American Idol 2012: Jermaine Jones kicked off, Joshua Ledet sings When a Man Loves a Woman

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 14, 2012 

Jermaine Jones is officially gone and Joshua Ledet won the night.

That's all you need to know about Wednesday's "American Idol" performance show, when contestants performed songs from the year they were born. The guest mentor was will.i.am.

It was supposed to be the top 12 performance show, but Jermaine Jones was disqualified for concealing his criminal history and having four outstanding warrants. Learn more here. During Wednesday's show, we watched pre-taped footage of producers' sit-down chat with Jermaine. He said he didn't disclose the information because he was scared he'd be judged.

So, Jermaine is gone. Seacrest said on Wednesday that things would proceed as usual this week. Thursday is still elimination night, but I can see the judges handing out a last-minute "save."

Overall, Wednesday's performances were just OK. Joshua Ledet and Hollie Cavanagh led the night. Performances from Phillip Phillips, Elise Testone and Skylar Laine were pretty good, too. Everybody else fell under an umbrella that spanned "OK" to "awful."

Is it just me, or does it seem like these performance shows are still too heavy on ballads?

One more thing: Joshua Ledet was not born in 1966. Jessica Sanchez was not born in 1976. Welcome to the trend of "Idol" contestants singing songs that were covered in their birth year. Is that fair? You decide. Here's how I'd rank Wednesday's performances:

1. Joshua Ledet, "When a Man Loves a Woman"

2. Hollie Cavanagh, "The Power of Love"

3. Elise Testone, "Let's Stay Together"

4. Phillip Phillips, "Hard to Handle"

5. Skylar Laine, "Love Sneakin' Up On You"

6. Colton Dixon, "Broken Heart"

7. Erika Van Pelt, "Heaven"

8. Jessica Sanchez, "Turn the Beat Around"

9. Shannon Magrane, "One Sweet Day"

10. Deandre Brackensick, "Endless Love"

11. Heejun Han, "Right Here Waiting"

Here's a full recap of Wednesday's show.

***

Phillip Phillips, "Hard to Handle": In his pre-performance footage, Phillip says he's been having health problems, more kidney issues. He apparently had surgery recently. He takes the stage sans guitar, and immediately I'm a little nervous. But Phillip seems in his element, even if this performance doesn't have as much uniqueness as what he's delivered in the past. Maybe that's a good thing. You can't change this tune too much.

Randy: "You're kind of unique for us this year...You sound amazing."

Jennifer: "This is just so natural for you."

Steven: "Watch your melody and keep it up, man."

Jessica Sanchez, "Turn the Beat Around": Props to Jessica for doing a fast song this week. Thank you, Jessica. Vocally, she has some strong moments. However, overall she seems slightly disconnected from the whole performance. It lacks the emotional connection and attitude she's delivered in the past. Tonight, it seems like Jessica is just going through the motions. She deserves to stick around, though.

Steven: "You can't stray too far from what I think you sing the best, which is ballads."

Jennifer: "It lost a little bit of the energy...Not my favorite thing I've ever seen you do, but good job."

Randy: "The problem for me was the song choice...Pick something more that you can really play with and make your own."

Heejun Han, "Right Here Waiting": Thanks for continuing the ballad trend, Heejun. NOT. I like the end of this performance much better than the beginning. But for the most part...I'm not a huge fan tonight. Heejun's performances have just become too sleepy lately. I think he's fully entered lounge singer mode. That's not a good thing. Aww, Heejun's girlfriend is in the audience tonight.

Randy: "I didn't really enjoy this at all."

Jennifer: "Toward the end it got really beautiful for me."

Steven: "It just wasn't a great song for you."

Elise Testone, "Let's Stay Together": Elise starts this tune slowly, then picks up the pace. Compared to last week, she seems much more confident and so much more in control of the song. Overall, it's a very sassy, jazzy performance...with some of the strongest vocals we've seen so far tonight. I'm a fan. Way to go, Elise.

Steven: "God, I love your voice."

