Phillips Phillips was back to his old tricks on ‘American Idol,’ taking classic songs, making them his own and then getting all the love from the audience and the judges. It’s clear that this ‘Idol’ hopeful is ready to perform for an audience that is all his own.

Phillips’ first choice of songs was the Box Tops’ 1967 hit ‘The Letter.’ Phillips admitted that he wasn’t a fan of the original song, so he changed it up a bit. Mentor Jimmy Lovine didn’t agree with his choice to lose the melody, but guest mentor Steven Van Zandt said, “That’s the way he hears it. That’s how he wants to do it. Leave him alone, he’s good.”

And Van Zandt was right. You have to leave Phillips alone because even when he changes something drastically, he totally pulls it off. And, he pulled it off again in the second round with a surprisingly mellow performance of ‘Time of the Season’ by the Zombies. As it turned out, it was a perfect choice for him.

Randy Jackson was impressed by Phillips’ take on the round one classic. He loved it because Phillips made the song new for him, in his “own sort of jam-bandy, Phillip Phillips sort of way.” Jennifer Lopez admitted that she didn’t know the original song, but noticed Phillips’ version lacked melody. Despite that, she said, “You’re so compelling to watch that I just want to get up on my feet when you’re done. I want to applaud you. You’re a really dynamic performer.”

Steven Tyler gave him the good and bad news of it. He said flat out that he missed the melody, but he congratulated Phillips for getting away with it. He also compared Phillips’ ability to stay true to himself and to be loved for his uniqueness to that of the Rolling Stones.

When it came to round two, the judges were pleasantly surprised to hear Phillips sing a melody. Jackson said what it showed was that Phillips really does make a conscious choice when to sing a melody and when to do his own thing. Both Tyler and Lopez agreed that the performance was solid. Another round of huge compliments for a guy who proves every week that he’s ready to wow all on his own.

Watch Phillip Phillips Perform ‘The Letter’

Watch Phillip Phillips Perform ‘Time of the Season’

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