Dark Horse: American Idol’s Elise Testone

Over the years American Idol has put out some great talent, including one of my favorite artists Chris Daughtry. I stopped watching the show a couple of years ago due to the negativity of Simon Cowell. Naturally when Steven Tyler became a judge, I watched eagerly as Aerosmith is my all-time favorite band. Overall I think Idol has improved tremendously and think Tyler and the beautiful Jennifer Lopez are great judges, that encapsulate the tough love that judges should give instead of the harsh criticisms of seasons past.

 I was surprised this season to see a real dark horse make it into the final rounds. This dark horse is Elise Testone. Elise encapsulates the best parts of rock, soul, and pop to create a full voice that has many nuances. One does not pick up on these nuances until they listen closely but, they’re there.  To me Elise Testone is one of the only artists on the show. I say this because she seems to have real passion and fire. She also has one thing most of the other contestants don’t, the ability to confident without showboating. The way she moves is like a singer that’s been playing arenas since the mid 70’s. The best part is, it’s all natural, and her stage presence is not forced like many of the other Idols. She knows who she is, and this is what makes her my choice to win no only the competition but to have a very long career.

            Since the beginning we’ve seen Elise do her thing whether it was when she performed ‘Virual Insanity’ by Jamiriquoi during Hollywood week, when she wowed the judges, or  two weeks ago when she performed a stunning arrangement of Billy Joel’s ‘Vienna’. She’s never made any major missteps; in fact as most of the other performers are starting to fizzle out she’s gotten stronger. Last week she proved to everyone that she was the performer to aspire to, when she did a rousing rendition of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 Classic ‘Whole Lotta Love’. Not only was the song perfect for her, but she took a song that is almost impossible to sing without dishonoring the original performance. Elise took the bull by the horns and put her own interesting twist on it showing many of the nuances of her voice and threw in some of Robert Plant’s famous “Baby, baby, baby” moans, something that most people who cover Led Zeppelin sound awful doing, but Elise pulled it off. As Stevie Nick’s said in the mentoring session “Don’t change a thing” high praise from someone who has sold over 100 million records.

But the highest praise of the night was from Steven Tyler, American Idols rock guru when he said “I wasn’t sure how you were going to pull that off. ‘Cause no one can pull that off song. You made Robert Plant proud”. Steven Tyler knows this very well because in 2009 he was in the running to join Led Zeppelin (or a variant of Led Zeppelin) as a replacement for Plant. Steven has also taken on the hard task of covering Led Zeppelin, in fact the one of the first songs Aerosmith played live to a crowd was Zeppelin’s ‘Good Times Bad Times’.

I believe that with this performance Elise has earned herself a spot in at least the top three where I believe she’ll be joined by Colton Dixon and Phillip Phillips. But what I hope for Ms. Testone is not only a victory in the competition but, a long career in the entertainment industry.

Check Out her performance of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 Classic Whole Lotta Love’ below:

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