Jermaine Jones, Heejun Han and Erika Van Pelt on "American Idol" season 11.
"Gentle giant" Jermaine Jones was indeed kicked off “American Idol” on Wednesday for bad behavior, but he’s not the only “Idol” finalist in trouble.
As first reported Tuesday night, Jones was tossed off the show for having outstanding warrants that he never told anyone about. In a surprisingly tastefully done bit of video, the 25-year-old singer had to sit down in front of the executive producers and listen to how disappointed they were in him, a scene that looked and sounded like a high-schooler at the principal’s office. If he had been honest they could have helped, the men said, but “Idol” is not allowed to have contestants with outstanding warrants and Jones has several.
Left unsaid is what they could have done. Who knew that Nigel Lythgoe had that kind of power over the courts? (Can he fix my parking tickets?) But at any rate, Jones thanked them for the opportunity and sadly walked out the door. And then, there were 11.
The question now is whether he’ll be the only one leaving. Ryan Seacrest was careful to say that the lowest vote getter was “at risk” for getting sent home Thursday, but did not say whether the Jones elimination means that the judges get an extra save this season. If so, they may be more inclined to use it now, since this is the week they used it last year to keep Casey Abrams around (and then regretted it when Pia Toscano got the boot a couple of weeks later). If not, what fills that extra week? A last-minute “Idol Gives Back”? A clip show?
We’ll find out Thursday. But if someone is going gome this week for performing a song from their birth year, the singers in danger aren’t necessarily the ones who were at the bottom last week.
When Ryan asked the judges which contestant was in trouble, only Randy Jackson gave a name: Heejun Han. He was clearly Randy’s least favorite of the night, as the judge called his Richard Marx cover of "Right Here Waiting" “pitchy all over the place” and said “it felt like you were out of breath the whole time.” Other than that, Mr. Jackson, how did you like the number?
Nor did Han succeed in getting Fergie’s number from guest mentor will.i.am, who reminded Han that Fergie is married, but did not remind him that she is also nine miles out of his league. And to top it off, Han's girlfriend was in the audience, so she now knows he was trying to hit on another woman, and a married one at that. Not a great night all the way around.
Of course, will.i.am was his usual awesome self. He should get the next vacancy on the judges’ stand. But he and Jimmy Iovine did no favors convincing DeAndre Brackensick to change songs. The 17-year-old did not look comfortable at all with “Endless Love,” and he may be in more danger than Han because he was a wild-card pick in the first place and was all over the place with his vocals.
Erika Van Pelt was better this week with Bryan Adams’ “Heaven,” but Jimmy and will.i.am suggested a dramatic pause that wasn’t executed well and did nothing but throw off the timing. She also started slowly before powering through the chorus. Meanwhile, Jessica Sanchez’s “Turn the Beat Around” by Gloria Estefan wasn’t a smart decision on her part, but she’d be a lock for the judges save if she wound up the low vote-getter.
On the other hand, both Shannon Magrane and Colton Dixon went their own ways and were successful. Jimmy tried to get Magrane to sing “Don’t Speak,” but she stuck to her guns and did “One Sweet Day” instead. Based on her performance last week, they were quite right to be concerned. But the vocals were much better and a grateful Randy used the occasion to remind us again that he’s worked with Mariah Carey before. Really? We had NO IDEA!
Dixon went with White Lion’s “Broken Heart” and made it his own, if you can get full credit for putting a different spin on a song nobody had heard of in the first place. He had dinner with Daughtry on Tuesday, and said the season five fourth-pace finisher suggested that he be himself and also pick songs people had heard of. Maybe next week.
In addition, Skylar Laine did not take will.i.am’s suggestion to cover Coolio and sing what he called ghountry (ghetto-country) because it was dumb. Instead she sang Bonnie Raitt's "Love Sneakin' Up on You," got her applause and sat down.
Of the singers who were in danger last week, Joshua Ledet won the night among the men and got a bucket of crawfish for his troubles, and Elise Testone came through in the clutch early in the show. Kudos to Testone for going hatless this week. Also kudos to Hollie Cavanagh, who was not in trouble last week and will not be this week either, considering she nailed Celine Dion's “Power of Love.”
One more note: Jimmy and will.i.am asked Phillip Phillips how he was doing and he said, “Not so great – I have to go to the hospital for kidney stones.” Phillip, dude, the correct answer to “How are you doing?” is always “fine.” That’s not a question where anyone is really looking for an answer.
Thursday’s results show may or may not feature someone else getting kicked off. Ryan won’t tell, since without that kind of drama he’s not sure people would tune in for the Demi Lovato and Daughtry live performances and a group sing. You’ll have to watch, or at least check in here, to find out.
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