Chalk up another standing ovation for Joshua Ledet.
But the standing O the 20-year-old from Westlake, Louisiana received at the close of Wednesday's (May 2) "American Idol" was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the praise that was lavished upon him during the two-hour episode, which found the "Idols" performing two songs apiece: One from the '60s and a Brit-pop hit, all guided by guest mentor "Little" Steven Van Zandt.
Steven Tyler kicked off Ledetpalooza when following his version of the Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" he told him, "You've gotta be one of the top two best 'Idols' of all time." But Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez went even further following Ledet's second performance.
"I've been doing this 11 years, and you're one of the best singers ever on this show. Ever!" Jackson said following Ledet's take on the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody." "No matter what goes down, you're one of the best singers ever on this show, and that is a big feat, that was incredible. Nobody could do that better."
But Lopez one-upped even Jackson's comment. "I'm gonna go further than the show," she said. "I think you're one of the best singers I've seen in 50 years!" (Lopez is, it should be noted, 42.) She went on to compare Ledet to James Brown and "the greatest soul singers and performers ever," summing up her enthusiasm by plainly stating, "This boy deserves this!
With all the Ledet-worship, it was easy to forget that there are still four other singers left on the show. But all did well in their own respects, and even Hollie Cavanagh, who landed in the bottom two last week, received two-thrids of a standing O for her show-opening version of "River Deep - Mountain High." (Only Lopez didn't rise to her feet for Cavanagh.)
"It was a different type of Hollie out there tonight. I could feel you!" Lopez said after "River Deep," while Cavanagh's powerful, controlled version of Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" had Jackson remark, "that was unbelievable. You're peaking now at the right time."
(Lewis, of course, was discovered on Britain's "The X Factor," which caused Jackson to mention Simon Cowell, who has rarely been mentioned on-air since he left "Idol" two years ago. When a few fans yelped at the mention of Cowell's name, Jackson reiterated, "We love him, we love him.")
Skylar Laine, who found the country strand in Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" and later turned in a convincing version of Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," was complimented by Lopez for "attacking" every performance. "You wanna win, don't you?" she asked Laine after her second song, to which Laine agreed. "I can tell. And you just might with performances like that." For his part, Tyler said he liked Laine's "boot scoot" and congratulated her on bringing the Dusty Springfield song "into the 21st century."
Jessica Sanchez took on two titanic songs: Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" and Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful to Me." J. Lo said "Proud Mary" was "a little bit of Tina, a little bit of Beyoncé, a little bit of I-don't-know-what up there!" Jackson was less enthused, calling it "barely OK" and saying it couldn't compare to Turner's version, a comparison which irked Lopez. "You can't compare a 16-year-old to Tina Turner doing Proud Mary in her heyday," she argued, and when Jackson said it's always going to pale in comparison, Lopez dismissed him with a handy "whatever." Jackson was on board after the Cocker song though, saying, "this girl's at the top of the leaderboard right now, dude!" (If you're confused at this point about who is on the top of the leaderboard, it would appear the judges are, too.)
Phillip Phillips opened up the Box Tops' "Letter" for his first song and later took on the Zombies' "Time of the Season," which, unsurprisingly, has been covered in the past by Dave Matthews. For "Letter," he abandoned the song's original melody, which didn't get lost on the judges. "The bad news first: I missed the melody," Tyler told him. "The good news is man, you get away with it!" Jackson praised him for doing the song in his own "jam bandy, Phillip Phillips sort of way." Which means? "I loved it!" said Jackson.
As for "Time of the Season," it was inoffensive and unobtrusive and kind of middle of the road. "I don't know if I'm jumping up and down about it, but it was nice," said Jackson. Lopez called it "very mellow," and Tyler added, "you sang it really well, so good for you."
The night also saw a pair of group performances. Phillips and Ledet teamed on "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," while the girls shared microphone duties on Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher."
What did you think of "Idol" on Wednesday? Let us know in the comments!
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