American Idol Season 11 Top 6 Power Rankings

Christian musician Colton Dixon is gone from American Idol Season 11.  I am shocked and disappointed. It tells me that American Idol, like all pop music, rewards familiarity over experimentation.  No one took as many risks as Colton Dixon did on American Idol Season 11.  No one demonstrated the musicianship Colton Dixon displayed week in and week out.  No one challenged us with obscure songs and edgy arrangements like Colton Dixon.  I hope he puts his version of “September” on his first album.  Losing Colton Dixon took some of the flavor out of American Idol Season 11.  However, I as thrilled to watch him glorify his Lord during his exit.  Whether or not you agree with his beliefs, please join me in applauding Colton Dixon’s conviction.

Last week in our American Idol Top 7 Power Rankings we put out our first predictions.  Of course, we predicted a Skylar Laine and Colton Dixon in the finale. Last week, Phil Phillips made a nice comeback from a two week slide, Skylar Laine continued building her case toward the American Idol Season 11 and Hollie Cavanagh looked like she may have flipped the switch from amateur to professional.

American Idol Season 11 Top Power Rankings

1) Joshua Ledet did it again.  Mantasi’s version “I Believe” drew another standing ovation from the judges and then he closed the show with “A Change Is Gonna Come”. With that song, Joshua Ledet brought the house down.  We thought the performance needed another minute to develop but it seems we are in the minority.  Reviewers around the country went wild, calling it one of the best performances of the year.  There is a good chance that this old school gospel/R&B singer will not win American Idol Season 11 but few performers in the history of American Idol have put together such consistent body of mind blowing performances.

2) Skylar Laine brought the country to soul night with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and just established herself more firmly as the best performer on American Idol Season 11.  I was not crazy about “Born This Way” , but, my gosh, this girl does have stage presence.  With her perfect singing, great stage presence and concentrated voting block, it looks like her spot in the finale is hers to lose.

3) Phil Phillips is baaack.  First he takes ownership of Usher’s “U Got It Bad” and then he charms the theater with his Commitment’s like take on “In The Midnight Hour”.  So charming, quirky Phil Phillips has returned to American Idol Season 11 and that makes him a dangerous competitor for the finale.

4) Jessica Sanchez, despite the judges desparate accolades, if being more and more exposed every week.  Her song selections of “Fallin” and “Try A Little Tenderness” both were much too mature for this sixteen year-old and it showed in her performances.  With the right material, Jessica Sanchez can be spectacular but she needs more emotional depth to deliver on her promise.  We will be surprised if we see Jessica Sanchez in the finale.

5) Hollie Cavanagh has arrived.  We saw a completely new Hollie last week. Even between performances she seemed more comfortable and even happy for the first time this season, and it showed in her performances.  She found the right avenue with songs by two blue-eyed British soul singers.  First took the risk of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” and pulled it off completely.  This song was perfect for this song and her delivery was stellar.  But the breakthrough was Hollie Cavanagh‘s take on “Son of A Preacher Man”. She was loose, passionate and engaging. It is probably too little, too late but we are happy to welcome Hollie Cavanagh to the competition.

6) Elise Testone survived two forced, unhappy performances last week.  She has all but said she is miserable.  She has admitted to be frustrated by her frequent residence in the bottom two.  It seems time for Elise Testone to go home.

The Top 6 will perform songs by Queen this week.  Queen has some spectacular songs but much of their catalog is just silly.  This will be a minefield for Joshua Ledet and Skylar LaineElise Testone should do well, this is a theme made for her.  Please join us as we live blog American Idol Season 11 doing Queen.




American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Performances, Again

Time to see how Jessica Sanchez responds to being saved by the judges last week on American Idol Season 11.  And then there is the standing ovation competition to watch.  Colton Dixon was angling for his first in last week’s results show and it seems Joshua Ledet receives a standing o form the judges every week. Can Phil Phillips, Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone reverse their negative momentum and can Skylar Laine keep her American Idol freight train rolling?

American Idol Season 11 brings us “songs from now and then” tonight.  That means the performers will sing a Billboard #1 hit from this century and then a soul song from a previous decade.  As we said in our American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings, this theme should favor Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez and Elise Testone.  However, the expectations can backfire on these three and, there may be some backlash if they are not spectacular.

At least we won’t have any more of the meaningless duets because each Idol will perform twice this week.  It should make for a fast paced show so let’s jump right in and watch this show together.

By the look on his face, Kris Allen is trying to figure out what Jennifer Lopez is wearing.

Ryan starts the show with an acknowledgement of Dick Clark and the news of his death.  Dick Clark was a mentor to Ryan Seacrest.

We get going right away with Hollie Cavanagh singing “Rollin’ In The Deep”. No mentoring partner for Jimmy Iovine tonight.  Hollie Cavanagh is channeling Adele all the way down to the hair. Hollie’s big voice can just out power this song. Very good performance, perfect song choice, odd ending.  The judges are giving Hollie a sitting smile. Stephen gives her the “I can’t judge it.  It was so beautiful.”  J-Lo loved her tonight.  Purple Randy says it was close to perfect and for the first time ever he felt her emotion.  Nice opening for Hollie Cavanagh.

Colton Dixon is doing Lady Gaga? I never expected to hear “Bad Romance” from Colton Dixon. Colton looks great in his rock star red leather pants.  I don’t know.  He certainly pulled off the big rock music moment.  I don’t think he felt the song so it was not special, but it was big and flashy.  Randy and J-lo thought it was up and down but loved the overall performance.  Stephen loved that he is taking chances and loved it. I appreciate the chance he took, I think he made a Colton statement.

