S. Jersey ‘giant’ advances on ‘American Idol’

Jermaine Jones of Pine Hill, Camden County, made the Top 13 of "American Idol" on March 1, 2012.

South Jersey's Jermaine Jones, who got cut from American Idol last week, is now in the Fox talent show's Top 13.

The deep-voiced "gentle giant" from Pine Hill not only survived a major cutdown Thursday night, but received high praise during commentaries by the show's mentor, Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M.

"I'm so glad the judges brought Jermaine back. I'd listen to a whole album of him," Iovine said.

That's a genuine compliment, because, Iovine had harsh words for some performers previously lauded by excessively effusive judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.

Thursday night, automatically moving on were five males and five females for getting the most votes from fans. After nine were named - Phil Phillips, Hollie Cavanaugh, Jessica Sanchez, Heejun Han, Joshua Ledet, Skyler Laine, Shannon Magrane, Elise Testone and Colton Dixon - it was down to the 6-foot-8 Jones and 15-year-old Eben Franckewitz.

The playful teen jumped as high as he could a few times, barely getting his blond mop top level with the top of Jones' head.

"I know how you feel," quipped host Ryan Seacrest before sending Jones through.

The judges then got to select three more contestants - Erika Van Pelt by Jackson, Jeremy Rosado by Lopez, and DeAndre Brackensick by Tyler - from six picked for do-or-die solos.

A dozen singers were sent packing.

The advancing baker's dozen will next perform Wednesday night, from 8 to 10 on Fox29 in the Philadelphia area.

Last week, Jones was distraught to hear he didn't make the final 24, but in a twist at the end that Feb. 24 show, viewers were told someone would get another chance, and the faces of four male contestants, including Jones, were shown.

At the end of Tuesday's show, out he came to tell host Ryan Seacrest how excited and grateful he was at being saved, before performing Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father."

The judges gushed, and his mother then gave him a big hug onstage, just before phone lines opened.

For more, go to www.americanidol.com.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.