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American Idol, Mar. 14 – Controversy Hits Season 11

You didn’t think we were going to make it all the way through this American Idolseason without some controversy, did you? TMZ dug up that Jermaine Jones is in trouble with the American Idol folks … and the law. It seems he has some outstanding warrants against him that he decided to not disclose when he auditioned. Color him gone. The only question is if they will still have a regular elimination this week as well.

Ryan Seacrest opens up the show talking about the controversy. He reminds us that when you’re doing a living show, anything can happen. Of course, they’re not going to tell us who it is just yet, even though we all know. He moves on, stating the theme tonight is songs from the year the idols were born, taking us from 1983 to 1995. Jennifer Lopez says, “Ouch.” Before we move any further, we get baby pictures of the judges … and Ryan. The mentor tonight is will.i.am.

Phil Phillips starts things off, with his mom explaining he was born a month premature in 1990. He had a lot of health problems and his parents were even told at one point he might not make it through the night. His dad thinks he’s a wonderful young man that the world needs to meet. Phil meets up with Jimmy Iovine and will.i.am and says he’s not feeling too great as he has to have his kidney stones removed that night. He tells them not to expect much as he launches into Hard to Handle, and will.i.am says he nails it. He wonders what he sounds like when he’s not in pain. Jimmy think he’s changed what it means to have a sick day at the show. He has no guitar tonight and sounds absolutely great. Perfect song choice.

Randy Jackson tells Phil that he knows by now, doing the show for like a minute, that he’s like a fish out of water, being unique with a different voice and different style. Tonight he doesn’t have the guitar and sounded like that after surgery on Thursday, He sounded amazing. That kind of a song is a great kind of song for him to do because it’s very bluesy, but cool and poppy at the same time. Randy didn’t know he was born that year, as it’s the same year he was born. (Hear the rim shot?)

Jennifer Lopez says it goes to prove that it’s so natural to Phil. It’s in every cell of his body. It just comes out of him. It was a great song for him, perfect the way he sang it, and all over him. Steven Tyler is really glad that Phil picks songs that match his voice and character. It’s important for him. He needs to watch the melody, though.

Jessica Sanchez was born in 1995, and her dad (although I thought it was her brother at first) mentions that mom and grandma photographed her a lot because she was the first child. Plus, she was a little diva. Her mom says when she’d get upset, she’d cry until nothing came out, then she’d faint. She thinks that’s where her lungs got started.

will.i.am tells Jessica he saw her on TV and thought she was really good. She sings Turn the Beat Around for him and Jimmy, and they’re impressed, but will.i.am asks her to punctuate the modulation. Jimmy suggests she cue the band. She does, and will.i.am can’t believe she took it even higher and didn’t even sweat. He calls her a “swaggernaut.” Wow, she doesn’t just do ballads good, she’s amazing on this. You would think she would be too young for this song, but for some reason she can pull off the older songs. She must have an old soul.

Steven loves Jessica’s voice, but tells her to not stray too far from the ballads, which he feels she does the best. The rhythm she sang the song with was a little shady, and he loves her pants. Of course J-Lo does too. She heard the same thing. Her voice has such a strong vibrato which is beautiful, but on this song, you need to be syncopated and on the beat, and it made it lag behind. It wasn’t her favorite thing Jessica has done, but it was a good job.

Randy echoes this and tells Jessica she’s one of the best in the competition, so he feels they should steer her in the right direction with constructive criticism. The problem for her was song choice. The song doesn’t allow her to show that, and she needs to pick something she can play with and make her own. J-Lo’s right that it’s in the vibrato. It’s so wide, but she needs to learn to shorten it. She always sounds good, but there are some things for her to work on.

Han’s mom explains ever since he was little, he was always funny. She thinks he gets it from her. His dad prays Heejun doesn’t make mistakes when she’s onstage. Heejun’s mom tears up saying he would always wake up with a smile on his face. He’s singing Right Here Waiting from 1989. Jimmy and will.i.am warn him to get the S on chance. Chanse? Heejun knows his accent can be a problem, calling this English 101. He asks will.i.am to sign his sheet music and also write down Fergie’s number. But Fergie’s like Will’s sister, so he doesn’t want to be messing up her marriage. I’m not sure if it’s on purpose or not, but as he sings tonight, Heejun sounds a little hoarse. Good, but hoarse. He has some great emotion in it.

Randy tells Heejun tha the didn’t really enjoy it at all. It was pitchy all over the place and it felt like he was out of breath the whole time. It was the wrong kind of song for him, because he remembers he had some urban R&B in him when they first met him. Jennifer admits they all heard those little notes here and there, but to her, Heejun’s tone is so special and gorgeous. She could tell he was struggling a little bit, but she could feel him fighting through it at the end and it got really beautiful for her when she felt his heart.

Steven thinks Heejun stepped so far out of his circle. It was really breathy, and he was trying so hard. It wasn’t a great song for him, but he loves his voice anyway. Heejun admits he was thinking of his girlfriend during the song, but 20% of it was Jennifer, and 10% Fergie.

Elise Testone is the oldest of the bunch, born in 1983. Her mom explains Elise would always be getting in trouble, but cute trouble. They went to the beach and put their bags down, and the lifeguard was blowing his whistle as she was already running into the ocean on her own. She appreciated the judges saving her last week. will.i.am is impressed with the rasp and vibrato in Elise’s voice as she sings Let’s Stay Together. He just wishes he could see her smile in the song and hold the title lyric a little longer. He also thinks she and Obama should have a singoff with the song. She thinks people will be making babies when she sings it tonight. I don’t know about that, but I’m definitely enjoying it.

Steven tells Elise, “God, I love your voice. My Aunt Sonja loves your voice. Everybody loves your voice.” It’s a natural thing with the rasp and there’s a beauty and soul behind it. Jennifer thinks this was showing America who Elise is. It was right on every single level. It came form the heart, she sang it beautifully, and she made it her own. Randy announces, “America, Elise is back.” This is why they loved her when she first auditioned. She has the voice with a little Janis in it. The run at the end was beautiful, “like butter.”

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