Elise Testone jumps back on the roller coaster with Alicia Keys’ “No One”. Jimmy and Elise dive right into her frustrations at her lack of fan support. There just seems to be a dark cloud around Elise Testone. Elise seems very discouraged.  I don’t love the tempo of the arrangement.  I did not love that performance.  The phrasing took some of the emotion from the song.  J-Lo got her first “gooseys”. Stephen did not seem to like it but said he loved it.  Randy says she sang a great song very well.  He loved her restraint.  I think she may be in trouble.

This is turning out to be an odd night.  First Colton sings Gaga and now Phil Phillips is singing “U Got It Bad” by Usher. Very nice.  It looks like happy Phil is back.  Nice arrangement, intimate performance and a standing ovation from the judges.  J-Lo says that was great.  She loved the re-interpretation of the song.  Randy calls Phil Phillips a true artist, original and true to himelf.  I don’t know if I am as crazy about that as the judges, but I liked it.

Jessica Sanchez now starts her comeback with Alicia Keys’ “Fallin”.  Jimmy tells us she needs to blow our mind tonight.  This is a great song, but a bad selection song for her.  The lyrics are very mature so it feels like she is putting on a show.  That is exactly what she does not need to do.  The singing was great but the performance  felt contrived. Stephen says she sang like she was mad at the song. J-Lo loved that she just plays with songs (in a good way). randy says she does not know how good she is.  Brilliant singing but empty performance for me.

Now it is country time with Skylar Laine. Now we get a country version of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. What a night of twists and turns.  We now have Skylar Laine rapping.  The Idols have decided to take the familiar and make it strange.  The opening verse was kind of a low register challenge for Skylar.I didn’t really like that.  I think the arrangement held her back.  J-Lo loved it, saying a more perfect song for Skylar does not exist. Stephen just claps and Randy says it was amazing.  The judges are loving a lot of music I am not feeling.

Now Joshua Ledet is performing his idol, Fantasia, with “I Believe”. There has not been a song written that is more perfect for Joshua Ledet and his ability to throw down the gospel.  Wish we could hear more of that.  Once again the judges give him a standing ovation.  Randy says he is one of the most talented singers Idol has ever experienced.  Randy says he made us feel every note of that song.  J-Lo says she feels blessed to watch him sing.  Another tremendous performance by Joshua Ledet.

Hollie Cavanagh is back with an “old” song.  We now understand that the “old” songs are paying homage to “Soul Train”. We are on the American Idol stop on the Soul train line.

Hollie Cavanagh is now singing “Son of A Preacher Man”, made famous by blond, British soul singer, Dusty Springfield. This is Hollie’s most passionate, engaging performance of Season 11.  That was fantastic!  Randy says she worked it out.  Both Randy and J-Lo liked this better than her first performance.  That was great, has Hollie flipped the switch. Everybody better watch out, Hollie Cavanagh could be climbing up from the bottom.

We now get Colton Dixon‘s interpretation of “September”.  Oh wow, I think I am hearing a radio hit.  Ryan Seascrest will be playing this in his radio show this fall.  Colton has turned this funk-soul into an alt-rock ballad.  Stephen thought the song did not show off his voice. J-Lo and Randy agreed with Stephen.  I disagree with the judges, I thought that was great.

Elise Testone is now singing “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye. We are now seeing the limits of Elise’s soul. She is over singing the song and missing the deep soul of the song.  This is really just falling flat.  There is no intimacy or honesty to this performance.  Rather than singing to a person, which is what this song is about, she sang to a crowd. J-Lo tried to criticize her without saying bad things.  J-Lo says she is struggling to connect. Randy thinks the song was not right for her voice.  Randy agrees with me that she over sang every chorus.  That did not work. Elise admits she is over thinking her performances.

Phil Phillips is now singing “In The Midnight Hour”.  This is a perfect choice for his voice.  If you have not seen the movie “The Commitments” get it now.  Yep Phil Phillips has found himself.  He just slayed that song.  He had fun, he had runs and he danced.  So good.  Randy says “exactly what you need is what you always have’.  J-Lo wants to dance with Phil.  J-Lo loves Phil Phillip’s spontaneity.

Jessica Sanchez is making another bad song choice with Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” and completely over sings the opening verse. I am sorry, you completely missed the angst and longing of this song.  If Simon were here he would say that it was a cruise ship performance. Of course the judges loved the performance. J-Lo said America needs to start connecting with her in their heart.  That performance did not connect with me at all.  I am greatly disappointed with Jessica’s two perofrmances tonight.

We go immediately to Skylar Laine with a country interpretation of “Heard It Through The Grapevine”. I liked this better than I thought I would.  However, once again, the performance does not seem to connect with the mood of the song.  Randy said it was brilliant.  J-Lo loves her spunkiness.  Stephen says Skylar Laine is like a wild horse that refuses to be tamed.  That was a fun performance sung perfectly.

“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Joshua Ledet.  This has the opportunity to be special. It was not, but the judges leap to their feet again. I think he needed more time to build that song.  Stephen loved the restraint but I thought it was a little subdued.  Randy says the song was perfect, it was stellar.  I could have used a little less restraint in that arrangement.  Joshua Ledet is now up to six standing ovations on American Idol Season 11.

Phil Phillips and Hollie Cavanagh had the best nights.  I thought Colton Dixon was better than the judges gave him credit for.  Joshua Ledet was great compared to everyone else but himself.  I think Elise Testone failed tonight and may go home tomorrow night.




American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings, Pt. 2

I called it in last week’s American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings, sort of. I said Jessica Sanchez could be in trouble in the next few weeks, I just did not think she would be eliminated last week. I certainly thought she would be safe after last week’s performances.  Neither Elise Testone or Hollie Cavanagh made a big statement and Jessica Sanchez delivered probably her best performance of the season.  No one has ever won American Idol after being saved by the judges.

