American Idol Top 3 Performance Night Recap: Feeling Right at Home(town)

phillip phillips jessica sanchez joshua ledetWe’ve reached that point in the American Idol season — after 37 episodes, hundreds of magnificently awful images in the backdrop oval, and what feels like 73 hours of nonsense critiques from Tweedle-Huh, Tweedle-Abs, and Tweedle-Yo — where I start hunting for conspriracy theories with the vigorousness of Skylar Laine tracking an eight-point buck in the woods. (Run, Bambi, run!) And this week’s Top 3 performance episode had ’em in spades:

* There was Ryan Seacrest’s intro, touting Phillip Phillips and his hometown of LEEsburg, GA, which might’ve been a not-so-subtle reminder of the last growly-voiced, guitar-playing, untucked-shirt-wearing Idol winner Lee DeWyze, who hasn’t had a particularly noteworthy post-Idol run.

* There were Jimmy’s song choices for Jessica (“I’ll Be There”…in the finale?); Joshua (with the impassioned line “I choose to win!”); and Phillip (who had to sing the refrain, “We’ve got tonight. Who needs tomorrow?” Um, only a contestant who wants to perform at the Nokia next Tuesday).

* There were spangled shoulders on Joshua’s last shirt, spangled pockets on Jessica’s last jacket, but not a single spangle for Phillip Phillips (J.Lo: “Unless you count the twinkle in his eyes!)

* We had standing ovations from the judges for Joshua and Phillip, but none for Jessica.

* We had Jessica’s hometown-visit package including a trip to an empty stadium.

* Then again, Joshua wound up with the deadly leadoff performance slot.

* And after one round of performances, Steven predicted Jessica would win it all.

So who’s a lock for next Tuesday’s finale, and whose dream is destined to fall a week short of Nokia glory? It might boil down to this question: Will voters reward Jessica’s season of high-level performances punctuated by a single lackluster night, or will they choose Phillip, a contestant who’s had a decidedly bumpier Idol run but benefitted from a stellar final impression? Then again, maybe it’s premature for me to assume Joshua’s got a lock on a Top 2 berth: It’s possible that the Idol audience wasn’t quite ready to be dragged to church on a Wednesday evening, even if mandatory attendance allowed them to simultaneously experience a baptism, an exorcism, and the holy union of Gospel, soul, and soap-opera theme songs.

If I had to predict who will make the Top 2: Joshua and Phillip. As for who should, well, that’s a trickier question. Phillip’s show-closing performance was a real stunner, while Jessica had her worst night of the entire season, but since I subscribe to the idea that one night or one performance does not an Idol make (or break), I’d go with Joshua and Skylar Jessica.

But enough prognosticating! Let’s take a deep dive into the performances.

Judges’ Choice
Joshua Ledet: Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” (picked by Randy) | On paper, I suppose it made sense to choose an old-soul classic for Joshua. Or, at least it required the least amount of mental strain for the judge who can’t tell his Marvin Gaye from his Al Green. But in practice, making Joshua cover “I’d Rather Go Blind” was the equivalent of getting Michael Phelps to show up for a teaching exhibition and limiting him to swimming the width, not the length, of the pool. Indeed, at the exact moment the judges should’ve been looking to stetch the idea of what Joshua can do as an artist — hadn’t Randy mentioned Terence Trent D’Arby’s music as a potential career template just a few weeks back? — they asked him to color within the lines of prior performances like “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” And of course, it didn’t help that Joshua sang the first verse with Etta James’ chosen pronouns — “when I saw you and her talking” — and then later switched his romantic rival to a “him” (almost as if he’d never truly inhabited the song, but was rather just imitating the original). Yeah, he hit all the notes. And yeah, the outfit — black jacket with white stitching and red button holes, gray vest, red shirt, red rose accessory — was stupendous. But the damp gray cloak of expectedness kept this number from truly taking off.

Jessica Sanchez: Mariah Carey’s “My All” (picked by J.Lo) | “Oooh! It’s hard!” giggled J.Lo, as if she’d just realized the degree of difficulty of Mariah Carey’s roller coaster ballad after Jessica had sung her final note. But in all seriousness, what was the point of assigning a 16-year-old contestant a song that she’d have to “get through” (as J.Lo put it) rather than one that could point her out as a potentially relevant recording artist who might help purge the airwaves of tinny-voiced divas like Ke$ha and Rihanna and, er, J.Lo herself? (Ohhhhh, I get it now.) Everything here seemed to work against Jessica: The constricting fru-fru purple gown, the platform that kept her confined to a three-foot radius, a melody that was all airy tenderness and no meaty growl, lyrical content that placed the bubbly teenager in the position of wanting to feel her body pressed against her lover (eww), and a backdrop that featured Jessica’s blown-up head singing down onto her tiny frame. Yet, alas, the biggest problem was the fact that Jessica seemed to be just under the melody for most of the performance — a jarring misstep for a vocalist who’s been thisclose to spotless all season. She may have given her all, but in this case, her all just wasn’t enough.

