Last night the final three Idol contestants performed three songs each – one picked by the judges, one picked by Jimmy Iovine and one picked by the contestant themselves. For the most part, I think all three contestants did a great job, per usual. They all got to the top 3 by delivering consistently stellar performances in their own unique ways. The judges gave a lot of high praise last night and for the most part, I agreed.
Joshua Ledet opened the show with Randy’s pick, I’d Rather Be Blind by Etta James. Throughout the competition, Joshua has made a name for himself delivering throwback performances of classic R&B / gospel stars. The judges adore this kid and America seems to as well. His first performance was pretty classic Joshua – which means good, but not my thing. And as much as I think he is amazing, I do have to still wonder where his place is in the current music scene. Because it seems to me he’s going to have to define his place by himself. Much like Michael Buble, what he’s doing isn’t being done right now for better or worse.
That said, in round two he really slayed me with his performance of Imagine – a song that everyone loves, myself included. His performance was, of course, amazing, because the boy can sing. With the right guidance he can go far. Jimmy Iovine chose Mary J. Blige’s No More Drama, clearly trying to present him in a more current song. The judges seemed to love it, but truthfully I wasn’t crazy about it up until the ending which he nailed the way he always does. In some ways, I want Joshua to win the competition. He is a good, sweet kid with a lot of talent but with potentially the toughest road ahead because he isn’t very current. I think with Idol behind him, he could go far and that he would be a great face of the American Idol brand. So even though he’s not my favorite of the three contestants, I would simply be happy for him if he manages to win and I look forward to seeing where his career goes.
Jessica Sanchez began round two with Mariah Carey’s My All. J Lo stated up front that this is a tough song and she was right. This might be the first song I’ve seen Jessica struggle with. Which is not to say she did a bad job, just that it was the first time I really noticed her out of her comfort zone with all those high, breathy notes that Mariah excels with. In my opinion, Jessica seems more comfortable with a deeper, but still high note and that was evident in her performance though it was beautiful nonetheless.
In round two she chose Aerosmith’s I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing – a bold move, that really paid off. The song fit her like a glove and Steven Tyler sang her high praises for the performance which according to the judges he doesn’t often pay when people sing his songs. Then in round three she did a terrific job with Iovine’s pick of Jackson 5’s I’ll Be There which he hoped would show her in a more youthful light. I think that each of the three contestants deliver something very different in this show. Joshua delivers showmanship in spades where Jessica humbly offers up THAT VOICE. The voice of an angel as Steven Tyler would say and America can’t help but agree. At just sixteen years old, she has the strongest voice in the competition and oozes star appeal at such a young age. Who would be disappointed if Miss Sanchez wins this thing? No one (except perhaps the other two contestants).
Phillip Phillips, my favorite from the beginning, closed each round last night, beginning with Steven’s pick, Beggin by MadCon. It was a good fit for Phillip and a touch rowdy which we know Steven loves. In my opinion Phillip had the best performance in round one – and certainly the longest applause from the audience. Phillip has the most unique voice in the competition and possibly the biggest fan base, comprising of mostly us ladies and our daughters.
In round two he chose Matchbox 20’s Disease which I personally adored but the judges seemed to disagree, criticizing him for playing it too safe at a bad time in the competition for doing so. I have to disagree – I think he was giving his fans a healthy dose of Classic Phillip Phillips – in between two bigger performances, he slowed down and delivered the kind of song he’s known for and that his fans adore by now. It’s the reason I turn on Idol each week, frankly. In round two, with the help of Jimmy, he delivered the kind of song the judges were probably waiting for, with Bob Seger’s We’ve Got Tonight. Each week the judges and Iovine have hoped for a bit more melody from Phillip and in his last performance of the night he delivered it in spades, saying, “Yes I can sing melody.” Was it the best melody of the night? No, but that’s not his thing. It was however, his best melodic performance to date and I really enjoyed the change of pace.
I think it’s evident that Phillip Phillips is still and always my favorite of the bunch, with Jessica Sanchez being a strong number two since the beginning. I’d be thrilled to see either win and I’m anxious to see a first album from both now, but I can honestly say I’ll be happy for whoever wins at this point. I think Phillip deserves it and has the most fans so he stands a good chance of winning – but I wouldn’t be surprised if Idol is hoping for a win from the other two – Jessica who offers a more mainstream market and Joshua who is mold-able and throwback in a cool way. Phillips will give them a run for their money with his nonconformist personality but he’ll bring them a lot of fans, so really, they can’t go wrong.