An upcoming nose job leads to a brawl at Tamra's Bunco Party
The Bunco Party takes an uncomfortable turn when Slade and some of the OC men, invited by Tamra, join the party. Confronted immediately about the insulting things he said about Vicki in his comedy routine, Slade aggressively defends himself. And though Vicki tries to make a graceful exit, she soon finds herself drawn back inside to have the last word.
Jumping to Slade’s defense, Gretchen and Vicki get into a vicious screaming match, where Gretchen accuses Vicki of being a hypocrite. And just when everyone thinks the drama is over, Alexis gets defensive when Tamra and Heather call her out on her upcoming nose job. Later, once the party drama has passed, Alexis goes in for her surgery, and Vicki's daughter Briana heads to the hospital to have her thyroid removed, fearing the worst – cancer.
"The Real Housewives of Orange County" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.
At a heated 'After the Final Rose,' Ben admits to a breakup
By Diane Vadino
Special to MSN TV
It's a "Bachelor" double feature this evening -- we have three solid hours ahead of us, so make some popcorn, find a comfy seat on the couch, and prepare to nap lightly through the first tedious 90 minutes of Zermatt, Switzerland, beauty shots (the tourism department clearly got their money's worth here) and faux-conflicted interviews from Ben about how tempted he is to make Lindzi his wife. Sigh. Zzzz.
Anyone who's been to a supermarket checkout (or anywhere else tabloid magazines are sold) probably has a pretty good idea of whom Ben will be proposing to tonight: Courtney. It was always, always Courtney -- and not just dating back to her first cringe-worthy appearance in US Weekly, but to her first, cringe-worthy appearance on this show, when Ben found out there was a model in the mix. After that first cocktail party, Ben remembered the model, the other women, and the lady on the horse, which is how Lindzi made it to the end.
Would that we could just skip to the foregone conclusion -- and to the relatively juicy "After the Final Rose" -- but first we have to make it through the rest of the journey. Because this is the finale, it means that Ben's family is showing up: sister Julia (who looks so much like Ben that he sort of starts looking like a girl himself) and mom Barbara, who seems like she'd rather be on a flight back to Napa. "My backup has arrived, and the questions I have will be answered will by someone I trust and love," Ben explains. Julia has a question to kick things off: "Was there a girl that was more dramatic, that the other girls didn't like?" You can basically see her reading the lines off a cue card the producers are holding up. Ben admits that there was, but he's focused on other problems: He wants to know if his family thinks Lindzi can ever "open up" and if Courtney's the raging terror the other women have suggested she is. (Not that Ben actually minds if Courtney is.)
Lindzi's up first, and Julia gives her a bit of advice: "I think he wants to dig a little bit deeper with you." Lindzi tries to refrain from bashing Courtney: "I'm more of a people person; she was very shut off in that situation. Why not try to make friends?" Why not, indeed. You can tell that Julia and Barbara are not particularly enthusiastic about Lindzi. Next comes Courtney. Julia's reaction to the news that she's a model is priceless: "She's a model? The idea of a model as a sister in law...oh God, Ben, come on." Why wasn't Julia at "After the Final Rose"? Of course, it's not for Courtney to go on the defensive when the offensive is so much more appealing: "I think some of the girls were a little judge-y of me," she tells Julia. "I'm big on first impressions, and I really tried with everybody. I kind of just gave up." Then Julia disappoints everyone by caving and giving Courtney her stamp of approval. "I found her to be a really kind person, and he looks like he has really fallen in love with her," Barbara adds. What could they possibly be thinking now? "As far as the complete package is concerned, I think Courtney is more of what you want," Julia says. Ben, apparently, has no one to blame but his sister for this. What was Julia feeling when she watched this tonight, besides a vague sense of nausea?