Phillip Phillips: The Four Seasons’/Madcon’s “Beggin” | Urgh. J.Lo really needs to stop giggling during her critiques. Especially when she’s critiquing Phillip as if she’s the just-out-of-college 12th-grade English teacher and he’s the sort-of brainy quarterback who’s too cool to treat his essays with complete and total seriousness. J.Lo’s whole point — that Phillip is “funny” because he “can’t help” messing with melodies, even ones as earwormy as “Beggin'” — ignored the fact that the overall performance would’ve been a-okay during, say, Top 11 week, but felt a little lackluster just seven days before the finale. Phillip’s greatest asset is the way he feeds off the musicians behind him, and vice-versa. The drummer on “Beggin'” was such a complete and total beast — just wailing away to the rhythm — that it was hard not to fall into the groove along with him. But Phillip’s vocal itself — particularly in the echo-y intro and again toward the end of the number — came off a little winded and withering. In other words, I didn’t not enjoy “Beggin,” but I also don’t think I’ll remember it a couple of months from now.

Contestant’s Choice
Joshua Ledet: John Lennon’s “Imagine” | Joshua’s hometown visit finally showed off his dormant sense of humor — I giggled at his “They are really acting like I’m Barack Obama!” and that “this is crazy!” dance move — and I’ll admit I teared up watching the congregation of his dad’s tiny church weep for joy at their hometown boy’s successes. But it was his stop at the Burton Coloseum — sold out for the first time with a veritable sea of human beings — that drove home just much power Joshua holds in his vocal cords. With the right material and production, maybe this fella could bring old-school vocal stylings to modern radio? For that to happen, though, he’ll need better arrangements than the one he got for “Imagine.” The Lite FM strings and the shoop-shoop cheeriness of the background singers as they echoed the “join us” lyric really detracted from what was otherwise a restrained and lovely vocal from the Talented Mr. Ledet. As Steven noted, it was “Another ‘thank you, God’ moment.” But I do wonder if J.Lo felt the burn when Randy, praising Joshua’s choice of a lyric that held a lot of meaning for him, opined that today’s charts feature “a lot of people singing a lot of things they have no attachment to.” After all, does anyone really think J.Lo singing “Brazil, Morocco, London to Ibiza/ Straight to LA, New York, Vegas to Africa/ Dance the night away/ Live your life and stay young on the floor” is anything more than a series of syllables that happen to fit a groove that makes her booty move?

Jessica Sanchez: Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” | When Jessica described herself as a homeschooled dork, then giggled about the fact that she had guys chasing her car and handing her phone numbers durng her hometown parade, we got a glimpse of the real-life teenager behind the Terminator-like singing machine who’s been exploding our TV screens with her monster voice for the last three months. Unfortunately, her “Contestant’s Choice” pick felt like it came from a kid whose only exposure to music was from watching American Idol. Why else would Jessica choose a song that’s been previously tackled by Josh Gracin, Lindsey Cardinale, Antonella Barba, David Cook, Allison Iraheta, and Aaron Kelly? A song that neither tapped into her youthful energy nor gave her a real chance to flex the stunning brute force of her instrument. By the time she hit the bridge, it felt like Jessica had given up trying to convince herself she was interested in getting to the end of this sappy Aerosmith ballad, and unfortunately, the feeling was contageous. J.Lo’s muted praise — “really, really good job, baby” — told the tale, but at least Jessica’s pantusit and necklace from the Modern-hontas Collection were pretty awesome.

Phillip Phillips: Matchbox 20’s “Disease” | Phillip — or should I say Phillip’s dad — wins the award for most emotional hometown visit. When Papa Phillips hugged his son and talked about the hardship of just catching glimpses of his son, not being able to actually put his hands on him the last few months, I had to reach for the Kleenex again. (What good is the hometown visits episode without tears, yes?) And then we had Phillip turning on the waterworks, too, overwhelmed by the response of fans at a local parade. None of that passion seemed to find its way, however, into Phillip’s pedestrian rendition of “Disease,” in which the contestant and the sexy lady saxophonist sat on crates, jammed out with a bongo drummer, and compressed the song’s melody into the three-note stew that’s become the all-too-common daily special at the P2 Diner. You know Phillip had a tough performance when even J.Lo had to break out the “hi, sweetie” treatment — and not in a flirty way, either!