Jennifer: "That was showing America who Elise is to me...It was a beautiful, beautiful thing."

Randy: "America, Elise is back...That was absolutely beautiful."

Deandre Brackensick, "Endless Love": Groan. Another contestant enters lounge singer territory. In his pre-performance footage, we learn that Deandre had a hard time with song choice this week. The final outcome isn't pretty. The whole thing just seems way too dated for someone his age. It's sleepy...and with the exception of maybe one moment, the vocals are just average.

Jennifer: "You can sing anything and you sang that beautifully...I just didn't think it was the right song for you."

Steven: "I also don't think it was the right song for you."

Randy: "It definitely was the wrong song for you."

Shannon Magrane, "One Sweet Day": I really, really, really want to see Shannon sing a fast song. That's not going to happen tonight. Shannon seems much more confident than last week. Still, I'm not incredibly fond of the arrangement of this song, originally performed by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. In the end, the performance is just average. Shannon hasn't escaped pageant zone. Also, she's trying WAY too hard to be Mariah Carey.

Jennifer: "You did a beautiful job with that."

Steven: "That was beautiful."

Randy: "You are here because you have mad potential."

Colton Dixon, "Broken Heart": This White Lion tune is an odd song choice. I'm never really a fan of choosing songs that might seem obscure to the "Idol" audience. But whatever. Once again, Colton comes off a bit whiny during this performance...even though he has some decent moments, too. My biggest criticism of Colton? I don't know where he fits musically. Sometimes he's "indie." Sometimes he's "metal." Sometimes he's something else.

Jennifer: "I loved the beginning of it...I thought you delivered that really well."

Steven: "I think it was the wrong song for your voice and your passion."

Randy: "I like this guy."

Erika Van Pelt, "Heaven": Go ahead and judge: I'm still holding out hope for Erika. I think she has a really good voice...she just needs some coaching. Tonight's song choice seems like a step in the right direction. For the most part, she does a good job with it. The biggest problem is the arrangement. It's a little off and it seems to mess with Erika at times.

Steven: Says she tried to do too much with the song

Jennifer: "I feel you coming together as an artist...I think you're great."

Randy: "I kind of liked it."

Quick break for a Jermaine Jones update! We finally watch the sit-down chat between Jermaine and "Idol" producers. We're reminded of Jermaine's various criminal charges and the fact that he has four active warrants out against him. Jermaine says he didn't disclose the issues because he didn't want to be judged. Either way...he's disqualified. We get some footage of him singing "Somewhere Out There" in rehearsal.

Skylar Laine, "Love Sneakin' Up On You": Finally, a sense of consistency. We get a standard Skylar performance, filled with country vocals and lots of energy. I have no major complaints. I appreciate the fact that Skylar is both consistent and has personality. This isn't my favorite performance from Skylar, but I can easily see her making the top three this year...even if she didn't have the elusive Moment this week.

Steven: "I haven't heard you sing a song bad yet."

Jennifer: "You really killed that."

Randy: Liked it overall

Joshua Ledet, "When A Man Loves A Woman": This song is a little played out in the "Idol" world, but I'll give Joshua a pass tonight...mainly because he delivers such a stellar performance. Really, it's pretty awesome. He hits lots of his signature gospel-inspired big notes, but my favorite thing about Joshua is that he consistently exudes so much emotion. He's really believable on stage. The judges go crazy...and Joshua gets some crawfish.

Randy: "That was phenomenal, incredible on every level."

Jennifer: "The best thing I've ever seen on American Idol."

Steven: "That was just the most beautiful performance I've ever seen."

Hollie Cavanagh, "The Power of Love": If we absolutely needed a Celine Dion cover tonight, I'm at least glad it came from Hollie. I'm very impressed. She does a great job with this tune, even with some slightly shaky moments during the middle. I think she's easily the strongest female vocalist of the night. My only request? Please sing a fast song next week, Hollie!

Jennifer: "It was beautiful."

Steven: "You're great, Holly."

Randy: "Another Moment...very well done."

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