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'American Idol' Recap: Joshua Ledet Shines, But Fan Favorite Heejun Han Struggles

Thu, March 15, 2012 2:49am EDT by 5 Comments
Joshua Ledet American Idol

It was a mixed bag of performances March 14 on ‘American Idol’! Some contestants had their strongest night yet, while others — including favorites Heejun Han and Jessica Sanchez — failed to impress. Who do YOU think is going home?

It was “Year They Were Born” night on American Idol March 14, which meant each of the top 12 contestants had to choose a song from their birth year. For some, this was a blessing — but for others (especially those born in 1995), it was a complete and utter nightmare. However, no one had as painful of a night as Jermaine Jones, who was disqualified from the competition due to four outstanding arrests. Oh, the drama!

Phillip Phillips: Phillip closed the show last week and opened it tonight for one reason and one reason only: he’s freaking incredible. The 21-year-old singer had surgery on his right kidney last Thursday and STILL managed to sound like a million bucks singing Otis Redding‘s “Hard to Handle.” “It was a great song for you. It was perfect. You sang it. It was perfect! I can’t believe it!” Jennifer Lopez raved.

Jessica Sanchez: called the 16-year-old prodigy a “swagger-naut” because she can wail in a way no barely 5-feet-tall teenager should. I thought her rendition of “Turn the Beat Around” was impressive, but not her best performance. “The problem for me was the song choice,” Randy Jackson said and I agreed. However, as Jessica said after her song (and what she told me the day before), it was hard finding a song that suited her from 1995 — a year chalk full of raps and boy bands. Regardless of her performance tonight, I think she’ll get through to next week.

Heejun Han: Before I start on Heejun’s performance, can we please discuss how sweet his parents were during the intro? I need to meet these happy people! (Also, Heejun told me yesterday his mom is proud of him because “they got the American dream” from American Idol. Talk about pulling at the heart strings!) Unfortunately, his performance of “Right Here Waiting” tonight wasn’t good. Maybe he had a hard time with 1989 too? “I didn’t enjoy this at all,” Randy said. “It was pitchy all over the place…it felt like you were out of breath the whole time.” Ugh. I hope this wasn’t his last Idol performance.

Elise Testone: Elise was walking a thin line this week, since she was the one who the judges saved from elimination last week. Thankfully, she slayed Al Green‘s “Let’s Stay Together” and I can’t wait to see her go far this season. “God, I love your voice!” Stephen Tyler said. “America, Elise is back!” Randy said. “This girl is dope.” If she gets the boot this week, America is officially off its rocker.

Deandre Brackensick: I have a soft spot in my heart for Deandre. He’s precious — on stage and off. Even though there’s no denying the 17-year-old singer has an incredible voice, his version of “Endless Love” wasn’t my favorite. I preferred his performance last week. “Here’s the thing, you can sing anything and you sang that beautifully,” Jennifer said. “But I think Jimmy and Will steered you wrong. I don’t think that was the right song for you.” Agreed. That said, I hope he’s around next week. He deserves another shot.

Shannon Magrane: Shannon is only 16 years old and sometimes it shows when she’s performing. Not to compare her to Jessica, but you can tell she hasn’t had as much experience on stage and I don’t think her voice is as mature. However, she conquered Mariah Carey‘s “One Sweet Day” pretty well. “That was not an easy undertaking. I was honestly terrified for you,” Jennifer said. “But you did a beautiful job with that.” Not my favorite performance, but much improved from last week.

Colton Dixon: Colton chose a song from 1991 that is so obscure (“Broken Heart” by White Lion), even the band didn’t know it, so he had to ditch them for just a piano. Even though hard rock isn’t my first choice when it comes to music genres, I still loved Colton’s performance. It was refreshing to see someone so passionate about a song. The judges gave mixed reviews. Stephen hated it, Jennifer loved it and Randy thought “the song didn’t matter” because “you performed it dope.” Agreed.

Erika Van Pelt: Unlike last week, Erika had the opportunity to really own her song, “Heaven,” and rock out, which is the kind of music that fits her voice best. Some of her notes weren’t pitch perfect, but overall, she had an okay-ish performance…something felt off. “You had too much going on with it,” Stephen said. I think Jimmy and pointed her in the wrong direction with the accompaniment. This might have been her swan song.

Jermaine Jones: Oh, boy. I can’t believe they showed the conversation executive producers had with Jermaine telling him he was kicked off the show. Nice ratings ploy, Fox.

Skylar Laine: I’m proud Skyler stuck to her guns and didn’t switch her song, even though her mentors tried to stop her from singing “Love Sneakin’ Up On You” by Bonnie Raitt. She has such a fun and quirky personality and it shows in her performances. Skyler is one of my favorites, by far. “Skylar! You’ve got so much heart and soul,” Stephen said. “I haven’t heard you sing a bad song yet.”

Joshua Ledet: Joshua means business! He’s so soft spoken in real life and then he gets on the stage and wails. I loved hearing him sing Michael Bolton‘s version of “When a Man Loves a Woman,” because it felt like it was second nature to him. He stayed true to the song and didn’t try to switch it up a ton, which I also appreciated. Turns out, the judges loved it too and gave him a standing ovation. “Joshua! That was so good, we were up half way through it!” Stephen yelled, over Jennifer’s screaming. “That was phenomenal and incredible on every level,” Randy said. Jennifer interrupted, raving, “That was the best thing I’ve ever seen on American Idol.” If Joshua’s performance tonight didn’t save him from the bottom three, I don’t know what will.

Hollie Cavanagh: Hollie has an incredible voice and I’m thrilled beyond belief she came back again this season to give it another shot. It seems like she’s matured so much from the crying girl we saw in the audition room season 10. Case in point: her performance tonight — she sang Celine Dion‘s “The Power of Love” flawlessly in a gorgeous gown and it couldn’t have been better. “Wow. Wow. You and Joshua, they really saved the best for last,” Jennifer said. “I don’t know where your voice comes from, but it’s heaven above,” Stephen complimented.

I still can’t believe the level of talent this season. It’s absurd. Out of tonight’s performances, my favorites were Hollie, Joshua, Elise and Phil. Even though I’m obsessed with them personally, my least favorite performances were probably Heejun’s and Erika’s, as much as it pains me to say it.

Honestly, I wish we could just eliminate Jermaine and skip yanking anyone out of the competition tomorrow. Ugh.

Who was your favorite tonight — and most importantly, who’s going home tomorrow?

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Click here to see an interview with Erika Van Pelt & Skylar Laine!

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