The American Idol 11 Top 3 perform 3 songs: Judges Choice, Jimmy’s Choice and Personal Choice.
At the end of the broadcast, download studio versions of the performances.
I’ll be live blogging all the action at Entertainment Weekly. Join me there, will you? After, I’ll be back with a recap. Watch this space for photos and videos.
Hometown visits tonight!
Did the bus back up over Jessica tonight, or what? First, Jennifer picks a really difficult song that’s perfect to trip up on (she didn’t, but the poor girl sure looked uncomfortable as she concentrated on not screwing up) And then Jimmy gives her a pretty song that unfortunately lacks a wow moment. It’s especially fishy considering the songs he handed Joshua and Phillip both had the potential for huge moments, which they both delivered.
I can’t understand why the judges wouldn’t want her to win. She’s the most commercial out of the 3 finalists. She’s teachable. ie could be groomed to be a pop star. In many ways, she’s just what the show needs. A young, fresh female pop star with the potential to sell loads of records.
Phil had the best set of songs of the three. They were most varied–to the point that the made a very nice concert mini-set. Also, his homecoming package was the most emotional of the 3. Featuring hometown visits on a voting night–I’m pretty sure this is an Idol first–is a little unfair. I much prefer them on results night, when the drama of the visits feeds into the emotion of the elimination. Damn these stupid 2 hour performance shows.
I had mixed feelings about Joshua’s set. I really only connected to his third song. As much as it pains me to say it, Phil won the night, easy breezy. He’s surely going to make the final. Now it’s a question of who will join him at the Nokia Theater next week.
The judges and their hyperbole need to GTFO. Phil could be the next Springsteen, Steven. REALLY? NO.
No hokey video package opens tonight’s show. It’s like the good old days, with the Top 3 lined up on stage as Ryan reads a cold opening. Oh. So we’ll be seeing the finalists’ homecoming videos tonight rather than during the results show when IT WOULD HAVE NO IMPACT ON THE VOTING. Hm. Not sure how I feel about this.
Heejun Han in the house! Nice haircut. The finale is next week, y’all–performance episode on Tuesday and the big finale on Wednesday.
Ryan explains how tonight will work. There will be 3 rounds. The judges round—songs the judges picked for the finalists–is first. The personal round—songs the finalists chose for themselves–is second. The third round will be songs chosen by mentor, Jimmy Iovine.
Joshua Ledet – – “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James – Randy’s Pick – Randy chose Etta James because the throwback style is how he’s excelled on the show. Why try to fix what’s not broken, says Randy. Because maybe the Top 3 is the time to be bold? Just a suggestion! Joshua is terrific as always, but the song choice is safe, safe, safe. We’ve heard this already. Several times. I have to wonder how versatile Joshua really is. Oh look the judges are on their feet for Josh’s 50 billionth standing ovation. Well, it’s more like 15. But it’s still cray cray. Steven: This is another Joshua moment. So surreal to hear you singing those old songs. Out of 70,000 there is only 1 American Idol and you sang like that one tonight. Jlo: We struggled with you….do we give you something more modern? But you always bring down the house with those numbers. Randy: You’re such a classic stylist. What I hope is that you take what you do on this stage and bring that into modern times. 1-866-436-5701 1-866-436-5704 1-866-436-5707
Jessica Sanchez – – “My All” by Mariah Carey – Jennifer’s Pick – “We’ve heard Jessica sing big ballads,” says Jennifer, “but there is a tenderness in this song that Jessica will kill. I think it’s going to be a really nice moment for her.” This is a very difficult song to sing and Jessica does not seem entirely comfortable with the pick. Why saddle her with a tune that could tank her? She’s not making any major mistakes, but she is pitchy and shaky in spots. The performance is very…warbly. The overall result is underwhelming. Randy: Absolutely beautiful. Perfect song for you. (Randy name drops Mariah Carey for the 467 billionth time) We tell people never to sing a Mariah song, but it’s one of the best times a Mariah song has ever been performed on TV. Jlo: Hard song. I could tell in the middle! But you did it. You did it your own way, using that tenderness. Steven: When you sing, you make people hang on your every note. You’ll be the last one standing here. Jessica says she loves the song, but it’s a hard song. She would have never picked it for herself. – 1-866-436-5702 1-866-436-5705 1-866-436-5708