The other surprise was Joshua Ledet in the bottom three, which does not bode well for his chances.  That leads me to step back and take a shot at a few predictions.  I simply do not understand the support for Hollie Cavanagh at this point in American Idol Season 11, so I think she will be gone in the next few weeks.  Elise Testone has been too inconsistent and does not fit the profile of an American Idol winner.  We saw last week how tenuous Jessica Sanchez‘s place is on American Idol Season 11.  It seems Phil Phillips is starting to lose momentum in his performances and we saw that Joshua Ledet may not have the following to support his tremendous talent.  That leaves us with finale of Christian musicians Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine. That does not line up with my power rankings but we would not mind this as a finale.

American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings, Pt 2

1)Joshua Ledet- Christian musician Joshua Ledet received another standing ovation from the judges last and week and he remains atop our power rankings.  I don’t care that Joshua Ledet was in the bottom three last week.  He just has an instinctive performing style and an other worldly voice.  I intially thought his vocal style was a little outdated but last week he proved he belongs in the middle of the exploding “retro-soul” movement led by Raphael Saadiq, Sharon Jones, Bruno Mars and The Alabama Shakes.  As long as he continues to deliver performances like last week’s “Runaway Baby” Joshua Ledet will continue to lead our power rankings.

2) Colton Dixon- So Colton Dixon continues to charm the mentors and the judges with his song selection and arrangements.  This week he delivered another emotional, technically perfect, dynamically fascinating version of an obscure song “Love The Way You Lie.”  Colton Dixon seems to be an unusual combination of an artist who continues to grow throughout the American Idol season even though he arrived a fully developed artist. You could interchange any of his performances from Season 11 and they would all hold up to the competition of the Top 7.  I think it is because he came in fully confident of who he is as a person, artist and believer and yet humble to the process.

3) Skyar Laine- I do not like her style of country music but I have loved Skylar Laine from the moment shook her way through “Stay With Me” in the first week.  Skylar Laine is strong, confident, sure of herself as a performer and a tremendous vocal talent.  She asserted herself as a big voiced singer with “Wind Beneath My Wings” and now she is asserting herself to be considered the best female singer on American Idol Season 11.  That is a big statement in the company of Jessica, Elise and Hollie.  J-Lo said this performance was pitch perfect.  I agree. But watch her tremendous delivery of this song.  Skylar Laine, better than anyone on American Idol Season 11 can reach into the television and connect with the audience.

4) Jessica Sanchez- This is the only change from last week’s power rankings.  Jessica Sanchez gave us her best performance of the season with complex, thrilling performance of “Stuttering”.  She did not deserve the fate she experienced last Thursday night.  This is a real roller coaster ride in which Jessica Sanchez is in complete control of every dip, curve and climb.  The singing, of course, the phrasing, the tempo changes, the growling, the scatting it was all perfectly used and perfectly executed. If she can hang around a few more weeks and deliver a few more of these performances, Jessica Sanchez could surprise us all, but I don’t think Jessica has developed the powerful personality necessary to make history on American Idol.

5) Phil Phillips- The rebellious rocker has lost his momentum and seems to have lost his enthusiasm for American IdolPhil Phillips performance of “Give A Little More” was his second lackluster performance in a row.  He also seems to be losing patience with the coaching and criticism from the mentors and judges.  He increasingly dismisses them with comments like “I just play music”.  He has completely ignored Tommy Hilfiger’s advice.  I wonder if this change in attitude coincides with the departure of his best buddy Heejun Hahn? Regardless the reason, unless he picks up his game, Phil Phillips will be gone in the next three weeks.

6) Elise Testone- She needed to be great last week and “You & I” was only very good.  Very good won Elise Testone a place in the bottom two again. Elise seems to be frustrated by the results each week and too much of that angst carries over into each week’s performances.  The week she let go and just had fun with “Whole Lotta Love”, she looked like an American Idol winner.  The other weeks she seems to be trying to please the judges or the voters, with mixed results.  I will buy her album but I don’t think Elise Testone makes it into the top five.

7) Hollie Cavanagh- I am perplexed about who is voting for Hollie Cavanagh.  She was ahead of both Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez last week.  I like Hollie, I think she has killer voice and she is a Texas girl, sort of.  However, it is clear that she is not as polished as the other six performers.  It is hard to say this after last week’s results but I think she is gone this week or the next.

So, there you have it.  Feel free to comment, to agree or disagree with me.  I love the dialogue.

In any case join us on Wednesday night as the American Idol Season 11 does “Songs From Now and Then”.  The performers will be singing a Billboard #1 from this century and then a soul song from a previous decade.  That should set up well for Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez and Elise Testone.

American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Results

Another good night on American Idol Season 11 last night as the Idols performed “songs of this decade” beautifully.  Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez, Skylar Laine and Colton Dixon were amazing.  Elise Testone did well but did not have the standout moment she may need to make it into the top five.  Phil Phillips and Hollie Cavanagh were enjoyable but did not reach the bar set by Joshua.  Elise Testone and Hollie Cavanagh will probably be in the bottom two and either of them could go home tonight.

Christian musician Jennifer Hudson and Michael Durbin perform tonight so the entire hour should be entertaining, I guess in a gladiator sort of way.  Take the ride with us as they build the bottom three.  Remember, Jennifer Hudson was eliminated on this night several years ago and she has done all right.

So now American Idol starts building the bottom three with Hollie Cavanagh and Jessica Sanchez. Not much tension here. Hollie Cavanagh is starting a group but Ryan is not saying what the groups mean.  Hollie on one side of the stage and Jessica on the other side.  What could it mean?