We move on to the dates that don't matter because we all know what Ben's going to do. Ben greets Lindzi with more horses, because that's the only thing they really talk about, for a carriage ride through Zermatt. They're going skiing in the Alps, and on the way up the slope, the gondola stops, and Lindzi is prodded into once again proving her "vulnerability" to Ben. It really is like watching blood drip from a stone. Self protect, Lindzi! Self protect! But she doesn't. Instead, she's pouring her heart out and working as many ski-relationship metaphors into the mix as she can: "I have no idea what I'm getting myself into," she says. "But it's like relationships -- it's a risk worth taking." Really going to miss that, producers. "Can you see an 'us' in your future?" Lindzi asks Ben. Sure, eh, yeah, kind of, he says. "This love that I feel is bigger than any love I've felt before," she sums up. It's that bad.
Next, we have Courtney's final date, which involves a "helichopter." Everything you need to know about Ben and Courtney, and why he chose her, is in this segment. It lasts as long as the "You look really pretty" he greets her with. "With Courtney, I'm completely and utterly myself," Ben continues. That "myself" is the kind of guy who baby-talks his girlfriend as they play in the snow: "Are those your widdle feet?" "They are!" Courtney fake-cries her way through another interview about having kids with Ben someday. "I'm terrified that Ben might do to me when Ashley did to him," she says. "My heart hurts just thinking about it."
If only. After a (second) visit to Neil Lane, it's engagement day. And the first woman off the helichopter is...feathery Lindzi. "Good to see you," Ben says, after Chris Harrison deposits her. "You look great." Ben talks to everyone but Courtney like he's at a high school reunion, and to Courtney, he talks like he's in pre-school. It does not get any better for poor Lindzi. "I want you to know that I've fallen in love with you," Ben says. Just not as much as "someone else." Ben walks her out, and Lindzi, to her eternal shame, finishes her journey with: "If things don't work out, call me." Oh, poor Lindzi. What does she think about that now?
Courtney's next. Ben loves her. He had "a moment of past, present, and future on the top of the ruins in Belize," whatever that means. And he wants "to tell [Courtney] that [she is] my forever." Well, you know: Forever in the sense of four to six weeks. Is there no true love anymore? They kiss, Courtney makes weird faces, and it's happily ever after. Or is it?
That's why it's so great that "After the Final Rose" begins immediately after. It's like how romantic movies always end with a wedding -- because the morning after the honeymoon's over can be so alarming. Here are the facts: Ben says he did not cheat on Courtney, no matter what those photos in US suggested. But they did break up -- and sort of still are broken up. It's not quite as bad as Emily Maynard and Brad Womack, but it's sure on the way there. Chris Harrison's intro says it all: "What did Ben see in Courtney that nobody else did? What was it like realizing what Courtney was really like? Has Ben already had an affair? Are Ben and Courtney still together?" Answers: who knows, bad, "no," and ...ish. "On my father's grave I haven't cheated on Courtney," Ben says. But he doesn't say that he didn't mess around with anyone while they were broken up, does he?
The audience is not into this at all. Chris is feeling the hate: "Usually when we do this, there's thunderous applause and everyone's on the same page," he says, after Courtney arrives to some boos. He interviews them both separately, then together, and everyone has to sit through a replay of their vows. Ben and Courtney both cry. Chris says he's been carrying the ring around, and asks Ben what he should do with it now. Ben puts it on Courtney's finger with same enthusiasm evinced by a man walking up to the guillotine.
At long last, Courtney and Ben go off to their futures. Two separate futures, most likely. So Chris does what "The Bachelor" always does in difficult times: celebrate past successes. Ashley and J.P. come out -- and there's actually no way of doubting that they're a happy, regular couple, in which she sends annoying texts about wedding dresses and he gets to address the former dental student as "doctor." ("Does she make you call her doctor?" Chris asks. "I want to call her doctor," J.P. says.) They're getting married within a year, they say, and already have the baby names picked out.
True love and "The Bachelor"? Maybe it's not always an oxymoron.
Battle Round 2 loaded with upsets and regrets
Many fans of the series believed the judges got one or two wrong last week. I happen to think that's exactly what kicked off this week's episode. Christina Aguilera put Sera Hill up against Geoff McBride with Aretha Franklin's anthem "Chain of Fools." While advisors Lionel Ritchie and Jewel preached "character" and "emotion" respectively, a visibly shaky and clearly outmatched Sera walked away with just that ... the match. It was the evening's biggest upset. And it was just beginning!