Jimmy’s Choice
Joshua Ledet: Mary J. Blige’s “No! More! DRAMA!” | The image of Season 11 finalists Hollie Cavanagh and Shannon Magrane in the audience — throwing Gospel hands, laughing, and weeping at the end of Joshua’s number — conveyed everything about Joshua’s insanely good performance that I can’t put into words. Was it flawless? Not really. The opening verse felt almost tentative, with Joshua bouncing up and down, maybe fearful of what would happen if he exorcized his inner demons right there on the Idol stage. Was it executed the way he’d planned? I’m guessing not, since Joshua’s ear monitor took flight around the time he tore his jacket off and hurled it to the floor. But damned if Joshua didn’t somehow didn’t give us all a spiritual experience. I’ve always thought Mary J. Blige’s “Young and the Restless Theme”-sampling ditty was one of the greatest self-empowerment anthems ever written — honestly, if you’re a magnet for bad relationships and career setbacks, give those lyrics a listen, then heed ’em, brothers and sisters! — and with his gutteral wail, Joshua simultaneously conveyed the joy of letting go of drama, and the pain of leaving it all behind. When Mr. Ledet ad-libbed toward the end and asked, “Do I have anybody in this place, that can say they don’t want no more drama?” I had a hand in the air and tears in my eyes. And if that’s not enough to get him to the finale, then to hell with next Tuesday night.

Jessica Sanchez: Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” | As I noted in my post-show item, Jessica’s vocal was as light and pretty as a swarm of butterflies rising from a mountain meadow, but the song didn’t give her the explosive moment of last week’s “And I Am Telling You…” And while Randy always likes to break out the “if you can sing, you can sing anything” blathering, let’s be honest: When you’re trying to claw your way into the finale of America’s most popular singing competition, you need to close your set with a ditty that packs either vocal or emotional heft — not something that’s accompanied by a breezy backdrop of carnival rides, a foreground of infuriating swaybots, and a “good job, baby” critique from J.Lo. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow Randy whole when he complained that Jessica didn’t deliver a “moment moment moment” — but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a point at the center of his layers of verbal idiocy.

Phillip Phillips: Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” | Yeah, he’s given us his naughty “does your daddy let you date” soundbites, and shored-up his bad southern boy appeal on “U Got It Bad” and “Time of the Season,” but to this point in the competition, Phillip has seemed a little reluctant to latch on to the role of Season 11 heartthrob. Fortunately for him, Jimmy had no such qualms, and the mentor’s brilliant choice of “We’ve Got Tonight” allowed Phillip a moment of pure vulnerability, playing a lonely guy, standing in front of a lonely girl, asking her to love him — at least until morning. I do wish the audience had refrained from trying to clap (you know the swaybots had something to do with it), but the flawless, dialed-down arrangement and the gorgeous melody really highlighted the character of Phillip’s creaky voice. If Jessica is a magnificent cruise ship, and Joshua is a luxury yacht, Phillip is a dinged-up sailboat, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a place on the water, if you know what I mean. Had “We’ve Got Tonight” been Phillip’s opening number, it might not have made enough waves to carry him to the finale, but as a show-closing performance, I think it might have sealed Jessica’s fate as a third-place finisher.

Letter Grades
Joshua’s “No More Drama”: A
Phillip’s “We’ve Got Tonight”: A-
Jessica’s “I’ll Be There”: B+
Joshua’s “Imagine”: B+
Joshua’s “I’d Rather Go Blind”: B
Phillip’s “Beggin'”: B
Jessica’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”: C+
Phillip’s “Disease”: C+
Jessica’s “My All”: C+

Now it’s your turn. Hit the comments and share who you think deserves to advance to the finale. And for all my Idol news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Carly says:

    You could tell P2 hated his last song. It was so awkward to watch. Meh. Hoping for a Josh and Jessica finale!!

