American Idol's Top 10 Tackle Billy Joel: Who Were Your Favorites? (Take Our Poll!)

erika van pelt makeoverTonight’s American Idol kicked off with a memorial service for Shannon Magrane’s singing career. (Fret not, Idoloonie Nation, the contestant herself is alive and well; I know, since I interviewed her this past Monday!)

Interestingly enough, that maudlin intro seemed to have a positive effect on the Season 11 Top 10, with at least half of the evening’s contestants giving arguably their best performances to date while covering the songs of Billy Joel.

In other news, Erika dyed her hair Jett black (is it possible she watches Idology?). Phillip deliberately ignored every bit of advice he received from style guru Tommy Hilfiger and guest mentor Diddy (in the most charming possible way). And Heejun got accused of “taking the piss out of” Joel’s “My Life” (way to earn your paycheck, Steven Tyler!).

I’ll be back Thursday morning with a detailed episode recap, but until then, here’s my pithy take on the night’s performances:

Tonight’s Set List
DeAndre Brackensick: “Only the Good Die Young”
A song about a guy trying to take a girl’s virginity delivered with all the sexual menace of a kitten in a field of poppies. The kid is in serious, serious trouble this week.

Erika Van Pelt: “New York State of Mind”
She can’t make the judges love her, nor could she get them to praise her relaxed, gorgeous performance — not without adding a bunch of nonsense disclaimers. (Side note: Girlfriend looked hot as a Dallas sidewalk in July!)

Joshua Ledet: “She’s Got a Way”
Police have put out an APB for the song’s melody, but no luck yet. This wasn’t the right song for Joshua’s voice — or for a fussy Gospel choir, either.

Skylar Laine: “Shameless”
The opening verse was pitched too low for her — Skylar admitted that much herself — but she still slayed it on the chorus, and she’d better be safe come Thursday night.

Elise Testone: “Vienna”
Moments like these, I wish iTunes still offered the Idols’ weekly live performances in addition to the studio versions. I’d put this alongside Joshua’s Percy Sledge cover (and, of course, Skylar’s “Stay With Me”) as my Season 11 favorite.

Phillip Phillips: “Movin’ Out”
I really missed the “heart-a-tack-ack-ack-ack” business, but putting that detail aside, this was a makeover worthy of David Bromstad — even if it was mostly done in shades of gray.

Hollie Cavanagh: “Honesty”
There’s something about Hollie that’s impossibly sweet and likeable, and her voice is T.Rex big, but if she chooses another grand ballad next week, she’d better mark her calendar for a date with the bottom three.

Heejun Han: “My Life”
Not funny enough to work as a fully realized comedic performance, and not in tune enough to work as actual musical entertainment. But you know he’ll probably survive results night at the expense of DeAndre or Erika, and that’s a low down dirty shame.

Jessica Sanchez: “Everybody Has a Dream”
Rafter-shaking vibrato and pitch perfection: Hallelujah, I believed her!

Colton Dixon: “Piano Man”
Loved the stipped-down vibe and his choice of notes, too, but is it crazy that I felt like some of the song’s wistfulness got lost in translation?

Okay, enough yammering from me — for now. Do come back to TVLine on Thursday for my full episode recap, but for now take our poll and tell us which three contestants were your favorites tonight. Then hit the comments and explain your votes!

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