Last night's episode of American Idol was the most significant one for Charleston's Elise Testone so far. Not only did the powers that be in Idol Land decide to finally give Testone some quality interview time, but the soulful singer advanced to the Top 24.
Now, she will face off against the top 12 female competitors, while the top 12 male competitors will face off against each other. And this time, Randy, J. Lo., and Steven won't be the ones deciding who goes home; it will be the hit show's millions of speed-dialing superfans. Which is why it was good that viewers not only got to get a glimpse of Testone as a person — she's incredibly hard-working and humble — they got to hear her belt out a pretty rousing rendition of James Brown's "It's A Man's Man's Man's World." Or at least that's what the judges thought.
After Randy Jackson told a clearly nervous Elise that she was moving on to the next round, Jackson said, "You're one of the best singers we've seen. Very very talented. Proud to have you." Then, as Testone walked off stage, big-mouthed rock god Steven Tyler began to mimic the American Idol theme song. Make of that what you will, but we take that as a sign that the Aerosmith frontman believes the Holy City soul sister is one of the ones to beat in this year's Idol competition. (And by the way, we think the Godfather of Soul would have been pleased too.)
In the interview segment that ran before the Top 24 verdict, Testone had a chance to discuss her career thus far. "I've worked really, really hard gigging out constantly," Elise said. "American Idol is the best opportunity I can ask for. The entire experience is amazing. It's everything I worked for."
She added, "This is my time. I just feel it in my heart."
When Testone initially sat down on the stage to hear from J. Lo and the gang about whether or not she was going through, Elise talked about how she has been putting all of her emotions into her singing and that she was giving each performance her all. She then told the judges, "After I'm done with you, after I sing with you, I feel like I'm going to explode."
The Idol judges weren't the only ones singing Testone's praises. Here's what Entertainment Weekly had to say:
"Baby had the runs during her final solo, "This Is a Man's World," as she got down dirty in an amazing mustard leather frock. She sounded so growly and so good, and I was so fascinated by the way the abstract art museum around her positioned her at the center of a great big sun that I cheered out loud a little when she hit that sultry final low note. She got my hands off the keyboard. That is huge. The judges LOVED her explanation of the feeling she gets when she sings -- "After I'm done, for you, I feel like I'm going to explode." They just ate it up. Soaked up those rays of sunshine. I'm loving so many ladies so far!"
Here's last night's performance:
American Idol also has this video up of Testone: