It was revealed during Wednesday’s installment of the Fox singing contest that the 25-year-old vocal instructor from Pine Hill, N.J., was disqualified Tuesday for not revealing that he had outstanding arrest warrants back home in New Jersey.
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“Idol” executive producers Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe confronted Jones about the issue in a taped segment.
“You were incumbent to tell us the truth about all of this, and it appears that you just haven’t on any level,” Warick told Jones.
The so-called “gentle giant,” as he was dubbed by host Ryan Seacrest, was one of the viewer-selected top 13 finalists after the judges gave him a last-minute spot in the 11th season’s group of male semifinalists. He was among the bottom three vote-getters last week after performing Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet” but advanced to the top 12 singers.
“I didn’t want to get judged,” said Jones. “I didn’t want to get penalized for anything that happened in the past.”
Seacrest said the remaining 11 finalists would be “at risk” of being eliminated Thursday.
Wednesday’s show was billed as a night of tunes from the birth year of each “Idol” contestant, but for more than half of the finalists, it was an evening of covers of covers by other artists.
It worked for 28-year-old teacher Elise Testone, of Charleston, S.C., who took on Tina Turner’s 1983 rendition of “Let’s Stay Together;” 18-year-old singer Hollie Cavanaugh of McKinney, Texas, on Celine Dion’s 1993 version of “The Power of Love” and 19-year-old student Joshua Ledet, of Westlake, La., on Michael Bolton’s 1992 take on “When A Man Loves A Woman.”
“The best thing I’ve ever seen on `American Idol,'” Jennifer Lopez beamed to Ledet.
Other standouts Wednesday included 21-year-old pawn shop worker Phillip Phillips of Leesburg, Ga., with The Black Crowes’ “Hard to Handle;” 18-year-old country rocker Skylar Laine with Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Sneakin Up On You;” 16-year-old vocalist Shannon Magrane, of Tampa, Fla., with Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day;” and 20-year-old alt-rocker Colton Dixon, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., with White Lion’s “Broken Heart.”
“I think you look pretty when you sing,” Lopez informed Dixon.
Several didn’t wow with their classics, such as 16-year-old student Jessica Sanchez of San Diego with Gloria Estefan’s “Turn the Beat Around;” 22-year-old nonprofit organizer Heejun Han of New York with Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting;” and 17-year-old student Deandre Brackensick of San Jose, Calif., with Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross’ “Endless Love.”
“That was just way too boring,” Randy Jackson informed Brackensick.
Sanchez, who emerged as one of this season’s front-runners after delivering a powerful rendition of the late Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” last week, defended her song choice. She told the panel “there was not a lot to choose from” and “it was a bit of a challenge.”
Steven Tyler said Sanchez’s rhythm on “Turn the Beat Around” was “a little shady.”
The uncharacteristically grumpy Aerosmith frontman earlier told 26-year-old disc jockey Erika Van Pelt, of South Kingstown, R.I., that she was “too busy” during Bryan Adams’ “Heaven,” but Lopez said she liked Van Pelt’s outfit.