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'American Idol' Recap: Jessica Sanchez Nails Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You'

Wed, March 7, 2012 11:55pm EDT by 11 Comments
Jessica Sanchez American Idol

The top 13 contestants took on Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder songs on ‘American Idol’ March 7 and did a surprisingly good job. Who do YOU think will get the boot?

Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston songs are notoriously difficult for singers, so I wasn’t too optimistic heading into tonight’s American Idol. However, these top 13 singers are so talented, no one crashed and burned too badly. In fact, one incredible singer — Jessica Sanchez — even brought all three judges to their feet after her flawless rendition of “I Will Always Love You.”

Joshua Ledet: Joshua started off the competition with a bang. His voice is clearly perfect for Stevie Wonder songs. I thought he performed “I Wish” really well. Although it’s not my favorite genre of music, I couldn’t have asked for a stronger performance. “If you feel the beat and rock like that, you can do anything,” Randy Jackson raved. “Flawless.”

Elise Testone: I love Elise’s sound. It’s gravely and strong. Unfortunately, I don’t think she picked the right song (“I’m Your Baby Tonight”) for the occasion, but she said producers changed her song last minute — ugh. The judges gave her a ton of constructive criticism, but overall the consensus was the same as mine. “Whitney [Houston]’s a beast,” Jennifer Lopez said. “It’s undeniable you have an amazing voice, that’s for sure. I just don’t think this was your best. There were timing issues and there were other things.”

Jermaine Jones: Jermaine has such a gentle aura about him; when he sings, I feel safe. There’s no stress he’s going to hit the notes or anything like that and he sang “Knocks Me Off My Feet” flawlessly. “That song fit you like an Armani suit,” Stephen Tyler said. (Can we please talk about how he dwarfs Ryan Seacrest? Ryan looked three feet tall standing next to him. LOL.)

Erika Van Pelt: I’m glad the judges brought Erika back for the top 13. She’s been in this business for a long time and it’s refreshing to see such a mature soul on a show packed with super young singers. That said, her rendition of “I Believe in You and Me” was…good. It wasn’t my favorite song from Erika. She’s such a rocker, it’s hard to hear her sing Whitney Houston. “I feel like you’re playing it a little bit safe,” J. Lo said, but complimenting her on her tone and emotion. (P.S. Ryan looked like a little boy next to Erika also. They should get him a step stool for some of these contestants.)

Colton Dixon: Colton is another singer who wouldn’t usually sing Stevie Wonder, but he’s so talented he still managed to knocked it out of the park. The ending was fantastic. I hope he’s around for awhile so we can really see him in his element. “That was outstanding!” Stephen said. “That was great, man.”

Shannon Magrane: Shannon sang one of my favorite Whitney songs, “I Have Nothing,” but I think nerves got the best of her. In the preview clip, she gave me chills. Her voice was PERFECT. However, during the live show, she kind of choked. Stephen looked confused after the performance. “Shannon, I think your nerves got the best of you, baby,” he said (JINX!). “You kind of crashed and burned on the turnaround.” Yikes.

Deandre Brackensick: Deandre is precious. He was so excited to sing “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” and it showed. He tied his long hair back and got down and dirty with the song, dancing around the stage with the band. I really enjoyed it. “You have rhythm, you have soul. You have swag up there,” Jennifer said. “I love what you did up there.”

Skylar Laine: I was nervous for Skylar this week. The day before the show, she told me she didn’t really listen to Whitney at all growing up. Plus, she’s a country singer. However, in true musical genius form, she killed “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” The first verse was a litte shaky, but by the time she got to the chorus, I had chills. This girl can sing. “You kept it together and you gave us the biggest moment of the night!” Jennifer said. I’m officially obsessed with her.

Heejun Han: How can you not get a kick out of Heejun? He definitely wins the “Best Personality” award in my book. He makes me laugh every week — and then I tear up when he sings. Tonight his rendition of “All in Love is Fair” was seamless. “It wasn’t perfect, but it was really good,” Randy said, smiling.

Hollie Cavanagh: Hollie looks like she’s 12 years old, so when she comes out and nails a song like “All the Man That I Need,” I just shake my head in disbelief. The pipes on this chick are un-freakin-believable. She’s fantastic — and all three judges agreed.

Jeremy Rosado: Jeremy is sweet and sounded good singing “Ribbon in the Sky,” but I won’t remember this performance next week. Compared to his competition tonight, he wasn’t the best. Meh. “You didn’t get a chance to fly like you usually do, but it doesn’t matter. It wasn’t in that song,” Stephen commented.

Jessica Sanchez: Going into tonight, Jessica was definitely my favorite singer of the season and she proved me right with a version of “I Will Always Love You” that gave me chills and had all three judges on their feet. “This is what it’s really all about! Finding the best talents in all of America,” Randy said. “And America, this is one of the best talents in the country.” Jennifer was so choked up, she could barely even talk. “God bless you,” she said. Safe to say, Jessica will be with us another week.

Phillip Phillips: Poor Phillip had to follow “The Chosen One,” but if anyone can charm, it’s him. He makes me giggle like I’m 13 and watching Justin Bieber. Tonight he was standing on stage with his guitar, rocking out to “Superstition” with the band and I felt like I was at his concert. He’s a pro. “You just took it…and you made it your own and you killed it,” Jennifer said.

Overall, I think this is the strongest top 13 we’ve seen in a long time. There were two or three performances I didn’t love (Shannon and Elise…), but for the most part, they were all fantastic. It’s so nice to see girls doing well too — maybe this year we’ll have a female winner!

Oh, and I forgot to mention a slight plot twist. Stealing straight from The X Factor, Idol has implemented the following rule: America will vote on the lowest girl and guy and then the judges will choose who is eliminated from the bottom two.

What did you think of tonight’s performances? Who do you think will be in the bottom two tomorrow — and most importantly, who will be voted off the show?

And watch Jessica perform “I Will Always Love You” below:

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