Estefan song choice hurts Sanchez on 'Idol'

By Shiela Reyes,

Posted at Mar 15 2012 12:43 PM | Updated as of Mar 16 2012 08:16 AM

Photo Courtesy of Fox Broadcasting Company

MANILA, Philippines – She blew away the competition last week with “I Will Always Love You” but Filipino-Mexican-American contestant Jessica Sanchez seems to be in danger this week as she did not impress the “American Idol” judges with her song choice on Wednesday night (Thursday morning in Manila).

Sanchez sang Gloria Estefan’s “Turn the Beat Around” during the “Year You Were Born” night on “Idol.”

Although she owned the stage while performing the 1995 uptempo number, judge Steven Tyler advised Sanchez not to “stray too far from what I think you sing the best which is ballad.”

“I don’t think you should stray too far on that. The rhythm that you sang with the song was just a little shady but again I love your voice and they do, too,” he said.

Judge Randy Jackson added that the song did not allow her “big old voice” to shine.

“You’re one of the greatest in this competition so I feel that we should really steer you always on the right direction and give you great constructive criticism. The problem for me was the song choice. You got the big old voice. The song does not allow you to show that,” he said.

Jackson said Sanchez should be careful in choosing songs which she can really play with and make her own.

Meanwhile, judge Jennifer Lopez commented on Sanchez’s “strong vibrato” which she thinks did not fit the song.

“It’s the type of thing that your voice has such a strong vibrato who is so beautiful on certain songs but on songs like this where you have to really be on syncopation, be on that beat, it lagged a little bit behind so it lost a little bit of the energy,” she said.

Lopez said Sanchez’s performance was “not my favorite thing I’ve ever seen you do but good job.”

TV critics were also not impressed with her song choice.

Newsday ranked Sanchez's performance at No. 3 behind Joshua Ledet, who earned a standing ovation from the judges with his rendition of Michael Bolton's "When A Man Loves A Woman," and Shannon Magrane, who sang Mariah Carey's "One Sweet Day."

"Jessica Sanchez broke out the sparkly glitter pants but made an odd song choice with 'Turn the Beat Around' -- the judges essentially told her you're so talented, stay with what you do best," Newsday said.

But USA Today also noted that there may be something wrong with Sanchez's monitor.

"Jessica may love to hear percussion, but she may be having some trouble hearing her mix, as she touches her ear a few times at the song's start," the national U.S. newspaper said.

USA Today also compared Sanchez with last season's Pia Toscano, a judges' favorite who was surprisingly voted off early from the show.

"Tonight, Jessica reminds me of a more mobile Pia Toscano. She's note perfect, and she's got her moves down, too, but there's something that's just a little too studied. It's probably something she'll grow out of, but she's only got a few weeks to do it," USA Today said.

After her turn, Sanchez admitted that she really had a hard time picking a good song because there was not a lot to choose from.

“I had to work really hard to make my voice fit this song. It was a bit of a challenge,” she said.

The 16-year-old San Diego native, however, vowed to pick a better one next week if given the chance to stay.

Currently, places Sanchez in fifth place with a score of 4.966. However, warned that Sanchez “may be voted off or safe -- it's just too close to call” based on its margin of error.

On Thursday (Friday morning in Manila), the contestant with the lowest votes will be booted off the competition.