Category: American Idol

Dick Clark tributes planned on 'American Idol,' Game Show Network

Dick ClarkDick Clark's death Wednesday is prompting near-instantaneous tributes from two television venues where his influence was strongly felt: "American Idol" and the Game Show Network.

"Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, Clark's heir apparent, who co-hosted the "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" specials for the past few years, announced on Twitter on Thursday that the upcoming "Idol" show would contain a tribute to Clark.

"We're putting together a tribute for Dick Clark on @AmericanIdol tonight...just talked to @dizzyfeet ["Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe]," Seacrest wrote.

A visibly emotional Seacrest made brief mention of Clark's passing on Wednesday night's "Idol" by noting, "Without Dick, a show like this would not exist."

Meanwhile, some of Clark's greatest nonmusical moments will be replayed over the weekend on Game Show Network, where original remembrances of the man also known as the host of "The $25,000 Pyramid" will be played during reruns of the game show on Friday at 3 a.m., 10 a.m. and during a 10-episode run from 7 p.m. to midnight. Additionally, two more episodes will air Saturday from noon until 1 p.m. (all times Eastern).

Clark began hosting the show, then called "The $10,000 Pyramid," in 1973 on ABC. The title was changed to "The $20,000 Pyramid" in 1976. It was canceled in 1980 but returned in 1982 on CBS with a higher top prize, "The $25,000 Pyramid." Clark hosted until 1988.


Q & A: Dick Clark on 40 years of 'New Year's Rockin' Eve'

Dick Clark: Chaperone to generations of music-loving teens

Dick Clark: From 'American Bandstand' to 'New Year's Rockin' Eve' [video]

— Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Dick Clark's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times.

'American Idol' recap: The top 7 perform 'Now and Then' songs

Phillip Phillips performs on "American Idol."After the justified outcry over Jessica Sanchez's near-ouster last week, "American Idol" wanted us to think of this week as "a new beginning for all." But who are they kidding? We've watched these seven singers for many weeks now. We've seen their best performances and their worst. And every time they step back onto that stage, we judge them, yes, on what they do right then, but also all we have seen and heard them do before.

Sure, in the remaining weeks before next month's finale, they will have a chance to reshape –- to stretch and refine -- their images and our impressions. But for the most part we've gotten a good grasp on who they are. Many of us have picked our favorites. And here's the truth of it, and maybe the underlying reason that someone as talented as Sanchez, who remains a definite contender to take the whole thing, could come so close to going home so early: At this point, there's really not a clunker in the bunch.

Their individual talents were clearly on display on Wednesday night's "Now and Then"-themed show, during which each contestant tackled two songs: one from the year 2000 until the present day, as well as a retro "soul" tune.

Texas-dwelling Liverpudlian Hollie Cavanagh, whom the judges had cast as the weakest link, had yet eluded the bottom three last week. She passionately ripped into Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and proved herself worthy of the song and the competition. The judges were effusive, telling her she had finally managed to connect and show her emotions. (Conveying an emotional connection to a song would become the judges' topic of the night.) "You did it," Jennifer Lopez said triumphantly. For her second song, Cavanagh had fun with "Son of a Preacher Man," and if anything, the judges' liked it even better, saying she showed a new composure and is "ready."

Colton Dixon's autumn-red hair streak matched not only his pants but also his sister Schyler's 'do (Ryan Seacrest brought her up onstage to salute her bro) and the piano on which he accompanied himself for his second song, Earth Wind & Fire's "September." Much as the judges seemed to love Dixon's take on Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" –- "You are so in the zone right now," Randy Jackson told him –- they were less enthusiastic about his low-key version of "September." "It's not as exciting as we would have liked," Jackson said.

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American Idol on TV: April 18 - 25


  “American Idol” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Fox:  The remaining finalists perform. (N)

“Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew” 10 p.m. Wednesday, MTV: Flo Rida Superstar Challenge: Flo Rida performs; the crews must craft a routine to one of Flo Rida's hits. (N)

“Rachael Ray” 8 a.m. Thursday, KCAL: Randy Jackson; Train performs. (N)

“American Idol” 8 p.m. Thursday, Fox: 1 Voted Off: The finalists face elimination; LMFAO and Kris Allen perform. (N)

“The Insider” 7:30 p.m. Friday, CBS; Midnight Fri/Sat, KCAL: Adam Lambert discusses his latest album. (N)

“Live! With Kelly” 9 a.m. Monday, ABC: Kate Walsh; the latest “American Idol” castoff performs; co-host Jesse Palmer. (N)

“American Idol” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Fox: The finalists perform for the judges. (N)

“Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew” 10 p.m. Wednesday, MTV: Madonna: Dance crews from around the country compete. (N)

-- Compiled by Ed Stockly


Photo: Hollie Cavanagh, left, Colton Dixon, Jessica Sanchez, Skylar Laine, Phillip Phillips, Joshua Ledet and Elise Testone. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox

'American Idol' vs. 'Voice': Is Jessica Sanchez the best performer?