Blake's initial bout saw two contestants more fit to fight one another: self-proclaimed Jersey Girl Charlotte Sometimes and Austin's Lex Land. Curiously, Shelton picked the first of a few odd song selections for the night, Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks." These two ladies absolutely stalked each other in "the ring," but it was Charlotte "This Time."
In what was positioned (wrongly, I say) as a can't miss win for Cee Lo's Juliet Simms, he put the gravelly-voiced rocker against Sarah Golden, whose rocking is exactly what got her into the competition in the first place, via Gaga's "You and I." Yes, Simms won (and is even my pick for the whole shebang), but Golden proved a formidable opponent, and just killed it. Unfortunately, "Stay With Me," with raspy Rod on vocals, proved too perfect a fit for Simms.
In more outmatched news, Levine had Whitney Myer square off with Kim Yarbrough on Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama," which is exactly what ensued -- drama. How could it not when it was so obvious the 50-year-old Yarbrough would own the tune, especially being twice Myer's age? That said, Myer went down singing, with Blake even commenting that it was like he "was watching one of those diva concerts," and even opting for Carson, as opposed to choosing between the two.
In what was positioned (correctly, I say) as the "most original performance of the night," Xtina's Lee Koch took on Lindsay Pavao with Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" (remember I mentioned odd song selections? Blake admitted to not even knowing the tune!). It proved a truly interesting and entertaining performance, and match. But Pavao sent Koch packing. Or should I say baking?
The next ... um, inspired...song choice was Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is," which Cee Lo assigned to friends Jamar Rogers and Jamie Lono, the latter of whom rocked some serious nerd chic. The friendship they kept speaking of was genuinely evident during the performance, which made the difficulty of Cee Lo's decision palpable. Jamar ultimately took it, although Lono did too ... in stride.
What did you think of Monday night's audition episode? Tell us on Facebook
"The Voice" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
A small mistake leads one team to the brink of disaster
By Diane Vadino
Special to MSN TV
Previously: Elliot and Andrew and Vanessa and Ralph battled it out for last place -- with the twin failing the bottle dance and going home.
Art and J.J. are the first team to leave for Turin, Italy, and they're as egregiously confident as they were on the last leg. "We really don't think we should be anything but number one on any leg," J.J. says. Teams are directed to book tickets at a travel agency (an instruction that will prove crucial in a moment) before heading to the airport -- so we're looking at some pretty massive bunching onto a flight that leaves at 9:15 a.m. and arrives at 10:35 a.m. the following day.
Apparently Art and J.J. powered through last week's leg so well that they have a four-hour lead on the next team, Rachel and Brendon. They're followed by Joey Fitness and Danny and Team Kentucky. Bopper says that the race is "the best opportunity I've had in my life to really better my child's life." This is, of course, the first sign that things may not go well for the Kentucky boys tonight, and so it is: When they arrive at the airport without consulting the travel agent, the border patrol agents kindly set them straight, and send them back into Asuncion. No one else makes this mistake -- so it's just Mark and Bopper on a flight 75 minutes behind everyone else. The remaining six teams make it to the airport without fuss -- including Vanessa and Ralph, whose meltdown last week means that they leave a massive seven hours after the pack-leading border patrol agents.
We arrive at Turin to greet a fleet of Ford Focuses! It's that episode, people -- and though it's not quite as exciting as last year's spin across the Ford Mustang proving ground, it's sufficiently car-centric to appease the advertiser. It's now that we begin to see some of the cracks in the relationships -- especially between Rachel and Dave, whom we've been reminded haven't spent much time together owing to his overseas deployment with the military: "Why don't you drive?" Rachel asks her husband at one point, as she steps out of the car to give him the wheel. "Wow, you are testy today." The team's first challenge is to drive to the Lingotta building, which was once a Fiat factory. Everyone runs up these giant ramps -- led by Art and J.J., who snatch the Fast Forward. Their task, which will allow them to skip right to the Pitstop, is to "land a helicopter on a building." The helicopter is a handheld one, and the building is on someone's head. It's harder than it looks: "I thought we were going to get to land a real helicopter," Art says, disappointed.
