Cast: Ryan Seacrest, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson
Network: Fox, airs Wednesdays and Thursdays @ 8 p.m.
Original Telecast: March 7, 2012

So it has been 400 episodes of awesome karaoke on the world’s greatest karaoke competition, AMERICAN IDOL.

Sigh. This is depressing considering I probably have reviewed maybe 250 of these episodes.

Anyway, this week the guys are taking on Stevie Wonder while the girls are taking on Whitney Houston. Oh because IDOL wouldn’t want to needlessly cash in on the tragedy of her death or something … wait, this is IDOL all they do is cash in needlessly on sh** like this. Of course, they open the finals with Whitney Houston, you’d expect someone alive?

But I digress, the catch is that the bottom performer from the girls and the guys get eliminated by the judges. What the hell? What is this THE X-FACTOR? When has this ever happened? The judges save someone yes, but never have they eliminated anyone. This is supposedly for the people, by the people, meaning who the viewers like the least is gone … with this, the entire premise of the show is just swept under the rug. And when the show is already struggling to keep the viewers it has and stop the bleeding, changing the format radically is a bad, bad idea.

Whatever, let’s get a bigger boat and get this fishing trip started.

Joshua Ledet
Song: “I Wish” By Stevie Wonder
What I Thought: Well, already they are handicapped by whatever they get in terms of songs and if they aren’t comfortable with the song it will probably show. Take Joshua for example. During the Top-24 performance he was the hottest singer of the night. No doubt he was gonna be in the Top-13. Now this isn’t the best performance from him and not as good as the previous song but still very good and I doubt he will be in trouble for a long time.
What the Judges Thought: Randy thought it rocked it. J.Lo loved his performance. Steven thought he nailed it.
Grade: B

Elise Testone
Song: “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston
What I Thought: Elise hit a home run in the Top-24 performances and was one of the best overall. So again, when it comes to a song she isn’t comfortable with … how would she do. Actually, much like Joshua, she not bad. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t as good as last week. I think we may have our frontrunners already in Elise and Joshua. Obviously, it’s early but if they can do this well with material they don’t know or never heard before, think what they can do with songs they know?
What the Judges Thought: Jennifer didn’t love it but she didn’t think it was her best. Steven said she has to find the right song and right voice. Randy thought it wasn’t great.
Grade: B

Jermaine Jones
Song: “Knocks Me off My Feet” by Stevie Wonder
What I Thought: Jermaine comes out wearing a 80s Michael Jackson jacket. Hey man, wrong dead singer. Sorry, that’s probably not a PC thing to say or sensitive. If I have to hear them call Jermaine the gentle giant one more time I’m gonna punch someone. We get it. He’s tall, he sings like Berry White. No need to run it into the ground. Again, much like the first two, wasn’t his best, but not bad at all. I think he’s got a good chance of hanging in the competition for a while.
What the Judges Thought: Steven thought it was a solid performance. Jennifer calls him adorable and sweet but she wants him to connect more with the song. Randy liked parts of the song but not other parts so it was a so-so for him.
Grade: B-

Erica Van Pelt
Song: “I Believe in You and Me” by Whitney Houston
What I Thought: The first of the wild card performers and also our first ballad. In case you have never read one of my reviews, I despise the ballad on IDOL because it just brings everything to a grinding halt and I for one don’t like napping at 8:30 at night. It wasn’t bad but she doesn’t wow me with anything and I have no inclination to want to cheer for her. She’s got a nice voice, just a bit on the boring side.
What the Judges Thought: All three judges thought the same thing, they loved it. Why have three judges if they all say the same damn thing? Just put a single automaton out there.
Grade: B-

Colton Dixon
Song: “Lately” by Stevie Wonder
What I Thought: I love that each performer so far tonight they have started with … “Stevie/Whitney is not in his/her wheelhouse.” Uh, maybe you should re-think your theme nights then dumbasses because if you are purposely putting these contestants in bad positions you won’t be getting good songs. But Jimmy was right when he said this was not in his wheelhouse as it was pretty bad. This is all too bad because I was really looking forward to seeing what Colton could do on the show. I’m not saying he’s going home, I’m just saying it wasn’t good.
What the Judges Thought: Steven thought it was outstanding. Jennifer said he had the biggest challenge given his rocker image but it came through and was great. I must have watched the wrong person perform. Wait, Randy thought it wasn’t picture perfect but at the end of the song he was flawless.
Grade: C-

Shannon Magrane
Song: “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston
What I Thought: Shannon has been a solid performer throughout this year (not to mention being very tall – hey call her a gentle giant next time) but how would she handle something that actually is in her wheelhouse? It was a bit shaky. It was a bit nervous. It was sort of cruise ship spectacular. It was all over the place. Too bad, I actually really like Shannon in the run-up to this performance. Again, not saying she’s going but there has been better.
What the Judges Thought: Jennifer said the thinking got the best of her on that song (this is Jennifer’s way of saying it sucked). Steven said she was nervous and crashed and burned. Randy echoed what they said that she was nervous. This is the moment they miss Simon Cowell … for him to just tell it like it is and say “Sorry love, that sucked monkey nuts.”
Grade: D+

