Wednesday, May 16, 2012
'American Idol 11' - Top 3 perform for spot in finals
Well, we've reached the Top 3! I suppose I should write some kind of commentary, but really, I don't have a whole lot to say. Is there any way to stop the Phillip Phillips steamroller? Will he vie for not only the title of American Idol but also WGWG 5?
We won't find out until Thursday, but tonight might provide some hints as to how the 'Idol' Powers that Be want this to shake out. Who gets the coveted "pimp" spot? What song did the judges pick for PP? How about Jimmy? I think this will make things a bit more clear.
Cold opening - the Top 3 are shown on a giant screen behind Ryan, and then on the stage. “Who will make it to the finale?”
Voiceover Man welcomes the judges. J’Lo is wearing a pink pantsuit.Randy is in salmon. Ryan descends the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. Heejun is in the house! Ryan tells us it’s going to be a huge night tonight and next week, we move to the Nokia Theater for the finale. Note, the final performance show is Tuesday next week.
Ryan brings out the Top 3 again. Jessica is wearing a purple gown. PP is in double-gray. The Top 3 will sing three songs each tonight - a judge’s choice, the contestant’s choice, and one picked especially for them by the evil Jimmy. Sink or swim time, folks.
Josh has the death spot.
Joshua Ledet - “I’d Rather Be Blind” by Etta James (Randy’s pick)
Josh is using the old-fashioned mike. Lots of brass. The song gives Josh a lot of room for his vocal gymnastics while at the same time, requiring a lot of restraint. He gets a chance to delve into his lower register before moving into his comfort zone. Josh has a maturity in his vocals that totally belies his age. Good song choice and a solid performance.
He gets a standing ovation from the judges - his 15th? Steven says this is another Joshua moment. He thinks it’s surreal to hear someone singing this old song and have the audience respond. J’Lo says they struggled with song choice for him. Modern or not? Randy says Joshua is a classic stylist and this fit like a glove. He hopes Joshua can bring this into modern times. He says R&B needs a lift as it’s ailing.
Ryan says this is like watching a sporting event. Joshua says this journey has taken him through a lot of things, and while it’s tough, he thinks about what he wants and doesn’t give up.
Interesting, the Kraft ad following Josh’s performance features the same song! Heh!
The rest of the Top 12 is in the house. Heejun has a new “do.”
Jessica Sanchez - “Smile” by Mariah Carey (J’Lo’s pick)
J’Lo says she picked this song so we could hear the tenderness in Jessica’s vocals. Very, very nice. Jessica has a beautiful voice, and while the arrangement is pretty much the original, her voice is nothing like Mariah’s so the feeling of the song is different. She soars on the bridge. Very, very nice.
The judges do not stand. Randy says that was beautiful, perfectly the right song (boasts about Mariah), he says it’s one of the best times Mariah’s been performed on TV. J’Lo says it’s a hard song, but Jessica did it in her own way. She loves that Jessica has the kind of control to get through it. Steven says when Jessica sings, people hang on every note. He says she should get used to encores. He says she’ll be the last one standing. Ahhh.
Ryan asks if Steven had just made a prediction. He says, “Don’t I always?” Jessica says she always wanted to sing this song, but it’s so hard.
Heejun is in the mosh pick with PP!
Phillip Phillips - “Beggin” (Steven’s pick)
Steven says he picked the song because of the melody. Ohh...PP in the pimp spot. To me, he still sounds like Dave Matthews. The song has more kick to it than some he’s done, and he is singing the melody. I don’t know. Another WGWG winner would not be good for the franchise, but PP has a whole lot more edge to him. He might be able to pull this off. I kinda liked that performance.
Steven wonders if we can believe this guy. J’Lo laughs and tries to yell over the crowd. She says PP can’t help but messing with the song. “It was great.” Steven says it’s been beautiful to watch PP unfold. He’s hoping PP will write his own songs and says PP could be a new-age Boss. High praise. Randy likes Steven’s poeticness! Randy says we were just at the PP concert. “You are so in the zone and you have been in the zone... you don’t care what’s going on around you... that was another incredible performance by you.. You are who you are and we love it.”
PP says three songs is.. screams interrupt.
Round one to PP, although it’s close. Joshua’s being in the death spot worries me. With PP in the pimp spot, it would seem TPTB have given him the edge.