Phillip Phillips – “Beggin'” by Madcon – Steven’s Pick – Steven picked “Beggin’” as another way to force Phil to sing the melody. We’ll see if it works. It usually doesn’t. Phil starts off on his acoustic guitar, the background vocals kick in and then the full band. This is a great song pick for Phillip. It allows him to highlight his skills as an interpreter. The tune is soulful and well arranged. Most importantly, it doesn’t sound like anything Phil has sung so far. Top 3 is the time to take risks, take your skills to the limit, It’s also really important to engage the audience. Ya can’t be boring, because there are two rivals, as good or better than you, ready to knock you out. Phil is playing the game to win tonight. The crowd goes absolutely insane. Jlo: You’re very funny. You can’t help but mess with the melody. But you catch a groove in the song and ride it all the way home. It was great. Steven: it’s so beautiful to watch you unfold here from that guy who was trying to crawl out of himself to a guy right now with a spotlight in your face where it belongs. When you’re faced in the sun, the shadows fall behind you. I’m hopin’ that you write your own songs, because you could be a new Springsteen (Oh no he di’int) Randy: We were just at the Phil Phillips concert. You are so in the zone and have been since day one. That was another incredible performance by you. You are who you are and we love it. – 1-866-436-5703 1-866-436-5706 1-866-436-5709
Round 1: Randy: I think probably vocally, Josh had the slight edge. Jlo: Phillip’s performance really moved everybody Steven: I’m still a little on the fence.
The contestant’s choice is next, including clips from their hometown visit.
Joshua’s homecoming – West Lake, LA – Joshua is excited because he was the first to sell out the coliseum in his hometown. Louisiana sent along some beads and boas for the judges. “They are really acting as if I’m Barak Obama,” says Josh checking out the crowds as he rides in his limo. He visits his family’s church and invites his little niece to ride with him in the big Mardis Gras style parade. Josh visits his high school and then it’s on to a big concert at a local arena. Fireworks end the day.
Joshua Ledet – “Imagine” by John Lennon – Joshua sure loves his inspirational tunes. And he sure loves to oversing them. It’s one thing to smoother an insipid tune like ‘I Believe” or “Your Raise Me Up” with bombast. But “Imagine” with its simple message is better interpreted with a light touch. I do not like my “Imagine” churched up. Sorry. That’s just the way I roll. Steven: Another ‘Thank you God’ moment with you. You are so fine. Jlo: It was a pull back and control performance, which is the hardest thing to do. The way you are willing to dig deep is what makes you special. Randy: . I loved the way you pulled back, but gave us a little Josh at the end. Randy wants to know why Josh picked the song. He says he recently heard the song on the radio and liked the strong message. Randy thinks it’s important that Josh sing songs that mean something to him.
Jessica’s homecoming – Chula Vista, CA: Jessica says she was homeschooled, didn’t have a lot of friends, and was kind a dork. “Nobody really liked me..This time guys were chasing my car.” Jessica lands in the park where she auditioned in a helicopter. She makes an appearance at a radio show concert on Friday night. She’s reunited with her doggies and little brothers, rides with her family in a parade to her high school. It’s Jessica Sanchez day in Chula Vista! She visits the USS Midway. She dedicates “Dance with My Father” to her Dad, who is on stage with her. The segment ends with a big family group hug.
Jessica Sanchez – “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith – You could say it was brave of Jessica to sing one of Steven’s songs in front of him, but since Diane Warren wrote it and Aerosmith were only guns-for-hire for a move soundtrack—actually not so scary. Please Idol Gods, ban this song from the show forever. Ugh. This is AC boring. Still looking for the young, fresh talent I know Jessica is. Turning herself into a Celine Dion clone on Top 3 night is not a great idea. Steven stands for her. Turns to see that Jlo an Randy are keeping their butts firmly in their chairs, and quickly sits back down. Steven: You just sang a great song and made it greater. Jlo: That was amazing…that note at the end sent everyone into the heavens. Randy: You’re choosing some really tough hills to climb. This girl is bold here tonight. Off to a slow start, but you delivered.
