Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet make their final cases to America that they should be in the final two.
By Adam Graham
With “We’ve Got Tonight,” Phillip Phillips may have punched his ticket to next week’s “American Idol” finale.
Phillips’ performance at the close of Wednesday’s (May 16) episode stole the show and earned a standing ovation from the judges. All night, Randy Jackson spoke of having big “moments,” and Phillips’ gentle take on the Bob Seger classic definitely qualified as one of those performances.
“That was the perfect song at the perfect time and your best performance on the show ever!” Jackson told Phillips after the song. Jennifer Lopez said it was like a “lullaby,” and Steven Tyler said he “nailed it” and praised him for his passion during the song.
Phillips’ “We’ve Got Tonight” came at the end of a two-hour show that saw the contestants visiting their hometowns and being treated like returning heroes. The episode also saw Joshua Ledet retain his momentum, while Jessica Sanchez slipped a bit, proving it may be tough for her to make it to the final two.
Contestants sang three songs each: One chosen by the judges, one of their own choosing and one picked by Jimmy Iovine.
Ledet opened the show with Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” which also earned a standing ovation from the judges. (Not surprising, they picked the song.) “Out of 70,000, there’s only one American Idol. And you sang like that one tonight,” Tyler told Ledet after the song. He followed it with John Lennon’s “Imagine,” dubbed “brilliant” (by Jackson) and “controlled” (by Lopez) and finished with Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama,” his suggestion from Iovine. It was another hit.
“You have this perfect marriage of knowing exactly what you’re doing and letting completely go at the same time,” Lopez told him after his unkempt performance, which saw him dramatically remove his jacket, as well as his in-ear monitors. “There’s spontaneity, you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you know it’s going to be out of this world.”
Sanchez’s up-and-down night was typified by Jackson’s critiques: He called her version of Mariah Carey’s “My All” “one of the best times a Mariah song has ever been performed on TV,” but later said her version of Jackson Five’s “I’ll Be There” — also once memorably performed by Mariah — was only “OK.” “There was never a moment-moment. It’s like, you know, I mean, it needed like a moment-moment-moment.” (In Jackson-speak, that means she didn’t quite deliver.)
Sandwiched between the two, she took on Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” which is more than a little familiar to one of the three judges. Tyler rose to his feet afterwards, telling her she “took a great song and made it greater,” while Lopez called it “crazy” (in a good way). And Jackson? “Dude, you delivered, man, yo, whoa, I’m like yo, all right, all right.” Our thoughts exactly, Randy.
Phillips closed so strong it hardly mattered what came before. (Voters have short attention spans, you see.) After his first song, Madcon’s “Beggin’,” Tyler said Phillips “could be a new Springsteen,” while Jackson commented he felt he was at a Phil Phillips concert. All three judges agreed his middle performance of Matchbox Twenty’s “Disease” was underwhelming, but by his home-run song was a performance all but forgotten.
One of the performers is headed home — this time not in a good way — on Thursday’s episode, which is also set to feature a performance by Adam Lambert.
What did you think of “Idol” on Wednesday? Let us know in the comments!
Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.
Looking 4 Myself track featuring Pharrell is classic R&B but ‘very relevant,’ superstar says on ‘MTV First.’
By John Mitchell, with reporting by Sway Calloway
Usher sat down for an exclusive “MTV First” interview about his hotly anticipated upcoming release, Looking 4 Myself, his unconventional album-listening experience with the off-Broadway show “Fuerza Bruta” and to give fans a first listen to the Myself track “Twisted” featuring Pharrell. He told MTV News’ Sway Calloway the song is a “nostalgic record” that reflects the album’s ambitious aim to represent the variety of musical experiences that have impacted the R&B superstar.
” ‘Twisted’ is more of a nostalgic record, so when you think about the classic R&B record, we managed a way to modernize it, even though that’s very relevant,” the singer said. “You hear records like Cee Lo, you hear Bruno Mars and also Andre 3000, and that sound is very relevant in this time. So this was kind of our way to tie it all together and give you something different that you probably wouldn’t normally get from me.”
Adapting current sounds and making them his own is a theme Usher is bringing in earnest to Looking 4 Myself and also reflects his philosophy of how to stay in the game. The star released his self-titled debut in 1994, when he was just 16, and has gone on to sell over 65 million records worldwide and score nine #1 songs and six more top 10 hits.
As for how he’s managed to stay on top for so long, Usher revealed that it’s important to never be insular when it comes to music. “Life is a workout, man, it’s like a treadmill, and you gotta be with it, you gotta just stay with it,” he said. “For me, I’ve had the fortunate ability to always be mindful of other things and other people. I’m not so caught up in what I’m doing that I can’t be cognizant of what other people enjoy. … Now, I think music should be used as a channel to really allow people to have different experiences. So, this album is all about bottling up those different experiences.”