James Durbin’s expression of his rock vision was pretty good and it sounds like it is popular too. Three weeks after release he has already sold 100,000 units. It is good to him doing well.  If you remember, he was financially crippled while pursuing his rock dream.

We continue to form the two group dance with Phil Phillips and Elise Testone. Ryan sends Phillip to Hollie’s group and Elise joins Jessica. Will one of our Christian musicians be in the bottom three this week?

Joshua Ledet and Colton Dixon are next for results. Joshua joins Jessica and Elise while Colton joins Hollie and Phillip. Skylar Laine is the first performer to be safe and Ryan is asking her to pick the group she belongs to.

Oh my gosh, Joshua Ledet, Elise Testone and Jessica Sanchez are in the bottom three.  Expect the judges to use their save tonight.  This is a shocking travesty.

The first one to safety is Joshua Ledet, so Elise and Jessica are the bottom two.  Jessica Sanchez is singing for her American Idol life.  I predicted something like this but that does not mean it is right.  The judges do not even let her finish her song before they save her.

Wow, tonight was shocking.

Check back this weekend for my revised power rankings.



American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Performance Live Blog

Tonight American Idol Season 11 top 7 will be performing music from this decade. This should give us a better idea about what we will hear from these performers once they start releasing their own records. Our American Idol power rankings has Christian musicians Joshua Ledet and Colton Dixon at the top.  Colton should do fine this week but we wonder what modern songs can support the old school soul power of Joshua Ledet.  Hang in there with us for another two hour show while we share our immediate reaction to tonight’s ten performances by the American Idol Season 11 top 7.

Akon is mentoring tonight and we are going back to the Idol’s hometowns.

Let’s start the show with some crazy country from Skylar Laine. She will be singing “Don’t You Know How Much I Loved You” and she blew Akon away. Jimmy tried to convince her to not play the guitar but she did not listen. Skylar Laine is just so comfortable on stage and she is blowing the roof off the theater with a huge voiced version of this Kellie Pickler song.  If you gotta go first, that is the way to do it.  Randy says it was right in her wheelhouse calling it crazy hot. J-Lo said it was pitch perfect and with feeling. Is Skylar Laine making a move on American Idol Season 11?  She is as strong a singer as anyone on the show and a great performer.

Colton Dixon follows Skylar with interestingly enough, Skylar Grey’s “Love The Way You Lie”.  Jimmy and Akon are pushing Colton hard to be great and Colton thinks this is his statement song. Sitting behind a huge white Steinway, Colton is accompanied by a gang of strings. Another very interesting singing performance by Colton Dixon.  I am not sure I liked it but I did appreciate the complexity of what he did and the emotion of his performance.  J-Lo liked the individuality of the performance more than the song. Stephen thinks it was picture perfect. Randy loved the subtly of the performance.  I agree with the judges that it was a beautiful, nuanced performance.

Another duet with Elise Testone and Phil Phillips. As much as I enjoyed them last week, I would like to see American Idol shake-up these groups. They are singing “Somebody I Used To Know” by Gotye.  Evidently Elise violently demanded that they sing this song this week because Phil accused Elise of hitting him and throwing things at him. Phil Phillips seems almost like a prop in this performance. I don’t think this captured the magic of last week’s performance.

Jessica Sanchez has selected Jazmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering” to sing. Akon has picked Jessica to win from the very beginning.  He says Jessica Sanchez will be a legend some day. Oh wow, this is pretty great.  From the pacing, the runs, the big notes, the phrasing, the scatting Jessica Sanchez is just showing off. I think this may be her best performance of the year.  This is her record in a few months. Randy says she has set the bar really high because she just demonstrated her full talent. J-Lo is begging her to step up and show American Idol something they have never seen.

Soul singer Joshua Ledet takes on” Runaway Baby” from Bruno Mars. It will be interesting to hear this new soul song sung with a big old time soul voice. Joshua has such a great style sense.  It is Joshua’s birthday this week and Fantasia sends “Mantasia” a taped birthday greeting. Jimmy and Akon are amazed at Joshua’s humility. This is fun.  It is like LeBron James playing high school ball.  He rocked the stage, he had fun and he threw down with his huge voice at the end.  And another standing ovation by the judges!  J-Lo says “you the umph!” Randy says you got everything going.  After a great performance by Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet re-establishes his dominance on a really great season of American Idol. I want to see that again and again.

Skylar Laine and Colton Dixon are singing “Don’t You Wanna Stay” and desperately denying romance rumors. So far it seems that the girls are being a little pushy in song selection and arrangement.  Come on guys, stand up for yourselves.

Hollie Cavanaugh is doing Pink’s “Perfect”.  This should be interesting with Hollie doing a modern ballad. Akon is right that she needs to make the leap from amateur to professional. This simple arrangement with only a guitar allows us to hear the power and tonal beauty of Hollie’s voice.  This was a great song choice, pleading and fighting to be perfect and she threw a big punch with a huge note at the end.  The judges did not like it all.   Their critique was very emotionally flat.  The judge’s are setting her up to fail.  It is very tough this season and Hollie may be in trouble, but the judges are being unfair.

Phil Phillips chooses “Give A Little More” by Maroon 5.  The head strong Phil Phillips actually took Jimmy Iovine’s advice to start without the band and then build the sonic dynamics and pace throughout the song.  I don’t know if I am just getting used to Phil Phillips but that was just okay for me.  It was fun and interesting, but not great. J-Lo said it was just a little bit underwhelming.  She is right that we have seen this performance before by Phil Phillips.  Randy agrees. Phil Phillips needs to step out a little or his time on American Idol Season 11 will come to an end soon.

Now Hollie Cavanaugh joins Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez to sing Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”. Not so great. A little sloppy and uninspired.