Deandre Brackensick
Song: “Master Blaster”
What I Thought: Who run Bartertown, Deandre? Master Blaster runs Bartertown. One man enters with crazy hair and lots of unnecessary dancing on the stage, hopefully one man leaves the competition. I don’t get the love the judges have for Deandre. Yeah he has a falsetto and a good look but that doesn’t mean he’s any good. He’s got GLEE written all over him as in, that’s about as far as his career should go.
What the Judges Thought: Steve said he took over the stage and loved it. Jennifer said he had soul. Randy showed another side of himself and he was feeling it and said it was good. Again, I am watching the wrong program apparently.
Grade: C

Skylar Laine
Song: “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” by Whitney Houston
What I Thought: This was like Dolly Parton channeling Reba McEntire channeling some local citizen down at the Saddle Ranch local swilling hole riding a mechanical bull on her eighth Budweiser Classic singing Whitney Houston during the bar’s “Get Drunk and Sing” competition. Needless to say, I loved it. Tacky, full of twang and bad outfits. What’s not to like?
What the Judges Thought: Jennifer said she has composure but it was nasally but the last few moments were good. Steven said she nailed it in the ending and beginning. Randy said basically said the same stuff as the others.
Grade: B

Heejun Han
Song: “All in Love is Fair” by Stevie Wonder
What I Thought: Well, it’s official. I’m souring on Heejun. I love his comedic talents in a show that is seriously lacking (yes, even in those wonderful Ford commercials). But come on man, another ballad? Really dude? Look, I get it. You rock the ballads. You dominate the, but I can barely keep my eyes open watching IDOL already and writing this crap, the least you can do is keep me awake. I’ve been pulling for you from the beginning, let’s return the favor, eh?
What the Judges Thought: Jennifer said she loves him. Steven said he was fantastic. Randy said it wasn’t perfect but really good.
Grade: B

Hollie Cavanaugh
Song: “All the Man that I Need” By Whitney Houston
What I Thought: Hollie is the dark horse in this competition. While everyone is talking about Joshua or Jermaine or Elise and Skylar, I’ve got my eyes on Hollie. Because she reminds me most of Kelly Clarkson, didn’t make a big splash in the editing process of Hollywood Week or the other performances but when it got to this point turned on the afterburners and blew it out of the water. OK, maybe she’s not that much of a dark horse but she’s one to watch for sure.
What the Judges Thought: Randy said she nailed maybe Whitney’s biggest tune. Jennifer says she hopes for a sing off in the finals between two chicks. Steven said it was really nice. Why is Steven even here? I could get up there and say something at least funny and be more important than Steven is at judging.
Grade: B+

Jeremy Rosado
Song: “Ribbon in the Sky” by Stevie Wonder
What I Thought: After seeing the preview for Jeremy, you know you were waiting for the train wreck. You were rubbernecking as soon as Jimmy talked about him having nerves. It didn’t happen, however, I know why this guy wasn’t voted in by America in the Top-10 – he’s boring. He’s got a nice voice, but damn, I was already starting to surf the Internet 10 seconds into his song before I had to remind myself that I needed to watch it. He’s not long for this I have a feeling.
What the Judges Thought: Steven, again, broken record, he’s good. Jennifer loves how he can sings songs and it was beautiful. Randy thought it wasn’t his best performance and he didn’t have any swagger. At least, Randy seems to be putting some effort into judging tonight and not phoning it in.
Grade: C

Jessica Sanchez
Song: “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
What I Thought: Obviously (and arguably) Whitney’s biggest hit chosen by one of the smallest chicks in the competition. However, much like Hollie, Jessica has been coming on strong in the last few episodes as maybe one of the strongest chicks in the competition. However, I do see Jessica as one of those surprise kick offs when they get down to like eight or seven people, despite how good she is. Remember Pia from last year? Yep. Not much to say about this other than she has some serious pipes.
What the Judges Thought: Randy thinks she is one of the best singers in the competition. Jennifer said it was amazing and she was speechless. Steven finally says something different by pulling a Morpheus and calling her “the One”.
Grade: A-

Phillip Phillips
Song: “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
What I Thought: While Jessica definitely had the best singing performance with Hollie as the runner-up for the night. Phillip I think had the best overall performance in terms of energy on stage, which sometimes is half the battle on IDOL because people like to move their head and jam out and have fun. That gets people motivated to vote for the singer. So from that perspective, it was solid.
What the Judges Thought: Steven doesn’t say really anything. Jennifer said he made it his own and he killed it. Randy said we do need him in the competition because he is different. He also said he drives his own car in his own lane and he loves it.
Grade: B+

So who goes into the bottom this week? I think Jeremy Rosado cries some more and goes in from the men and Shannon Magrane goes in from the women and the judges send cry baby back to mama.

UPDATE: The Person Who Got Voted out During the Top 13 elimination is …

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