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American Idol Recap: Top 13 Perform Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder Songs Live

March 07, 2012 07:58 PM by Candace Young

Last time on FOX‘s American Idol the Top 13 finalists were revealed! Tonight, those contestants will perform live for Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, the audience, and America! Host Ryan Seacrest announces that it’s the 400th episode before introducing the girls and guys.  He says it will be guys versus girls for the first time ever – guys singing Stevie Wonder and girls singing Whitney Houston. Mary J. Blige is mentoring. Read on for highlights…

Tonight kicks off with Joshua Ledet rehearshing with Mary J. Blige on American Idol. He’s feeling out of his comfort zone with the Stevie Wonder tune. Onstage, Joshua tackles I Wish with confidence and has me grooving in my seat. Randy exclaims that he just tore it out at the top of the show! Flawless. Jennifer ‘felt’ his performance – she loves that. Steven says he nailed it – nice going!

Elise Testone is doing I’m Your Baby Tonight live. She delivers an interesting, raspy/raunchy version of the tune that has the crowd clapping along. Jennifer says she has an amazing voice, but it wasn’t her best – there were timing issues etc. Steven missed her hitting them with a big chorus. Randy agrees – it seemed like she was boxing with the song.

Jermaine Jones is singing Knocks Me Off My Feet by Stevie Wonder this week. The ‘Gentle Giant’ croons in his deep, rich voice and captivates. Steven says the song fit him like an Armani suit. Jennifer calls him adorable, but wants to see him connect with the song a bit more. Randy didn’t love the chorus, but loved the verses.

Erika Van Pelt tells Ryan how much she’s enjoyed the journey thus far, before hitting the stage to perform. Mary J. Blige advised her not to try and sing like Whitney because her own style is so different. Erika sings I Believe In You and Me in her own diva-esque vocal style and it’s very satisfying. Randy tells her she has unbelievable tone – she sold him! Jennifer had goosebumps before she even began singing – it’s the way she interprets songs along with her tone – but she still feels she’s playing it a little bit safe. Steven agrees that she has a fantastic voice – he thinks she’s great!

Colton Dixon is advised to rely on his vulnerability when performing Stevie Wonder, as it’s not his usual thing. Colton takes the stage to sing Lately and definitely delivers vulnerability, along with his own bit of edge.  Steven tells him it was outstanding! Jennifer says he was probably the most challenged, and it was great! Randy says it wasn’t picture-perfect technically, but his power-point was spot on and the end was flawless!

Shannon Magrane is tackling I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston on Idol tonight. In sequined black tights and a black bomber jacket, Shannon gives it her all, but falls a little short with some missed notes. Jennifer says the thinking got the better of her – she can sing that song but they didn’t hear that tonight – she needs to relax and tell the story. Steven says her nerves got the best of her. Randy also knows she can sing that song, and agrees the nerves got to her.

Deandre Brackensick became quite emotional in rehearsal, but got some great direction from Mary J. Blige. Deandre takes the stage to perform the reggae-ish tune Master Blaster, and really goes for broke. He’s got the stage presence, dance moves, and sounds great too! Steven tells him he’s got a different flavor than everyone else and he loved it again tonight. Jennifer says he has soul – he brought it from the beginning! Randy exclaims that they didn’t want it to stop – that’s how good it was!

Country girl, Skylar Laine, isn’t familiar with Whitney Houston songs, but Mary J. Blige guides her into a comfortable ‘pocket’ for her rendition of Where Do Broken Hearts Go. Skylar’s performance is excellent – she interacts with the crowd and hits some impressive notes! Jennifer says she gave them their biggest moment of the night! Steven says it was a thing of beauty – she nailed it! Randy tells Skylar what he loves about her is that she’s a country girl, but she proved she can sing any song!

Heejun Han is performing Stevie Wonder’s All In Love Is Fair tonight on American Idol. He delivers a thoughtful and vocally sound version of the tune. Jennifer loves him. Steven tells him to keep it up, and Randy says it wasn’t perfect, but it was really good.

Hollie Cavanaugh, the little girl with the big voice, will be doing All The Man That I Need tonight. Hollie, in a little black sequined dress, raises the roof off the place with some of the notes she hits! Randy says that was Whitney’s prime joint, and she nailed it! Jennifer sees her headed to the final! Steven says she nails it every time – that was really nice.

Jeremy Rosado was nervous in rehearsal. He’s performing Ribbon In The Sky by Stevie Wonder, and sings his heart out for the crowd. Steven says he’s loved his velvety voice from the beginning – it was beautiful. Jennifer agrees that it was really beautiful. Randy says, for him, it wasn’t his best performance – he needed more swag to make it believable.

Jessica Sanchez is taking on Whitney show-stopper I Will Always Love You. In rehearsal she makes Mary J. Blige squeal by nailing the tough notes. On stage, Jessica’s performance is mesmerizing from the first haunting notes to the last. Tear-jerking. She earns a standing ovation from audience and judges. Randy exclaims, “Yo! Give it all to her! Jessica Sanchez is legit!” He’s positively overwhelmed with her talent. Jennifer calls it amazing, saying she’s speechless! Steven intones that she may be ‘the one’ – she just made 40 million people cry.

Phillip Phillips will sing Superstition tonight. In rehearsal, Mary J. Blige loved him because he gets lost in the music.  Phillip takes the stage live with two back up guitar players, and playing guitar himself. He kicks it out with a totally groovy, raunchy, and energetic version of the song – awesome! Steven tells him, “You just ‘are’.” Jennifer is thrilled – he made it his own and he killed it. Randy says he loves what he does – he drives his own car, in his own lane, and he loves it!

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Photos courtesy: FOX

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