Elise Testone closes the show with Lady GaGa’s “You and I”. The final spot for the second time in three weeks?  I guess when the judges said they would only save one of the bottom two from last week, they meant they would save Elise not DeAndre. She wanted to start the song playing drums?  Thank you Jimmy and Akon for talking her out of that bad idea since she was not even good at playing drums and she could totally use some beginning drum lessons. I was a little worried at the beginning.  It was a fun little lilting song but then Elise started throwing big runs into the second half of the song.  That was the performance Elise Testone needed.  It was fun, dynamic, breezy and soulful.  Randy declares “Elise is back!” J-Lo says she let go but maintained control.  Stephen says she turned an easy song into a genius performance. That performance says Elise Testone deserves to stay on American Idol Season 11 for a few more weeks.

Well that was a really great night.  I will point out that our top ranked Joshua Ledet was the only one to receive a standing ovation.  I think Phil Phillips delivered the weakest performance of the night but I think Hollie Cavanaugh is a great risk. Join us tomorrow night to find out the results.



American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings

The rankings are starting to settle in on American Idol Season 11. After a season of tremendous performances, there is a clear talent leader and three others who could win.  The eliminations have been right every week and we are getting to a top 5 with all possible winners.  I think we are coming to a difficult and contentious elimination over the next two weeks as Hollie Cavanaugh, Elise Testone and Jessica Sanchez will all be in danger.

Barring a deserved standing ovation from the judges for a break through performance, I think Hollie Cavanaugh will go home this week.  The only thing that will save Hollie is another weak performance from Elise Testone. If Elise can return to her carefree rocker style of “Whole Lotta Love” I think she can make it into the top five by delivering a surprising elimination of Jessica Sanchez.  Of course, if that happened the judges will use their save at the last minute to save their favorite.

This week American Idol Season 11 will feature the performers singing “Songs of This Decade.”  That means the really creative performers will find songs that will fit on their records.  The others will pick their favorite song or something they have always wanted to sing on a big stage.


American Idol Season 11 Top 7 Power Rankings

1) Joshua Ledet- Every week, every performance, whether it be solo or group, Joshua Ledet has delivered a powerhouse moment. His weakest moment was Billy Joel week and that was only weak in comparison to his other performances. “When a Man Loves a Woman”, “Without You” and last week’s “If You Don’t Know Me Be Now” were all jaw-dropping, tour de force singing exhibitions that caused the judges to leap to their feet. Yes, Joshua Ledet has received three standing ovations form the judges this season.  They have used the adjectives awesome, incredible and spectacular to describe Joshua Ledet. We have been told that Joshua’s music experience is solely from singing in churches and school choirs. When you look at some of the experience of his competitors I am amazed with Joshua’s instinctive ability to deliver the subtle emotions of these secular songs.  We may have a major new talent on our hands when you consider how raw he truly is.  Joshua Ledet is the one to beat on American Idol Season 11.

2) Colton Dixon- On the other end of the spectrum is Colton Dixon who has continually created surprisingly emotional moments on the show while delivering technically superior singing demonstrations of mostly obscure songs. This week is a case in point.  I know that “Time After Time” is anything but obscure.  However, get your head around the Tim Tebow of American Idol singing a Cyndi Lauper melancholly love song, and making you fully believe it. That is what Colton Dixon does.  Anything but raw, Colton Dixon is a fully formed music professional who is ready to go into the studio. Watching this video, can’t you imagine Colton Dixon fronting his atmospheric, alternative rock band at the Grammy’s?  I believe we are headed to another male American Idol winner.

3)Skylar Laine-  She has 100% of the country vote.  She is a seasoned performer with more that a decade of musical theater experience.  She has an electric performing personality.  She has the voice of Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Nettles.  That combination could enable Skylar Laine to pull off the upset.  After she made an early statement with her frantic performance of “Stay With Me”, Skylar has drifted through a series of very good performances of country and pop songs.  She had started to fade into the background until this week when she put on her musical theater shoes and delivered big with a version of “Wind Beneath My Wings” that brought J-Lo to tears.  Amazingly, she twisted that big pop sing into a country song and still delivered.  Listen carefully, there are not many singers around who can pull off the note she did in the last seconds of that performance.  If Skylar can continue making smart song choices that feature her big voice she could sneak into the American Idol Season 11 top 3.

4)Phil Phillips- Amazingly, Phil Phillips delivered a surprisingly lackluster performance this week.  He did not seem emotionally or musically committed to the “Thats All” and seemed distracted by the presence of his brother-in-law on guitar.  We fully expect Phil to return to his highly rhythmic, tonally subtle, manic style this week. He has so much momentum I will be shocked if he does not make it into the American Idol Season 11 top five.

5) Jessica Sanchez- I know I am defying everything the judges have to say about one of the best singers to ever hit American Idol. I do like her as a singer.  However, she seems a little too focused on winning.  It seems that Jessica’s entire life has been directed toward these next few weeks.  I am a little turned off by that and I think, in the end, American Idol voters will be turned off as well.  Jessica could be a shocking elimination in the next few weeks.

6)Elise Testone-  I thought Elise Testone had found her voice and was going to seize upon her momentum. Instead she returned to the long, flowing, old lady dress and a dour performance of “I Want To Know What Love Is.” We want the strong rocker lady who owns the room and will push you out of the way to get what she wants.  Instead we got the sad person who has been knocked down too many times.  Unless rocker Elise makes a big comeback this week she might go home.