Randy isn’t going to pick a clear-cut winner. He says Joshua has a slight edge vocally. J’Lo says PP’s performance really got her. Steven says the way PP crawls into a song and turns it into himself - he’s on the fence.
Round Two - Contestant’s Choice
Joshua Ledet - Westlake, Louisiana
Josh says the most memorable thing about being home was selling out the arena. He says it was touching that so many people came out to support him even though they didn’t know him. We see c lip of Joshua on the private jet. He’s nervous on the plane. He puts his shoes on and gets off the plane. Mom and Dad are there to greet him. “Son of a Preacher Man” is playing in the background.
He hits the Sheriff’s crawfish blowout. An old white woman says “Welcome home.” He goes to Daddy’s church. Daddy sings “We love you Josh.” An infant is wearing a Team Josh shirt. His little niece gets to ride with him in the parade. Some guy has his name etched into his hair. It’s like Mardi Gras.
Even the dogs are excited. A woman with an eye patch takes his picture as he arrives at his high school. The cheerleaders cheer and Josh signs autographs. Then it’s off to the arena, which is packed. Josh sings “It’s a Man’s World” as Mom and Dad stand by watching proudly. Josh is like a superstar. Fireworks close out the day.
Joshua is singing “Imagine.” He’s going to take this to church, I can feel it. I just want to listen,. It’s moving, emotional, and original. J’Lo is singing along. He doesn’t oversing, but still manages to bring it up and over. He’s feeling the words and interpreting them for his own meaning. I applaud you Joshua. That was phenomenal.
Steven says this was another Thank You God moment. “You are so fine... damn.” J’Lo says it was pulled back and controlled, and a beautiful thing. “We have three different voices and all of them are beautiful in their own way... but the performance quality, the way you dig into the words and meaning, makes you very special.” Randy asks why he picked this song. Josh says he was riding in the car with PP and Jessica, and didn’t know what he was going to sing. This song came on the radio and it had a strong message. Maybe John Lennon was speaking to him! Randy says everything Joshua sings should mean something and be special to him. “Every time you sing people feel what you sing.. brilliant, dude, brilliant.”
Jessica Sanchez - Chula Vista, California
Jessica says it was weird going home because she was home-schooled and not popular. She gets to ride on a helicopter and they land in the stadium where she first auditioned. Jessica gets into a limo and hits the radio station. Then it’s into an arena where she tells a huge crowd she loves them. Morning comes and she’s back in the limo. She pulls up to the family home and sees her doggies. Her brother is happy to have her home and she tells them she’s going to try an win it for them.
Her family rides in the limo and her brothers are with her in the parade. She arrives at the high school, where apparently, she didn’t go? There’s lots of security. Nowhere near as much fun as Joshua’s trip! THe mayor declars it “Jessica Day.”
Back in the limo she’s at the U.S.S. Midway where lots of sailors are on hand to cheer her one. She dedicates a song to the service people. She sings “Dance With my Father” to her Daddy. Back into the helicopter and she returns.
Jessica is singing “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Kiss up much? Odd choice. Nothing wrong with her vocals, maybe a bit too much melisma, but it’s the song choice. For me, it’s a bit contrived and transparent. This is the best you could come up with? She finishes sharp. Jessica, you just might have blown your lead here.
Steven stands up and pats his heart. The other two are sitting firm. Steven says she just took a great song and made it greater. He thanks Diane Warren for writing it for him. J’Lo says this is a big deal for Steven. She says, “That note at the end sent everyone into the heavens.” Randy says she is choosing some tough hills to climb. “This girl is bold...” He says he was waiting on a big moment and she delivered.
Phillip Phillips - Leesburg, Georgia
Finally, we watch PP’s trip home. I read somewhere this trip brought $500k to the town. Actually PP and Joshua shared a plane, although we don’t see this! PP arrives and is greeted by a fawning TV reporter. People are going crazy. It’s morning. PP goes back to the pawn show. Another crowd of screaming mimis. Good for business! Dad is there to greet him. He’s happy to have his son home so he can put his hands on him. PP Sr. says this is a dream come true. PP gets all choked up. PP sits by the stuffed turkey, them he leaves. Daddy is riding in the limo with him. Mama wants to squeeze him ‘til she can’t no more.” And she does. The family is all gathered.
