This is the moment that the contestants have all been fighting for. They won the coveted home visits, which gave them their first real taste of superstar life outside of the Idol bubble. It is, essentially, what could be
waiting for them if they win the ultimate prize: stardom. To do that, only two people stand in their way. Well, and you know…music critics, fickle radio stations, teenagers who don’t buy cd’s, and the mass media in general. It takes alot to become the next Kelly Clarkson, but the battle for that begins here, on Top 3 night.
This should have been an epic night of showstopping performances. However, it was kind of like all of the life had been sucked out of these contestants. Was it the home visits? The finale rehearsals? What!? Oh…I know! Maybe it was the god awful song choices by Jimmy Iovine and the judges? Yes, the contestants only got to choose one of their three songs tonight, and absolutely everyone earned a resounding “F” on their song choice report cards. Seriously people, what the hell? It made this episode the single most lack luster one of the entire season.
Round 1: Judges Choice
Joshua Ledet – I’d Rather Go Blind
The judges chose an Etta James song for Josh, that should have fit him like a glove. It was a perfect song choice, but it did seem a bit safe and predictable. We’ve hear Josh sing every other soul classic, so why not yet another? But, I digress. This first half was fantastic, as Josh slowly sauntered his way through the song, letting each soulful note really sink in. Unfortunately, it was the second half that was really off the mark. What I’ve liked about Josh is that he had a knack for going over the top without becoming unbearable like Jacob Lusk or Fantasia often did. However, when he tried to “let loose,” he really overdid it. It was oversing and overwrought, and overall, just not enjoyable. The judges bestowed their now meaningless standing ovation upon him, and I stand firmly by the fact that it was entirely undeserving.
Jessica Sanchez – My All
I see what the judges were trying to do here. It was actually a smart song choice on paper. My All is subdued and emotional, and still features some incredible vocal techniques. It was a much softer side of Jessica that I’ve been wanting to see. She looked stunning, and she proved that once again, he is the best technical singer this season. Unfortunately, the song itself felt lifeless and dull. The song didn’t allow her to go anywhere, and the lyrics are too mature for Jessica to be able to connect with. Funny given their argument about her being “too mature” a few weeks ago. I feel like if she had been allowed to sing the full song, Jessica would have had a moment, but it ended before it could build, and as a result, it came off as lacking.
Phillip Phillips – Beggin’
The judges choice for Phil was Beggin’ by The Four Seasons
Madcon. It was a typical Phil number. Guitar, gritty vocals, uptempo blues rock number, extremely limited vocals. Everything we’ve come to expect from Phil was in check, including a watering down of the melody. That said, it was easily the most interesting of the first round. After two lacking ballads, it was nice to hear someone bring some fire and energy to the stage.
Round 1: Overall, it was an extraordinarily mediocre round of performances. I gave each contestant a 3, meaning they were good…but not great. As I said, if I had to give the edge to someone, it would be Phillip Phillips, simply because it was energetic and although lacking, didn’t have a clearly visible weakness.
Round 2: Contestant’s Choice
Joshua Ledet – Imagine
For his own personal pick, Josh chose an Idol staple. Again. Imagine is a beautiful and simple song when done properly. When it began, I was really happy to see that Josh was able to reign it in for a more subdued delivery. He continued this up until the end, where I thought that the final notes were a bit much, but overall, it was a solid performance. It may have been a bit standard, but for Joshua, standard is a refreshing change of pace.
Jessica Sanchez – I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing
I’m not sure what Jessica was trying to do with thins choice. She finally had the opportunity to do something young and uptempo, but instead she chose an Aerosmith power ballad. Usually, I hate when people try to turn this song into a pageant ballad. It was never intended to be such! It is a Rock. Power. Ballad! That said, I though that Jessica did a fantastic job with this song. It had solid vocals, and stellar delivery. It was easily the most compelling ballad of the night, but still, it left something to be desired. It never allowed Jessica to show off the full range of her voice, and it was devoid of the gritty, soulful Jessica we all know and love.
Phillip Phillips – Disease
For the first time tonight, I didn’t feel that a song was just “slightly above good.” Unfortunately for Phil, I hated this performance. Like…hated
it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize that my own personal bias is going to play into this. First, I hate Matchbox 20. I always have, and I always will, so there’s problem number one. Number two is that Phil didn’t sing it very well. Its a very simple song that requires all of a 2 note range, Phil still managed to have a sharp note here and there. Overall, it was a lazy song choice, lazy delivery, and just a complete waste of three minutes.
Round 2: The contestants proved to be just as competent as the judges at picking songs. Phil flat out sucked, and the other two were just “good.” If I had to give it to someone, I’d say Jessica took this round for at least picking an interesting song, even if it did have a standard delivery.
Round 3: Jimmy’s Choice
Joshua Ledet – No More Drama
This was a song choice that was very smart on Jimmy’s choice. It allowed Joshua to go over the top and “take it to church” without the fear of actually going “over the top.” Obviously, that’s exactly what he did, and it was a home run. The end of this song was a barrage of unrestrained passion and soulful wailing. The lyrics really lend themselves to that type of performance, and Joshua really made the song soar. It was a big song that somehow took on a life of its own. It was a great way to finish the night for Joshua!
Jessica Sanchez – I’ll Be There
You know what wasn’t such an intelligent song choice? I’ll Be There
. A rather lame song that was written over 40 years ago, and has since found a home in high school talent shows across America. My god, what was Jimmy thinking!? This song doesn’t lend itself to Jessica’s voice, and doesn’t show off the type of artist she’ll be at all. Sure, she sang it as well as she could, and it actually sounded pretty good! But even at her best, this was never going to be the stand out performance that she needed. Unfortunately, this one was out of her hands. She did her best, but was it enough? Maybe not.
Phillip Phillips – We’ve Got Tonight
After throwing Jessica under the bus, Jimmy chose a stellar song for Phil. We’ve got tonight was haunting, and had a range that was big enough to show Phil stretching himself without failing. Sure, some of the notes sounded uncomfortable, but it was easily his best vocal of the season. After a chilling performance, I couldn’t deny that he earned his standing ovation. However, I can say this. He is simply not at the level of either of his competitors. I feel like Josh and Jessica could have sung that song miles better than Phil, and they still wouldn’t have received the same praise. I think it just shows that the standards that the contestants are held to are not even, and it works in Phil’s favor.
Round 3: Despite only earning a 3, I’m giving this round to Phil. It was a strong showing for him, and it was the first performance of the night that made me go “wow,” even if that wow is being written without an exclamation point.
So, which of these three should go home? After an underwhelming night like this, it could be any of them. I honestly feel that Phil would be undeserving of a spot in the finale, but even I can see that his spot is guaranteed.
Between Jessica and Josh, I’d say that Josh had the better night, not that it was in his control. It pains me to say it, but Jessica is more than likely missing out on the finale.