Meanwhile, the other teams busy themselves with the Roadblock: "Rappel 120 feet down the inside of the Lingotto building" and grab a clue on the way down -- all within two minutes, or teams have to run back up the ramps and start from scratch. Dave and Rachel's biggest problem is his sense that they should go for the Fast Forward: "Being a helicopter pilot, I could potentially be successful at that," Dave says. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Have you even ever flown a hand-held helicopter? You think it's a real one?" Rachel returns. Bicker, bicker, bicker.
Back to the Roadblock: It's actually hard to imagine this taking anything like two minutes, and indeed, only two teams (Nary and Jamie and Stacy and Kerri) are forced to repeat it. Everyone else goes straight to the Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile, where they need to (a) park their Focus with the Active Park Assist feature and (b) search for the 1916 Tin Lizzie. At the car, teams find a two-cent Euro, with a picture on the back of the Mole Antonelliana -- their next destination. No one has trouble with this except for Rachel and Brendon -- you know they're in trouble with this simple-looking clue when Brendon starts listing his academic credentials, which include an in-progress doctorate in biomedical physics. Meanwhile, Bopper and Mark, the only team on the second flight, finally show up: "'Italy'," Bopper says. "That's all the Italian I know." Art and J.J. finally land the helicopter, and move on to the Pitstop, Piazza Castello -- where they arrive in first place and win $5000 each.
The squabbles continue. Rachel accuses Brendon of having "raised [his] first at [her]. This isn't even worth a million dollars." Brendon, who did no such thing and appears to have a very high threshold for dealing with crazy, replies: "Can you ... stop yelling?" Dave and Rachel are still fighting about driving: "Kill it right now," Dave says. "I'm going to keep my mouth shut so I don't say something I regret." Joey Fitness and Danny are the first to the building, which is beautiful, and they take an elevator to the top for the Detour clue: Clean that Statue (self explanatory) and Name That Salami (which involves identifying 14 different kinds.) "I haven't had that much salami since high school," says Vanessa, on her way to the statue challenge. This is when Brendon calls her and Ralph the "ogre and the trifflin' ho."
Neither Detour challenge looks particularly intense. Dave and Rachel are done first with the statue challenge first, followed by Joey Fitness and Danny and Vanessa and Ralph -- positions that are duplicated on the mat. The salami one looks harder -- like a slightly easier revamp of the tea challenge that drove Luke crazy on Unfinished Business, and it gets Rachel crying again, though this seems like not a very difficult thing to accomplish. "I might purposefully jump in front of a car," she says. Nary and Jamie check in -- and at last, the two trailing teams, both busy with the salami, check in, with Rachel and Brendon just ahead of Kerri and Stacy.
This leaves Bopper and Mark, who have trailed all day. As they get more emotional, their accents get thicker and thicker. "I still feel good about what we accomplished today," Bopper says. After finishing the statue Detour, they arrive at the mat, where Phil tells them that they're in last place. "I know you fought really hard," Phil says. I literally cannot understand anything else the Kentucky guys say, except that it's all very moving, and Mark and Bopper are shaking hands and tearing up. Then Phil tells them that the border patrol agents have something they want to tell them: Art and J.J. want to share their $5000 bounty! To help Mark's kid! Chris Harrison would die to have this kind of drama on "The Bachelor." It's not a crazy-intense footrace to stay in the game, but this has got to be the most touching and unexpected conclusion on this show, ever. Everyone's crying and hugging. "You're a good man," Bopper says. "We're friends for life," someone says, and I honestly can't tell who it was because the screen is filled with one big mass of crying, hugging men. Oh, and? They're not out. It's the season's first non-elimination leg. I just hope Art and J.J. don't regret their gift now that the guys are back in it.
"The Amazing Race" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
Comedian castaway spills on the surprise council, Colton's puppeteering and why he was the target
Judges make wild-card choice Jeremy Rosado the first finalist to get the boot
By Carla Patton
Well, "America," if that is your real name, the Top 13 have performed for your votes and one goes home Thursday night, but not for lack of trying. Everyone tried so hard Wednesday night. That is undeniable. But some were better than others, several tried too hard, and some were just beaten by a really tough song catalog. One might suspect that Elise Testone didn't try as hard as the rest of her competitors, and we're still trying to figure out whether she gives a whit about this whole competition. It's one of the best things about her.
