IDOL WATCH: The Top 12 Perform; One Contestant Eliminated Early

Tonight was the inevitable night of songs from the year the contestants were born, but first things first: contestant Jermaine Jones, dubbed "the gentle giant" by host Ryan Seacrest, has been caught telling some tall tales.

The Idol producers discovered outstanding warrants in Jones' name, as well as incidents with police under a false name. Jones has reportedly already headed home to his native New Jersey, and did not appear on the show. 

That's not to say that American Idol doesn't address the issue: they announce in the very

Heejun Han; more pictures from tonight's episode can be viewed on page 2.
IDOL WATCH: The Top 12 Perform; One Contestant Eliminated Early

beginning of the broadcast that "one of their own had to depart the competition," but add that they'll say more as the show goes on.

So kicking things off singing is Phil Phillips, who announces that he's set to have surgery for kidney stones after the rehearsal. In spite of that, he impresses guest coach as well as the judges with The Black Crowes' version of "Hard to Handle" (1990). "Watch your melody, but it was good," Steven tells him. 

Next up is Jessica Sanchez with Gloria Estefan's cover of "Turn the Beat Around" (1994). It's a song that doesn't really fit her voice, with Randy adding that "The problem for me was the song choice…pick something more that you can really play with and make your own. So this is about us giving you constructive criticism. It sounded good, but there were some things you could work on."

Heejun Han struggles with pronunciation on Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting" (1989) during rehearsal, but that's not the biggest of his problems as he delivers a performance that's not as steady as it should be. "It was really breathy and you were trying so hard," Steven says, "But I love your voice so much anyway." 

Elise Testone chooses the Tina Turner release of "Let's Stay Together" (1983). It's a choice that allows her to showcase her unique tone more. While it's not a perfect performance, Randy proclaims: "Elise Testone is back! Welcome back!"

Next, Deandre Brackensick performs "Endless Love" (covered in 1994 by Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross). It wasn't his first choice - "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from THE LION KING was - and the judges notice. "I didn't feel like you felt it was the right song for you, and I hope America still sees past that," Jennifer says.

Shannon Magrane chooses "One Sweet Day" from Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men (1995). Though the coaches offer her alternative suggestions (with an overt product placement for a new HTC phone, no less), she sticks to her guns and it turns out to be a hit with the judges. 

Colton Dixon takes on an obscure number: White Lion's "Broken Heart" (released as a single in 1991). The selection is probably the best of the night so far, fitting his voice well, but as Randy notes, "The song didn't even matter, I was paying attention to you and you nailed it!" 

Erika Van Pelt goes the opposite direction with her choice, choosing the super famous "Heaven" from Bryan Adams (1985). Unfortunately, she seems to be struggling to keep up with the song throughout her entire performance. J-Lo takes the route of not saying anything about the performance specifically: "You look the best you've looked, I think you're great," she says.

Finally, the show shows a clip with executive producer Nigel Lythgoe explaining that the reason that Jermaine won't be able to continue with the competition. "The fact is, we are not allowed to have anyone with an outstanding warrant on the show," Lythgoe says, "And you've got four." They do show his rehearsal, however - Jones would have sung "Somewhere Out There" (1986).  

Joshua Ledet; more pictures from tonight's episode can be viewed on page 2.
IDOL WATCH: The Top 12 Perform; One Contestant Eliminated Early

Skylar Laine will perform Bonnie Raitt's "Love Sneaking Up On You" (1994) despite other recommendations from the coaches. "We do you a disservice if we're not being real with you," Jennifer says, "And if I'm being honest, you killed that!" 

Joshua Ledet, who was in the bottom three last week, chooses Michael Bolton's cover of "When a Man Loves a Woman," (1991), earning a standing ovation from all three judges and unanimous praise - and Ryan brings out crawfish for the singer to take back to the hotel.

Hollie Cavanaugh, a 1993 baby, chooses the Celine Dion version of "The Power of Love." Surpisingly - as choosing a big song like that is where most Idol contestants tend to falter - it's one of her strongest performances so far in the competition. She seems at home with the big ballads, and it shows. "Very well done. Very well done!" Randy says.

Despite Jermaine's early exit, there will still be an elimination tomorrow - so be sure to vote for your favorites, and tune in tomorrow to see who'll be the second contestant headed home. 

Photo Credit: Carin Baer/FOX


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