  2. Marlex says:

    Randy was on fire last night…and not in a good way. Aside from the obvious, I had to pause the television and yell at his frozen face after praising Jessica for being so bold to take on Aerosmith and Mariah back to back. Apparently he had already forgotten that he and the other judges chose Mariah for her. Nothing against Jessica there, just his comments really astonish sometimes.
    As for the performances, I though Jessica was lackluster through most of the night. The first song did her no favors. I’ll give her credit for changing up the arrangement on her second since I’ve criticized her often this season for carbon-copying the original. It still felt very clinical though, like she’s considering every step and note in her head rather than it come naturally. It’s what they criticized Holley (rightfully so) for for many weeks before she blossomed. Sadly, while Jessica’s third song was her best sung one, but again, it felt too close to the original.
    Joshua was strong throughout and I like how he held back on the second song, although I thought it was an odd lyrical choice for him considering the subject matter. Still, he is the opposite of Jessica. Whether you did his style of singing, I like it more often that I don’t, you definitely feel while he’s on stage.
    As for Phillip, I liked Beggin, thought his second song was a bit pedestrian and really liked him on his third song. It was not his best performance, however, as that was Volcano.
    I think the biggest problem was that none of the top three topped their second top-four performance, so the night felt underwhelming. That and I guess I was missing Holley, Elise and Skylar.

  3. darcy's evil twin says:

    *sigh* – you know the Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks song, “How Can I Miss You when You Won’t Go Away?”. Well, I was never a huge Skylar fan but I really miss her. I also miss Hollie and especially Elise.
    Based on last night I’m going with Joshua for the win.

  4. gailer says:

    I think it will be Jessica and Philip.

  5. Donna says:

    It’s really a toss up. I don’t think any of them are either invulnerable or down for the count. I think Joshua is the most deserving and suitable winner, having grown through the process, and having talent and enthusiasm for the whole process. Since they can all create bright futures, it almost doesn’t matter that much.

  6. gailer says:

    Shoot I hit return without finishing. Why isn’t Randy preaching anymore that this is a singing contest? If Philip was on Season 7 he would have been rejected by Randy, but yet this year, he’s praised. Don’t get me wrong, I’m for Philip winning over the other two who are just imitations.

  7. catie says:

    was anyone else kind of reminded of lee deewyze’s “hallelujah” with philips “we got tonight”. i actulaly liked hallelujah but didn’t understand why all the the judges including simon were freaking out over it. but “we got tonight” was aboslutlutely atrocious. i feel like the judges know he is running away with the competetion just like lee was and have to manufacture a moment for him, because he can’t produce one.
    overall though i thought it was the worst night all season. absolutely mediocre performances. season 10’s final 3 show was actullay much better .and the highlight of the show was actullay just seeing skylar and colton for me lol. but it also made me sad bc it could have been such a better show the skylar colton and elise.

  8. kenbinc says:

    Michael, I just can’t with the “hands in the air/tears in the eye” bit about “No More Drama”. You might need to take several seats for that one. It was a truly exhausting, maddening, and overwrought performance. The worst of the night, by far. When it was first announced that Iovine wanted him to sing ‘Drama’, the first thing I shouted was, “Of course! It gives him perfect license to exercise his holleration shtick…” It was such a very cynical move by Iovine and so very predictably unhinged from Ledet. So predicable, in fact, that it undercut everything people have said about his performance -“authenticity”. He basically took Mary J’s Grammy version and did a soulless mimic job.

    And I still can’t figure out how you, Michael, could fillet Jacob Lusk last year for his often unhinged and uncontrolled vocals, yet “raise yo hands in the air” for Ledet’s way more over-the-top performances.

    • deedee says:

      Because Ledet >>>> Lusk by about 17 billion light years, if that’s a proper measurement. Josh never *ever* loses control of his vocals, even when he’s unhinged and losing his sh*t onstage. That’s part of what makes him utterly remarkable. I promise you, somewhere, Lusky Stank is crying in his Corona, wishing he could sing half as masterfully as Josh. I get it if you don’t like his style. Many don’t, and that’s fine.

      • kenbinc says:

        You’ve made that point about ‘style’ several times, and I think I ought to clarify my position (and taste) here: I’ve no problem with gospel-influenced performance artists. Outside of Jill Scott, Fantasia is my all-time favorite artist. I’m a huge aficionado of soul music (and enjoy 60s and 70s era soul), claiming artists like Etta, James, Tina, Otis, and Eddie (Kendricks) as some of my favorites, among many others. This isn’t an issue of style or a misunderstanding of Ledet’s brand of genre expression. This is about Ledet himself.

        I realize I may be in the minority here, but I don’t BELIEVE Joshua Ledet when he performs. I believe he has mastered the mechanics of gospel-performance tics, no doubt helped by years of performing at his father’s church. I believe he has mastered the art of manipulating his audience with a barrage of manufactured emotions (which, to be fair, most good PERFORMERS do); but most of the time, I don’t believe the emotions on display. I think they’re especially undermined when they’re presented every single week. Almost like a light-switch. He just turns it on and then off, and that reads phony to me. Every single song doesn’t merit that kind of invested, harsh, emotive treatment, but somehow Mr. Ledet finds a way to incorporate it anyways. That bothers me. I peeped this habit out when he performed ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’, which was a fine performance, but definitely showed signs of the future shtick I often refer to.