Jessica Sanchez
"American Idol" was shaken by drama this week when fans voted to send Jessica Sanchez home and the judges used their save on her. Across the dial on "The Voice," Karla Davis and Kim Yarbrough from Team Adam and Tony Vincent and Erin Martin from Team Cee-Lo said goodbye.

But both shows carry on, along with our "Idol"-"Voice" rankings, which take all the singers from both shows and put them head to head each week. I'm choosing my top five performers from among the two shows, along with Times music writers Todd Martens and Chris Barton -- and you can cast your votes too, at the bottom of this post.

Below are my picks for the week. To see what my co-judges have to say, and to view the performances, click here

INTERACTIVE | "Idol" vs. "The Voice": Who's the best?

Jessica Sanchez, "American Idol": How is it possible that this precocious, preternaturally talented 16-year-old was almost sent home this week? We've long known that Sanchez is a star -– this week's guest mentor, Akon, called her a "legend" in the making -– but with her riveting take on "Stuttering," she surpassed even her sky-high standard. The powerhouse performance may also have been Sanchez's most intimate. When she sang about yearning to connect and communicate, it felt like she was reaching out directly to the audience. At that moment, the contest seemed to have been Sanchez's to claim, potentially making her "Idol's" first female winner in years. Which is why her near elimination, before she was yanked back from the brink by the judges' save, left us sputtering.

Elise Testone, "American Idol": If I could squish Philiip Phillips' face in here next to Testone's, I would. Their duet of "Somebody That I Used to Know" was suspenseful and satisfying, with Phillips contributing the creepy undercurrents and Testone delivering stylish swoops of melody –- distinctly different from "Voice" contestant Lindsey Pavao's take on the song last week. Testone also showed off her textured tone and in-the-moment performance style on Lady Gaga's "You and I," gently caressing the soft notes, bouncing up and like she was revving for takeoff, and then letting her voice soar.

Jamar Rogers, "The Voice": They're calling Rogers, who has survived drug addiction and an HIV-positive diagnosis, the "comeback kid." I call him totally exciting to watch onstage. This week he burst onto "The Voice's" live shows like a fireball, energetically inquiring "Are You Gonna Go My Way" while, at one point, running through the legs of stilt-wearing, guitar-thrashing dancers. He worked the crowd like a pro and didn't miss a note. Leading us to answer the question posed in his song with a definite "yes."

Katrina Parker, "The Voice": Though I began to admire Parker's voice during the battle rounds, I understand why voters might not have rallied around her for her performance of "Tonight Tonight" on "The Voice's" performance show this week. But her "last chance" take on "Don't Speak" showed off her passion, vulnerability and throaty-good vocals. I do wish the show's stylists would stop making her up to look like Adele, though. Parker's got an individual voice; she should have her own look to match.

 Skylar Laine, "American Idol": After looking to stay in the game by showcasing her ballad-worthy vocals on "Wind Beneath My Wings" last week, Laine seemed to slide back into her own persona, while perpetuating the power of that moment. Accompanying herself on guitar, with campfire sparks flying, Laine looked and sounded every bit the confident country star. She hit every musical and emotional note of "Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You" just right. Didn't know how much I liked her until this performance.


'American Idol' recap: Jessica Sanchez wins the save

INTERACTIVE | "Idol" vs. "The Voice": Who's the best?

'The Voice': Four depart from Teams Adam and Cee Lo

 -- Amy Reiter

Photo: Jessica Sanchez on "American Idol." Credit: Michael Becker / Fox

'American Idol' recap: Jessica Sanchez earns a dramatic judges' save

Jessica Sanchez on "American Idol": Click for full coverage

Jessica Sanchez? Really, America?

