3 Songs for each contestant. Judges' Pick, Contestant's Pick and Jimmy's Pick. How bizarre was it that they tried to sell it as if each judge picked a song for one contestant respectively, and J-Lo kept changing it to say that they all collaboratively chose. Do you think she was trying to live up to her role as Time Magazine's Most Influential Person? Anyway...I digress. Here's our contestant breakdowns:
Randy's Choice - "I'd Rather Go Blind" by Etta James
Joshua's Choice - "Imagine" by John Lennon
Jimmy's Choice - "No More Drama!" by Mary J. Blige
Joshua went to his hometown this week and was met by a ho-hum group of fans. He went to his house with not much fanfare. He went to his church where there may have been 20 people. He brought his cousin on the parade route where it looked like maybe 100 people showed up. And there may have been 100 people at his school too. And then finally he went to some unknown arena that was full, and the "first time it had ever been sold out" but still not very big I don't think. I really hope that this isn't a sign of Joshua's chances for at least making the finals. Maybe his fans just don't travel well.
There's not much really to say about his performances. At least his first 2. They were classic Joshua Ledet performances. Nothing too stand-outish about them. "Imagine" was definitely restrained and maybe you could tell it meant something to him. I liked it, and his story for why he picked it was a nice touch too. But Jimmy was on fire tonight with his picks. Joshua went to town, to church and to the vatican with his "No More Drama" performance. Maybe a little too much hopping but the vocal was great and when he went nuts removing the jacket and the in-ear monitors popped out...that was classic rock starism at its best. Or Gospel star, if you prefer. Joshua is a class act and a great performer. He deserves to be in the final. He deserves to win, but I'm not going to go that far just yet.
Jennifer's Choice - "My All" by Mariah Carey
Jessica's Choice - "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith via Diane Warren
Jimmy's Choice - "I'll Be There" by The Jackson 5 or Mariah Carey (again)
Jessica's hometown visit had definitely a lot more fanfare than Joshua's. The helicopter visit and landing in her audition stadium was a nice touch. Her parade seemed a little more packed. No big arena visits for her but she went to a Navy ship and did a little singing for her military Dad. So, maybe I was deceived at the amount of fans Jessica had.
The performances. Yikes. The judges must really want her to go home for picking "My All" for her to perform because they did her no favors. The low notes sounded awful, the verses sounded awful. And at one point I said in my notes that the choruses were the only redeeming part of the performance. That changed by the end when her runs ran out of control. Pitch problems everywhere, and she admitted it wasn't an easy song. And it really isn't her fault that she had to sing it. The Aerosmith performance was a nice touch to kiss up to the one judge that always says everyone is good anyway. (except Hee Jun maybe) It wasn't awful, it was actually pretty decent. But, there wasn't anything memorable about it. "I'll be there" was a good pick by Jimmy. And she did well on it. I agree with J-Lo though, the whole "Jermaine" part that she sang was a little awkward. And there was one point where there was a big pause during the final chorus...and we all know she should have yelled out "Just Look over your shoulder!" to fill it. And, she just stood there and smiled and waited until she had to sing "Just call my naaaaaaaame" one more time. Jessica is a fabulous singer and she will do well having a singing career. But, we have to remember she was voted off of the show before. So, yes, she gained voters along the way. But did she gain enough? I dunno. I think we will be seeing yet another male winner of American Idol.
Steven's Choice - "Beggin" by Madcon
Phillip's Choice - "Disease" by Matchbox 20
Jimmy's Choice - "We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger
Ugh, I can't believe I have to say this. It pains me to say it. I actually may have enjoyed Phillip the best tonight. And, you know, I have never really had anything against him. It's the principle of him winning that I'm against. It's showing that American Idol's voting system is all out of whack. And it starts to degrade the integrity of the show. (I know, I'm talking about a Televised Singing Competition and Integrity. Pretty comical subject area) But, you gotta hand it to Phillip. He may have known which weeks he could mail in performances and when he had to turn on the charm. Of course, he had a little help from Jimmy in the charm category.
With his trip home, and with the very vocal audience last night, it was clear that Phillip has the most passionate fans. Everywhere Phillip went he was bombarded by girls that wanted a piece of him. Every one of those girls has a cell phone with probably an unlimited texting plan. (Just sayin) But, his trip home was also really sweet. The moment with his Dad when he saw his son's dreams coming true had to put a smile or a tear on everyone's face that was watching. Even Phillip breaking down at the parade. You start to see how much the kid cares about what he has been going through.
Then you get to his performances. We already knew since he performed 3rd that he must have something special at the end of the night because he'd be performing in the pimp slot. "Begging" wasn't anything special for me. There was hardly any melody and he was showing off more of his guitar than his voice. And I heard Dave Matthews being channeled again. And this made me think (Not sure why I hadn't already, or maybe I forgot that I mentioned it), surely they will be getting Dave Matthews at the finale to perform with him. The performance was good but I thought the other 2 were better. And how hysterical is it that I thought "Disease" may have been his best performance on the show and for once the judges actually disliked it? I may be biased because I'm a big Matchbox 20 fan. But, he changed it up a bit, added crazy sax lady to the performance and some conga drums and he just went to town. Randy and his desire for "MOMEMT" moments last night was unbearable. Anyway, I think it was a very smart move to give Phillip the Bob Seger classic "We've Got Tonight" to close the show. I don't know anyone who doesn't well up when they hear that melody and those piano chords. It always takes me back to this special Kevin and Winnie moments on The Wonder Years. (Man, I miss that show!) But, it has to be one of the best ballads in history and anyone singing that melody will have the audience eating out of the performer's hands. Phillip actually handled the melody very well. He sang it straight without any funny business. The high notes, yeah, they're not Phillip's strong suit. But the whole performance was heartfelt and that shone through. I don't want to agree with the judges that the vocals do not matter and passion is more important. I think they're both very important. But, with that song and performance, there is no way Phillip won't be in the finale. Ugh, and he may just win just like we predicted way back before the live shows even started.
I think Phillip is definitely through to next week. And I'm pretty certain Joshua will be there too. The only things that gives me doubt are the attendance at the hometown visits and Joshua's "non-standoutish" performances tonight. The last one definitely stood out the most though. And Jessica's performances really didn't stand out at all. So with that, I have no choice but to make the following pick:
Elimination Pick: Jessica Sanchez - I really wanted a girl to finally win again this year, and there was a lot of talent for that to be a possibility. But, I never really wanted Jessica to win. There was just some lack of connection that most people seemed to have with her. Of course, she isn't gone yet!
I would love to hear everyone's comments on last night's performances and who you think will go home. Remember, next week the performance show is TUESDAY and the finale is WEDNESDAY (gotta fit it in on the last day of May Sweeps obviously!) Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and I'll see you next week!