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Stevie Nicks to mentor American Idol Top 9

X2_ba2bf38Photo: Stevie Nicks with Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe, Fox/EW

Stevie Nicks must be a witch, because she transformed these Idols and was the best Idol mentor by a landslide. Her astute advice, kind and emotional, plus her nurturing delivery and concern, elevated everyone on Idol to deliver either their personal bests, or pretty near. (Jessica Sanchez was so striking on her Whitney cover a few weeks ago it would be hard for her to top but she was fantastic again Wednesday night on her Beyoncé ballad -- thanks to Stevie's advise to do it as a ballad.)

Colton was the one disappointment with his overly melodramatic delivery of a Lifehouse tune but under Stevie's guidance even HeeJun was not bad on A Song for You. When she told Phillip-squared that Mick Fleetwood would have hired him in Fleetwood Mac if he were friends with Lindsey and Stevie in 1974 when they joined that was high praise. But for the first time, Phillip Phillips on a Jonny Lang rocker convinced me tonight. He maintained his grit, but didn't overdo the embellishments, served the song and was at his best.

The night's brightest star, aside from Stevie, was Elise Testone. Elise was yet another who always missed my sweet spot but her Led Zep cover tonight embodied the essence of Zeppelin, rock and roll and everything worked for her: the look, the voice, the edge, the flair.

Randy Jackson wondered what it was that elevated everyone tonight. Simple. Stevie Nicks, who became a Twitter trending topic after the show aired, was the reason. She appeared to care and wasn't there to shill a new album. Not a word was said about her current release.

Instead, she told Hollie about how the recent death of her mother affected her and how Hollie needs to tap into that kind of emotion to deliver Jesus Take the Wheel. She told Skylar to find the harmony line in Miranda Lambert's Gunpowder and Lead and harmonized with her during rehearsals to show her how to accomplish the task. Skylar delivered. She counseled Joshua on how to stand properly so that he could deliver a proper, non-flat note to start off his difficult song choice, Without You. She didn't have much to offer Elise who was spot-on even in rehearsals so she sang her chart-topping Fleetwood Mac hit, Dreams, with a clearly delighted, and awestruck Elise. 

The Idols said earlier this week that Nicks was their favorite mentor. Unlike last week, when no one really took mentor Diddy seriously on his "advise" on how to sing Billy Joel tunes, every contestant took Nicks' advice and, in doing so, turned a train wreck season around. From the worst episode of Idol in memory (last week's Joel fiasco) to tonight's stellar two-hours, Idol had its best show of the season and was finally worth watching again.

All that and the re-teaming of Nicks and old boyfriend/producer Jimmy Iovine. The two were a natural comic duo, ready with quips, fond memories and quite the history. 

Rock on gold dust woman.



EW reports that Stevie Nicks will mentor the remaining nine Idol contestants Wednesday. The theme has the finalists picking songs from their idols. HeeJun better lay off Landslide.

JimmyNicks' ties to American Idol can be traced to music producer Jimmy Iovine who produced the Fleetwood Mac star's first two solo albums, the chart-topping Bella Donna (1981) and The Wild Heart (1983) and half of her third, 1985's Rock a Little before the two had a falling out. Nicks and Iovine were romantically involved at the time.

Prior to his work in the studio with Nicks, Iovine produced Damn the Torpedos and Hard Promises by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (whose members have collaborated with Nicks to this day), Dire Straits' Making Movies, Patti Smith's Easter and engineered/mixed projects for Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run) and John Lennon's infamous Lost Weekend era (Walls and Bridges).

This will be the first time this season I will actually WANT to sit through the whole two-hour show.

Here's the EW item.

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.


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