On Thursday night, the "American Idol" voters opted to eliminate the contestant who many, many people, including the judges and this critic, had considered to be one of the front-runners -- if not the leading candidate -- to win the whole thing this season. That is, Sanchez would have been sent home had the judges not used their one and only season save.

Not that there was any doubt that they would use it once they saw who America had condemned to the bottom three: Sanchez, Joshua Ledet and Elise Testone -- judge and critical favorites, all. (Sanchez is also the voter favorite in our "Idol"/"Voice" poll.)

VOTE: Who did you think was the best singer of the week?

We probably would have been more shocked by the vote results and the save had we not been through the whole Casey-Abrams-save and Pia-Toscano-elimination insanity last year. But this year, thank goodness, the judges had husbanded their save for just the right moment. (No thanks to Jennifer Lopez, who had seemed ready to use it on several less-worthy, previously eliminated contestants.)

And though totally unexpected, the results were ultimately short on suspense, especially once Steven Tyler had tipped the judges' hand: "We're gonna use our card tonight, especially with an outcome like this," he said, totally deflating what was poised to be one heck of a dramatic moment.

All of Ryan Seacrest's hard work trying to build tension had gone to waste. After dispensing with the niceties -- the contestants singing Pink's "Raise Your Glass," the ceremonial reading of laudatory tweets from singers whose songs had been performed and dispensing of fan mail (sounds like Colton Dixon's going to make some high school prom girl very happy) -- Seacrest got down to business.

INTERACTIVE | 'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

His method: Build two groups and make the audience figure out which three were safe and which three were the lowest vote-getters.

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'American Idol' recap: The top 7 perform songs from this decade

'American Idol'

This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.

The seven remaining contestants on "American Idol" performed songs from 2010, 2011 and 2012, in clusters as well as solo, on Wednesday night. It really did come as something of a relief to hear these young people do current hits, mostly of their own choosing.

As the judges noted at some point, this week's theme allowed us to see not only how the contestants might fit into today's music marketplace -– to put it crassly -– but also how far they've come and how much they've grown and developed in the "Idol" competition. Most of them have reached a comfort level onstage, learned to calibrate and control their performances, and relaxed into their personas in a way that makes them, if anything, better able to accept and integrate input from mentor Jimmy Iovine and his parade of luminary helpers.

This week's mentor was Akon, who apparently pegged Jessica Sanchez as a standout from back before the final 13 were selected. "She's gonna be a legend one day. I believe it. I really do," Akon said.

VOTE: Who did you think was the best singer of the week?

Sanchez seemed to prove Akon right with Jazmine Sullivan's "Stuttering." Seated atop a staircase with piano accompaniment nearby, Sanchez poured her powerful vocals into a poignant plea for the ability to express herself clearly and to be known.

It felt intimate, as if she were singing directly to us, and when she seemed to nearly miss the step she aimed to sit on, we may have found ourselves wanting to reach out and give her a hand. The judges loved it, naturally, but Jennifer Lopez's instructions to Sanchez to be more like fellow contestant Joshua Ledet, just when she's finally really growing into herself, might have left you -- sputtering.

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'American Idol'-'The Voice': Is Phillip Phillips the best of all?

In our "American Idol"-"The Voice" mash-up, "Idol's" Phillip Phillips stands at the top
On "American Idol" this week, DeAndre Brackensick got the heave-ho, while on "The Voice," Charlotte Sometimes and Naia Kete from Blake Shelton's team and Sera Hill and Moses Stone from Christina Aguilera's group said goodbye.

But the shows go on, as does our "Idol"-"Voice" mash-up that takes all the singers from both shows and puts them head to head each week. I will be choosing my top five performers from among the two shows, along with Times music writers Todd Martens and Chris Barton -- and you can cast your votes too, at the bottom of this post.

Below are my picks for the week. To see what my co-judges have to say, and to view the performances, click here.  

INTERACTIVE | 'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

1. Phillip Phillips, "American Idol": There's no other contestant on either "American Idol" or "The Voice" I love more than Phillip Phillips at the moment. He earned my love all over again during '80s week on "Idol," taking "That's All" by Genesis and phillip-phillipsing it into something totally his and totally appealing. And then his crazy chicken-necked stroll across the stage while dueting with Elise Testone on "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" put him right over the top.

2. Jesse Campbell, "The Voice": Campbell has been my "Voice" favorite from the start, and even more so during the battle rounds, when he stutter-stepped his vocals straight into a deep pocket of my heart. Singing "What a Wonderful World" during his performance on the first live show this week, he made his sweet voice stretch and bend and melt and expand in ways I can't recall hearing from anyone else before. Wonderful.