The connecting tissue that’s given Usher the ability to explore world music — from full-on dance tracks like his new single “Scream” and his collaboration with David Guetta, “Without You,” to more classic R&B slow jams like “Climax” and the old-school spare drum beat of “Twisted” — while delivering cohesive records has been his voice, which he said brings “the essence of soul and emotion” to each record.
“All of my career is kind of an unveiling, an unfolding story, and it ain’t done. There’s so much more that I’m going to do, so much that I’ve now just been interested in and been introduced to,” he continued. “I just want that experience of having this very monogamous relationship with entertainment and acting in a way where I can really, really focus and become better.”
Usher’s commitment to tackling the changing face of music head-on and forging new roads in entertainment as he matures — he is currently training for a Sugar Ray Leonard biopic — is the key to his success, he said, concluding, “It’s all about evolution for me.”
Share your review of “Twisted” in the comments below!
Singer will open up about his appearance in the off-Broadway show ‘Fuerza Bruta,’ as well his new album, during ‘MTV First’ on Wednesday.
By Jocelyn Vena
Sure, anyone can hold an album-listening party at some record label’s headquarters or, to really mix it up, some swanky nightclub. But for Usher, that just wasn’t enough. When he was looking for a way to debut tracks off Looking 4 Myself, out June 12, he found another way to spread the word.
Last month, Usher appeared in the off-Broadway show “Fuerza Bruta,” in which he played the male lead, Running Man, for one night only. During the show, he played all his newest, shiniest tracks for lucky theatergoers. When MTV News spoke to him exclusively during rehearsals, he explained that his part in “Fuerza” provided the perfect pairing between the themes on his album and the visuals of the play.
“I mean, life is like that in a lot of ways. This was something that I organically came to,” he explained. “When you think about the lyrics of ‘Climax,’ ‘Going nowhere fast/ We reached the climax’ … ‘Going nowhere fast’ would be running in place,” he explained, referring to a part in the show where he runs on a treadmill, never actually ending up anywhere.
“Looking 4 Myself, I’m walking with my head down, counting every step,” he explained, referring to another act in the show. “I’m always trying to find very creative ways for the music and the art to work together and this is it. I only hoped it would be viewed in that way, in an unprecedented way. I hoped that people would be able to identify with it and become acclimated with my experience in a fun way, creative. This was kind of an emotional experience that leads you into my world.”
Usher has even more to share about his experience in the show as well as his highly anticipated album release. He will open up during “MTV First: Usher,” set to take place on Wednesday, May 16, at 7:54 p.m. ET on MTV. He will introduce exclusive footage from “Fuerza Bruta” and his new single, the Pharrell-produced “Twisted,” and will stick around for an interview with MTV News’ Sway Calloway to discuss it all on MTV.com afterward. Fans can submit questions via MTV.com or Twitter @MTVNews with the hashtag #MTVFirst or #AskUsher.
The performances featured in “MTV First: Usher” were shot exclusively by MTV News during a special album-listening experience with the off-Broadway show “Fuerza Bruta” in New York City.
Don’t miss “MTV First: Usher” on Wednesday, May 16, at 7:54 p.m. ET on MTV, followed by an interview with the singer on MTV.com!
Star of ‘Terminator: Rise of the Machines’ has not been heard from since May 9, his wife told L.A. officials.
By Kara Warner
“Terminator: Rise of the Machines” actor Nick Stahl has been reported missing. Los Angeles law enforcement officials confirmed to TMZ that Stahl’s wife, Rose Murphy, reported her husband missing on Monday, saying that the last time she saw the 32-year-old was on May 9.
Sources told the website that Stahl had been displaying some erratic behavior recently and was allegedly spending time in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. The source also expressed concern that the actor might have become involved in some questionable activities.
This is not the first time, however, that those close to the actor have expressed concern over his well-being. Stahl’s wife filed papers with the LA County Superior Court back in February asking a judge to limit her husband’s access to their 2-year-old daughter Marlo due to his alleged drug and alcohol abuse. She also claimed that she and Stahl were no longer living together.
There has been no word from Stahl’s reps regarding his whereabouts, but Stahl’s wife has been relatively active on her Twitter account, posting a general thank you for support early Wednesday (May 16). “Thank you for kind words,” she tweeted.
Thank you for kind words..