In a "one-time only twist" (Nigel trying to figure out what will work to mix up the show while keeping the ratings), the bottom girl and guy will each be revealed Thursday night, and the judges will choose who stays and who goes. We think it might be Jermaine, because he "thought it was pretty good," then basically shrugged and walked off stage. And he went third! I suspect that, despite a reaching performance from Shannon Magrane, the judges will make an effort to keep the girls around this season.
Last week, they became stars. And on Thursday night, we shoot one of them down! Isn't it fun? Or are you kind of ready for some of these people to get out of the way, so we can get down to the real competition? Not to say that they aren't all immensely talented (which they are). And doesn't Jennifer look lovely? Lauren Alaina is performing on this night, so we can see what she's been up to. Wearing more jeans under dresses, perhaps?
How can the judges possibly be already working on who to send home? They don't know a single result, do they? Let's distract ourselves from that matter with a group performance! Who shone in this mediocre performance? Erika Van Pelt seemed comfortable as usual, in a very awkward context, and Elise Testone seemed like she would rather be smoking behind the building. I mean, just a little. It's not that she seems ungrateful; she is just clearly on to the fact that Thursday nights are the nights for nonsense.
Before we get any results, we have to watch the Ford Music Video. Or should I say get to? They are giants in the city, literally! It was not difficult for Jermaine to imagine. Look at him peer around that building. "Don't be scared, guys! It's just me, Jermaine!" Precious.
Next, Jimmy Iovine has a quick message. "Hey Ryan, just a minute now!" Jimmy pipes up from his little cubicle. He wants to talk about how great Whitney Houston is, to say how the world has too many people in it and to tell people to spay and neuter their pets. Thanks?
Elise, Hollie and Jessica are first to the stage. So Elise is in danger, right? But first we watch the night in review. Jimmy surmises that Elise got "hit with the Whitney Houston stick" and might be in trouble. Hollie and Jessica were at an advantage with Whitney songs, but they delivered. He said Jessica's performance was the best performance he has ever seen on "American Idol."
Jessica is safe, of course. She is also darling in that outfit. Elise is in the bottom three girls. Hollie is safe. What was Elise saying through gritted teeth? Was it "This sucks"? Yes. Yes, it does.
Heejun, Colton and Jermaine hit the stage next. Jimmy Iovine likes Heejun but thinks Stevie Wonder is the worst artist for him to sing. Colton doesn't know what type of artist he is yet (Let's nurture him, America!), and Jermaine was struggling internally and lost both battles. Jimmy also managed to get a joke about Jermaine's size in there then snickered at it.
Jermaine tells Ryan that he "kind of" disagrees with Jimmy, but it's "OK." Colton is safe and wearing a boatneck zipper tee! A bold choice. Heejun is safe. Jermaine is in the bottom three guys. This could go on forever.
Did anybody else note two J.Lo-featured commercials in a row during this break? She is overextending herself, I worry. Ryan congratulates Jennifer on the success of her new show, "Q'Viva!" And I bet the best part of it isn't hanging out with her ex-husband.
Speaking of "Didn't We Almost Have it All," here is Lauren Alaina! She's singing a song called "Georgia Peaches," and I could not be less excited to hear it. Girl's hair/weave is looking good, though! This song is terrible. Can I just say? This could be one of you next season, Top 13! She sat flirtatiously with the couch of guys and then stayed there a little too long. When it was over, everyone stood and clapped for her -- to be polite.
Erika, Shannon and Skylar are next to center stage. So it will be Erika and Shannon rounding out the bottom three, right? I think we all know where these contestants stand. Even Jimmy knows. Jimmy thought Erika was believable, but she needs to focus her presentation. Shannon seems to think that only one note was wrong in her performance, which is why I think she should go home. Jimmy thinks Shannon needs more experience, and he likes the nasal aspect of Skylar's voice. Kieran, dim the lights! Erika is in the bottom three, where she hugs her buddy Elise. Their mics were on, and I heard them say, "The old ladies"! I love them. Shannon is also in the bottom three, with the old ladies. Skylar is safe.
