Personnel: Russell Graham (guitar, keyboards); Brady Cohan (guitar); Rex Hardy Jr. (drums); Roland Garcia (percussion); Antonio Sol, Neka Brown, Jesschelle Mangbitang (background vocals).
A tidy snapshot of American Idol's 11th season, this compilation features a track apiece from every one of the Top 10 finalists: Joshua Ledet, Skylar Laine, Deandre Brackensick, Hollie Cavanagh, Erika Van Pelt, Elise Testone, Colton Dixon, Heejun Han, runner-up Jessica Sanchez, and winner Phillip Phillips. Each cut here is a studio version cut prior to the on-stage version aired on the show and if there's perhaps a bit too much polish here, this nevertheless gives a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of this year's crop. Sanchez and Phillips do indeed emerge as two of the most charismatic singers here, their only rival being Skylar Laine, who does an admirable take on Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder & Lead," and perhaps Erika Van Pelt's belting take on Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind." If the rest are merely average, there are only two outright embarrassments -- Joshua Ledet's toothless "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" and the ridiculous "Whole Lotta Love" from Elise Testone -- but overall this is by-the-books Idol, primarily of interest to those who still stick with the show through thick and thin. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine