Idol's Top 13

It's time to hear the Top 13.  This week, the guys will be singing Stevie Wonder and the girls will be singing Whitney Houston.

I have to admit, I'm going into this with low expectations--especially for the girls.  How many times have the judges told the contestants not to even attempt Whitney, Mariah, Celine, etc?  And now they're doing a whole show?  I respect that they want to honor Whitney's memory, but I have a bad feeling about it.

On the guy's side, I imagine two comments:  either, "that song is so classic, why would you change it up" OR "it sounded too much like the original, you should've made it your own."

We'll see.  I'm truly hoping I'm proven wrong on all of this.  

Oh, what's this?  Tonight they're doing guys vs. girls tonight.  Tomorrow we'll learn the bottom guy and the bottom girl.  The judges will then determine who gets to stay.  This is for one week only.

So, Joshua is up first singing "I Wish."  Jimmy & Mary J. Blige (this week's mentor) told him to be more aggressive in the chorus.  The brass section is on stage with him and he does an awesome job.  Very rousing performance!  Everyone's on their feet dancing.  (Me too!)  Great start to the show!  Randy said he "blew it out!"  He liked that we've been hearing all his ballads, but this shows he can do anything.  JLo "felt" the performance.  Steven said he nailed it.

Elise started out singing "Greatest Love of All," but in rehearsal with Jimmy & Mary, she sounded terrible.  So she did "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight."  She does a decent job.  Doesn't blow me away or anything, but her voice sounds good.  JLo says, "Whitney's a beast.  Right?  We all know this.  And it's about taking these songs and making them your own and I think that's where you were struggling with Mary & Jimmy. You wanted to make it so much your own, where you have such a specific style and Whitney has a specific style as well, and it was trying to find a marriage between the two. It's undeniable that you have an amazing voice.  That's for sure.  I just don't think this was your best.  There were timing issues, other things.  You just felt a little unsure."  Steven said she needs to find the right songs for her voice.  (And hello!  That's not going to be Whitney Houston people!  The cards are stacked against her from the start.)  Randy thought she was "boxing" with the song.  He said this one wasn't good.

Jermaine's next, singing "Knocks Me Off My Feet."  I really think Jermaine should be in a group--I don't necessarily like to hear the baritone all the time.  Although Jimmy says he's glad the judges brought him back because he does not deserve to go from this contest.  He's wearing a pink shirt covered by a red & black jacket.  It offends my eyes.  Regarding his performance, I have the same comments I did with Elise--decent, but didn't blow me away.  Love this song though.  Steven said the song fit his voice like an Armani suit.  JLo wants him to connect with the songs more and the words he's singing.  Randy didn't love the chorus, but he loved the verses.

Next is Erika singing "I Believe in You and Me."  Mary and Jimmy told her not to go for the literal version of the song and that she has too much rasp and rock in her voice to try to sing like Whitney Houston--she has to do her own style.  I love her voice.  She does a great job.  Randy says she has an unbelievable tone.  Randy was sold.  JLo said it gave her "goosies."  And I'm not sure what Steven said because I wasn't paying attention.

Colton is singing "Lately."  Another song I love.  Jimmy & Mary told him to rely on his vulnerability.  I was worried at first because I heard a pitchy note, but he did a really, really nice job with that song.  Steven said it was outstanding.  JLo pointed out that Colton was probably the most challenged with the Stevie Wonder theme, and she thought because he showed his heart, it was great.  Randy said, "Technically for a second, it wasn't perfect--there were some notes that were flat and some that were sharp...it was when you were singing soft and low.   It started a little shaky for me, but by the end, it was flawless."

Shannon chooses "I Have Nothing."  Mary tells her that she's thinking too much.  She surprised me and did a great job.  I was iffy on her last week.  Ew...spoke too soon.  When she sang "don't make me close one more door" the second time, she completely missed the big notes.  She hit it perfectly the first time, but the second time, not so much.  JLo & Steven said the thinking got the best of her.

Deandre  is next.  Thankfully he's got his hair pulled back, so hopefully he won't be whipping it back and forth tonight.  He's singing "Master Blaster."  Mary told him he was singing too "pretty."  He needed to belt it and do it with feeling.  Steven loved it.  (Of course.)  JLo loved it, but thought the ending was weird.  Randy said he was in perfect rhythm and it was so good we didn't want it to stop.  Like Joshua, he showed that he can do uptempo in addition to the ballads.

Here comes Skylar with "Where Do Broken Hearts Go."  She didn't grow up listening to her, and has never sung her before.  Should be interesting.  I didn't love it, but toward the end she really belted it out and did a good job.  JLo said it was nasally and not perfect, but she kept her composure and gave us the biggest moment of then night.  I'm no longer going to report what Steven says unless he didn't like something.  Randy basically said what I said, and added that she proved she can not only sing country, she can sing any song.

My man Heejun is next.  Definitely going to have to follow him on Twitter.  He's hilarious.  Tonight he's singing "All in Love is Fair."  Mary said he caught her off guard--she wasn't expecting him to sound like he did.  Before he left, he gave Jimmy and Mary autographed photos of himself.  On Jimmy's he wrote "I love you Jimmy."  On Mary's he wrote "I love you more than Jimmy."  Haha!  Lovely!  Where does that soul come from, I wonder?  JLo loves him and has always loved him.  Randy said it wasn't perfect, but it was really good.

Haley, Hollie??  Somebody's next.  She's singing "All the Man that I Need."  Mary told her to sing what she feels. Can I just say that I love Mary J. Blige?  She's given great advice to everyone and should be on each week.

Okay, back to _____, whoever.  Damn. I missed her name again. Oh there it is: HOLLIE.  Okay.  She has a big voice for being so petite, and she does a really good job.  She was awesome.  I'm impressed.  So were the judges.

Jeremy's next with "Ribbon in the Sky."  This is my favorite Stevie song of all time.  It often brings me to tears.  In rehearsal it didn't sound too good.  Jimmy said he was too in his head.  I didn't like the way they mixed/chopped/edited the song, but he sounded good.  He didn't make me cry, but he did give me goose bumps at one point.  Two points..did it again toward the end.  Nice.  S-Ty and J-Lo loved it.  Randy said it wasn't his best performance and that he needed more swag to make it believable. 

Hey, flat Stanley visited American Idol!  Remember when he visited me??

Jessica is tackling "I Will Always Love You."  Risky.  But Jimmy and Mary loved it in rehearsals.  Another tiny girl with a big voice.  She sounds amazing.  Man--she hit the money note perfectly.  Fantastic!  Standing O from the judges, and some teary eyes from me.  WOW.  Randy said "this is one of the hardest songs in the world to sing.  Not only was this the best vocal of the night, I think you're one of the best singers in this competition!  America, this is one of the best talents in the whole country!"  JLo said she was speechless.  Okay, I have point out what Steven said:  "You just made 40 million people cry."  Indeed she did.  that was great.

One more.  Who's left.  Phillip, right?  Yes, it's Phillip.  He's singing "Superstition."  He points out that it's been done in previous seasons, but not the way he's doing it.  He's rocking it out with his guitar.  Jimmy says he's a rare find--great singer AND great musician.  Love this guy!  Judges do too.

Wow...the show beat all my expectations.  For the most part, everyone was great.  If I had to pick the bottom guy and girl, I'd pick Jermaine and Skylar.  But, I know people like them, so who knows what will happen.  Maybe Elise will be the bottom. 

Until tomorrow...

[Or really, until now.  I just realized I never posted this on Wednesday night.]

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