Testone Fans Pack Butler Bar to See 'Idol' Hopeful
Judges critical of Kinnelon native as fans pack Jiggs' Corner Saloon to show support.
New Jersey native Elise Testone wanted to know what love was from "American Idol" judges Wednesday, but instead, she was faced with poor reviews.
The Top 8 contestants left in the FOX singing competition were asked to choose songs from the 1980s and Testone performed "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner. Testone shared with guest mentors Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal, bassist for No Doubt, that she was "going back and forth between a million songs" before choosing the Foreigner song.
Judges Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson seemed to think she made the wrong choice. Tyler said he loves Testone's voice, but he did not feel that the song was appropriate for her, although he did acknowledge the difficulty of singing it.
"It's an '80s song, and that's for sure, and '80s songs are '80s songs, but, uh, yea," he said.
Jackson said he felt Testone did not hit the right pitch.
"What technically happened for you, you never quite hit the pitch right, so it was pitchy the whole song until the very end because you were just underneath the pitch every time," Jackson said.
Jennifer Lopez, on the other hand, praised Testone for the way her style has evolved over the course of the season and said she was pleased with the performance because of what Testone put into it.
"You have a powerhouse voice, which means you can sing everything," she said. "I think what they heard was it wasn't totally right every single moment and that's all it was, but you still sounded beautiful to me and I felt your emotion and I felt how much heart you put into it and it was a really great performance on that level."
Later in the show, however, when Testone sang a duet with Phillip Phillips, Jackson was impressed.
"Elise, welcome back, baby," he said.
Despite what the judges thought, a portion of Testone's New Jersey fan base cheered jubilently while crowding Jiggs' Corner Saloon, in Butler, to watch the episode Wednesday night. Testone's father, Vic, sported a "Team Testone" t-shirt but said he was not able to be interviewed about his daughter's participation in the show.
However Testone's cousin, Mike Driscoll, 31, of Flemington, also sporting a "Team Testone" t-shirt, spoke highly of Testone and said he has been cheering on the singer, whose made a home in South Carolina, from Jiggs' every week since Testone was named to the Top 12.
"I just think it's great to see the town really come together and people really start to support Elise," Driscoll, a former Kinnelon native, said.
Testone is a 2001 Kinnelon High School graduate and remained in South Carolina after graduating from Coastal Carolina University.
Driscoll said he's not only pleased Testone is able to showcase her talent, but also her personality through the show.
"She's a phenomenal person," he said.
Driscoll said he was present when Testone's family members and closest friends first learned how talented she was. He was sitting in the back seat of his mother, Tisa's, car when Testone, then five years old, began to sing.
"I just remember she was in the backseat in my car and I thought it was the radio," Tisa said. "She has got a fabulous voice."
Even Testone's neighbors in Kinnelon knew she was talented from a young age and are not surprised she has made it this far in the competition.
"I've known her since she was three. She's always been this over-the-top enthusiastic girl," Jackie Deubert, Testone's former neighbor said.
Rick Deubert, Jackie's husband, said he knew Testone would eventually try out for the show, but that the timing had to be right. This summer, when the Deuberts heard she would be trying out, they said she had the confidence needed to make it far on the show.
Will Testone be safe for another week in the competition? Stay tuned to Tri-Boro Patch after Thursday night's results episode airing at 8 p.m.