After last week's nail-biting result, American Idol is back with a Top 12 that's full of singers ready to prove their worth.
With every contestant hoping to earn the approval of judges Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler - as well as the American public - will a surprise star emerge tonight? Join Digital Spy live from 8/7c to find out!
21:56Well, that's it for tonight. Who's going to make it through? Who will fall into the bottom two? Join us again tomorrow night to find out...
21:54Jennifer remarks that they "saved the best for last" and thinks it would be silly to criticise one or two very minor missteps. Steven also says it was a "little pitchy", but still thinks it was beautiful.
Randy loves that Hollie was in her "wheelhouse" and thinks that she has "more swag than that", but applauds her for a job well done.
It's time for the last performance of the night, and it's up to Hollie Cavanagh to take on one of Celine Dion's biggest hits, 'The Power of Love'. Oh, snap. You guys don't even know about my major Celine Dion phase, but I'll save you.
I love Hollie's voice - if anyone could come close to doing this song any kind of justice, it's Hollie. She looks lovely, as well. I dig this performance, definitely. One of the best of the evening, if not the best. She's getting every single note spot on.
21:44All three judges give him a standing ovation for the performance, with Steven calling it "so good" - sorta bland feedback. Randy was waiting for someone to come and "blow it out the box", and it was Joshua who did it. "That was phenomenal, incredible on every level," Randy says.
Jennifer, meanwhile, calls it "the best thing [she's] ever seen on American Idol". Wow, someone really loved it. Steven then adds that it was the "most beautiful" performance he's ever seen. Everyone is wowed.
Moving along, Louisiana's Joshua Ledet is up and before we can find out what he's singing, a big bucket of crawfish is rolled out on the stage for him to peel and eat. Oh, whatever. Anyway, he's going to perform Michael Bolton's version of 'When a Man Loves a Woman'. I love his voice and, admittedly, I love this song. Sounds like a good match. Come on, Joshua, take us to church!
Ah right, this is some good singing. I don't know that it's something I'd buy a record of, but it is fantastic. Very effortless, passionate, gospel-influenced... He's definitely taking care of business.
21:32Steven thinks that Skylar has "so much heart and soul" and loves the way she sings. Jennifer decides to "keep it real" and says that she "really killed" it, applauding her for doing her thing despite Jennifer not being familiar with the track.
Randy appreciates that she chose a song that wasn't outright country, saying that he loved how well she rocked it and that she was willing to take risks.
In 1994, Skylar Laine was born. Mini Reba McEntire! She's not really my style of music, but I think she's just so adorable that I can't help but support her. I want her to sing 'Fancy' again, but that didn't come out in '94, so that's out the window. Instead, she's doing Bonnie Raitt's 'Love Sneakin' Up On You'. Ahh, I love it!
Once she gets on stage, you can't help but love her. She's got an infectious energy and really commands the song. It's a perfect fit. The judges better have something nice to say about it.
Poor Jermaine - I really think he was a good guy. He took the news quite graciously, but you could tell he was absolutely guilty. We also see a bit of his rehearsal performance from this week. He would have sung 'Somewhere Out There'. I love that song! Boo all around!
21:18Steven likes the song itself, but thought that Erika was "too busy all over" and that she should have "stayed with the melody". Jennifer hears what he's saying because it's such a powerful song, but thinks that Erika has the goods to command it. However, she didn't like the arrangement and thinks that it took a lot away from it. She does love seeing Erika "come together as an artist" in front of their eyes.
Randy "kinda liked it", giving it an 8 out of 10 because she looks good and made a great choice with the song. He does urge her not to try to make too much out of a classic song, however.
Erika Van Pelt was born in 1985 and is doing Bryan Adams's 'Forever'. Good fit for her. I liked Erika in the audition rounds, so I have high hopes for her. She's a bit different than the others.
I sort of wish that she wasn't dressed like Morticia Addams and I don't much care for the arrangement of the song, but her voice sounds good. She's a super confident performer and really commands the stage like a true professional. I dunno, I like her. Probably the second best of the night so far behind Colton.
21:08Jennifer didn't know the song (of course) but loved the delivery in the beginning. She also says that Colton is "a lover". She also thinks that he looks pretty when we sings. Real constructive, Jennifer.
Steven disagrees, though, saying it was totally the wrong song choice for him and he's heard better. "I didn't hear the song go anywhere, man," he adds. As for Randy, he thinks that the song didn't matter because he was paying more attention to Colton than he was to the song and was proud of what he saw.
Colton Dixon was born in 1991 and is singing White Lion's 'Broken Heart'. Everyone jokes about how no-one knows the song and it's all one big laugh fest, but I feel like it might backfire because Americans don't really seem to like things that they don't know about. Read into that what you will (says the American).
Hey, but get this - he's good! He's the best of the night by far! I really like this performance, actually. I still feel really bad for his little sister every time I see him, though, 'cos Colton wasn't even going to audition this year! Poor kid. I hope she auditions again next year. In any case, this performance is great (up against all the others), but I still can't think of what else to say about it.
20:56Jennifer says that it was "not an easy undertaking" and admits that she was terrified for her, but thinks that Shannon ultimately did a "beautiful job", applauding her runs. Steven agrees, adding that she does her best when she's not trying too hard.
Randy was also terrified since he worked with Mariah (yawn if you're tired of hearing Randy name drop the past), but says that ultimately, she has "mad potential" and he loves that she is so fearless. "Given the mountain you had to climb, good job," he adds.
