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'American Idol' Burning Questions: Is Phillip Phillips a Phil Collins Superfan? Who Pranked Skylar Laine and What Did Gwen Stefani Have to Say About It?

Plus: What did DeAndre Brackensick think of Ryan Seacrest's falsetto? Did Jessica Sanchez debate singing Whitney Houston again? And how was Hollie Cavanagh handling Wednesday's harsh critique? THR has the answers...

Phillip Phillips Top 8 performance P
Michael Becker / FOX

There were several moments during Wednesday’s American Idol where, if you closed your eyes for a minute, you might think you were at a dentists office -- what with all the 80s soft rock pumping through your veins. Fortunately, season 11’s top 8 didn’t have to dress the part. And as hokey as many of the decade’s pop hits sound on the radio, it must be said: these finalists gave the tunes a fresh, unexpected spin. What inspired their song choices and how did they handle the judges’ critique? THR has the answers to your burning questions…

Was DeAndre Brackensick impressed with Ryan Seacrest’s falsetto? If not wowed, the 17-year-old was certainly entertained. “I loved it,” said De Andre, “He kind of showed me up a little, which threw me, but I loved it. It was a little different, but cool.” As for his “I’m So Excited” duet with Hollie, DeAndre revealed that the song was a last-minute change. “At first we had ‘That’s What Friends Are For, and everything got changed on Tuesday,” he said. “It was kind of like an iffy thing for the both of us because we it was so last-minute, but [“I’m So Excited”] worked so much better because it was more fun. The last song was just too boring for us.”

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After bringing down the house on  Top 13 week with “I Will Always Love You,” did Jessica Sanchez debate singing Whitney Houston again? “It was really hard trying to find a song from the 80s to fit my voice,” said the 16-year-old. “So I kind of had to go with Whitney, but I was also terrified because I really got great comments on the last Whitney song that I did so I had to try and be better with this Whitney song. I wasn’t up to that level, but I did what I had to do and I think I pulled it off. “

What was the thinking behind Colton Dixon’s hair change? “It was my decision,” said the 20-year-old rocker. “I actually wanted to do it a few weeks ago but we haven’t had time. So I called a friend of mine, Sam Burns, and said, ‘Hey, can you please come to the mansion and do my hair?’ I’ve been jonesing.’” As for what other experiments with color with might see? “Who knows what it will look like in the future,” he added. “I’ve already been called Dennis Rodman of American Idol. I won’t go rainbow or anything, but it might look a little different the weeks ahead. You’ll see.”

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How long did it take before Skylar Laine figured out that it really was Gwen Stefani sitting in front of her and not Soul Train regulars Shalamar? Oh, about 15 minutes. Blame Nigel Lythgoe for the prank. “That little sneaky snake, he done come up to me and said, ‘Shalamar, something ma bobber,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know who the heck that is,’ Skylar cracked. “Then I walked in and the whole time I’m thinking, ‘This girl looks like Gwen Stefani, why does she look so much like Gwen Stefani? As I was getting my mic off and they were like, ‘Skylar, it is Gwen Stefani.’ So I walked back in and I was like, ‘Listen Gwen, you know what Nigel just did to me? He tried to trick me!’” Gwen’s response? She was, like, ‘That’s not nice, Nigel.’ And it wasn’t! I felt stupid, but I gave her a hug and it all worked out in the end.”

How did Joshua Ledet react to hear the “F” word? As in, “You could make it to the final!” His soulful rendition of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” just might have clinched it. “J Lo said that and it really felt good,” he says. “Knowing that I made it this far and worked so hard to get here, just hearing her say that means that I’ve accomplished so much.”

What was Hollie Cavanagh’s state of mind following a harsh round of judgment? Mopey. “I’m feeling ok,” she muttered after the show. “It’s been a tough few weeks, but you can only just stay positive and hope for the best.” As for whether the technical glitch that delayed her start also threw off her performance of “Flashdance (What A Feeling)?” “I don’t know,” said Hollie of the tepid response by the judges. “I practiced the song and I was excited to perform it, but it was tough.”

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Is Phillip Phillips the world’s biggest Phil Collins fan? During Top 13 week, he took on “In The Air Tonight,” for 80s week it was Genesis. What gives? “I’m not like a hardcore Phil Collins fan, he’s awesome, though,” said the 21-year-old Phillip who chose to sing 1983’s “That’s All” and gave it his own Phillip Phillips twist. “It was tougher than I thought it was going to be,” he confessed. Phillip also debated singing “Sledgehammer,” by another Genesis member, Peter Gabriel.

Was Elise Testone intimidated to sing a duet of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” a song Jimmy Iovine produced some 32 years ago? “I was like, ‘We have to do that song,’” said Elise, revealing that, “Nigel wasn’t sold on it, but I kind of pushed it and we got it.” So how did she think the duet with Phillip Phillips worked? “We were really awkward at first,” said Elise. “I’m not really good at doing eye contact.” As for Phillip, who didn’t have his guitar as a security blanket? “It wasn’t weird, but I just don’t know what to do with my hands … or my whole body.” 

Twitter: @shirleyhalperin