Joshua, Deandre, Jeremy and Phillip are next. Jimmy is worried that the viewers will get bored with Joshua's voice and found Deandre a pleasant surprise. Jimmy loves Phillip, as if we didn't know it. But he's nervous that the girls will outshine Phillip. It's clear that Jimmy wants Phillip to win. Jimmy thinks that Stevie Wonder ballads are written for Jeremy's voice, but he didn't live up to it. The girls outshone Jeremy last night, according to Mr. Iovine. And he is bold enough to say that Jeremy will be eliminated. So casual about it, too!
Phillip is safe. Jeremy is in the bottom three. Deandre is safe. And Joshua Ledet rounds out the bottom three guys. So, here's the pecking order for the rest of the show, America! Just before the break, rather delightfully, Ryan announces that Joshua and Erika are safe. I'll give you this one, Seacrest: That was pretty cute. He ruined it by saying, "Anything can happen on 'American Idol!'" Erika reminded me, in that moment, of a grownup Miley Cyrus, just a bit.
Before the judges learn who they must choose between, we are granted a performance from the warm and wonderful Mary J. Blige. Didn't you just fall in love with her Wednesday night? She is so legit.
Four remain in peril: Jermaine, Jeremy, Shannon and Elise. Ryan asks if any of the four of them deserve to leave, and Steven just pauses and says, "Jeremy." That was a surprise! I did not expect that honesty.
Jermaine is safe, leaving Jeremy in the danger zone (Oh, he is going home. Steven just said so!). Shannon is safe this time (What?!), so Elise is up for elimination. And I'm pretty sure she could care less. Cute hat, though. Randy hesitantly admits that, because of the performances, America kinda, sorta got it right.
I think it will be Jeremy. True, Jennifer is partial toward him: He makes her cry every single time he sings. But give a woman a line at Kohl's, and all bets are off.
They've come to the decision to save Elise. Jeremy will be going home. He's the nicest guy, but he blew it. Even in the final three performances, he couldn't garner the votes. It's too bad, but I am hoping Elise can shape up her attitude and redeem herself.
He looks disappointed, but content, like when the Blizzard machine is broken at Dairy Queen. "Oh, well. Can I just get a small cone covered in Oreos then?"
Did the voters get it right? Did the judges? Do you think this was a good way of doing the eliminations, since we can pretty much see who the bottom six contestants are?
What do you think of Thursday night's results?
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
Top 13 singers tackle the songs of Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston
By Carla Patton
It all starts now. The Top 13 have been chosen. And starting Wednesday, they will sing for our amusement as we pick them off one by one. There can only be one Season 11 of "American Idol," and I have a feeling that this season it will be a girl. I mean, it better be!
We've elected five guys in a row. But this year, the girls are bringing the heat. I'm ready to see one guy go home tonight. Like, don't even bother performing, Jeremy. We just don't have the energy for it. But please do, because I'm sure you'll do a good job and be really nice and supportive to all your fellow competitors -- much to Jimmy Iovine's chagrin.
This week, the girls and guys of the Top 13 will be taking on hits from Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder, respectively. I've made my predictions for who will sing what (and I forgot to mention that Shannon will almost certainly sing "When You Believe" from the "Prince of Egypt" soundtrack). Songs I could do without hearing on this night include "My Cherie Amour," "Superstition" and "Isn't She Lovely" from the guys, and "I Will Always Love You" for the girls. Who can top these artists? No one. You can only try to make it your own. So maybe this night won't belong to Jessica Sanchez and Deandre Brackensick as I predicted. Maybe it will be a good one for weird ol' Phillip Phillips!
But seriously, a girl had better win this season. If I had to cautiously make my pick at this point, I'm going with Skylar Laine, although I would love to see Elise Testone win, too. We've got a long way to go, but that's how I see it shaking down from this vantage point.
The episode starts off in promising fashion, with the contestants dancing and clapping as the intro to Stevie Wonder's "Sesame Street Song" played, but then it was business as usual. Steven Tyler is wearing crazy eye pants! Business as usual. It's the 400th episode of "American Idol"! Can you believe that? What have I been doing with my life?
