For me, the big story of last night was the ouster of Jermaine. Not his actually being voted off, but the fact that the producers decided to show his receiving the news on the show. People have been kicked off the show before, but nobody’s ever been shown getting the news on the show like it’s an episode of ‘Hard Knocks’ and they’re being cut from the team. So…weird.

As strange as that was, it’s even stranger the person who got kicked off the show because of a criminal record. Would you have ever put the gentle giant in your top ten of having a criminal record? I would have put Phillip (Moonshine running), Hollie (Pot of Gold Thievery) or Elise Testone (Something to do with Smoking a Cigarette in the Wrong part of LA) way ahead of him. Really? The Gentle Giant has a history of violence? Who knew?

And four outstanding warrants? FOUR? Exactly how bad are the cops in his small town that they fail to recognize a guy who goes about 7’5, 400 lbs. Just a weird occurrence overall. And a weird way to kick him off the show. I kind of hope it becomes a recurring feature. It’d add a whole new element to the show, “Guess the con.”

I’m in.

Random Thoughts Waiting for the Actual Show to Start:

One last note on Jermaine: How about that strange way Ryan told us that Jermaine got voted off? “With the help of law enforcement…this is American Idol!” Not exactly the smoothest segue.

Is there anything less amusing than baby photos? Do people really get embarrassed by them? I mean, you’re four years old – who cares? This is the guaranteed laugh in life that I never understand.

And…on with the show!

Phillip Phillips sang “Hard to Handle” by The Black Crowes

Steven Said: Watch your melody, but keep it up. It was good.

J-Lo Said: It’s a perfect song. I loved it.

Randy Said: Good song choice. You sounded great.

The Verdict:

I wondered what Phillip would look like sans oddly angled guitar, and it turned out about what I expected – awkward and charismaless. He’s just so incredibly boring that he sucks the life from the stage as soon as he gets going. Bland, vanilla, beige, use your safe and mundane cliché, they all apply here. I guess he sounded okay. No better than anybody singing karaoke anywhere in America. No better than the lead singer of any bar band. Certainly not good enough to win this show. But hey, he’s going to, so what do I know?

Grade: D

Prediction: He’s going to win and now he has sympathy votes. He’s easily through.

Jessica Sanchez sang “Turn the Beat Around” by Gloria Estefan

Steven Said: I love your voice, but you can’t stray too far from what you do the best and the rhythm was a little shady.

J-Lo Said: On a song like this, your voice lagged behind.

Randy Said: It felt like you were boxing with the song.

The Verdict: The song doesn’t allow you to show your voice.

I don’t understand this song choice at all. There’s not really any singing in this song. You’re either overwhelmed by the disco beat or you’re basically rapping during the verses. For a girl with such a devastating voice, I don’t know why she’d pick something that hamstrings it so much.

And, of course, it didn’t work. She basically screamed during the big points and was just trying to catch up to the rhythm in the verse. Nothing really Jessica-like came out here, it was just so, Las Vegas cabaret.

And that moment where she turned to the camera? No.

Grade: D

Prediction: Suddenly Jessica is in trouble. Getting railed like that early on isn’t good for anybody. Even America’s darling from last week.

HeeJun Han sang “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx

Steven Said: It wasn’t a great song for you, but you got a special voice.

J-Lo Said: Your tone is so special and gorgeous and toward the end it got really beautiful for me.

Randy Said: I didn’t enjoy this at all. It was pitchy all over the place. Wrong kinda song for you.

The Verdict:

The polar opposite of Jessica Sanchez here. Heejun picked a perfect song for his voice and style of singing and just really nailed it. Never thought I’d say this about Heejun, but he actually came off like a non-threatening teen heartthrob of yesteryear. Yes, I used the words “Hearthrob” and “Heejun” in the same sentence. Kind of wild. But couldn’t you see him in a 90s music video with a waterfall pouring over him as he sang this song? Wasn’t his performance of that quality? Okay, maybe I should stop now.

