It’s the “American Idol” Top 3 – Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez. When they are introduced, Jessica is rocking a purple ball gown like Miss America Barbie. So pretty! And Josh looks sharp as always. Phillip, whose style is fine, that’s who he is – kind of looks like a hobo by comparison.
Round 1 tonight is judges’ choice, Round 2 is contestants’ choice and Round 3 is Jimmy Iovine’s choice.
1. Joshua Ledet, “I’d Rather Go Blind,” Etta James
Oooh, nice choice, dawg. Love the use of the hand-held old-timey microphone again. Vocally, Josh sounds great – some of his runs that go super low give us goosebumps. The key change is handled well, without a lot of production, but it leads into just a little more screaming than we like from Josh. However, the ending scat is fabulous. Overall, a very strong first outing.
The judges talk a lot about how he’s a throwback and Randy talks about him bringing his sound into modern R&B for his album. It’ll be interesting to actually see what Joshua releases because he doesn’t really fit in with the modern landscape much, but something like Bruno Mars’ album could really suit him, maybe.
2. Jessica Sanchez, “My All,” Mariah Carey
We’re not sure about this song for Jessica. There is more quiet tenderness in the song, but is it the kind of soaring ballad that will send her voters to the phones? Guess we’ll see. But she’s handling the range and the jumps like a pro – and this song is hard. I mean, do you hear how all over the map she is and what tiny moments she has to get a breath? Degree of difficulty is astronomical on this sucker. It’s not a jump-up-and-cheer song, but just the fact she could sing it shows her tremendous talent. Phillip and Joshua can’t sing that. Not in a million years.
J.Lo cops to the difficult in her comments, but she makes it sound like she was unaware of how hard it was. Dude, J.Lo – you couldn’t sing that song, lady.
People come on this blog every week and trash Jessica’s actual talent, which is just mystifying. It’s fine if you don’t like her style, if it’s not your thing, but how anybody can deny that she’s the best singer this season by a huge margin is just crazy. She’s one of the most talented singers this show has ever had.
3. Phillip Phillips, “Beggin,'” Madcon
Steven Tyler hilariously says in his pre-performance schpiel that Phillip Phillips basically can’t find the melody with a flashlight and a map. Which, yes, is a huge problem for PP.
For Phillip, this is a solid choice. This is exactly the type of song he should release, on an album that vacillates between upbeat stuff like this and slower things like “The Stone” by DMB. Pitch-wise, this is solid. He makes his own tweaks to it and he’s not perfect, but that’s not really what PP does. He’s not really a vocalist. Though we don’t imagine it much matters what Phillip does – doesn’t it feel like Jessica and Joshua are fighting it out to lose to PP in the finals?
When asked who won Round 1, the Randy says that vocally, Joshua did his thing and then J.Lo picks Phillip. Steven Tyler then picks no one. Are they HIGH? Jessica killed that round. They handed her a song that like four people in the world could sing!
Phillip may do his thing, but it’s also a thing you can see in 2000 bars across the country, no joke, y’all. We have a high school friend who has a band – and he’s really cute, he plays great guitar, he writes his own songs and he does interesting covers of famous songs. He’s Phillip! There really isn’t anything special about what PP does, he just got really lucky to be plucked from obscurity on “Idol” and then the girl voters took over.
OK, the hometown footage is soooo boring, y’all. I shan’t be recapping that.
4. Joshua Ledet, “Imagine,” John Lennon
Interesting choice. Not even close to what we would’ve predicted, but he pretty much nails it. And largely that is due to him respecting the song as it was written and not getting all crazypants up on its butt. There’s a time and a place for vocal gymnastics and this song really isn’t it.
You know what’s especially nice? On “you-HOOO” he went falsetto instead of belting. Very pretty. The modulation is an OK change to the melody line. He’s staying true to the melody while still making this very much his own R&B jam, which is tricky to do with such an iconic song. The one scream was unnecessary, but that’s what he does, so whatever. The change to the ending is our only quibble – that was a little too pageant-y of an ending. The song should’ve ended quietly and tenderly, that would’ve actually been a much better “moment” for him.
