"American Idol" is always exciting, but there was high drama this week, when "gentle giant" Jermaine Jones was disqualified. According to US Weekly, Jones was not entirely forthcoming about his past, which includes two arrests in 2011, and some unspecified violent behavior on his part.
Ryan Seacrest wasted no time addressing Jones' situation. The show began with a brief announcement, and then quickly moved on to the performances by the remaining 11 contestants. Later the show ran footage of the interview between the producers and Jones in which they confronted him about the two arrests and four outstanding warrants.
Each time he was arrested, Jones gave the police a different fake name, which undoubtedly made it difficult to put together his complete record. Seacrest mentioned repeatedly that the producers found out about Jones' legal problems with "help from law enforcement." This is critical, because, as Nigel Lythgoe put it "we're not allowed to have anyone who has an outstanding warrant on the show."
The producers gave Jones an opportunity to explain himself. He insisted that contrary to the police report, he was not involved in a violent fight. "I fell down the steps carrying my bags," he claimed. While he conceded that he and a friend were arguing, he insisted the disagreement did not get physical.
There was another health scare this week, as well. Indie rocker Phil Phillips had surgery for kidney stones, but was back on stage belting out "Hard to Handle" by the Black Crows after less than a week of recovery time. Will.i.am, this week's guest mentor, quipped that Phillips dedication to his performance redefined the notion of sick leave.
Probably the funniest segment in tonight's show was during Elise Testone's rendition of the Al Green classic "Let's Stay Together." Testone had the quote of the evening, "Tonight when I take the stage, people are gonna be making babies."
Even better, the producers ran video of President Obama's now famous performance of the song on the left side of the screen with Elise practicing her version on the right - almost as if they were singing a duet. It was priceless!
This week's theme, songs from the year you were born, tripped up some contestants. Fan favorites like Jessica Sanchez, Deandre Brackensick and Heejun Han choose songs that didn't play up their vocal strengths. Others made good choices. Hollie Cavanagh gave one of the best performance of the night with her rendition of Celine Dion's "I'm Your Lady."
Skylar Laine and Colton Dixon were declared so good, it didn't matter what they sang. Dixon took a chance and ignored the advice of his idol, Chris Daughtry, who told him to "pick songs people know." He won the judges' approval with an obscure tune by the White Lions.
Joshua Ledet was the other stand out performance, with is version of "When a Man Loves a Woman." Jennifer Lopez called it "the best thing I've ever seen on 'American Idol.'" That may be overstating it a bit, but you can bet Joshua will make it through to the next round.
Based on their performances the contestants most in jeopardy of going home are Heejun and Deandre. Of course, a contestant has already been eliminated this week, so maybe the judges won't send anyone home. Who knows?
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