IDOL WATCH: The Final 3 Perform!
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by Kelsey Denette
We're in the home stretch of this season of American Idol, down to just three: Phil Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet. Each of the contestants visited home and sang one song chosen by themselves, one chosen by one of the judges and one chosen by Jimmy Iovene.
At the top of the show, Ryan enters from the giant screen, flashing his signature grin and throwing winks at the audience. Creepy or charming? You decide. "Everything is truly riding on tonight," he says intensely, once again taking the dial from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds.
Joshua will be the first to take the stage, and the judges choose Etta James' "I'd Rather Be Blind." Incidentally, Randy's wearing a pocket watch pinned to his suit right under his face, so that the camera couldn't miss it no matter how tight of a shot they take. Well played, Randy. The song is what Josh does best - soulful with plenty of room for embellishments - and the judges love it, giving a standing ovation.
The judges' choice for Jessica is Mariah Carey's "My All." I get what they were trying to do - it's quieter and more subtle than most of her choices - but in the end, it just seems kind of boring. "I hope you get used to encores, and in another kind of crazy way you'll be the last one standing here," Steven says.
Phil will sing "Beggin'" by Madcon (originally by the 4 Seasons). I actually really like it - it gets Phil's coffee house vibe in there while not being predictable, and I'd never heard this version of the song before, but it's really enjoyable. "It was great," J-Lo says.
For the second round, Josh chooses "Imagine" by John Lennon. It's not horrible by any means - but this is one of those songs that's best sung as is, and while Joshua shows more restraint than normal in his note choices, it comes off as overindulgent. "Every time you sing you take it over the top," Steven says, but I think he means it as a compliment.
Jessica chooses "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith, a daunting choice considering who's on the judges' panel. I think it's a little (actually, very) weird to hear the rock taken completely out of "rock ballad," but she sings it well for the most part; it's just not really my cup of tea. Steven, though, seems to love it: "You just took a great song and made it greater," he says. Ryan, who's apparently promoted himself to fourth judge this season, tells her somewhat condescendingly that it was
Phil, who apparently couldn't be bothered to iron his shirt (which is kind of hilarious), chooses Matchbox 20's "Disease." It's very much back to the usual for him, with very little variation. It's the sort of thing that'd bored me about him - I'm not saying it wasn't good - it definitely was - just that I wasn't that interested. "I didn't feel like it was the 'wow' performance that we're needing right now," J-Lo tells him. "There's still one more to go."
So round two was kind of a disappointment, but I have faith that Jimmy, who's usually the lone voice of reason, will choose well for the contestants.
"No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige is Jimmy's choice for Joshua. It's more or less the first truly contemporary song he's sung in the entire competition. Despite the fact that Josh's idea of performance is jumping straight up and down the entire time, it's a solid performance. "At this point, you have laid everything on this stage that there is," Randy tells him.
Jessica gets "I'll Be There" by The Jackson Five. On the surface, it sounds like a strange choice, but Jessica brings it. Plus, she looks sixteen for once in a pair of jeans and red jacket - it's a pet peeve of mine when Idol dresses up the contestants all the same no matter how old they are. "Perfect song, perfect voice, you nailed it." Steven, surprisingly coherent tonight, says.
Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight" is Jimmy's choice for Phil to close out the show. I love it - not least of all because they bring in a string section halfway through - also because it's simple in a really good way. Phil just sang, and it was kind of captivating (and not just because he looked a bit like someone just might be holding him hostage and forcing him to sing for his life), but because he can really sing.
Tune in tomorrow to find out who'll be the last two standing to compete for the title of American Idol!