5. Jessica Sanchez, “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” Aerosmith
Huh. Again, another interesting personal choice from the Idols. But it’s beautiful, love the strings. The one thing we don’t actually like about the original is when Steven Tyler starts screaming at the end like he’s getting a prostate exam from Captain Hook, so it’s nice to hear it sung without that. When she gets to the bridge, the “for all the rest of time” is great – the way she goes big, then brings it down. The thing is – this song isn’t really a showcase. It’s kind of boring and repetitive. She does her thing on it, but we think she could’ve chosen better. She probably should’ve gone back to her Whitney wheelhouse with “I Have Nothing.”
6. Phillip Phillips, “Disease,” Matchbox 20
Hmmm. This is a good choice for Phillip, but the reggae feel to it doesn’t work for us. That’s another personal preference thing – Phillip doesn’t sound bad and the original is a song like something he’d release, but we just aren’t digging the arrangement. We actually think the upbeat tempo of the original makes the song more fun. This doesn’t go anywhere, either – Phillip does his four-note thing and calls it a day. Though at least he can stay on the melody, so there is that.
J.Lo dings him on not giving the wow performance and the audience turns on her like the angry “Frankenstein” mob because people are stupidly in love with Phillip Phillips. Randy has some weird word-salad, but ultimately says that was a very going-through-the-motions thing, which it was.
7. Joshua Ledet, “No More Drama,” Mary J. Blige
We love how the piano is totally “Young and the Restless” (yes, we know that’s an actual song, but that’s what it makes us think of every time). Anyway, vocally, this is actually not our favorite Joshua song. It’s just kind of these bouncy, boring verses, so then to counterbalance that, Joshua goes absolutely bat-crap crazy on the chorus and the ending and it’s too much. It’s way too much – doesn’t sound nice, doesn’t even sound like singing. It’s like he might stroke out right there on the stage. Hmph. Not our favorite, at all. Are we alone in that, Idol fans?
The judges, of course, go completely cuckoo for cocoa puffs
8. Jessica Sanchez, “I’ll Be There,” Jackson 5
Hmm. We don’t love this song for her – it’s not big enough. This is not an in-it-to-win-it song, plus it’s really repetitive. She handles the verses beautifully, but this is just kind of snoozefest. You know what would’ve been better, if Iovine really thought she should do Jackson 5 (which we would argue she should not have been doing anyway), but “I Want You Back” would’ve been a lot more fun and would’ve let her show off her voice a little more. She definitely is launching some
big notes on the end, but this was seriously not the choice for her.
Jessica needed an “I Will Always Love You” moment to get to the finals and this was not it. Iovine totally blew that for her, was he on drugs? J.Lo says it was a good choice, which just goes to show you how worthless these judges are. At least Randy is honest about how that was not a “moment” song. Absolutely.
9. Phillip Phillips, “We’ve Got Tonight,” Bob Seger
Man, is Iovine trying to tank Josh and Jessica? “We’ve Got Tonight” is a fantastic choice. Oh man, and then he starts – this is fantastic, y’all. This is like the first time PP sounds like a vocalist (in addition to “Volcano”). Where has this dude been hiding? It’s not like his Phillip thing can’t be fun on some songs, but this should’ve reared its head more throughout the season. He even handles the key change! And the passing-a-stone faces are totally at a minimum. Well done, dude. Best PP performance all season – save maybe “Volcano,” that was pretty awesome, too.
Not an overly hard song, by any means, but definitely a great moment for Phillip, which Randy also praises. Steven Tyler says it doesn’t matter if you hit the notes or not – well, it does. Passion is great, but you also need to sound good, dummy. But that does explain a lot about the way Steven Tyler sings.
So, who’s going home? Well, it’s sad to say, but we think it’s Jessica. What do you think, “Idol” fans?