— Rose Murphy Stahl (@TheMrsStahl) May 16, 2012
A quick look at Stahl’s Twitter account shows that the actor has been inactive since May 1, but that he and Murphy might have been working through their problems since the actor tweeted on April 26 that they were not actually separated.
Not sure where it got started but @TheMrsStahl and I are not separated. Far from it
— Nick Stahl (@TheNickStahl) April 26, 2012
“Not sure where it got started but @TheMrsStahl and I are not separated. Far from it,” he wrote.
Stahl made his big-screen debut back in 1993 opposite Mel Gibson in “The Man Without a Face.” Since then, he’s appeared in several major studio films, inclduing “The Thin Red Line,” “Disturbing Behavior” and “Sin City.” His most recent role is in the VOD-released “388 Arletta Avenue” opposite Devon Sawa.
‘I like how it came out overall for real. It’s just a good feeling,’ Diggy tells MTV News of his new video.
By Rob Markman
Diggy’s “Two Up” party isn’t over. On Friday, Young Mr. Simmons celebrated the premiere of his “Two Up” video with MTV’s RapFix blog, and the teenage MC was so excited that he sat with MTV News and broke down each scene in the Clifton Bell-directed clip.
The vid begins with Diggy standing alone, playing air piano in time with the track’s opening keys. The action may seem insignificant, but it’s actually a key component to the song. “That was what really drew me to the track when I first heard the beat,” he said. “It was just those piano keys that I love.”
As the beat begins to take shape, so does the video, and a bouncer begins to let Diggy’s specially invited guests into the party. Of course the crowd is compromised mostly of females. “There were so many girls at the shoot that we were like, ‘We have to get some dudes in the mix,’ ” Diggy said, laughing at the non-dilemma.
“They were like New York, young kids, you know how they get,” the MC said of the video’s extras. “It was good energy and we didn’t even have to tell them to get hyped at no point in the video. I was feeding off of their energy when I was in front of them during those shots. It was just easy.”
It wasn’t just the crowd that excited Diggy: The fashion-forward MC was also hyped at his on-camera wardrobe, though some of his favorite items didn’t even make the cut. In one scene Simmons sports a turquoise jacket with two mini-Jesus pieces around his neck. On his feet he wears a special pair of black and gold Air Jordan #6s that were released back in 2006 and now go for as much as $850 online. “I’m kinda mad that you didn’t get that in the shot,” Diggy said of his coveted footwear.
Another key scene, in which a silhouetted Diggs dances across the screen, was actually inspired by another rap great. For the “Two Up” video, Simmons borrowed from Kanye West’s 2007 clip for “Homecoming.” “That whole silhouette idea is something that we drew inspiration from but made it a little different with the color, because that video is black and white,” he explained. “I like how it came out overall for real. It’s just a good feeling.”
What do you think of Diggy’s “Two Up” video? Tell us in the comments!
Bieber’s mentor and dance-off foe will debut his new track ‘Twisted’ on ‘MTV First: Usher,’ airing tonight at 7:54 p.m. on MTV.
By Jocelyn Vena, with reporting by Sway Calloway
Justin Bieber and his mentor, Usher, believe it or not, have engaged in a dance-off or two. While Bieber is certainly known for his ability to cut a rug, he noted that his pal has the smoother of the dance moves.
“Dance-offs? We had one the other night. He did this little show in New York,” Bieber explained to MTV News earlier this month about facing off against Usher during his stint in the off-Broadway “Fuerza Bruta” in April. “Mid-show, he comes in the middle of the dance floor and does a dance battle with me. And I’m like ‘I’m too tired for this.’ He pulls out moves and I can’t not dance battle Usher.
“So I go in there, do my whole thing,” he recalled. “I’m pretty sure I lost, but it’s all good.”
When they aren’t battling it out on the dance floor, it seems Usher is offering up some sage advice to the 18-year-old singer. “He’s just given me the advice of ‘Always keep the people that were there in the beginning, keep them with you because those are the people that really care. They want to see you succeed,’ ” he said. “I think that’s probably pretty much the main thing he’s always told me.”
Usher has even more to share about working with his superstar mentee. He will open up during “MTV First: Usher,” set to take place tonight at 7:54 p.m. ET on MTV. He will introduce exclusive footage from “Fuerza Bruta” and his new single, the Pharrell-produced “Twisted,” and will stick around for an interview with MTV News’ Sway Calloway to discuss it all, including his new June release, Looking 4 Myself, on MTV.com afterward. Fans can submit questions via MTV.com or Twitter @MTVNews with the hashtag #MTVFirst or #AskUsher.
Don’t miss “MTV First: Usher” tonight at 7:54 p.m. ET on MTV, followed by an interview with the singer on MTV.com!
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