        I don’t accept comparisons to Fantasia, because I don’t believe they are similar in this regard. Fantasia is probably more well known for her subtle, soulful rendition of “Summertime” than any of her other more bombastic performances; and even still, I can spout-off many songs from her Idol journey which were brilliant balancing acts between her gospel/soul roots/”gettin’ ugly” (as she’d say) and soft, beautiful, subtle vocals. Hers was a diverse set of performances which not only displayed her vocal range, but took advantage of the genre range as well. Ledet can not claim a similar balancing act. His formula is pretty set in stone, save a few exceptions (I enjoyed his “Runaway Baby”).

        When I can’t believe that Ledet is legitimately connected to the material that he’s singing, and simply phoning-in his signature wailing, I can’t enjoy his performances. Period. That wailing becomes superfluous and self-indulgent. While ‘Man’s World’ called for his signature treatment, “She’s Got A Way” and “Without You” did not. Every song is not equally yoked. The sooner he learns that lesson, the sooner I’d be comfortable supporting him.

        • deedee says:

          Thank you, kenbinc, for clarifying. You make many good points about Joshua, and now I see that you know what you’re talking about a hell of a lot more than I do! Funny enough, gospel-tinged performers are not my thing at all, generally. I only got on board the Joshua train after I couldn’t deny his talent any longer. Fantasia is not my cup o tea because I’m not a fan of her tone, so I can’t speak intelligently about her talent … although I did LOVE her rendition of ‘Summertime’.
          As for Joshua, I actually agree with what you imply: that he’s just a ball of raw ability, and not yet finished developing his talent. Whereas you might find him often phoney or inauthentic – putting on his well-practiced schtick for every performance, I find him inexperienced and naively throwing balls-to-the-wall because he hasn’t refined his style yet. I see Joshua as an extremely gifted kid who is giddy and drunk off all the attention and sudden opportunity that the show has presented him. I honestly think he’s an untrained guide-dog puppy who’s all exuberance, energy, and potential – waiting to be molded into a highly skilled companion for the blind. (<– well, if Hollie can be a clubbed seal …)
          Even when he's at his most bombastic, I can't see Josh as an inauthentic mimic. He's a young, sheltered kid who in many ways is just clueless. I don't even think he knows much about music! But unlike Jessica (sorry JS fans) when he sings, he doesn't come off robotic to me. Even if he doesn't connect to the meaning of a song, he manages to connect to *something* about it that makes him capable of delivering an exciting, if not subtle and nuanced performance.
          I think Joshua has a rare musical intelligence that he simply needs to develop. Once he learns to vary his technique to serve the needs of the song, and once he can bring more real life experience into his performances, I think he'll be out of this world. He already is in my book, but there's lots of room for growth.

          • kenbinc says:

            I credit you for indulging me in an intelligent conversation on this subject. You don’t often get the opportunity to do that in these forums. As I’m sure you know, they can get ugly and defensive quickly.

            I take your perspective on Ledet and think it’s a very good point that I had not considered. Well articulated.

            In the end, this may all be much ado about nothing, because if the Idol-bopper audience has anything to do with the resulting winner, it won’t be either your (Ledet) or my (Sanchez) favorite for the crown, it’ll be that other guy who shall remain nameless (and talentless).

          • Marsaili says:

            See, now that was an awesome and intelligent display of a decent conversation until you had to go be nasty about Phillip. I went from please to unhappy ;-(

          • kenbinc says:

            Oh live a little! lol Phillip has enough supporters in this space, a little harmless jab never hurt nobody..hehe

          • Marsaili says:

            Sorry, this board has the biggest concentration of Phillip haters anywhere—I’m just sick of the hate!

          • deedee says:

            Oh, there’s little doubt in my mind that “he who shall remain nameless” will take the title. I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t. LOL, I don’t see him as talentless, just … not talented enough. Aaand we’re going to find out in an hour who’s about to lose to him in the finale, haha.

          • deedee says:

            Oh, lol, sorry Marsaili, I don’t mean ti sound harsh about your guy. I like him, but don’t think he’s all that. I do get his massive appeal, though … if that counts for something ;)

          • Marsaili says:

            Oh that’s ok Deedee, I was replying to Kenbinc anyway–I know he’s not your favorite–and I respect that—I just don’t think it’s necessary for people to be mean about it–I happen to think he’s extremely talented—I think ALL these kids are extremely talented.

