‘American Idol’: Joshua Ledet Makes A Power Grab

Carl Williott | March 15, 2012 5:30 am

With Steven Tyler looking even more like Jack Sparrow than usual, we assumed it was going to be a special night on American Idol, and we were right. The Top 12 (actually, Top 11 — bye bye, Jermaine) remaining contestants chose songs from their birth year, which meant parent interviews and awkward home videos! In choosing their songs, several contestants ignored their strengths and got caught up in the aura of a classic song, but a few chose tunes that dovetailed perfectly with their styles. And, yikes, people are young these days, right? There were way too many songs from the 90s.  Read on for all the highlights.

Before the show kicked off, Ryan Seacrest informed those who didn’t already know that Jermaine Jones was kicked off the show. You can get the deets here, but turns out the gentle giant may not be so gentle, considering he has four warrants for his arrest outstanding.

Watch Jermaine get the bad news broken to him:

Awkward left turn (but not as awkward as the one Seacrest pulled after delivering the Jermaine news then immediately saying “THIS…is American Idol“): in between making up words like “swaggernaut” and “ghountry” in the Idol studio, will.i.am fit in some time to mentor the singers (though we clearly remember asking him to never do so again). He focused less on vocal cues and served more as a confidence coach, but ya know what, it may have worked. Several performers did indeed own the Idol stage. So let’s get to it.


After giving America the most ungainly crawfish tutorial ever, gospel singer Joshua Ledet straight up brought us to CHURCH, delivering the first goosebump moment of the night. He took Michael Bolton’s version of Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman,” shook off all that cheesy rust and injected some James Brown life into it. And that falsetto run at the end raised us up to the promised land. Believe it or not, J.Lo called it “the best thing I’ve ever seen on American Idol.”

Hollie Cavanagh sang Celine Dion’s 1993 version of Huey Lewis’ Jennifer Rush’s “The Power Of Love.” Whitney and Celine in back-to-back weeks: Hollie is here to win. There was nothing flashy or particularly jaw-dropping about this performance, but it was a good song choice matched with great execution. It probably hurt her that she followed Joshua’s rousing performance, but, man, it will never get old hearing that massive voice come out of that teeny forest nymph.

Based on Phillip Phillips‘ name, you’d think his parents hate him. But they sure seemed supportive and loving in the interview! Phillip sang “Hard To Handle” by The Black Crowes, sans guitar. The blues pop vibe was made for his gritty free-form style, resulting in the night’s best marriage of song and singer. Even if he hadn’t delivered, he’d be safe because of the pity vote: dude had surgery last Thursday. Think about that the next time you want to take a sick day because of a hangnail.

Will.i.am’s advice to Elise Testone was to smile, which makes sense because she’s been Queen of the Sourpuss lately. For her performance of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” in the style of Tina Turner’s 1983 cover, she dialed up the charm and the soul and turned out an extremely compelling performance. Right when we thought she was out, she goes and totally redeems herself. Way to go!

Skylar Laine performed Bonnie Raitt’s 1994 crossover hit “Love Sneakin’ Up On You.” Leading up to the show, Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine thought it wasn’t “enough song” for her, and we get what he was saying. It’s so glossy (a country diddy featuring the keyboard?! Mind blown) and has a hook that seems scientifically crafted to become an earworm, therefore it doesn’t leave much room for your own interpretation. But, Skylar again proved she’s worthy of being mentioned in the top.

We were thisclose to knocking Jessica Sanchez out of the top category this week, probably because we’re instinctively holding her to a higher standard. She performed Gloria Estefan’s version of Vicki Sue Robinson’s disco hit “Turn the Beat Around,” and while she sang the hell out of it, the judges pointed out her rhythm suffered for it. It almost seemed like Jessica got lost trying to out-sing the song, as though her voice was too big for such a rhythmic track. A good problem to have, no doubt. Side note: it’s kind of terrifying a 16-year-old can exude that much confidence.


Shannon Magrane also gave us a borderline performance, falling just short of The Good. The judges all enjoyed her take on Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day,” but it left us a little underwhelmed… which is better than where she left us last week. Baby steps! Whenever she strayed from the natural melody, it sounded a bit forced, as though in her head she was saying, “This is where the run goes, and this is how it should sound.” Still, an improvement.

Aspiring rock god Colton Dixon chose the obscure hair metal song “Broken Heart” by White Lion. He definitely gets an A for the strategy: since nobody knows the song (which the judges readily admitted), he gets to do it his way and own it. However, Colton’s voice was cracking a bit and it could’ve used a more bombast: Steven didn’t think it was a passionate performance. Sometimes you have to play it safe, and that’s what Colton did this week.


Bring out the cheese plates! Heejun Han chose to sing the ultimate ’80s soft rocker, Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting.” He was hella pitchy in the bridge and didn’t fully recover during the first chorus. Other than the key change, he failed to impress. Randy opened up a whole can of “being real,” saying “I didn’t really enjoy this at all.” Last week, we said Heejun always sounds out of breath; this week Randy called him out on it. Way to judge, dawg!

DeAndre Brackensick had trouble choosing a song this week, and he settled on Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” – and boy do we mean “settled.” His first run was rough, like a bad Aaron Neville impression. He seemed uncomfortable and detached for most of the song, which made the viewers and judges uncomfortable and detached.

Performing Bryan Adams’ “Heaven,” Erika Van Pelt completed the trifecta of cheese (Adams, Marx, Bolton). She was pitchy and a little lethargic during the first chorus and seemed to botch the dramatic break that will.i.am taught her. The whole time she sounded like she needed to clear her throat. Her voice may have failed, but at least her Adele-inspired look finally broke the style curse!

Best of the night: Joshua sang like a man possessed and taught us yankees know how to eat crawfish.

Worst of the night: Heejun was all over the place, and this time, he didn’t have the jokes to distract us.

Tonight: Live results and performances by Demi Lovato and Daughtry.

Do you agree that Joshua was the star of the night? Sound off in the comments, or on Twitter and Facebook.