Mom and Dad ride with him in the parade. Pretty girls throw themselves at PP who is all emotional again.
At the concert venue it looks like he’s drawn the biggest crowd of the three. PP’s gonna win this thing, you know that, don’t you?
PP sings “Disease” by Matchbox 20. And, he’s not wearing gray. Nice arrangement. PP is totally loose. He isn’t making horrible faces either. This is good. No, this is real good. What I like about PP is that he and his guitar are like one. It’s not an affectation, he’s really good. He gives the sax player (female) a little kiss.
J’Lo says this wasn’t the Wow performance, which “we are needing and wanting right now.” Steven says he feels the same way. Randy asks the other two if they didn’t love it? They didn’t. Randy says, “Wow, this is weird.” He didn’t like it either because it was subdued and PP could do it in his sleep. Ouch. Where’s the bus? I thought it was perfect for the moment and the mood. So, if you were going to throw him under the bus, why the pimp spot?
I’m giving Round Two to Joshua, then PP, then Jessica.
Round Three - Evil Jimmy’s Pick
Joshua - “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige
Evil Jimmy says Mary J. brought this number to church at the Grammys and he want Joshua to do the same thing,
I don’t like this song for him. It’s too choppy. And, for the first time all season, Joshua is off-key. And his dancing. He rips off his jacket midway through and goes all out. His ear piece falls out. Joshua is going nuts on the stage. The Top 12 are digging it. In the end, he pulls it off, but I'm not sure it wasn’t the moment Evil Jimmy was hoping for. BFF Hollie has her hands in the air. There’s a tall blond with the Top 12 whose name I honestly don’t remember. Also that chubby guy. Jeremy something or other. I guess the guy who got kicked off doesn’t get to come back. Pretty bad when you can’t remember and of their names!
Randy says, “At this point, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’ve laid everything on this stage there is to lay.” I immediately think of geese or swans or some feathered creature. Randy says this is what being a great artist is about. “Joshua Ledet has got it Jennifer, what do you think.” J’Lo says it’s magic and feels so natural. Steven says he watched him and felt the last forty years in the music business., “It was over the top.”
Josh says he was so nervous performing the song, but believed in himself like Jimmy did. Please, America, keep Joshua. He so deserves to be in the finals.
Lisa Marie Presley and Adam Lambert perform tomorrow.
Jessica - “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
Jessica gets the song via text after receiving a new AT&T Beat Box. Jimmy says he wanted to pick something that is young, but will appeal to older audience. Good choice, at least on paper. But, her plunge into her lower register felt a bit too stark. She’s much better in her upper reach. The song isn’t “big” and maybe since we’ve seen her slay so many of the big ones, this felt a bit too simple. Okay, not her best. Evil Jimmy seems pleased, though.
Steven says the song reminds us of “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” J’Lo says it was a good choice and that she sounded like Michael in the beginning. Randy says he didn’t love it, but liked it okay. He says we’re at the end and there was never a “moment moment.” He would have preferred the Mariah version. Evil Jimmy crosses his legs emphatically. I totally agree with you Randy.
Phillip - “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger
PP gets his Beat Box as well. I don’t think anyone knows what it is! Evil Jimmy picked a song to address both guy and girl fans. Also, it has a melody that he thinks PP will hold onto. And here he is, your winner. Dressed in black, bathed in light with just a piano in the background. The piano player looks as though he’s swooning. PP is showing us his vulnerable side. A huge string section bursts through. PP might have missed a lyric or something... there seemed to be too much empty space. The song shows off the roughness of his vocals. He’s not a pretty singer. I preferred his other two songs.
The judges stand. The tall blonde Top 12 girl whose name I still don't remember loved it. Randy says this was the perfect song at the perfect time and his best performance ever. “You had a giant moment.” He says PP can sing the melody but chooses to do something else. “This boy right here is in it to win it and he’s ready.” J’Lo says there are 20 million girls who wish he was singing the song to him. Steven says something that’s bleeped out. That PP sang with passion.
Round three to Josh by default, although I wasn’t crazy about any of the Evil Jimmy song choices.
I’m giving Joshua the win for the night because of “Imagine!" PP is close, though. Loved “Disease." Jessica’s in third place, and I predict she will not make the cut. Joshua so deserves it. But, in the end, it’s moot. I think PP has this thing completely sewn up.