          • SlezakFan says:

            Oh wow, that is some great intelligent comment! Not to mention I fully agree with everything you had there

  9. Leah says:

    I don’t understand who a whole nation of Idol watchers can question the victory of Lee DeWyze in then in the same breath vote for Phil Phillips.

    If PP wins, I think the credibility of Idol drops even further. Not that the last few winners were bad guys, but c’mon! How can you all keep making the same mistake over and over again?

  10. MoonerMan100 says:

    I love Jessica’s voice and FOR ME she was the season’s highlight. Last night she wasn’t her best, but base on what she has done till now, I like to see her in the finale + Joshua. I really can’t stand Phillip Phillips, and I don’t like to see him in the finale. And I don’t know why he is still on the show! Colton was better than him and so was Skyler, Erica and Elise. And the worst thing is that I’m in europe (Not because europe is bad!) but because I can’t vote at all and just should watch powerless and see what would gonna happen!

  11. cimi says:

    I’m a bit late chiming in. I have a test for you all. Pretend your holding a microphone–yeah, right now. Now sing the lyrics of the song Philip sang. “We’ve got tonight…who needs tomorrow.” Was it hard to keep from moving your left hand??? Was for me:)

  12. Amy says:

    P2 ftw.
    There. I said it.
    Took me all season…in a season where I enjoyed many of the top 10 talent. Loved Skylar. Loved Hollie. Enjoyed many a Joshua performance…but have to say I probably wouldn’t necessarily listen to him on my Ipod.
    I’ve downloaded only P2 from Itunes (and Hollie)…and he’s just as listenable to me as he is watchable…and…he’s very watchable. And yes…he’s adorable and sexy…but also just plain fun to watch…like music in motion.
    So based on the fact that he alone is the one I enjoyed, hands down all season…every performance…the great and the only good. Love him. Have bought and will buy more of his music. Will go see him perform. So yes, he’d be my pick to watch straight up to the confetti shower.
    But, do I think that is who WILL win…a good chance, but not necessarily, with the ole Idol twists and turns. Do I think that’s who should win…what’s “should?”…says who?
    So all I can say is I liked him best all year. I pick P2 for my winner.

    Disagree with most of Michael’s grades this time around. Loved Beggin’…already bought it on Itunes; wish they’d had the videos and performance recordings available still. It’d be up there on my list. Definitely above “I’ll Be There?!” “We Got Tonight” I’d put above “I’d Rather Go Blind” (and ps. and btw…the coat thing didn’t work for me second time…started to feel like his “spontaneity” was more strategic all season, though I didn’t take away any points for that; just sayin.’) I will say this for Joshua, I noticed as the weeks went on…he has a sexiness in his performances that other “go to church, stank face, gospal types” on Idol never had…this works in his favor. And yes Michael…he styles well too. His Imagine and his “I did it for the message” explaination didn’t do it for me…that’s all been said and done, better, before on Idol. Weird pick for him for me.

    Jessica…ok. I can’t say more than I’ve said all season…I acknowledge her vocal ability, and star quality…but doesn’t move me. Not looking to buy her records. And she can sing…so I don’t know why…that’s the mystery of it all…in what moves whom and why, I guess.

    • deedee says:

      “I will say this for Joshua, I noticed as the weeks went on…he has a sexiness in his performances that other “go to church, stank face, gospal types” on Idol never had”
      LOL! For some reason this made me laugh very hard. But I agree. He does deliver with a certain sexually charged *unf* that other gospel types have lacked. People slam him for being effeminate or whatever, … yet something in him when he performs is very masculine, edgy, “in charge”, and really sexy in unexpected ways. Gawd, he’s SO not what I usually find sexy that I’m even shocking myself writing this, lol.

      • Amy says:

        Totally get what you say, deedee…and same here. You are right too…like you say, an “in charge” kind of sensuality that comes out. And he plays off well the cool looks they put him in too, from the fly jackets to the daffodil lapels!…all of it. May I say, we needed us some “sexy Gospel”….God forgive us. ;-)

      • Marsaili says:

        I totally agree—-and the funny thing he’s so awkward as a teenager when he’s not singing—just kind of unsure, hesitant, self conscious—but when he’s singing that all goes away and he’s a MAN! I really hope he wins it all—of course, I need to hope he survives tonight, first!

    • Amy says:

      oops.. “gospEL.”

    • SlezakFan says:

      Regarding Philip being watchable, I honestly get a little worried whenever he needs to reach for high(er) notes and the veins show and face turns red…

  13. minikittykitty says:

    I would like to hear Joshua sing Gnarls Barkley or John Legend or something like that.