7) Hollie Cavanaugh-  The only thing saving Elise is Hollie Cavanaugh who seems to be overwhelmed as the stage has gotten bigger.  We have seen it before on American Idol,  the tremendous singer who needs to stretch a little, gets confused by everyone’s advise and then completely loses their way.  Both Hayle Reinhart and Syesha Mercado were relentlessly flogged by the judges and still found their way into the top 3.  However, Hollie Cavanaugh does not seem to possess the same toughness as those two.  Hollie was not in the bottom two last week and, with a tremendous performance this week, she could stick around for a few more shows.  We think this will be the end for Hollie Cavanaugh.

Join us tonight for our live impressions of tonight’s American Idol Season 11 top 7 performances.

American Idol Season 11 Top 9 Results

After one of the best American Idol nights ever, how can the judges let anyone go home? Every performer delivered one of their best performances of the year on a night that started with an emotional whirlwind and then ended with two amazing performances.

We saw the real Elise Testone last night and she is a rock goddess.  And then there was Joshua Ledet who delivered the single most amazing interpretation of a ridiculously difficult song, as if he were singing a Lana Del Ray song.  These two took the prizes for best performances.  However, the entire evening was opened up for something special as Christian musician Colton Dixon laid his heart on the stage with his favorite worship song.  That opened a torrent of emotion into the American Idol studio that never really abated.  I suspect that everyone was drained after the show last night.

Stevie Nicks was phenomenal as a mentor and really led the American Idol Season 11 performers to deliver a very special evening.

I think there is a tremendous chance that the judges will save the person who finishes last in the voting tonight.  I think there are three people left in the competition who have virtually no shot at winning, but I think the judges might even reward one of them with the judges save.  But enough speculation, let’s see what happens.

Ryan Seacrest is proud to announce the Aerosmith 2012 Tour, which was announced on Tuesday. Niki Manji and Scott McCreery are performing tonight.

Last night’s show generated a lot of twitter activity from music royalty such as Carrie Underwood and Mariah Carey, and Eric Benet showed up to congratulation DeAndre Brakensick on last night’s performance.

First up for results are Elise Testone, Phil Phillips and Hollie Cavanaugh. Could Hollie make her first trip to the bottom three? Yep, Ryan leads off by telling Hollie Cavanaugh that she is in the bottom three. Phil Phillips and Elise Testone are both safe.

Thirty minutes in and time for more results with our Christian musicians Colton Dixon, Heejun Hahn and Joshua Ledet. Who is safe? Colton Dixon and Joshua Ledet are safe and Heejun Hahn is in the bottom three.

Christian musician Scott McCreery may be on his way to becoming the most successful American Idol winner ever.  Jimmy Iovine just presented him with his platinum album for selling one million copies of his debut “Clear As Day.”  No other Idol has ever done that. Given tonight’s performance, this will probably not be Scott McCreery’s last platinum album.

Now it is time for Skylar Laine, DeAndra Brakensick and Jessica Sanchez to face America’s music. Jessica Sanchez is safe.  The final person in the bottom three is Skylar Laine and DeAndre Brakensick is safe. That is surprising and disappointing.

Five minutes to the finish.  Skylar Laine is sent to safety it is down to two and Heejun Hahn has the fewest votes this week.  The judges save is a toss up. He is singing “A Song For You”.   I think he did a better job than he did last night. But the judges do not save him.  As much as we like Heejun, this is the right decision.

Check out our American idol Season 11 Top 8 Power Rankings this weekend.



American Idol Season 11 Top 9 Power Rankings

Well, that was an interesting week of shows on American Idol Season 11. The race tightened up, another girls leaves the competition, Stephen Tyler was cranky on his birthday week and another Christian musician outed himself.

Heejun Hahn became a controversial figure on American Idol Season 11 this week when he spent his mentoring sessions using his dry sarcasm as a defense mechanism with Diddy, Jimmy Iovine and Tommy Hilfiger. He finished the week with an over the top performance that was big and humorous but not very polished. After frustrated criticisms from Stephen Tyler, Jimmy Iovine and Diddy, Heejun said the he was just trying to be himself, “a man after God’s own heart.”  Couple that with his facebook tag “all for God, all by God” and it looks like we can add Heejun Hahn to the long list of Christian musicians who have competed on American Idol Season 11.

American Idol Season 11 Top 9 Power Rankings

1) Phil Phillips
Phil Phillips did not deliver the best performance of the week but he has consistently finished in my top 3. He has a clear vision of who he is as a performer and he consistently delivers interesting twists on familiar songs. That was formula that won American Idol for David Cook and Kris Allen. Add to all of that, he is comfortably nice looking, he displays a strong but kind persona and he has suffered some physical set backs that make him seem vulnerable and the American Idol public could embrace him all of the way to the final.

2) Colton Dixon
Christian musician Colton Dixon delivered a master class in singing this week. His meticulous re-construction of the chord structure and tempo framework of “Piano Man” was brilliant. Colton Dixon is a real contender on American Idol Season 11. He will continue to deliver great performances. I think he needs to connect at a personal level more deeply. He still seems like an oddity to me and as this season winds down that could hurt him.

3) Elise Testone
In the great tradition of dark horses, think Kris Allen and Syesha Mercado, Elise Testone continues to blow our mind every week with fabulous performances. This week was the pinnacle of her journey so far. The jazz phrasing at the beginning, the gutsy blues in the middle and that mind blowing run at the end turned made this one of the top 3 performances of the season. Elise will struggle all season with the demographics of the American Idol audience but I am anxious to buy her first album.

4) Joshua Ledet
Yep, this field is that good. Joshua Ledet delivered a very, very good performance of “She’s Got A Way”, one that I will buy. However, Billy Joel exposed a weakness that Joshua needs to overcome. Every song is not a gospel song and not matter how good Joshua Ledet is at singing in the gospel/souls style he will need to demonstrate that he step out just a little bit. Joshua, go talk to Skylar about how to stretch boundaries without losing yourself.

