Despite two weeks at the bottom of the pack on American Idol, Charleston's Elise Testone is still singing her heart out and winning over the judges.
This week all of the Idol contestants had to pick a Billy Joel tune, and Elise chose "Vienna" off of Joel's 1977 album The Stranger, one of the early highpoint in the New York singer's career. (Seriously kids, the album is a classic. The title track alone has a sleazy disco feel that's right up there with Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.")
In the video clip before Elise took the stage, Interscope chair Jimmy Iovine voiced his surprise at seeing Elise in the bottom two weeks in row, saying, "I don't know what's going on."
During the rehearsals, Iovine and Testone didn't exactly see eye to eye, with the two disagreeing over Elise's song choice. In the end, Testone won. "It was a magical moment." Iovine says of Elise's rehearsal performance. "How do we get that magical moment on the stage?"
So how was Testone on stage? Frankly, it wasn't her best, but she performed admirably. It was smokey and bluesy and jazzy and sexy, but it was missing the big runs that win over the hearts of American Idol voters, which are largely beating inside the flat chests of prepubescent tween girls.
That said, the judges were pleased.
Steven Tyler had nothing but kind words. "The melody was just fantastic. Just brilliant. A lot of heart to it. Great singing. I can't believe it. You picked your song. You picked your dress," he said.
Jennifer Lopez agreed. "It's just such a beautiful thing. All the different things you do with your voice. Even the way you were moving, everything," she said. "It was really beautiful."
Finally, longtime judge Randy Jackson said, "She is unbelievably talented, and that vocal performance, I look every night, every time we do this show, who is going to have a moment. She had a moment tonight. That run you sang at the end. That run at the end is so difficult. I don't know any singers that can do that other than other. Congratulations. Unbelievable."
Hopefully, Testone's performance will keep her out of the bottom again. But since she's not a cute boy, well, we all better start praying and hoping and dialing the frikkin' phone.