They're really making it a battle of the sexes this season, despite the guys' having an extra team member. Thursday night, for one time only, we'll learn the bottom guy and bottom girl, and the judges will determine which goes home. All right, whatever. Mary J. Blige is the guest mentor! Oh, and can I just say that I appreciate Heejun's sad face behind Ryan's shoulder in honor of Whitney Houston?
Joshua Ledet is first to perform with the upbeat "I Wish." I think it was a smart choice for him not to become a ballad machine too early in the game. It's a fun performance, and Joshua slays it, naturally. It sucks to go first, though. We're just sitting down with a snack! Randy loved it. He called it "flawless." Jennifer still wants to punch him, but in the best way. He nailed it.
Elise Testone starts out singing "The Greatest Love of All." But it was not hot (and no one should try that one, even Elise). Thank goodness Jimmy and Mary J. Blige suggested "I'm Your Baby Tonight." Hell, yes. God, I hope she finds the pocket in this song. Haley Reinhart had less success with this song. I don't know that it was the song for Elise, but she got to show off the voice we know we love to hear! Jennifer said that the styles didn't match up entirely and it wasn't the best. Steven agreed that Elise needs to find the right song for her voice's character, and Randy suggested that Elise was boxing with the song. I'm glad everybody is "keepin' it real" on this night!
Do you sense that Elise isn't totally into this televised reality competition series? I do, but it makes me like her even more.
Jermaine Jones is singing "Knocks Me off My Feet" and taking it up from that deep, rich bass we've heard before. He smiles with his eyes (smizing!). He sounded great and looked happy. Steven said the song fit him like an Armani suit. Jennifer would prefer that Jermaine connect with the song a bit more. Randy didn't like the chorus as much as the verses, and I agree. The audience booed, but only half-heartedly. "I feel pretty good about it," Jermaine tells Ryan sheepishly.
Erika Van Pelt is the first wild-card pick to perform Wednesday night. She's singing "I Believe in You and Me" and making it her own. Her voice starts out lower than Jermaine's, and it is great. I think Whitney Houston week will be rough for these girls – less of a tribute, more of a struggle. They're doing fine. But in the end, no one can match Whitney. It seemed just a little bit meek -- weaker than I'd like to hear from Erika, but it was perfectly nice. Randy was sold. Jennifer got goosies, and Steven wants her to be less restrained still (I don't know about that). Ryan dubbed Erika "EVP," which I'm pretty sure he just pulled out of his well-manicured butt.
Colton Dixon is not in his wheelhouse with "Lately," so Jimmy asked him to play one of his own songs. Oh, god. I hated the sound of it just in rehearsal. But I love this song. It's not my cup of tea, but he is very good at his style. Oh, and the hair is just getting even further out of control. I see Colton Dixon cruising into the James Durbin/rocker spot of the season, but without the screeching. All right, it is much more pleasant in this performance than it sounded in rehearsal, and he really opened his voice up toward the end, which demonstrated a surprising amount of control. Good job, Colton! Randy said it wasn't picture perfect technically but "Hang on, hang on, hang on! ... By the end, dude you were flawless." Randy and I have a good mind link tonight.
Shannon Magrane is singing "I Have Nothing" – from "The Bodyguard"! Get ready to send your creepy, stalker love notes to her! ("I have nothing. You have everything"). Anyway, "Bodyguard" obsession aside, this song is soooo goooooood. So Shannon has a good voice, but this was not her best performance. It always just seems like a pageant or a church talent show. It was pretty off when you can tell she was reaching for those big notes. You can tell she was really pushing, too. And who is styling this girl? It's so Disney.
"I think the thinking got the best of you tonight," Jennifer admitted. "Just tell the story." That was a nice way of saying it wasn't good. Even Steven thought she crashed and burned! "You didn't quite hit it," Randy said. "It wasn't great tonight." Very interesting. Shannon told Ryan she "wasn't really listening" to the piano or the band. She was more focused on herself. Oh, god.