5)Jessica Sanchez
Everyone loved Jessica’s version of “Everyone Has A Dream”. I did not. I think everyone recognizes Jessica as potentially the next big diva and they want to love everything she does. I thought she over sang the song and she lost me with the runs she seem to take in every line. A great, great singer, I need Jessica Sanchez to demonstrate some subtly and vulnerability.

6) Skylar Laine
“Shameless” was easily Skylar’s worst performance of the the season. She struggled with pitch early on and she was not perfect throughout the song. Yet, like a seasoned professional she powered through with her personality and strong stage presence to make me enjoy the ride. I think Skylar Laine  has a real chance to win American Idol Season 11. If she can make it to the top 3, the other performers better watch out.

7) Hollie Cavanaugh
We saw the perfect singer break a little this week. Hollie Cavanaugh has been the fearless singer who took on the Mount Rushmore of divas and delivered perfect performances each time. This week, not so much. She struggled with pitch and pacing throughout her performance of “Honesty”. I think she is on a path to split the diva vote with Jessica Sanchez and, right now, she seems to be diva 1a.

8) Heejun Hahn
We talked about Heejun’s week above. As much as we have enjoyed his personality all season we have never connected with his singing. I think this week hurt Heejun more than it helped him. However, finishing 8th or 9th on American Idol Season 11 is a tremendous accomplishment and could be the spring board to his variety show career. We hope he will surprise us this week with a dead serious performance of a really good R&B song. If he does, he could make it for several more weeks.

9) DeAndre Brakensick
Deandre started the show with overly happy delivery of “Only The Good Die Young”. It seems the DeAndre is more interested in competing on American Idol than he is in delivering strong singing performances. That will lead to his ouster in the next few weeks.

So, there you have it. American Idol Season 11 has one of the strongest group of musicians I have ever seen and I am enjoying each week’s performance shows. I think any of the top 6 could win American Idol Season 11.  Join us on Wednesday night when the musicians will sing “songs of their Idols”. I think that means this will be a wide open show and could reveal a lot about who each of these musicians are.

American Idol Season 11 Top 10 Results

The American Idol Season 11 dip into the Billy Joel songbook went about as I expected for the Top 10. Billy Joel writes wonderful pop songs but his songs just do not have the dynamics to create those American Idol moments.  Elise Testone and Christian musician Colton Dixon were the only ones who really turned their Billy Joel covers into something special.  The judges gushed over Jessica Sanchez but I thought she was way too busy with runs and vocal histrionics for me to connect with her version of “Everybody Has A Dream.”  As I predicted, the big singers, Hollie Cavanaugh and Joshua Ledet, struggled with these songs, but I think they will live to make their marks for a few more weeks.

Tonight, it looks like DeAndre Brakensick and Erika Van Pelt will be in the bottom three and I think they will joined by Heejun Hahn.  I don’t think Heejun’s sarcastic romp through the preparation week served him well.

So join me for the next hour as we watch Ryan Seacrest reveal America’s reaction to the American Idol Season 11 Top 10 performances.  I am looking forward to hearing what Hayle Reinhart is up to.

After the big group number and the Ford music video we finally start the results. The first three on the hot seat are Hollie Cavanaugh, Skylar Laine and Elise Testone? Given their performances over the entire season, none of these girls deserve to go home tonight.  Hollie Cavanaugh is safe, as is Skylar Laine.  Wow, Elise Testone is safe also.  There is justice on American Idol Season 11!

Two more commercial breaks, a birthday celebration for Stephen Tyler (with Joe Perry as his present) and a Lana Del Rey performance before we get to building the bottom three. The next round of candidates includes DeAndre Brakensick, Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez.  Looks like DeAndre is in trouble tonight. Jessica Sanchez is safe with an endorsement from Billy Joel himself.  Despite a rough night Joshua Ledet is safe as well.  DeAndre Brakensick is in the bottom three.

Time to fill out the bottom three.  The last four, Colton Dixon, Erika Van Pelt, Heejun Hahn and Phil Phillips.  Is there any doubt? Sorry, Erika and Heejun. Boy, Jimmy Iovine really ripped Heejun Hahn.  Did Heejun really say that he was man after God’s own heart?  Colton Dixon is safe but Erika Van Pelt is in the bottom three. Phil Phillips is safe and Heejun Hahn is in the bottom three.

It  looks like Heejun Hahn is another Christian musician on American Idol Season 11.

Now down to the final decision for the American Idol Season 11 Top 10.  DeAndre Brakensick is sent to safety.  Erika Van Pelt is voted off.  Will the judges save her?  They have already overridden the American Idol voters once. But they won’t save her again.  Erika Van Pelt was a really good singer who never seemed to connect with the American Idol public.

Join us this weekend as we reveal our American Idol Season 11 Top 9 power rankings.

American Idol Season 11 Top 10 Performances-Live Blog

I am back from the West Coast and I am back from vacation so One21music will actually be live blogging the live feed of American Idol Season 11.  What an interesting show it was last week.  Front runner Jessica Sanchez stumbled a bit when she did not shine with her disco song.  Christian musician Joshua Ledet just burned the house down with his rousing version of “When A Man Loves A Women”.  Joshua Ledet has now proven he can do uptempo, see his performance of “I Wish”, as well as the torchy ballad.  Jessica Sanchez still has some things to prove.

Christian musician Colton Dixon is slowing his momentum on American Idol Season 11 by delivering amazing performances of obscure songs.  Phil Phillips has been spectacular every week.  Skylar Laine and Hollie Cavanaugh have proven to be consistently good.

