American Idol Recap: The Top 10 Sing Billy Joel

With his vast and diverse songbook I was looking for more from our Idols.

It's Billy Joel week at American Idol, and I was pleased. I'm a huge fan and own every studio album the guy has released. He's done every genre, and he's a storyteller. This should have been a huge opportunity for each Idol to really shine.

But half of them did not. Jimmy Iovine brought in Diddy to help, and I was wondering: Why not bring Billy?

Maybe Billy would have pointed out that his songs are all about the story. If you don't connect; if you don't tell the story, then the songs don't sing.

The show last night was front-loaded with a lot of missed opportunity, so let's dig in, the quicker to get to the good stuff near the end.

1. Deandre sang Only the Good Die Young

But first we get to see Tommy Hilfiger creaming his jeans over Deandre's hair (Note to Ryan: Not dreads). Look, he's indeed a cute boy, and he sounded fine, but that wasn't very exciting. Billy sang this like a bad boy; that's the frickin' point. He's the bad boy in the leather jacket, smokin' in the boy's room, and he's talking to a strait-laced Catholic schoolgirl, trying ot get her to give him her virginity. That's the story. Deandre might have a gravely voice, but he has a harmless demeanor. He, in fact, looked more at risk for being ravished than ravisher. I think Deandre's cute boy status is the only thing that can save him this week.

2. Erika sang New York State of Mind

Ok, so wow. Cutting off her long-ish blonde hair for a black pixie cut takes guts. She looked pretty slammin', too. The singing, though, was not so slammin'. In fact, it was very loungey. And again, no story. Billy sang this full of angst…he needed to get away, to change his state of mind. She sang this like she was looking forward to a nice vacation and some shopping on 5th Avenue. So at risk.

3. Joshua sang She's Got a Way

Dawg, there is one thing Randy is right about: A great singer can sing anything. And a great singer can be moved by a song outside his genre. This song is a song that half of American women would love to have sung to them…even though the song makes her sound a little bit like a manipulative sociopath. [Note: In case you were wondering, I just realized that between watching the show and writing this recap, I mixed up this title with his other love song that *is* about a manipulative sociopath: She's Always a Woman!] Bygones, it's a great love song. But Joshua could not get into it. It only picked up when he could sing in the style we already know he feels totally comfortable in: Church singing. But you know, JLo was completely and totally right. He didn't bring any real feeling to the song. His vocals will probably save him, but he needs to step it up and realize he joined this competition thing where they ask you to sing different genres.

4. Skylar sang Shameless

After all that time spent talking about cowboy boots with Tommy Hilfiger, Skylar wasn't wearing boots at all. Odd. Anyway, vocally she sounded fine. Emotionally, she wasn't connected with the song either.  There were definitely worse performances, and her vocals are really fun, so I think she's safe, but this had a lot of unmet potential.

5. Elise sang Vienna

Interesting choice. Like Jimmy, I was very concerned when she chose it because I agree that Vienna is just way too obscure. but, you know, like Jimmy hopefully will tonight, I'll admit I was wrong. This was the first song of the night that was interesting. She made it her own. She showed her range, and she kept me guessing. Vocally, she has the rough edge, but so much control. And she was telling a story. I always say: I don't need to know what the story is, exactly, I just need to see that you know. Great job. I certainly hope she's safe.

6. Phillip sang Movin' Out

OK, there's some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that he messed with the melody way too much for my taste. The good news is that at least he did indeed connect to the song, and he constructed a story. I will give him complete props for that. It was compelling and mysterious and unique. He's safe too.

7. Hollie sang Honesty

I know Hollie established herself in week one as a powerhouse in the competition, but she hasn't lived up to it since then. This was really pitchy, really rough. And, I know some of you will feel me on this: Really overshadowed by the terrible dandelion video in the background. MAKE IT STOP! And make Hollie step up, because this performance ought to put her at risk.

8. Heejun sang My Life

There's no getting around it: That was pretty brutally bad. There was one recurring line he sang consistently well, and it stuck out because he was singing every other line poorly. He has got to be at risk with that one.

9. Jessica sang Everybody Has a Dream

That was really good. I don't know if I would call it "perfection" like the judges, but she definitely owned it. She has tremendous command for someone so young. It's impressive. She's as safe as it gets.

10. Colton sang Piano Man

Colton did a very nice job. I was afraid he would miss with perhaps Billy's most iconic song being just too much, but he did a really good job at making it his own and not overdoing it. He sounded great, and his piano riffs were his own, really pretty, but not distractingly off-melody. Great job.

Bottom Line for the Bottom Three:

Should Be: Deandre, Hollie, Heejun with Heejun going home.

Will Be: Deandre, Heejun, Erika with Erika going home.

But what did you think?

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