Deandre Brackensick is the second wild-card pick to perform. I wasn't sure about Deandre's personality until they showed him footage of himself very upset backstage, and he said, "Oof, lawd have mercy." That made me like him. He's singing "Master Blaster" and tying his hair back. It was fun. I don't know that it put Deandre at the forefront of our minds, but it was good! The judges liked it just fine, and Randy got excited about Deandre showing us a different side of himself.
Skylar Laine is singing "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and hasn't listened to Whitney very much, but she knows that no one can compare to the late and great Ms. Houston. The audience freaked out just when Skylar took it down a bit in rehearsal, and Mary J. Blige got goosebumps! I'm already getting excited. Did you know this was a country song? Neither did I, until Skylar sang it. It's all about a cold November day and being broken hearted. A-plus performance. I actually got goose bumps when she took it into the key change. What else can you say? She just killed it.
Jennifer admitted that it got kind of nasally in the beginning, but it led into the biggest moment of the night. Then Steven interrupted to tell her nothing of great importance. Do you think Jennifer is getting annoyed with that? Randy said Skylar proved she can sing any song. But seriously, who is styling these girls?
Heejun Han sings next with his rendition of "All in Love Is Fair." Sometimes he's so funny we forget that he has a beautiful voice. He won Jimmy over, even when he gave each of them pictures (Jimmy's was inscribed with "I love you," and Mary's was inscribed with "Mary, I love you more than Jimmy.") I would like to see Heejun sing something besides a ballad, but maybe he's going for the Michael Bublé crooner-type of vibe. This performance was a little sleepy, although I liked some moments from it very much, especially the end. Heejun has my favorite personality and a good enough voice to keep him around to entertain us for a while. The judges love Heejun, too. "It wasn't perfect, but it was really good," Randy says.
Hollie Cavanagh is singing "All the Man That I Need," and I wish she was singing something a little more fun. But hey, she's got the voice for Whitney, and I can't wait to hear it! They even gave her the '90s music video candle background to help her shine. I still can't believe how big her voice is. Oh, and she totally slayed this song. What was up with that crazy ring she was wearing? It was a little too insane of a ring. "Dude, you nailed it," Randy confirmed.
Jeremy Rosado got an awkward introduction from Randy, pretending to be Ryan. He's nervous, singing "Ribbon in the Sky." Meh, this song. Just as he got the key change, my feed cut out, so I have no idea how it went from there. I will assume it was pretty good and that Jennifer liked it.
Oh, no. Jessica Sanchez is singing "I Will Always Love You." No one should do this song, not even Jessica. But here we go! If Jimmy is OK with it, I am, too. This is the second song Jessica has sung that offers a recent Jennifer Hudson comparison. Jessica did a good job, because, after her performance I no longer believed the song was untouchable or cheesy. I still think it's cute how Jessica always looks surprised that she did a good job at the end and that people liked it. "Jessica Sanchez is legit!" Randy proclaims. I'm inclined to agree! "You may be the one. You just made 40 million people cry," Steven tells her.
I see we're putting Jimmy Iovine's favorites at the end or, rather, the two people he said he would sign in a heartbeat. Phillip Phillips is last to perform before the lines open for the vote. In another disappointment, Phillip is singing "Superstition," but he thinks it will be different than the way it's been done on this show in the past. Jimmy and Mary like Phillip because he gets lost in his music and comes "batteries included."
I have a weird thing about Phillip: I like his personality and won't argue that he's a good musician, but he sounds just way too Dave Matthews Band. I'd like to see him progress into his own thing throughout the competition. He definitely has star quality and could make it on any show. The judges love that he's on this show, though, and they love how different he is and the way he reinterprets everything (and turns it into a DMB song). But he's adorable and could be the love child of Scotty McCreery and Lee DeWyze, so ...
But what do I know? I am not a judge! Ryan asks the judges for standouts and people in trouble. Randy won't name anyone in trouble but thought Joshua and Jessica were standouts. Jennifer thinks Shannon might be in trouble and that everyone had a great night! Steven is worried for Elise and Shannon, and his standouts were Jessica and Jessica. He loves that song!
Who stood out? The girls or the boys? Could it be a girls' season or were they defeated by Whitney's song catalogue Wednesday night?
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.