3. Jessica Sanchez, "American Idol": Sanchez is the total diva package: She can sing, she can move, she can emote, and she can wear pretty much anything onstage and make it look fab. She showed she was up to an up-tempo with "How Will I Know" this week, tackling it with the complete command with which she tackles everything. She even introduced her alter ego, Bebe Chez (a la her idol Beyonce's Sacha Fierce), who she says "likes to party and have fun." See? She really is only 16. Oh, and her "I Knew You Were Waiting" duet with Joshua Ledet wasn't too shabby either.

4. Lindsey Pavao, "The Voice": There's something about Pavao's offbeat vibe, weird tone, asymmetrical hair and frank glare I can't get enough of. It's friendly and familiar, yet totally fresh and a little bit fierce. Her "Somebody I Used to Know" had a strange, haunting quality -– and it wasn't just the freaky guys in the masks. I'm looking forward to watching her stare down her adversaries -– and to seeing what she tackles next.

5. Erin Willett, "The Voice": She's kind of a dark horse, Willett. During the battle rounds, when she dedicated her performance to her dying father, it would have been easy to dismiss her as a sympathy-vote contender. But this week, with "Living for the City," she did her late dad, and herself, proud –- and proved herself worthy of our admiration as well as our sympathy. I didn't really care for the hokey "Smokey Joe's Cafe"-esque staging. But Willett's soulful, full-throttle vocals cut right through the visual clutter. She nailed it.


"The Voice" recap: Four singers say "so long"

"American Idol": DeAndre Brackensick packs it in

INTERACTIVE | "Idol" vs. "The Voice": Who's the best?

-- Amy Reiter

Photo: Phillip Phillips performs on "American Idol." Credit: Michael Becker / Fox

'American Idol' recap: DeAndre Brackensick packs it in

"American Idol's" DeAndre Brackensick

And so another "American Idol" hopeful departed Thursday, thinning the ranks to just seven. Over Jennifer Lopez's stated objection, the judges did not use their one save for the season on DeAndre Brackensick, leaving him to pack up his hair and his falsetto and go home.

I can't say it came as a terribly big surprise. As "Idol" truth-teller Jimmy Iovine said at some point or other, either you love Brackensick's falsetto or you don't. Brackensick's previous appearance in the bottom three – and the fact that he was a wildcard pick in the first place – made it pretty clear that the audience was, at the very least, not head over heels for him and his number was likely to come up sooner rather than later.

Not that sticking around to finish eighth place is so bad, actually. "Idol" alum Kellie Pickler, who finished sixth in Season 5 and has gone on to considerable country music success, was on hand to make that point. After singing a track from her new album, "100 Proof," Pickler was brought over to bond with the "safe" contestants on the couch. "This is the hardest part of the show," she said of elimination nights, adding that everyone was chasing the same dream, and it was tough to see anyone sent home. But, she said, "I think everyone this year's gonna get a record deal."

We'll see about that.

INTERACTIVE | 'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

But after Pickler and The Wanted had both sung their songs; Lopez had danced suggestively with her boyfriend in her new video; Joshua Ledet had scared us by looking swoony (we'd been told at the top of the show he was feeling "lightheaded"); and Ryan Seacrest had come up with all sorts of ways to play with the contestants' minds as he directed them either to the couches of safety or the stools of doom, three "Idol" aspirants dangled in the danger zone: Brackensick, Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone.

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'American Idol' recap: The top 8 take on the '80s

American Idol
"I hope none of you win," Heejun Han, who was voted off "American Idol" last week, told his fellow contestants in a look-back sequence at the top of Wednesday's show. It was funny, yes, and also a bracing moment of honesty – rivaled only by Steven Tyler admitting he "wasn't all there" for most of the '80s -- popping up on a night of jewel-toned, big-hair memories.

But the truth is that, unless something entirely unprecedented happens, someone will win. It's just hard to get a clear handle, at this point, with eight contestants remaining, on who that winner will be. Wednesday night's show, in which the top 8, guest-mentored by Gwen Stefani and her No Doubt bandmate Tony Kanal, performed songs from the '80s, didn't provide much clarity. It was a night of strong performances from strong performers we've seen perform strongly before. Never mind that many of the contestants were not yet born during the decade in question.

