New Jersey native Elise Testone rocked the audience—and "American Idol judges—out of their chairs Wednesday night with her rendition of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."
The judges gave standing ovations five times throughout the night after Testone, , and her competitors performed. But judges Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez had only high praises for the singer after her rock-and-roll performance.
"I wasn't sure you were going to pull that off because nobody can pull that off. You made [Zeppelin lead singer] Robert Plant proud tonight, girl," Tyler said.
The "Idol" contestants were told to choose a song this week from one of their own idols. They were coached and mentored by Stevie Nicks in addition to music executive and record producer Jimmy Iovine.
"I think Elise has a spirit similar to what Stevie had when Stevie started," Iovine said.
Jackson said all of the performers were putting their strongest effort forth on Wednesday's live show.
"I don't know what's in the air tonight, I don't know what's going on, but I tell you, everybody wants to do this thing," he said.
He emphasized how much he enjoyed Testone's performance.
"Dude, you did an amazing job, congrats," he said.
Prior to Wednesdsay's performance, Testone's tri-boro fans were already rallying in support and signs begging motorists to vote for Testone lined several Kinnelon roadways. Tri-Boro Patch readers chatted with Testone's Mount Pleasant Patch neighbors about her performance during the episode.
Councilman Dan O'Dougherty said he used to teach Testone in religious school when she was a child.
"I definitely support Elise. I think she's doing a fantastic job," he said.
Ron Silton, a former Kinnelon and resident and graduate of (KHS) 1969 class, said there are two things he and Testone have in common: they are both KHS graduates and they are both currently living in South Carolina.
Silton said he has watched "American Idol" on and off for all of the seasons it has aired, but he became even more excited about the show this season after learning that a Kinnelon native would be appearing.
"Shes' good. Not only is she from Kinnelon, but she's good," he said.
While her name has now leaked into the households of millions of American viewers, Silton said Testone was already well-known in South Carolina.
"She's fairly well-known down in Charleston. I think a lot of people didn't realize she is a professional musician," Silton said.
Each week, Silton cheers on Testone and emails his thoughts on her performances and the results of the votes to friends. He also comments on Testone's Facebook page with encouragement. Still, Silton is not sure whether she will ultimately walk away from the competition with the title of "American Idol."
"You know, to be very honest with you, on talent alone, I think she should," he said.