LOS ANGELES » American Idol finalist Deandre Brackensick, who grew up singing Hawaiian falsetto songs, earned a standing ovation and praise from judge Steven Tyler for his performance Wednesday night.
“That’s what your voice was made to do,” Steven Tyler beamed to Brackensick after he performed Eric Benet’s “Sometimes I Cry.”
Also earning standing ovations from the judges were 16-year-old student Jessica Sanchez of San Diego with Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams”; 21-year-old pawn shop worker Phillip Phillips of Leesburg, Ga., with Jonny Lang’s “Still Rainin”’; and Elise Testone and Joshua Ledet, who successfully channeled icons of the opposite sex on “American Idol.”
Shaking her wavy blond hair and sporting a pair of tight bellbottoms, Testone delivered a faithful rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” while Ledet soared by embracing Mariah Carey’s vocal acrobatics on Badfinger’s “Without You” during the Fox singing competition’s idol-themed performance round Wednesday night.
“You made everybody get up,” Jennifer Lopez told Testone. “It was crazy.”
Heejun Han, the goofy 22-year-old nonprofit organizer from New York, found his way back into the judges’ good graces after last week’s silliness with a serious take on Leon Russell’s “A Song for You.” Tyler, the most critical of Han’s wacky antics, said he made the song “come alive in such a way that no one else can.”
“You don’t make it this far by mistake,” said Lopez.
This week’s performances kicked off with consistency from a pair of front-runners: 20-year-old rocker Colton Dixon, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., with an emotional version of Lifehouse’s “Everything,” which he called his favorite worship song, and spunky 18-year-old country rocker Skylar Laine of Brandon, Miss., with Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead.”
“You are a powerhouse singer,” Jackson informed Laine.
Jackson and Tyler weren’t as fired up about the song choice from 18-year-old singer Hollie Cavanaugh of McKinney, Texas. Cavanaugh tackled former “Idol” champion Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel” to mixed results. Jackson cited pitch problems, and Tyler claimed that it didn’t show off her vocal range.
“I wish you sang a different song,” said the Aerosmith frontman. “It was just OK for me.”
One of the remaining nine finalists will face elimination Thursday.