'American Idol' Recap: Homestretch
Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet still looking strong as top 3 make hometown visits
By Carla Patton
We're in the home stretch! Speaking of home, that's where the top 3 remaining contestants are going (or have returned from, if we're talking real time).
They have successfully completed the "Hometown Hero" level of this game, and we'll watch the results of that interspersed with the judges' song choices for them Wednesday night.
Wow, the final 3 could not look more exhausted. And, in making-Jessica-look-crazy news, she's wearing a floor-length evening gown! That's totally appropriate for her age and not drowning her at all! And she looks totally natural standing next to Phillip in flannel and jeans. I don't know. It's easier to criticize that than to actually choose something. How do you dress a 16-year old who sounds like a 28-year old? Debacle.
Next week, the performance show is on a Tuesday and the finale on a Wednesday! Make note! And in this episode there are three rounds: judges' choice, contestants' choice and Jimmy's choice. I bet Jimmy's choice will be the best. He just knows! At least the kid from "Touch" is here. And somewhere in the vicinity, Kiefer Sutherland is looking for him, whisper-screaming, "Jake!"
Joshua Ledet is up first, and Randy chose "I'd Rather Go Blind" by Etta James, a classic, for him. Joshua is doing well enough with this song and the old-timey microphone. I'm not familiar with this song, but it seems like a good choice for him. It's more laid-back, so it's not like he's going to push a diamond out first thing. We've got a long night ahead of us. But the thing about Joshua is that he always gives it his all, and even this first, expendable performance has some real oomph behind it. And of course, the judges can't help but rise to their feet, trained like Pavlov's dogs.
Ryan Seacrest asked Joshua how this night is different for him from watching a sporting event, and he paused, "Uh, I don't really know how to answer that." I really like Joshua. And that question was baloney.
The rest of the top 12 are here, watching in the audience! Oh, I miss Heejun. Remember Heejun? Things were really fun when he was on the show.
Jessica Sanchez will be singing "My All" by Mariah Carey, per Jennifer's request. The staging is really nice. They literally put her on a pedestal and turned on the fog machines. All Jessica has to do is stand there and not act weird about it, which she does successfully. I think this was also a good choice for Jessica, showing more tenderness and a less belt-y side of the ballad. It was really pleasant -- or whatever a more intense version of pleasant is. Randy called it one of the best times a Mariah song has ever been performed on TV. That's fair. Jennifer acknowledged that it was a hard song they threw at her. Steven predicted that Jessica would also win. Everyone wins, as Steven lives in multiple realities and dimensions.
Before the commercial break, Phillip Phillips is reunited with Heejun Han, and they're back to their old comedy routine. I miss them together. They need to figure out some sort of guest correspondent position for Heejun.
Phillip Phillips was assigned "Beggin'" by Madcon. At first, I wasn't sure how this would fit, but it turns out to be a pretty savvy arrangement. There isn't a way to make this song cooler than it is already, but this was an interesting take. Very classic Phillip. The audience loved it -- maybe more than I did. It sounded very DMB. Jennifer said it was great. Randy (who @ replied me during the commercial break! The "YO" pin is coming back!) said he felt like he was at the Phillip Phillips concert.
Ryan saunters over to the judges and asks for a Round 1 winner. The audience screams for Phillip. Randy gives the edge to Joshua, vocally. Jennifer says Phillip, to much applause, and Steven agrees that Phillip is magic.
Now, Joshua Ledet chooses "Imagine" by John Lennon to sing. I don't know. There are a few songs that should be retired from the show forever, and this is one of them (along with "Hallelujah" and "Falling Slowly"). I like that this song eases back a bit, though, as Joshua can sing the crap out of any song whenever he so chooses. I wish he had picked a better song or at least something a little less squeaky clean. But that's who he is! His genre is "inspirational music." The judges loved it. It's out of their hands as far as they're concerned. Joshua chose this song for the message. And good for him, but I really want him to sing some Cee Lo.
Jessica Sanchez chose to sing Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" in front of Steven Tyler! Like that's even a factor. This is another song that's overwrought, over-sung, and can ride on cheesy. It's not her finest moment, but we've known for a while now that she doesn't always choose the best songs for herself. It's even, dare I say, pitchy? But she finally looks great. So, that's something. The last note faltered, went flat and cracked. Maybe she's sick or blew out a vocal cord. The judges pretend it was spectacular.