DeAndre Brackensick kicked things off with DeBarge's "I Like It," and looked more comfortable onstage than he has in a while. (Is there a direct relationship between Brackensick's comfort level and his hair flips? Discuss!) Plus he seemed to have mastered the connection between his natural voice and his falsetto. The judges loved it. "I like it. I like it a lot," Lopez said. Tyler deemed it "exceptional."

INTERACTIVE | 'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

Stefani had predicted a "magic moment" for Elise Testone, who she said was one of her favorite singers in the contest. And I thought Testone, looking fab in a one-sleeve dress, delivered with Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is." (I was particularly glad Testone hadn't attempted Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which has become sadly overused on "Idol.") The judges didn't like the performance. Tyler thought it was the wrong song. Lopez thought Testone looked beautiful, which is "Idol" judge-speak for "I don't have anything nice to say about your singing." And Randy Jackson thought the whole thing was "out of tune everywhere."

After working his magic on Stefani, who called him "very sexy," Phillip Phillips phillip-phillipsed "That's All," by Genesis, backed by his guitar-playing brother-in-law. His performance cemented my conclusion that I'd buy a Phillip Phillips version of almost any song. The judges were similarly impressed. Tyler called Phillips a "wildflower," whatever that means, and added, "You just love being who you are." But Phillips' brother-in-law gave him the biggest props of all, saying Phillips' family "couldn't be more proud of him," especially for "staying true to himself."

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Wednesday's TV Highlights: Marlins vs. Cardinals on ESPN

Click here to download TV listings for the week of April 1 - 7 in PDF format

TV listings for the week of April 1 - 7 in PDF format are also available at

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This week's TV Movies

Miami Marlins' Hanley Ramirez
play their final exhibition game at noon on FSN, then the season begins with the Miami Marlins hosting the St. Louis Cardinals at 4 p.m. on ESPN. Pictured: Miami Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez.


Betty White's Off Their Rockers: In this hidden-camera series a cast of sassy septuagenarians pulls shocking pranks on the younger generation (8 p.m. NBC).

One Tree Hill: It began as the story of two teenage half brothers (Chad Michael Murray and James Lafferty) who lived very different lives. The two-hour series finale brings everyone together to remember the past and consider the future. Sophia Bush, and Bethany Joy Galeotti also star (8 p.m. KTLA).

American Idol: The finalists perform songs from the 1980s in this new episode (8 p.m. Fox).

Best Friends Forever: Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham star in this new comedy series as separated best friends who are reunited. Luka Jones also stars (8:30 p.m. NBC).

Criminal Minds: Robert Englund guest stars in this new episode as a detective who assists Rossi (Joe Mantegna) and the team with a case right out of a horror movie: the ritualistic murders of several people in Oregon (9 p.m. CBS).

Bent: Marcia Gay Harden guest stars as Pete's (David Walton) mom, whose arrival in town rekindles Walt's (Jeffrey Tambor) determination to win her back. Amanda Peet, Margo Harshman and Jesse Plemons also star (9 p.m. NBC). A second new episode follows at 9:30.

Nova: David Pogue journeys through the world of chemistry in the new episode “Hunting the Elements” (9 p.m. KOCE).

Happy Endings: At Derrick and Eric's (Stephen Guarino, Nate Smith) wedding, Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) tries to tell Jane (Eliza Coupe) something as she struggles to help Eric conceal some bad news in the season finale (9:30 p.m. ABC).

South Park: When the town holds its annual Easter Egg Hunt, what could possibly go wrong? (10 p.m. Comedy Central).

Continue reading »

'American Idol' on TV: April 4th – 11th

Americal Idol Final Eight

Keep up with "American Idol," its judges, its alumni and this season's finalists, on TV from April 4th – 11th:

“Behind the Music” 2 p.m. Wednesday, VH1: Jennifer Hudson finds success in spite of an early elimination from “American Idol.”

“American Idol” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Fox: The finalists perform songs from the 1980s. (N) (N)

“American Idol” 8 p.m. Thursday, Fox: Contestants face elimination; The Wanted performs; Jennifer Lopez premieres her new music video. (N)

Movie: “The Wedding Planner” ** (2001) 2 p.m. Saturday, USA: (PG-13) Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey. A lonely organizer falls for an engaged pediatrician while coordinating his wedding and reception.

