What happens when wannabe idols take on the music of their own idols?
On Wednesday’s episode of American Idol, the top nine contestants tackled the tunes of their heroes – and it helped bring out some of the most inspired performances so far this season.
Keep reading for more about the emotional night …
Heejun Han, who was in the bottom three last week, made good with an stirring performance of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You.” While judge Steven Tyler has questioned how serious he is about singing, Han certainly set out to impress the judges with his vocals. “Finally, the Heejun we selected came back to us!” Randy Jackson said.
In the final performance of the episode, Elise Testone destroyed the room with her cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Her rendition was so hot it earned some of the loudest cheers of the night. “Nobody can pull that song off – you made Robert Plant proud tonight, girl!” Steven said. Jennifer Lopez was almost speechless: “That was some real rock star … stuff,” she said.
Of course, season 11 favorites Jessica Sanchez, Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet didn’t disappoint this week either. And their terrific performances should easily secure them spots in the next round. Sanchez made a risky move by performing a slowed-down, R&B version of Beyoncé‘s funky “Sweet Dreams,” and pulled it off. Phillips, meanwhile, scored one of several standing ovations with his soaring version of Jonny Lange’s blues-rock tune “Still Rainin’.” His performance was so on-point, guest coach Stevie Nicks said that he would’ve been asked to join Fleetwood Mac back in the ’70s. (She also admitted to having something of a crush on him: “He’s gorgeous!” she said.)
But it was Ledet who simply blew the judges away. And he did it by tackling one of the most difficult songs in the pop canon, “Without You,” which was written by Harry Nilsson, but made famous by Mariah Carey. Throughout his performance, he shook with emotion and choked back tears, yet he still managed to nail all the song’s impossibly high notes. “You are a phenom!” Lopez said. “You are an absolute angel from heaven. That voice is a godsend!”
The top nine face elimination (8 p.m. ET) on Thursday’s show.