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‘American Idol’ Top 11 Recap: Contestants Perform Songs From the Year They Were Born

Hallie Joshua American Idol
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On tonight’s (March 14) episode of ‘American Idol,’ the contestants were asked to perform songs from the year of their birth. That means the range of years was from 1983 through 1995. We know, we felt old, too. will.i.am returned as the mentor, dispensing quirky advice, telling one contestant to lay down when she sang to monitor her breath.

Highlighs of the ep? Phillip Phillips performing despite undergoing surgery for his kidney stones and Joshua Ledet utterly owning ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’ Tiny Hollie Cavanagh was a showstopper, and not just because she was the final performer.

The ultimate lowlight? Poor Jermaine Jones being sent home over a legal matter. We caught a glimpse of his rehearsal of ‘Somewhere Out There,’ which was just terrific. It was a hint that made us think his performance would have been mentioned the above paragraph.

Here is PopCrush’s handy recap of the Top 11 and their performances.

BOYS:

Joshua Ledet: He arrived on the scene in 1992, so he rocked Michael Bolton’s ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’ Ledet, who ate some crawfish before performing, showed off high and low ranges that we had not yet seen. He got a standing “O” from the judges and when he took off his white blazer mid-performance, it was classic and classy. He was the highlight of the night and gave us “the moment.” J. Lo said it was the best thing she ever saw on ‘American Idol.’ Ledet got bonus points for holding his jacket over his shoulder post-performance, like he was a Rat Packer.

Phillip Phillips: 1990 was the year that Phillip squared entered the world, so he chose Black Crowes’ rowdy, raucous rocker ‘Hard to Handle‘ which he performed after surgery for his kidney stones. He was a bit immobile during his performance, likely due to his recovery. But his gravelly, gritty voice was just fine. He might garner the sympathy vote because of the health issues, but he still owned it. He’s this season’s fish-out-of-water, which is our favorite kind of fish.

Deandre Brackensick: The curly-haired singer entered the planet on 1994, so he sang ‘Endless Love,’ which Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross sang the crap out of. It was a safe, boring rendition since he wasn’t feeling it and he admitted that. He has a good voice, but not for this song.

Colton Dixon: The resident rocker left his mother’s womb in 1991 and he went the glam route to sing White Lion’s ‘Broken Heart.’ It’s an obscure song that most of the viewers are probably unfamiliar with, so he had to own it and that’s just what he did. It was a power ballad that started off strong and finished that way. It was a smart strategy, since it felt like we were taking in a Colton Dixon original. He’s this season’s James Durbin.

Heejun Han: Born in 1989, this season’s resident comedian performed Richard Marx’s big ballad ‘Right Here Waiting,’ which was surprising, since Marx has such a honeyed tone. Heejun’s hushed stylings were sweet if a bit boring, and he was too pitchy. Zzzz. Still, La Lopez crowed over him like he is the second coming. Heejun is sweet and his sheepish schtick is entertaining, but he is a decent singer at best.

GIRLS:

Shannon Magrane: The lovely blonde made her grand entrance in 1995. She elected to tackle Mariah Carey’s mega hit duet with Boyz II Men known as ‘One Sweet Day‘ and did an absolutely beautiful job. We were scared for Magrane at first, since singing a Mariah song is akin to courting trouble. She ended the song with a run that made Randy say “Yo” more than once. Magrane climbed a mountain of a song.

Jessica Sanchez: The diva was born in 1995, so she rocked Gloria Estefan’s Latin-flavored ‘Turn the Beat Around.’ She is best-served sticking with the power ballads, as opposed to an uptempo, beat-driven dance anthem. She struggled with the syncopation and it wasn’t right for that large and in charge voice.

Elise Testone: The singer, who earned the save last week, was born in 1983, making her 29. She rebounded nicely when she sang ‘Let’s Stay Together’ by Al Green with the intention of enticing viewers to go make babies after listening to her sing. Her smoky and raspy tone is never anything but sexy, but it didn’t push us into horizontal mambo mode. But it was close enough.

Erika Van Pelt: Loud and proud EVP was born in 1985 so she had plenty of quality songs to sort through. She sang Bryan Adams’ big ol’ ballad ‘Heaven‘ and it was the right choice for her voice, since she has such power and passion. The arrangement was changed and that’s where she went wrong for a hot second.

Skylar Laine: The country queen of Season 11 was birthed in 1994. She tore through Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Love’s Sneakin’ Up on You.’ She has that rock-meets-country thing down to a marketable science, and she killed it yet again, with a raging fire in her belly. We’re not country here on PopCrush, but we loves us some Laine, who is a true mini Reba.

Hollie Cavanagh: The 1993-born petite powerhouse sang Celine Dion‘s ‘The Power of Love.’ She didn’t want to play it safe and singing Celine is anything but safe on this show. Looking prom pretty in her silvery gown, we had to ask where the hell her power comes from. Like what? She is tiny but has a titanic voice. Yes, that was a thinly veiled reference to Dion. She was the best of the ladies tonight. Yep, she was our lady, like the lyrics proclaim.

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