Movie: “The Back-up Plan” * (2010) 4 p.m. Saturday, Showtime: (PG-13) Jennifer Lopez, Alex O'Loughlin. A single woman meets the man of her dreams on the same day she becomes pregnant through artificial insemination.

“Chris Botti in Boston, Part II” 11:30 p.m. Saturday, KOCE: The trumpeter's performance includes guests Sting, Steven Tyler, Josh Groban, and Yo-Yo Ma.

“Live! With Kelly” 9 a.m. Monday, ABC: An “American Idol” castoff performs. (N)

“Top Gear” 6 a.m. Tuesday, BBC America: Simon Cowell.

“The E! True Hollywood Story” 9 a.m. Tuesday, E!: Musician Steven Tyler and his daughter, actress Liv Tyler.

“American Idol” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Fox: The remaining finalists perform. (N)

-- Compiled by Matt Cooper

Photo: The "American Idol" final eight, clockwise from left: Skylar Laine, Phillip Phillips, Colton Dixon, DeAndre Brackensick, Elise Testone, Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh and Joshua Ledet. Credit: Frank Micelotta / Fox

'American Idol'-'Voice': Do Elise Testone, Pip, Heejun Han rate?

"American Idol's" Elise Testone
After "American Idol" voters sent home Heejun Han on Thursday night, he was asked which "Idol" singer he'd be rooting for. His answer: "I'm just gonna watch 'The Voice.' "

Somehow that seems appropriate given that we're taking all the singers from both shows and putting them head to head each week. I will be choosing my top five performers from among the two shows, along with Times music writers Todd Martens and Chris Barton — and you can cast your votes too, at the bottom of this post.

Below are my picks for the week. To see what my co-judges have to say, and to view the performances, click here.  

INTERACTIVE | 'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

1. Elise Testone ("American Idol"): A rock star was born on "Idol" this week. It wasn't just the full band, the flashing lights and the fog machine. When Testone tackled Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," her ridiculously agile voice felt like its own sort of mind-blowing special effect. The stutter, the scream, the strut around the stage in Steven Tyler's sparkly pants all blew me away, but my favorite moment was when, just before wrapping things up with "Way down inside …" she tossed the audience a sweet little smile that showed just how much fun she hoped we all were having. That moment made me feel a whole lotta love for Testone.

2. Phillip Phillips ("American Idol"): "I think he's going to be very famous, and that's because he has a certain magic, and you cannot deny it," guest mentor Stevie Nicks said of Phillips on Wednesday night. She also called him "gorgeous" and posited that, back in the old days, Mick Fleetwood would have asked Phillips to be a part of Fleetwood Mac. Can I top that praise? No, but I will say that Phillips slayed Jonny Lang's "Still Rainin'," singing and strumming with the passion he brings to all his performances, and he could have been at the very top of this list had Testone not elbowed him out at the last minute.

3. Orlando Napier ("The Voice"): Facing off against Karla Davis on the Commodores/Lionel Richie song "Easy," Napier's voice had a suppleness, surety and soulfulness that commanded attention. I can understand why someone might opt for Davis, with her sweet clarity and smooth vocals, over Napier, as Levine did, but I probably would have made a different choice, going for excitement over ease. Napier may be off "The Voice," but I hope we haven't heard the last of his voice.

4. Jessica Sanchez ("American Idol"): Sanchez's "Sweet Dreams," by her idol Beyonce, was beautiful and far from a nightmare. She again proved she has complete control of her remarkably mature voice and can make it do wonderful things. In some spots, she gently caressed the notes; in others she swooped into a powerful attack, mesmerizing us as if, yes, in a dream. Everything from the dress to the red door she walked through to the comfort Sanchez exuded onstage just seemed totally tour-ready. How is it possible that she's only 16?

5. Justin Hopkins ("The Voice"): The battle round between Hopkins and Tony Vincent was like a face-off between a lovable mutt and a carefully groomed show dog. Cee Lo Green went with the show dog (Vincent), finding him "enigmatic" and "ambiguous." I admired the show dog's showiness and careful grooming, but the lovable mutt (Hopkins) stole my heart. He was all energy and grit and tail-wagging eagerness to please. I'm sad Cee Lo sent him off to go fetch a new dream.


'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

'The Voice' recap: Battle rounds are over

'American Idol' recap: Heejun Han heads home

— Amy Reiter

Photo: Elise Testone of "American Idol." Credit: Michael Becker / Fox


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