MANILA, Philippines — After being touted as one of the strongest contenders to win the 11th season of American Idol last week, Jessica Sanchez received lukewarm reviews from all three judges of the hit reality talent show on Thursday (Manila time).
Sanchez went full throttle on a fast song for her Top 12 performance with Gloria Estefan’s “Turn the Beat Around.”
But Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson weren’t feeling her version of the song.
“I love your voice,” Tyler said. “But you can’t stray too far from what I think you sing the best, which are ballads.”
He added that the “rhythm” of her rendition was a bit “shady,” for which he got a round of boos from Sanchez’s fans.
Lopez also didn’t feel that much from the Filipina belter’s song, saying her Top 12 performance was not her favorite so far.
“Even though you sang it great, it’s not about that,” Lopez said. “It’s having this type of rhythm to those types of songs so that you really, really kill it.”
Meanwhile, Jackson had only “constructive criticism” for Sanchez, who he said was “one of the greatest in this competition.”
“The problem for me is the song choice,” Jackson said. “Pick something more that you can play with (and) make your own.”
For the Top 12 performance night, the contestants were asked to choose a song that came out on their birth year.
Originally recorded in 1976, “Turn the Beat Around” was covered by numerous artists, including Estefan in 1994, Sanchez’s year of birth.
Amid the lukewarm reception from the Idol judges, Sanchez admitted she had trouble choosing a song from 1994 that would fit her voice.
“If I stay, next time I’ll pick a better song,” she said.
Despite this, Sanchez was given a new nickname by host Ryan Seacrest when he introduced her to the voters: “Swaggernaut.”
Judgment night will be on Friday (Manila time) and one contestant will be sent packing home.
Only the Top 10 contestants will tour the US this year after the competition ends.