About LauraBelle

Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol, Mar. 21 – Best Advice, “Stay individual.”

We reached the final 10 really quickly this season of American Idol thanks to Jermaine Jones. What a weird story that was, for him to be let go, to have the judges have second thoughts and bring him back, then have him be found to have a handful of outstanding warrants against him. No Cinderella story for this singer who was brought back, unlike The X-Factor. And after all that, it didn’t save Shannon Magrane who was voted out. Who will be the person they do save this season?

Hoping to be voted into next week without having to worry about being saved, are the final 10 who are singing the songs of Billy Joel this week. Steven Tyler has sung with Billy Joel and is asked what the contestants need to know to sing these songs. He replies if you can’t sing Joel you can’t sing at all, as he’s an American icon, and his songs have great melody. It’s a true test. Helping Jimmy Iovine mentor tonight is Diddy, and helping the Idols with style is Tommy Hilfiger.

Deandre Breckensick meets with Tommy who asks him to let his hair down. The designer thinks it being pulled back is a waste of the hair. They work on his look to enhance that hair he already has.

Deandre singing Only the Good Die Young this week. Jimmy tells him if you can’t smile during this song, you can’t smile. Diddy talks about the difficulty factor, and Jimmy interrupts, saying when you walk into the repressed Catholic area, it’s his area, not Diddy’s. Diddy points out this is from Joel’s Christie Brinkley era, but he knows Deandre probably doesn’t even know who it is. Jimmy advises him to look at the good Catholic girl, Jennifer Lopez, when he sings. He does have a lot of fun with the song, but I’m not sure I like it on him. He’s too young for it, but he blows out the bridge in a great way.

Steven tells Deandre that at first he thought it was a little too happy, but he guesses maybe that’s what the world needs right now. If only the good die young, he figures that’s why he and Randy Jackson are still here. Jennifer thought it was a great way to start the show and liked the laid-back vibe of it, as that’s Deandre with that island-Bob Marley type of thing, and when it needed to be gravelly and hard, it was. She thought it was a good mix that showcased who he is.

Randy echoes that. He thought it was a great way to start the show, although he wasn’t jumping up and down and not seeing anything special. It didn’t wow him, but was okay. Ryan Seacrest calls Randy a buzzkill.

Erika Van Pelt is singing New York State of Mind, which she calls an anthem, both for Billy, as well as New Yorkers as a whole. Diddy explains that when she’s singing a famous song by Billy that everyone knows, she needs to hold back a bit and pay respect to the song. Jimmy is afraid of her oversinging it. While Erika has been to New York, she is really a Rhode Islander. Diddy tells her to be a New Yorker when she sings it. He advises her to show she has some guts when she sings it.

When Erika meets with Tommy, he asks who her favorite singer is. She replies she really loves Pink. He mentions she has a distinct look with short hair. Tommy thinks Erika’s hair is taking away from her look. He thinks she needs something similar to Pink. She’s here for the biggest adventure of her life, so why wouldn’t she chop it all off? He thinks America will respond positively to it. Wow. It’s short … and black. She looks amazing. This guy knows what he’s talking about. And the song is just as much so. This might be what she needs to stay out of the bottom three finally,

Randy says that first of all, he loves the look. It’s so different that Jennifer didn’t even recognize her at first. He also loves the vocals and sees her as one of the best singers in the whole thing this season. She can clearly sing the phonebook. It was beautiful there too, and the guys were right about oversinging, but those who can do should, and those who can’t do, shouldn’t . She can take the liberties at the end and wear them out, as she’s got that. At the end, she had Steven singing.

Jennifer agrees It was a beautiful vocal and loves the hair too, with a whole Pat Benatar-vibe. She’d love to see her let more loose vocally, as well as with her body, to really take them home. She wanted to see her unplant her feet and really feel what she was singing about. Steven agrees with both of the other two. She could have put more character into it, but there’s later for that. They already know she sings great, but she put a lot of personality into it as Billy did. She wore it beautifully. Ryan notes that we haven’t seen such a transformation with hair since Sanjaya’s Pony Hawk. He also says the Twitter feed is saying people love it. Yes, we do!

Joshua Ledet has chosen all black for this week, but Tommy thinks he’s more special than that. He’s thinking tuxedo, as in black tie, believing he has the opportunity to become really polished, and by dressing him up, it will do that. He guesses Joshua is a 40, and the Idol stylist tells him he’s right, but Joshua prefers a 38 so that he appears super-fitted. Tommy thinks that’s smart. He thinks this will all make him look really experienced.

This week, Joshua is singing She’s Got a Way and admits to Jimmy and Diddy he’s never heard the song before. Jimmy explains to Diddy that Percy Sledge wrote an email last week praising Joshua’s When a Man Loves a Woman. Joshua knows this will be different, as it’s a pop song and his roots are soulful, so he has to make it fi his voice. Diddy doesn’t think he needs to make it sound so harsh, and Jimmy compares it to James Earl Jones entering his body for a moment. Diddy mentions that we connect with him because of his vulnerability, and he instructs him to find a way to do that with this song as well. Tonight, Joshua sings in a backwards chair in his tux, and there’s a certain amount of confidence and vulnerability at the same time.

Jennifer tells Joshua that Billy Joel wrote his life in his songs and in such a beautiful and descriptive way, so when you sing them, you should really feel that. She feels stupid to sing anything negative in any way to Joshua, as he sings so great. When the choir came out, she knows that’s where he lives, but for her, who loves that song, she needed to feel he was connected more to the lyrics, by singing about someone who rocked his world.

Steven admits he’d never heard the song before, and notes he wasn’t too up on it when he first heard it, but what Joshua did was sing his life in it. He made the song come to life for Steven with his soul and his heart. He sang the sweat out of the song. Randy is now put into an interesting position with different opinions, and sees where they’re both coming from. Joshua walked into the mentoring season feeling defeated, but Randy doesn’t think he should ever feel like that with his talent. He needs to just jump in and grab the lyrics, like Steven said.

Laine must not be 100% county, as she nearly flips her lid seeing Diddy sitting next to Jimmy. She’s singing Shameless, and they stop her, saying it feels forced. Diddy says if she’s telling the truth, you don’t need to force it. The truth will set you free. She redoes it and Diddy celebrates with her, telling her not to overcompensate, with him now feeling like he’s in church. She asks for his autograph.

Tommy meets with Skylar next and asks to see her boots. She explains her momma bought them for her and admits between them they have about thirty pairs of boots. He wants to evolve her look without abandoning the boots, just giving the outfit some punch to make it look a little more glamorous. He wants her to feel like she looks unbelievable, as then she’ll have more confidence. If she adds a little twang to Billy’s song, he thinks she’ll be embraced. There are some very uncomfortable dudes clapping along while Skylar sings tonight. It’s odd. She looks gorgeous. She’s not wearing boots, though, and is in heels. I think she’s still forcing the song though.

Randy remembers a Brad Paisley version of the song and asks Skylar if she was reflecting back on that as well, but she was thinking more of Garth Brooks’ version. It’s a great song, but Randy thinks the key was a little low. It was pitchy until the middle when she got in her comfort zone. He doesn’t know if it was her best, but it was pretty good.

J-Lo loves that Skylar isn’t shameless and is fearless. She goes into every song and just eats it up and always gets the audience with her in the middle of the song, just like she did with this one. Steven is amazed that every time Skylar sings a chorus, it’s with such conviction. It was a little slow and pitchy in the beginning, but she still breathed life into the song, and that’s all that matters.

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