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‘American Idol’ Recap: Top 13 Perform Whitney Houston + Stevie Wonder Songs

Jessica Sanchez Joshua Ledet
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On tonight’s (March 7) episode of ‘American Idol,’ the Top 13 were asked to perform songs by Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder. The girls performed Houston’s hits, while the boys tackled Wonder’s work.

We admit we were skeptical at first, because the judges consistently warn the hopefuls about attempting the three divas (Whitney, Mariah, Celine) since they are, as J. Lo said, “beasts.”

It was also the 400th episode of the show. Congrats to the ‘Idol’ family on that small screen milestone.

A twist was also revealed. The boys were going head-to-head with the girls, so tomorrow (March 8), the judges will decide if the bottom boy or bottom girl stays. Drama!

Speaking of drama, Mary J. Blige (who has an album called ‘No More Drama’) was the mentor tonight, dispensing plenty of motherly advice to the wannabes.

Overall, the ep was really snoozy, with too many slow ballads and sluggish pacing. We needed and wanted some kick and some pep, and it came via show opener Joshua Ledet and closer Phillip Phillips. They roared and provided the jolt we were looking for.

Here’s your PopCrush recap of tonight’s ep.

GIRLS:

Elise Testino: Testino had planned to sing ‘The Greatest Love of All’ but it was scrapped in favor of ‘I’m Your Baby Tonight.’ It was a lackluster performance. She was flat and she “boxed” with the melodies and fills and didn’t do anything to differentiate.

Erika Van Pelt: Mary J. said Erika V.’s voice is like steak and potatoes, not celery and peanut butter. While we enjoy PB on veggies, we picked up what she was putting down. EVP sang ‘I Believe in You and Me‘ and she brilliantly did her thing, infusing the song with her “rock and rasp” style. Smart strategy, since she and Whit are so far removed. J. Lo got goosies, which is the equivalent of a gold star.

Shannon Magrane: The talented teen way overthought Whit’s ‘I Have Nothing’ and her performance was off-key. She was missing notes left and right. We know she can sing that song, but she didn’t. Damn nerves. Shake it off, girl.

Skylar Laine: ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’ was her chance to bring “country to Whitney.” She sidestepped her stage stomping, tough-but-cute country girl antics in favor of a power ballad. We’re changing her name to ‘Skylar Alaina,’ since she is this season’s Lauren Alaina.

Hollie Cavanagh: She nailed it on ‘All the Man That I Need.’ Who knew that a big voice lives in such a little package? It was a glorious, strong performance from start to finish.

Jessica Sanchez: ‘I Will Always Love You’ is Houston’s biggest song, so Sanchez bravely attempted it. She has the pipes to pull it off. And that is just what she did, with a standing ovation from the judges.

BOYS:

Joshua Ledet: His version of ‘I Wish‘ was all soul and groove. He sidestepped his usual ballads to show us he can do uptempo. And oh can he do it. He didn’t ditch his gospel leanings; instead, he incorporated them into the mix.

Jermaine Jones: The gentle giant was born to sing Stevie Wonder songs, like ‘Knocks Me Off My Feet.’ His deep, low timber is as big as he is and yes, he knocked us off our feet with his rich, silky, Barry White-style delivery. The song fit him like an Armani suit but J. Lo asked him to concentrate less on notes and more the words. The Jersey boy is a personal fave of Jimmy Iovine, too.

Colton Dixon: The faux hawker was most challenged by this ‘Wonder’ful material, since he is a rock dude. He was flat at some points, sharp at others, but his final falsetto note was worth the price of admission.

Deandre Brackensick: The reggae grooves were plentiful when he got down with Wonder’s ‘Master Blaster.’ He showed off all three tiers of his voice and had incredible onstage swagger.

Heejun Han: The resident comedian sang ‘All in Love Is Fair‘ and this might make us unpopular, but we’re not sure why he is so popular. He has a nice voice and all, but it’s not earth-shattering. Yet the judges seem to think it is. We predict if there is ever situation that requires a “save,” they’ll save Heejun.

Jeremy Rosado: J Ro performed ‘Ribbon in the Sky.’ He has such a beautiful and velvety voice, it’s too bad his nerves got the best of him. He stayed true to the song, but Randy wanted him to connect a bit more.

Phillip Phillips: The always unusual and original Phillip (times two) brought rock to the final performance of the night as he roared through ‘Superstition.’ This material was not in his wheelhouse, but he interpreted it and made it his own. Finally, we got something lively and we loved it.

The results will be revealed tomorrow, March 8, and we’re worried about Testino and Magrane. These two talents turned in subpar performances.

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