With the talent pool whittled down to ten on American Idol, Georgia crooner Phillip Phillips made his case for why he should be a serious player for the crown Wednesday, delivering a powerful rendition of Billy Joel’s classic Movin' Out on a night the Fox juggernaut paid tribute to the legendary Piano Man by performing songs from his catalog.
Phillips, 21, showed his confidence by spurning the advice of two of the show’s mentors: he dismissed designer Tommy Hilfiger’s suggestion he shouldn’t wear grey because it was too drab; and didn’t pay any mind to Diddy’s mandate to lose his guitar and begin dancing.
Instead, the pawn shop employee reared back and delivered a passionate, throaty version of the rebellious 1977 anthem that famously refers to Mr. Cacciatore's down on Sullivan Street.
All of the judges lauded Phillips for sticking to his guns and staying true to his instincts.
Steven Tyler told Phillips he “took that song and you Phillip Phillips-ed that," while Randy Jackson called the performance "one of the best renditions of that song ever."
“You are an unbelievably talented artist!” Jackson said. “You actually know who you are and are headed somewhere -- it was brilliant.”
Colton Dixon also impressed on the evening dedicated to the Long Island legend, giving judge Jennifer Lopez “goosies” with a spirited cover of Piano Man.
"You sing with pure feeling," Lopez said.
Still in the hunt for this year’s crown are Elise Testone, Erika Van Pelt, Skylar Laine, Joshua Ledet, Deandre Brackensick, Hollie Cavanagh, Heejun Han and Jessica Sanchez.
American Idol’s eleventh season continues Thursday at 8/7c on Fox.