Grade: B+

Prediction: Wow. The judges torched him. Maybe my bias got the best of me? I still think he’s safe.

Elise Testone sang “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green

Steven Said: I love your voice.

J-Lo Said: That was right on every single level.

Randy Said: America, Elise is back!

The Verdict:

I’m not sure what type of singer Elise is. I thought she was a rock ‘n’ roller. Maybe a blues singer. I’m not sure. I do know she’s not an R&B singer. That was clear tonight.

Her pitch was sharp almost the entire time. She squeaked the end of phrases with such regularity it seemed like she was trying to make everybody wince whenever she took a breath. It got worse when the band came in as she just sounded out of breath and like she was trying to make up for her lack of air by growling whenever she could. She was out of sorts the whole time, like she just wasn’t sure of the rhythm, timing, melody or anything.

Grade: D

Prediction: The judges loved her, and that may be enough to keep her around.

DeAndre Brackensick sang “Endless Love” by Luther Vandross & Mariah Carey

Steven Said: I don’t think it was the right song for you.

J-Lo Said: You can sing anything and you sang that beautifully, but I just didn’t think it was the right song.

Randy Said: It definitely was the wrong song for you. It was boring and very safe.

The Verdict:

Ooo. I’m actually getting DeAndre tonight. I feel like I’m finally being let into some really cool club that I only ever turned my nose up and scoffed at before.

This was just smooth in every since of the world. An effortless and soulful telling of this song’s story. The runs came in at the right place, he didn’t try to overwhelm the piece with his Brackensickian ways, he just spread smooth soul butter all over it and let his voice shine.

He had a bit of a trouble with his falsetto at points, but even that kind of worked for him. Just about everything was working for DeAndre tonight.

Grade: B+

Prediction: He’s been in trouble before and now he got totally eviscerated by the judges. He could be on his way out.

Shannon Magrane sang “One Sweet Day” by Boyz II Men & Mariah Carey

Steven Said: I think you sing your best when you don’t try so hard, and that was beautiful.

J-Lo Said: You did a beautiful job with that.

Randy Said: The front of the song was cool, but the run at the end, I was like, “Yo!”.

The Verdict:

It’s hard to think I ever thought this girl had a chance. She really can’t sing a lick. She sounds like a beauty pageant contestant reject who got booted because she couldn’t carry a tune during the talent portion. There’s nothing interesting about her voice at all. It’s just boring. Well, it’s boring when it’s not so muddled and flat that it’s irritating. She just sounds like she’s missing a lung or something. That there’s something going on that’s not allowing her to get the full power behind her voice, because it’s just not there.

Grade: D-

Prediction: The judges loved her. I remain confused. America? Who knows.

Colton Dixon sang “Broken Heart” by White Lion

Steven Said: The wrong song for your voice and your passion. I didn’t hear the song go anywhere.

J-Lo Said: I loved the beginning. I thought, “Colton’s a lover.”

Randy Said: The song didn’t matter. You performed it dope.

The Verdict:

So there’s been some BS controversy from James Durbin saying that Colton is stealing his act. I’m not sure how it’s possible to steal a singing contestant’s act, but I guess he’s pretty upset about it.

Now, though, bringing out White Lion? It does seem a little bit like plagiarism. Who else in the history of that show would have taken on this song? Only the Durbs.

And I’ll say, Durbin would have done miles better than Dixon. Dixon just doesn’t have the voice in the verses for me. He’s so one-note when he’s not yelling or going up big, just boring and speeding through. It’s much more difficult to make those softer moments interesting and he just doesn’t seem to be able to handle that.

He’s okay when he goes up big, but it’s still not all there. He’s like a tribute band singer. Or somebody desperate to be an Emo Rock God, but doesn’t quite have the chops. Wait. I think that’s what he is.

Grade: C-

Prediction: He’s making at least the top three. And did nothing to derail that tonight.