Phillip Phillips gets a clip package next, and I'm sure the ladies will love it! I bet it's entertaining because he's a nice guy. I liked that shot of a guy holding a sign saying "Phillip, you still owe me $10." And he had a dish named after him at his favorite restaurant! That's cool. The girls are pressed up against the chain-link fences to see Phillip in Georgia. Naturally, he returns to the pawn shop, where more girls and overweight middle-aged women are waiting for him. Nobody buys anything at the pawn shop, though. I love Phillip's dad (Phillip Phillips Sr.), from the tears in his eyes to the gun in his belt. "I just wanna squeeze 'im till I cain't no more!" Phillip's mother says. His parents are so great. The parade makes Phillip tear up, and it's just hard not to love him as a person. If Phillip was singing music that was more like the kind of things that young girls like to listen to, he would be absolutely unstoppable, like Justin Bieber.
Phillip Phillips chose "Disease" by Matchbox 20. It's refreshingly within his range, allowing him to really sing, rather than reach. I don't agree with the judges on Round 1, but I think Phillip is definitely winning Round 2. The set designers love people sitting on instrument cases and amps, don't they? There's just too many there, though. It's not natural. Maybe Phillip chose this song because he actually has a disease that has put him in the hospital several times during this competition? Jennifer didn't feel like this was the "wow performance," and the audience boos that. Randy had a convoluted lead into "I didn't like it either." The judges want more. They want more of a moment and criticized him for performing something he could do in his sleep. But I liked it!
Jimmy chose "No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige for Joshua. Oh, that is awesome. Good job, Jimmy. Mary J. is current, but this song still brings it to church, which is Joshua's wheelhouse. I love his jacket! This is a good performance, but I'm not sure it really proves that Joshua could be relevant as this type of artist. I'd much rather attend a concert of him singing some soul classics. But he really drove it home at the end, doing what he does best, which is connecting to every song so deeply. Hollie and the other contestants really enjoyed it in the audience, which was adorable. He really has the best performance level of the three contestants remaining.
Jessica Sanchez got a giant AT&T box with a Beatbox and a phone with a text from Jimmy pre-loaded onto it. Oh, her brothers are keeping that phone! Jimmy chose "I'll Be There" by Jackson 5. Jimmy chose it to appeal to an older audience but still keep Jessica's youth. Admittedly, she sounds better than young Michael and his family did on it (I swear to God Tito or Jermaine is flat as hell on the backup in that song). The set designers gave her a roller coaster/Ferris wheel backdrop. Whatever, guys! It was nice, but it wasn't a moment. It just wasn't as exciting as some of the other stuff she's done in this competition. Randy liked it OK but didn't love it. That's how I feel, Randy. I'm tired. Oh, and her outfit was terrible again. Not even a hypnotic chartreuse bandeau top under a too-tight red leather jacket can cheer me up now.
Phillip Phillips is next to get a Beatbox and voicemail from Jimmy. Jimmy told him to sing "We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger. Ah, Bob Seger! Of course! That's such a good choice for Phillip. Phillip looks nervous. But it's endearing, of course. He's really singing the melody. And his voice is pretty clear! This is a good Phillip. The ladies go crazy for Phillip and a string background! The judges do, too, rising to their feet and securing Phillip the win. Way to go, Jimmy. Way to just hand the win to your favorite.
Were you bored? Do you think anyone had any moments or were they too few and far between? Who had your favorite hometown visit?
What do you think of Wednesday night's performances? Who's next to go?
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
Phillip Phillips will win American Idol!!!
...because he's the best talent in this years competition. Jessica has the best voice, but Phillip is more marketable and more talented.
Singer/songwriters are always the best performers and have the most talent IN MY OPINION.
I wanna hear artist sing their stories, not someone else's story.
No more American Idol for me...the voting needs input from professionals plus the American voters so that the most talented could win...not the biggest city etc etc...this is a mess. However, I understand that now Josh is free of that dreaded contract they talk about and can now go out and proceed with his career. Good luck Josh, we'll be buying. The more we know about the setup of the show the more suspicious we get and I think they either need to get the mess right or shut it down.
Would love for Phillip to win, but because the judges have influenced voters with their comments it is a toss up. It's okay to comment on the singers, after all that is what they are getting big bucks for, but to say "Your taking it, Dude you should win, etc," is just poor taste. Don't the judges think about how they hurt the other contestants??? It is such an emotional roller coaster ride for "all" of them that the judges need remember they are there to motivate, give advice and to judge the singers individually not blast out the other contestants with "you should win." Last comment on this, good luck to all the singers....
All i can say is I am glad america voted correctly..Joshua was really hard to listen too at times and the way he sang Imagine was the worst I ever heard...J im so LO is going home too...what could be better??
I would love to see Jessica win! She is only 16 years old and what a voice!!!!