  14. Amy says:

    ps. I tried to think of what would make the desired or the best Top 2 show (since this really IS more about Idol the TV show and not Idol the recording artist)….probably either P2 & Josh (the two very different “male leads” with different appeal or Josh & Jess (the two legit singers.) P2 & Jess would be weird tv. It doesn’t even come off like the two Davids–Renegade Rocker & Young Power Singer. It’s just incongruous in a weird way.

  15. Thorne Brook says:

    Watching back, Jessica really didn’t seem to be up to her usual powerhouse self, and I’m willing to blame it on the throat problems she tweeted about a few days ago, which still probably hasn’t healed yet. Her speaking voice sounded pretty hoarse during the youtube videos of her home visit. She was at her best during I’ll Be There, but even then, notes that were so effortless for her sounded strained and she looked like she was trying to be careful while belting out those vibratos. Also, throughout the night, no growls, no squeaks, no fancy dancing among ridiculously high notes. Altogether an odd night for her.

    Top 3’s always so brutal (rehearsing three songs right after singing for your home town and talking your ass off, etc.), and it’s like waiting to see which figure skater will stumble his/her landing after a triple jump. I really hope she still pushes through, but I won’t be broken-hearted if she doesn’t. All three of them seem to have great post-Idol careers ahead of them, I just wish she doesn’t leave on such a low note. Seems such a shame, especially after she’s filled my playlist with such great songs and performances, more so than any of the other contestants.

    Either way, through or not, I’ll be in line to buy her album when it comes out.

  16. millie says:

    Joshua is my favorite, but unlike last year when I didn’t care for either of the finalists, any of the 3 would be ok. But I just have to give my opinion, which I’m sure many will disagree with. I’m on the older side and have been to literally hundreds of shows, everyone from Elvis to Danzig and all in between, but the absolute number one I ever saw was appx. 30 years ago – it was Sammy Davis Jr. He certainly wasn’t the best vocalist around at the time, but he was on that stage for almost 3 hours and held the audience in the palm of his hand. Everyone from 8 to 80 was mesmerized by his energy and emotion, and of course, talent. Over the course of that time he gave everything he had, people laughed, people cried. I see that same kind of energy in Joshua. When I watch him perform even when every note isn’t perfect, I find he just commands my attention. I think he has a wonderful future ahead of him.

    • SlezakFan says:

      I am not that old and haven’t been to many shows in my life but I can totally understand what you said about Joshua. It is a gift and you can’t copy that from anybody or any show – it just has to come naturally for it to have that kind of impact on people. I 100% agree – this kid has got some brilliant future ahead of him and this is only the start..

  17. JASon says:

    Yea!!! I just scored tickets to the first part of the finale Tuesday!!!

  18. Steve says:

    i assume jessica is going…she seems to be the one contestant they chose to sabotage the most last she has already been voted off once. reading comments I’m surprised at how many girls don’t like (are jealous of) her. P2 is in the lead – he’s got the crazy tween girls squarely in his pocket no matter what – wgwg for the 5th straight year. UGH…another artist who will release an album or two and then disappear …i would prefer josh vs jess finale – and i hope jimmy really manages their careers correctly cuz they both appear to have great potential. (what is he doing with last years pia? still no album and soon she will be totally forgotten – her first single didn’t do that well and definitely didn’t showcase her voice)

  19. SlezakFan says:

    For me, there’s not much competition – Joshua is clearly one of the (if not THE) most gifted we have seen on any singing shows, ever (sorry if that sounded coming from Randy :-( ). This kid has a God-given instrument and he’s got techniques to go with it; and is a natural at actually digging into the words and music to interpret a song (not just vocalize something that happen to be associated with some words). Granted, he still needs polishing and he sometimes gets carried away with over-emoting or falling back to much on the tricks and techniques he’s picked up over the years; and he needs some good mentoring to know where/how to tweak things (and hopefully that’s what the big-shot producers would provide). But you can spot that voice ten thousand miles away with no mistake and it gets you, right there in the heart, not just the ears… He is a talent to be reckoned with although he’s certainly not reaching his full potential yet and that also points to how special and scary he is..

    Jessica is a terrific, awesome, mesmerizing singer but lacks the innate creativity and uniqueness (that IT factor) the true greats possess. I bet she would be the best in any karaoke lounges where she can (almost) mimic/match up to anybody which is pretty much what she has showcased in the last however many weeks. But we have lots of really really good technical singers out there (with a relatively generic voice which we probably can’t tell one from the other on the radio) and she may not have the gift to create her own showstoppers when inevitably having to work with brand new materials if she get signed.. She is excellent, no doubt (and for a 16 year old too, wow!) but she would likely be lost in the sea of talents once she steps into the “real world”.

