This is it, Idol fans! This week determines which contestants make the finale and get a shot at the crown. Plus, both finalists always get signed, so making it through to next week almost guarantees a recording contract. We have three songs a piece to get through, so no more small talk — let’s do this thing.
Round One: Judges’ Choice!
Joshua Ledet, “I’d Rather Go Blind”: Wow, the styling for Joshua has been out of this world! For this number, he’s rocking a slick black jacket with a bright red shirt and a red rose pinned to his lapel. This is the sort of number he was born to do, and he’s tearing it up, unsurprisingly. It’s a promising start to the evening and earns him a standing ovation from the judges. “This is another Joshua moment,” Steven Tyler says. “It is so surreal to hear someone sing those old songs and deliver them... out of 70,000, there’s only one American Idol, and you sang like that one tonight.” Jennifer Lopez follows and says, “You are such a throwback and I love that about you... you brought down the house again.” “This fits you so like a glove... another amazing performance, congrats,” says Randy Jackson.
Jessica Sanchez, “My All”: Well, this is... not very good. Jessica looks lovely in a long purple gown, but she sounds breathy, her vocals are wobbly, and she’s missing notes, or at least not hitting them right, especially at the lower end of her register. Jessica’s voice is pretty enough that it’s not completely painful, but this is one of her weakest performances on the show. Yikes. “I think it’s one of the best times a Mariah song has ever been performed on TV,” Randy says (lies!). “Hard song, but you did it so beautifully,” Jen says. “When you sing, you make people hang on your every note... I hope you get used to encores,” Steven says.
Phillip Phillips, “Beggin”: We don’t know this song! Should we know this song? Oops. Well, despite not knowing it, this is actually a really good performance from Phillip. He seems like he’s really into it, and it’s one of the better vocals he’s given this season. The crowd goes pretty nuts at the end, and Phillip takes a minute to soak it in. “You’re funny... you catch a groove in a song that’s all yours and you just ride it all the way home, and it was great,” Jen says. “It’s so beautiful to watch you unfold... when you’re facing the sun, the shadows fall behind you, my friend,” Steven says, adding that Phillip could be a Bruce Springsteen in the making. “We were just at the Phil Phillips concert, y’all... that was another incredible performance by you,” Randy says.
Round Two: Contestant’s Choice!
Joshua Ledet, “Imagine”: Joshua goes home to Louisiana and visits his church congregation, then rides in a parade that includes a group of delightful older ladies in jester hats. He also visits his former high school and does the usual Idol homecoming shenanigans. It’s nice. Also nice is his performance of “Imagine” — it’s pretty understated by Joshua’s standards, and it’s very earnest. This song sort of has to be, doesn’t it? He sounds fantastic, of course, and he finishes very strong. But we liked his first performance better. “Another ‘thank you, God,’ moment with you... you are so fine, damn,” Steven says. “It was a pulled-back and controlled performance from you... you have an incredible instrument, and the performance that you bring it to it is what makes you very special,” Jen says. “What you do is you dig deep, and every time you sing, people feel what you do,” Randy says.
Jessica Sanchez, “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”: Jessica’s trip home includes a helicopter ride to San Diego that lands her in the middle of Petco Park. Awesome! She also performs for sailors on the USS Midway. We rolled our eyes at her song choice — this song has been done to death on Idol — and although she’s doing a decent version, we’re not really sure why she picked it. It’s more enjoyable than her first performance, but we’re still not loving it. “You just took a great song and made it greater... beautiful,” Steven says. “That note at the end, ooh, wow, it sent everybody into the heavens,” Jen says. “You’re choosing some really tough hills to climb tonight... it started a little slow for me, but by the time you got the middle, you delivered,” Randy says.
Phillip Phillips, “Disease”: Phillip’s trip home to Georgia looks pretty fun. Girls really like him. Everyone likes him. His dad loves him, and it’s super sweet. His performance is pretty cool — he’s got a saxophone player and a guy with bongo drums at the front of the stage with him, and they’re all perched on instrument cases. It’s like a really sexy coffeehouse vibe, because in case you hadn’t noticed, Phillip is really cute. Like, distractingly so, right now. “I didn’t feel like it was the ‘wow’ performance which we are needing right now... we’ll see what you got next,” Jen says. “It wasn’t over the top, it was Phillip Phillips! You haven’t got a disease, you’ve got the bug,” Steven says, and everyone laughs. “I didn’t like it either... it was such a subdued moment from you, you can do those things in your sleep,” Randy says.
Round 3: Jimmy’s Choice!
Joshua Ledet, “No More Drama”: This is a little weird. Jimmy gave Joshua this song to prove that he can pull off a more modern style, but we don’t think it was the best choice for him. Joshua is giving it his all, but he seems uncomfortable for the first half of the song or so. Eventually he works himself up into full Joshua mode, including ripping off his jacket and pulling out his earpieces. By the end of the performance, we’re sold-ish. “At this point, it doesn’t matter what you do, what you sing... people should stand up and vote for you anyway... being an amazing singer and an amazing performer, that’s what it’s about and you’ve got it,” Randy says. In the audience, Hollie Cavanagh stands up and claps for that (aw). “The thing that’s exciting about you as a performer to watch is the spontaneity — you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you know it’s going to be out of this world,” Jen says. “That was beautiful — I watched you and I felt the last forty years of the music business,” Steven says.
Jessica Sanchez, “I’ll Be There”: So, basically another Mariah song? Yawn. No wonder Jessica picked herself an Aerosmith tune. This is probably Jessica’s best performance of the night, but all three of her performances have felt kind of the same. We would’ve liked to see her mix it up a little more. She sounds gorgeous though, and the performance is definitely very Jessica. “Perfect song, perfect voice, you nailed it... delicious,” Steven says. “That was a good choice from Jimmy... you killed it so hard at the end, it was crazy,” Jen says. “I liked it okay, I didn’t love it... there was never a moment, moment,” Randy says.
Phillip Phillips, “We’ve Got Tonight”: Jimmy picked this song because he thought it would appeal to both male and female fans. It certainly appeals to us! Phillip’s without his guitar, just sitting on a stool and singing his heart out. He’s a little at a loss for what to do with his hands, so he keeps rubbing his thigh, but the performance is good enough that it doesn’t even matter. It’s sincere and intimate and he sounds terrific. This was by far the best song choice that Jimmy made, and Phillip gets a standing ovation from the judges when he’s finished. “The perfect song at the perfect time, and your best performance on the show ever. Here’s why — in this moment... you had a giant moment,” Randy says. “There’s 20 million girls out there who wish you were singing that song to them,” Jen says. Steven gets bleeped a lot, but he loved it, and he calls it over the top... which is clearly his favorite compliment.
And that’s it! If we had to pick, we think Jessica might go home tomorrow, but it’s really a toss-up between her and Joshua. If Phillip goes home, we’ll die of shock! What do you think? Who was your favorite tonight?