blown away. She knows it's not the stage of the game to play it safe.
Jennifer thinks between Hollie and Joshua, they really saved the best for last. There were one or two tiny little things, but for the most part to criticize them would be silly. Steven thinks it was beautiful, but adds it was a little pitchy here and there. The performance was great. He doesn't know where her voice is from. "It's Heaven above." Randy was going to mention the one or two things, but Jennifer said it would be silly to mention it. Hollie was definitely in her wheelhouse. She has more swag than that, but she blew the song out of the box. This was yet another moment.