Last night, our Top Ten American Idol finalists took on the Billy Joel songbook.  WBKR's Idol expert. Steve Thompson, was watching and shares his thoughts about the show.  Who won the night?  And who will be fighting for their lives during tonight's elimination show?  Take a look at video highlights from last night's performances and Steve's take on the best and worst of the remaining ten hopefuls.  As Ryan Seacrest would say, "THIS is American Idol!"

From Steve Thompson:

  • You know, when I think back on all the mentors that come to my mind when I think of Billy Joel-- Diddy didn't come to mind at all.  Granted, he turned out to be fairly decent in the grand scheme of this show.  At this point we can safely say Diddy >
  • (By the way, a commercial aside...  JC Penny is using Rockin' Robin in a commercial featuring birds that aren't robins.  I'm no John James Audubon by any stretch of the imagination, but really?)
  • One more item of business from last week's review.  Evidently, Percy Sledge is still living.  I guess he got better.
  • Now on to tonight's show...
  • I have been a Billy Joel fan since somewhere around 1973.  I was pleasantly surprised that, for the most part, our contestants acquitted themselves admirably.  However, there are always the ones who are inexplicably still on-- and that melodrama continues.  (Why no StillettoThe Stranger? Not even Through the Long Night?  I understand Scenes from an Italian Restaurant is way too long-- I used to sing that one in karaoke.  LOL)
  • Here they are from worst to first.  As always, your mileage may vary...
  • 10.  Heejun Han totally stank up the joint with his version of My Life.  Is it just me or does this song conjure up memories of Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari?  Well, the original does.  Heejun's version conjures up visions of Dante's different levels of Hell.  This was bad in every sense of the word (except for when bad means good.)  I feel like as long as he made the top ten tour he decided to call it quits.
  • 09.  DeAndre Brackensick failed miserably at Only the Good Die Young.  I used to think this song could never be sung wrong, but now I know better.  I realize that much of Billy's uptempo music is dificult to sing because his voice often transcends any other singer, but this particular version was rather boring and he went first-- always a danger in this show.
  • 08.  Joshua Ledet mangled She's Got a Way.  I love this song.  Such a simple lyric with a beautiful melody...  Joshua decided it needed to sound as melismatic as possible.  Now I'm not trying to be redundant here, but why add so much unneeded extra vocal effects and ruin a perfectly good song?  Why indeed?
  • 07.  Skylar Laine attempted Shameless.  (Excuse me, I'm a fairly knowledgeable person where music is concerned.  Can anyone tell me when Brad Paisley recorded this?)  I don't know what happened to her tonight.  Did all the advice she receive cause her to have too many doubts?  Uncertain.  In the great baseball game of life, this was more of a bunt single.
  • 06.  Erika Van Pelt sang New York State of Mind.  At the risk of offending the Billy Joel fans who are reading this, I've never quite been a fan of this song.  Tonight, Diddy said something that actually resonated with me.  He said Erika needed to play the role of a New Yorker when she sang the song.  Maybe that's my problem.  I have no New York connection (save for rooting for the Yankees to be in the World Series every year.)  So...  Erika sold the song well.  I actually liked it.
  • 05.  Hollie Cavanaugh sang Honesty.  For someone who said she had never heard this song before, I was impressed with her version.  I didn't hear what the judges heard.  I thought every note was credible and even with a twinge of (dare I say it) honesty.  I've liked her for several weeks now and I hope this was just a slight misstep on her part.
  • The top four separated themselves from the field.  Call it the top 4 seeds and Go Wildcats!  LOL
  • 04.  Jessica Sanchez sang Everybody has a Dream.  This was a very nice and sweet rendition of this classic and I felt that Jessica returned herself to the front of this competition.  Oddly, I'd have to agree with JLo saying that it sounded like she was singing her own story.  I recall this song (last one on The Stranger CD) and as soon as she began singing I thought the exact thing.  Very nice.
  • 03.  Phil Phillips sang Movin' Out.  You know, I still don't think I'm totally in his corner-- but by golly, I'm starting to like his stubborn streak.  He's his own man and don't tell him what he needs to do.  He's either got his eyes set on the prize or he's trying to channel his inner John Locke.  I actually liked what he did with this song and...  I might like this guy one of these days.
  • 02.  Colton Dixon sang Piano Man.  I knew this would probably be the song he would sing when this theme was first announced and actually thought he did a great job with it.  (Billy has several songs that are well over five minutes long and this was one of the better severely edited songs this show has ever had.)  When you consider the radio friendly single completely eliminated whole characters that were in the bar, perhaps this is just par for the course.
  • 01.  Elise Testone sang Vienna.  I keep a running score when I'm watching this show.  She was so early in the proceedings I kept saying she was better than...  One of the more underrated of Billy's songs and a personal favorite of mine.  I was very impressed with how well she delivered this song and I was very, very impressed with her talent.
  • I suspect our bottom three could easily be all male. Heejun Han, DeAndre Brackensick and Joshua Ledet.   Furthermore, I suspect that if Joshua is the one chosen by the audience, he is the only one of the three the judges might save.   My best guess?  Heejun is history.  Remember: this is only one man's opinion-- any money you lose betting in Vegas is entirely on your head.
  • We'll see Thursday.

@March 21, 2012  Stephen W Thompson