Phillip’s Homecoming – Leesburg, GA – Phil gets a dish—chicken and cheese nachos named after him. Phil owes a dude that’s holding a sign flashed up on the Idol screen, 10 bucks. He arrives in Albany to a throng. He doesn’t mind touching hands here. He visits his dad at the pawn shop. He’s packing heat! Inside the shop, pops gets kinda emotional, this makes Phil a little weepy. As Phil leaves the shop, he deadpans to a stuffed turkey, “I’m going to do this man,” Phil is very weird. He has a homecoming with his mom and sisters at home. Phil cries during his parade. He ends the night with a hometown concert.
Phillip Phillips– “Disease” by Matchbox 20 – Phil is having a very good night. This mid-tempo tune has a Latin flavor and is perfect for Phil’s vocal range. Saxophone chick is back. The song is laid back, but a slow burner. Really nice job. Jlo: I didn’t feel like it was the wow performance we’re needing right now. Steven: It wasn’t over the top, but it was Phillip Phillips. Randy: I didn’t like it. It was such a subdued moment. You can do those things in your sleep. I wanted a bigger look from you now. Eh. It wasn’t as good as his first performance, but I liked that he changed it up. It wasn’t any less risky than what Josh or Jessica has done so far. These are the judges who thought “Time of the Season” was fantastic.
The finalists learn their song picks from Jimmy via text on their new AT&T phone!
Joshua Ledet – “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige – Jimmy looked for a song where he could have another moment like he did with “Man’s World” A Mary J. song would give Josh the opportunity to “go off” vocally at the end of the song. This is the best of Josh’s 3 songs. Although, why the heck is he so bouncy? When he kicks the song into high gear he strips off his sparkly jacket and his in-ears. Josh completely loses himself in the music. Wow. When Josh is in the zone, he completely goes to another place. Jimmy chose well for him—a contemporary tune that allowed Josh to bust out that old school style. Aw. The camera keeps cutting back to Hollie during Josh’s performances. Randy: You have laid everything on this stage that there is to lay. People should just stand up and vote for you. Jlo: You have this perfect marriage of knowing exactly what you are doing and letting go at the same time. Steven: I watched you and felt the last 40 years of the music business. Over the top.
Jessica Sanchez – “I’ll Be There – By the Jackson 5 – Jimmy chose The Jackson 5 to appeal to an older audience, but still show how young she is. This is a sweet, beautifully phrased vocal from Jessica. But it’s another ballad. Three adult contemporary ballads are not what she needs in the competition at this time. She should have at least mixed it up a little. I don’t understand why Jimmy would not pick a song that would give Jessica the “wow” moment that everyone expects. Unless he wants her to lose. Steven: That song reminds me of ‘Don’t bore us. Get to the chorus’. Perfect song. Perfect voice. You nailed it. Jlo: That was a good choice from Jimmy. Perfect tone in your voice. You almost sounded like Michael. Maybe like Jermain in one little part. But then you came back in the end and killed it. Randy: I liked it ok. I didn’t love it. We’re at the end here…there was never a moment, moment. I would have preferred the Mariah version.
Phillip Phillips– “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger –
Jimmy almost falls off the stairs as he explains why he chose the song for Phillip. He wanted to address his female and male fans. He found a song that’s really emotional, really romantic, but has a dark edge to it and a melody that’s so great, Philip’s going to want to stick to it. Phil holds the mic in one hand and distractedly rubs his thigh with the other. That, people, was almost obscene. Nervous tics aside, Phil’s vocal is tender and sweet. He sings a melody and it’s actually nuanced. Beautiful phrasing—two words I never expected to use in a Phil Phillips critique. Well done Phil. You just secured yourself a spot in the final. Randy: The perfect song, at the perfect time, and your best performance on the show ever. You had a giant moment. You showed everyone you can sing the melody. This boy is in it to win it! He’s ready! Jlo: There’s about 20 million girls out there who wish you were singing that song to them (Ahem. Only about 15 million people watch the show) Hollie is out in the audience fanning Shannon Magrane. Steven: I think he said, “You came out here and sang like you didn’t give a shit” Most of which was bleeped. You just showed you got all that passion wrapped up in you. It doesn’t matter if you hit the notes or not. You just nailed it. Over the top.