Now that we have our American Idol Season 11 touring group it is time to see if Heejun Hhan, DeAndre Brackensick, Erika Van Pelt or Elise Testone can break through and make it into the Top 5.  Nothing we have seen so far would suggest that they will be able to crack the Top 5 but America is a fickle beast (ask Pia Toscano).

Tonight, American Idol Season 11 will feature the songs of Billy Joel.  This is a collection of well crafted, middle of the road, pop and rock songs.  It will be difficult for the big voiced singers to do much with this music but I expect Colton Dixon, Phil Phillips and Elise Testone to shine tonight.

PDiddy will join Jimmy Iovine to mentor the performers tonight.  I wonder how that will rock out?  Tommy Hilfiger is going to dress the Idols tonight.  That did not work out so great last year.

DeAndre Brakensick will be singing “Only The Good Die Young”. DeAndre bops around the stage.  The first verse swallows him up as he clips his words trying to keep pace with the music.  He has a few growling moments in the chorus but overall he seems a little overwhelmed by this song. The crowd loves it. Jennifer liked the laid-back vibe which makes me think he should have taken a reggae twist.  Randy says it didn’t show him anything special.  I agree and I bet DeAndre is in the bottom three tomorrow night.

Erika Van Pelt will be singing second this week. This will not help her escape what is beginning to look like permanent residence in the bottom three. She needs a really big moment tonight. She will be singing “New York State of Mind” which is very dangerous for her because she could really push the song and overstep her performance or hold back and be boring. Erika has gotten a major make-over and is now sporting short, jet black hair. Her bluesy twist spin on this song is a welcome interpretation and she sings every note perfectly. That was a fine performance, I just wonder if it was enough.  Randy, Stephen and J-Lo loved but thought she could have pushed it further.

Will Joshua Ledet continue his string of mind blowing performances? Billy Joel is probably not the best set of songs for him but let’s see what he does with “She’s Got A Way”?  That is a very good choice for him. In all black, he begins the song sitting on chair in the middle of the stage. Unfortunately, he tries to do too much with the beginning of the song and loses the melody. This one is over performed.  This song is not that big and didn’t need all of the dynamics he added to the song.  He certainly did not need the gospel choir.  J-Lo reluctantly agrees with me.  She does not feel he was connected to the lyrics. Stephen thinks he brought the song to life.  I don’t understand what Randy is saying.  I think this is Joshua Ledet‘s first slight stumble.

Skylar Laine is a unique performer on American Idol.  She has developed a very strong persona that actually distracts from her talent.  With all of the talk of her as the country girl, Skylar has delivered three perfect vocal performances. She is singing “Shameless”, which I do not know. With the steel guitar, she is definitely putting a country twist on her performance. Skylar is really winning me over.  What a heartfelt delivery of this song.  Talk about owning a song and making it your own.  Randy felt the front was a little pitchy and only calls it “pretty good”.  J-Lo and Stephen says she just ate the song up. I liked her performance better than than did the judges.

Elise Testone is doing “Vienna” this week and Jimmy Iovine is not happy with the selection.  Elise needs another special performance this week.  Elise was right to pick this song.  Her hard articulation of every word in the first verse is very jazzy, then she kicks it up with the strong, raspy blues runs that only Elise can do.  She slays this song.  That was an amazing performance.  Beautiful.  The judges agree with a standing ovation. Stephen uses the words beautiful and fantastic.  J-Lo is right that her performance confidence really shined through.  Randy says that she is the only singer that could have delivered that run at the closing of the song.  If Elise is in the bottom 3 this week, it will be a crime.

A healthier Phil Phillips will be singing “Moving Out”. I agree with Diddy that I would prefer to see Phil without his guitar. I say it every week.  This guy is a natural.  His pacing and arrangement build tension for a big, big finish.  In Phil’s hands this song sounds dangerous. J-Lo calls it awesome and said it was a perfect rendition. Randy says it was one of the best versions of that song ever.  I agree.

What will Hollie Cavanaugh do with “Honesty”? Did Hollie find the song she can arrange to show off her huge voice? She performs in a disco outfit on a platform in the middle of a string section.  She struggles with pitch at the beginning.  This girl just has a huge voice, but this performance is not her best.  There is just not much to grasp onto here.  It was okay, not great. Stephen felt she was pitchy. None of the judges felt like she really knew the song.

Heejun Hahn will be singing “My Life”.  Heejun lets loose with some shenanigans and delivers a wonderful performance of “My Life”.  It is playful and upbeat.  For the first time this season we see Heejun’s personality. Despite some vocal missteps I think America will respond positively to Heejun this week.  J-Lo really appreciates the fun he brought to the show. Stephen calls him out that he needs to take the business more seriously.

Can Jessica Sanchez regain her footing this week? She will sing “Everybody Has A Dream”. Diddy tells her to pull back on the tricks. She throws out a huge vocal performance that brings the judges to their feet.  There were too many runs in the verses for me.  J-Lo says this was Jessica’s defining moment.  Randy says she just delivered another moment and it was perfection.  I think it was good, just not as special as the judges thought it was.

Christian musician Colton Dixon will add his piano playing to this week’s performance of “Piano Man”. Imagine that. The mentors had nothing to add.  Pretty dramatic lighting for Colton this week.  It feels like we are in the presence of a professional.  I think he over sang the first verse a little but that was a masters course in singing and performance.  Stephen calls his choice of chords stunning.  Randy calls it a touching, moving performance.

And fantastically, Colton takes the moment to talk about his prayer and his desire for Christ to shine through his talent.

Well, it is in your hands now America.  I thought Elise Testone and Colton Dixon took the night, with Skylar Laine and Phil Phillips representing themselves well.  DeAndre Brackensick, Erika Van Pelt and Heejun Hahn may be our bottom three this week.