May 18, 2012 - 9:02am
BY GIBSON JOHNS
For the first time in a few years, “Idol” has produced a Top Three with no clear frontrunner. Usually it’s easy to predict who will win, or at least get to the finale, as there is often someone who either has never been in the bottom three, or is just blatantly way more talented than the rest of the contestants. This year, though, this isn’t the case at all.
Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez, and Phillip Phillips are the most all-around talented Top Three in recent memory, and their performances last night proved that they all have a chance to be crowned the 11th American Idol next week.
Each year, the Top Three sings three songs each: a song of the judges’ choosing, a song of their choosing and a song chosen by a record executive (it used to be Clive Davis, now it’s Jimmy Iovine).
Joshua was up first with “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James. For me, this was just another Joshua performance that gave us nothing new. Sure, he sounded amazing as usual, but in the last performance show before the finale, that’s not enough. The performance felt dated, which is why Randy’s argument that Joshua would inject something new into current RnB confused me. Of course, Joshua also earned yet another standing ovation to bring his season-total to, like, twelve. Ridiculous.
J. Lo introduced their pick for Jessica to be “My All” by Mariah Carey. Jessica did what she could with what she was given, but the performance was still inevitably boring. Standing still in a floor length evening gown singing her way through an old Mariah Carey song is not what Jessica should be doing at this point in the competition.
Phillip sang “Beggin” by Madcon. This was undoubtedly the best performance of the first round as it was different enough from what Phillip usually sings but still felt like a song we could expect from him. He changed it up enough to make it his own and it truly felt like something he could successfully release to the radio.
For his choice, Joshua chose “Imagine” by John Lennon. After a video package showing his trip back home, where he sold out the local concert venue and took part in a parade, Joshua sang his way through the classic song and sounded great. It definitely wasn’t the perfect pick for him – his voice almost felt too big for the song – but it was definitely an improvement on his first round.
Jessica flew in a helicopter to San Diego for her home visit and spent a lot of time with her family. I loved watching her interact with her family and it reminded me that she is only seventeen years old, which is crazy considering how insane of a voice she has. In a nod to judge Steven Tyler, Jessica chose to sing Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” and absolutely killed it. Steven gave her a standing ovation and told her that she had made a great song sound even greater. She more than made up for her bore of a performance from the first round.
Phillip’s trip home was perhaps the most fun to watch as it was full of screaming girls and also featured a touching moment where he broke down sitting in between his parents. Somehow his video package made him even more likeable than he already was. He chose “Disease” by Matchbox 20, which turned out to be nothing special – at all. This performance was the most forgettable of the night and seemed to revert Phillip back to week one. Disappointing song choice to say the least.
Jimmy Iovine chose Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama” for Joshua to sing in the final round. When introducing the song, Jimmy alluded to Blige’s performance of this song at the Grammy’s in 2002 and, while watching Joshua jump around stage the same way Blige did, I couldn’t help but feel like he was copying her. Even if he wasn’t copying her, what kind of raw emotion could he even put into the song? It’s not as if Joshua has an excess of drama occurring in his life right now. Anyway, this was his best performance of the night, even if it paled in comparison to his two epic performances from last week.
Jimmy’s choice for Jessica was “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5. After a little bit of a rough start, Jessica powered through it and, as J.Lo noted, she even sounded like Michael Jackson at points in the song.
For the final performance of the night, Phillip sang Jimmy’s choice for him, “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger. This is the first time I can remember Phillip performing sans-guitar and it worked amazingly well. There were no big notes and it bordered on drowsy, but Phillip stayed on melody and delivered arguably the best performance of the night.
The final three performance episode on “American Idol” usually provides solid performances that solidify what the contestants do best, and last night was no exception. Each of the contestants had one relatively bum performance, but there was nothing horrible like we’ve gotten in previous years at this stage in the competition (Nikki McKibbin, Jasmine Trias, or Danny Gokey, anyone?).