The contestants who made the tour battled it out this week choosing their weapons from the Billy Joel songbook.  Some of my favorites fell flat and some others really surprised me tonight.
DeAndre Brackensick
“Only the Good Die Young”

DeAndre was one of my wife’s early favorites.  His gentle persona and carribean sensitivities are reminiscent of Jason Castro.

He is finally settling into his voice, but the song is very masculine and he failed to pull it off.  His performance felt bouncy and missed the mark.

Erika Van Pelt
“New York State of Mind”

I am always rooting for the female rockers in every season.  Erika showed some promise early on but has failed so far to resonate with the viewing audience.

I could finally listen to her without picturing Sher.  She gave a nice but, in the end, forgettable performance of one of my favorite Billy Joel standards.

Joshua Ledet
“She’s Got a Way”

Gospel singer Joshua enters this week coming off of a phenomenal performance of Percy Sledge’s legendary “When a Man Loves a Woman”

Joshua has a truly amazing voice, but his complex gospel style played havoc with a simple beautiful song.  His previous success may carry him this week, but to win he’ll need to prove he can do more than sing R&B.

Skylar Laine
“Shameless”

“Little Reba” has been one of my favorites from the very beginning of the competition.

It came as no surprise that she chose a song made famous by a country rendition (Frankly, I always preferred Garth Brook’s version over Billy Joel’s original). She managed to rock the chorus but her shaky verse revealed a weakness in her range.

Elise Testone
“Vienna”

This throwback songstress has struggled to stay in the competition so far.  Tonight may have changed that.

For the first time in the evening, someone “got” Billy Joel.  Her soulful delivery earned every bit of the standing ovation she received.

Phil Phillips
“Moving Out”

The most unique individual in the completion, Phil refuses to sing any song the way it was originally written.

I have to say I was surprised tonight.  For the first time, I actually liked his version of the song.  His trademark honesty might not win the competition, but his fans will know exactly what they are getting when he sells his first album.

Hollie Cavanaugh
“Honesty”

This little diva, with her distinctive accent, is one of my guilty pleasures.

She has proven her chops tackling Whitney Houston and Celine Dion.  But this week, she oversang a song that Billy Joel practically spoke.  Still, I don’t think she’s going anywhere.

Heejun Han
“My Life”

This Asian performer shocked listeners with his soulful Latino/R&B voice.

While the judges were not amused, I liked two things about Heejun’s performance.  First he stepped away from the boring ballads.  More importantly, he chose a song that fits the personality that we see in all of the non-musical segments.  While the range of the song emphasized his accent and pitch problems in a few places, I’m hoping that America will keep this entertainer around.

Jessica Sanchez
“Everybody Has a Dream”

This young lady exploded into the American consciousness with a near perfect rendition of Whitney Houston’s (actually Dolly Parton’s but let’s not split hairs) “I Will Always Love You”.

Randy’s comment summed it up perfectly.  Jessica has delivered consistent performances week after week and may just make it all the way.  I’d never even heard the song before and I loved it.

Colton Dixon
“Piano Man”

The alternative rocker in the competition has polled well with the ladies.

This was the other contestant that blew my mind.  Until tonight, I’ve been unimpressed.  But as the judges and mentors said, it seemed as if the song was made for him.  He made the classic song his own without disrespecting the original.  Colton may be the one to watch.

Bottom Three Predictions

This early in the competition, surprise upsets happen all of the time, but if I have to guess I’d say:
  • Deandre Brackensick (going home)
  • Erika VanPelt
  • Heejun Han



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