Jan. 11: Steven Tyler, left, Jennifer Lopez, center, and Randy Jackson, judges on the FOX show 'American Idol' take part in a panel discussion during the FOX Broadcasting Company Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif.AP
Strong performances from all nine contestants on Wednesday night’s “American Idol” resulted in an exhausted judge Jennifer Lopez, who spent the night getting in and out of her seat, joining her colleagues in giving the hopefuls a series of standing ovations.
“I just couldn’t stay in my chair -- it was crazy,” laughed Lopez, who stood to applaud for five of the contestants’ acts, while Steven Tyler called the evening “a magical mystery tour of over-the-top talent and emotion.”
The “Idol” hopefuls sang songs by their own idols, and received heartfelt advice from mentor Stevie Nicks.
Colton Dixon, who opened the show, was told by Nicks to ignore “image advisor” Tommy Hilfiger’s suggestion that he ditch his modified mohawk. “When you said it’s your baby I’m like, “I so understand!’ It’s like, ‘Back off!’”
Dixon’s mohawk must have some mojo, as he impressed the judges with performance of "Everything" by Lifehouse. “I think we’re looking at a contender for the title,” declared judge Randy Jackson, who insisted that the slight 20-year-old had thrown “down the gauntlet" for the evening.
Country crooner Skylar Laine belted out Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead,” which earned praise from Tyler, who called her performance "over the top."
Heejun Han, who was universally reviled for last week’s goofy interpretation of Billy Joel’s “My Life,” redeemed himself with a smooth and serious rendition of Donny Hathaway's "A Song For You." Lopez was relieved, "You know, people don't realize you don't make it this far by mistake. (Han) is here because we know he can sing that way."
“I just couldn’t stay in my chair -- it was crazy!"
- Jennifer Lopez
Hollie Cavanagh sang Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take The Wheel," which Jackson described as “pitchy,” but Lopez disagreed. "To me, that was one of your best... I really felt like she connected with the song and felt it emotionally."
DeAndre Brackensick put his falsetto to good use singing Eric Benet's “Sometimes I Cry,” which scored him some points with Tyler. "That's what your voice was made to do," adding that the curly-haired singer gave “Prince a run for his money."
Nicks fell hard for Phillip Phillips, telling the handsome 21-year-old, "If Lindsey (Buckingham) and I had known you, Mick Fleetwood would have asked all three of us" to join the famed group. Nicks noted that Phillips was “gorgeous” and added, "I think he's going to be very famous–he has a certain magic."
Phillips didn’t disappoint, singing Johnny Lang's "Still Raining” to high praise. “You want us to feel the music,” said Lopez. “You know the secret: that it’s the best thing in the world and it makes everything else go away.”
Joshua Ledet took on Mariah Carey’s version of “Without You,” which mentor Jimmy Iovine warned is “one of the most challenging five songs you could ever sing in pop music.” Ledet gave an emotional performance, which Lopez likened to “an absolute angel from heaven.”
Elise Teston closed the show with an amazing performance of Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Nick’s raved about Teston’s rock ‘n’ roll style, calling her a “kindred spirit.”
Up Next: Reigning “Idol” champ Scotty McCreery performs along with Nicki Minaj–and someone will be eliminated.