Shannon Magrane, born in 1995, is ready to take the stage to perform... Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men's 'One Sweet Day'. I used to love that track. However, I don't much fancy her taking on such an iconic song - she's got a big voice, but like, really?
Predictably, it all falls a bit flat, though I do enjoy her glittery gold get-up. She's really good for 16, sure, but I'm still waiting to be blown away by someone tonight and it's just not happening. Ouch - she tries to hit Mariah's high note, too. Oh, dear.
20:46Jennifer goes first, saying that he can sing anything and that he did this beautifully. However, she thinks that Jimmy and will.i.am steered DeAndre wrong because it wasn't the right song for him. She hopes that America can see past that and still vote for him because he's still a great artist.
Steven also loves him as an artist, but agrees with Jennifer that he has yet to discover his true voice. Randy thinks that it was boring and safe - see what I mean?! Randy believes that he needs excitement every time he comes on stage and that wasn't it. Agreed!
DeAndre Brackensick is just a wee one, born in 1994. He's singing 'Endless Love'. Uh, since when is this song from 1994? Am I taking crazy pills?
Decked out in a cream-coloured suit, he lets out some of his signature falsetto notes and gives a few meaningful glances to the camera, but I dunno... I don't really feel anything about it. It's all very safe and super boring, as if he should be performing at a senior citizens' home in rural Florida. It had to be said!
20:40Steven loves her voice, cos it has a natural rasp and "beauty and soul". That's literally all he had to say. Jennifer adds a bit more, praising her for finally showing America what Elise is all about. "You sang beautifully, you made it your own. It was a beautiful thing," she says.
Randy also applauds the performance, exclaiming, "America, Elise is back!" He loves the runs at the end, saying they are "like butter".
Elise Testone is up next to rep 1983 hard. This is a bit closer to my comfort zone, to be honest. She's singing Al Green's 'Let's Stay Together' - a bit of an overdone choice, but who knows, maybe she'll bring something new to it. Does anyone else think she looks freakishly like Mariah Carey?
Given this performance, she apparently thinks she is Mariah, too. She's doing far too many runs for my liking, but again, what do I know? I just personally prefer singers that stay on a note longer than a millisecond. You have to give her credit for her confidence on stage, though.
20:29Randy didn't enjoy it at all, calling it "pitchy all over the place" and saying that it felt like Heejun was out of breath for the entirety of the song. He wishes that Heejun would have shown more of his "urban, R&B swag" that he displayed during the audition process.
Jennifer loves his "special" tone and admits that he struggled in the beginning of the song, but thinks that he improved. She also admits that she "felt [his] heart" in the performance. Steven is more in line with Jennifer's thinking, saying that while it wasn't a great song for him, he has a really great voice.
We're in 1989 again and we're with Heejun Han, who's ready to take on Richard Marx's 'Right Here Waiting'. Great track! I've failed to mention that before the acts go on stage, they get advice from Jimmy Iovine and... will.i.am, because apparently will.i.am can't get enough of televised singing competitions. LOL at Heejun asking him for Fergie's phone number.
I'm pretty torn on Heejun, I have to admit. He's got definite talent, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm just watching a really good karaoke singer as opposed to, say, a popstar. He's doing well with the song, though.
20:18Steven loves Jessica's voice but says that she's unable to "stray too far from what [she's] good at", which he believes is "balance". Not sure what he's on about, but he's right on when he says that her melody is a bit off.
Jennifer agrees, saying that while she's got a great vibrato, it lagged behind on this performance as the song requires rhythm and syncopation, adding that it wasn't her favourite performance of Jessica's but still good. Randy is in accordance, saying that he loves her and her big voice but admitting that he's disappointed that it wasn't a track she could really make her own.
Resident Idol young'un Jessica Sanchez is next, here to sing Gloria Estefan's 'Turn the Beat Around'. Great song. What ever happened to Gloria Estefan? Last time I heard anything about her was when Kathy Griffin showed up at her house in Miami, where she and Rosie O'Donnell boat back and forth to one another's marina-front homes.
Anyway, Jessica is really good and impressive, though it kind of freaks me out how she looks about 30. I don't really know if this is the best song for her voice, but there's no denying that she's got major talent. She seems to be screaming through a bit of it which is weird, but she's using the stage well enough. Notice how I'm trying to act as if I know what I'm talking about?
Phillip Phillips is up first - still the daftest name I've ever heard - and he's singing The Black Crowes' 'Hard to Handle'. He's okay, but nothing special. He's also dressed like Eddie Vedder circa 1993, but whatever.
Randy thinks that he's like a "fish out of water" for the competition because of how different he is but thinks he's sounding great... apparently he's had some sort of surgery for kidney stones? In any case, Randy also praises his "bluesy but poppy" song choice and thinks it was a good fit.
Jennifer thinks the performance proved what a natural artist he is and also loved the "perfect" song choice. Steven is glad that he picked a song that matches his voice and character, though he advises Phil to "watch [his] melody".
20:03Tonight's theme is songs from the year each of the contestants were born, ranging from 1983 to 1995. Oh, dear. I feel old. We're also treated to some baby pics of each of the judges. We even get to see one of Ryan, though they manage to avoid the popular, less-than-flattering one floating around the Internet.
20:01And we're off! As Ryan Seacrest opens the evening, he touches upon the fact that Jermaine Jones was eliminated from the competition. But of course, it's live TV, as he explains, and anything can happen! Not sure what that has to do with anything, but let's humour him, shall we? On a side note, I quite liked Jermaine, for some reason.