  20. Stevie says:

    I cannot believe how obnoxious some Jessica fans are and am praying for her exit tonight. Jessica fans and their excuses (sore throat, she was “sabotaged”) are utterly ridiculous! They will say anything to try to divert attention away from the fact Jessica messed up! If by chance she makes the finale I will vote hundreds of times for WHOEVER is there with her.

  21. deedee says:

    Group song: Josh is on the highest pedestal and in the center. He’s a goner. :(

  22. Xer Divo says:

    love her but jessica had the weakest night and was sabotaged once again by judges and jimmys picks…always some contestant in the f3 is sabotaged

  23. FreeHaley says:

    Anyway, best of luck to all three.

    • deedee says:

      I am stupidly nervous. What is THAT?! I’m preparing to bid Joshua farewell. Jennifer looks mournful… I think she knows it’s Josh. *sob*.

      • FreeHaley says:

        Yeah it’s Josh, I wasn’t always thrilled with his style, but no doubt he has talent and it is quite a shame he didn’t make it, at this point I’d have gone Jessica+Joshua. In the end JLo looked happy though since she’s a Phillip gal in the end it seems. The only one who looked kinda totally bummed about it was Steven (and some contestants, Hollie at the least).

  24. billybob says:

    Probably Phil will win and maybe he can form a Trio with Lee Dewyze and Taylor Hicks. Call themselves the 3 grunters,

  25. Marsaili says:

    A travesty, Joshua should have been in the finals. I am so disappointed.

    • RodMod says:

      Jessica is going to be so lonely during next week’s Ford Music Video shoot! :/

    • deedee says:

      At least his sing-out was fierce.

    • FreeHaley says:

      Yeah a shame, Steven looked super bummed about that. Shoulda been Jessica and Joshua. Well really Elise shoulda been there, but whatever.

    • Mary B says:

      I was afraid of this. He just did not have the fan base Phillip and Jessica has. I think Jessica has a massive fan base. Maybe bigger then Phillips. I will not be surprised if she wins this thing. I am a P2 fan and you know it would be fine with me. They all already won.

  26. deedee says:

    Well, as I expected: Joshua Ledet got Yamin’d.

    • Lisa says:

      Yes, I still don’t think I’ve gotten over that with Elliot!

      • deedee says:

        That was sad. Third place finishers tend to be amazing: Melinda, Elliott, Haley, .. now Joshua joins that rank. Oh, I can’t deny it – I’m so sad :( . No matter how much I was prepared for this, it’s not easy. Hope he’s not too heartbroken.

        • Marsaili says:

          I can’t believe how heartbroken I am—I mean, I knew I’d be upset—I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. I’d have rather seen a jessica/joshua finale and sent my dear Phillip home just to see HIM in the finale instead of him being send packing. Of course, I felt just as bad last year when Haley was sent off. I think we just have to accept that the best people are #3 and #4!! And now, I’m going to go pre-order Haley’s album which comes out on Tuesday, I believe??? Thank you to Joshua for making me FEEL so much during Idol this year!

          • Mary B says:

            So sorry. This the partvof the competition I find so hard. It is so hard to see these kids dreams broken. He will be fine but for tonight he hurts. The worse part is that the judges built him up so much and put him on such a pedestal. It is so hard to be knocked off.

          • deedee says:

            Awww, you’re making me teary. I haven’t adored a contestant so much since David Cook, but since Cook won, I never experienced the heartache of loss. Poor sweet Joshua. SO GLAD he’s got his BFF Hollie there to help heal the wounds. Plus, they jump right into rehearsals for the finale next week, so he’s got no time to sulk. I’ll do enough sulking for the both of us :(

  27. FreeHaley says:

    Interesting, when Jessica went through all three judges looked happy enough. When it came to Joshua and Phillip and Josh got sent home Randy and especially JLo looked quite happy but wow Steven Tyler had that same kinda look when Haley lost out to Lauren. I could be misreading it but he sure seemed sad to see Josh go. Have to say I agreed, assuming I’m reading it correctly, with Steven Tyler both years.

    • WishesRandyCouldn'tSpeak says:

      I love your posts FreeHaley, you’re like me and remember everything Haley-related, even the little but ever so important details. I remember that look, that’s when I really and truly gained respect for Steven after that ending of a season – Yes I saw that too. Steven had that disappointed like ‘whyyyy’ face cuz he wanted him there. I don’t think the other two were as ‘happy’ as they were when Lauren got it though, when Lauren was safe they were probably poppin bottle’s in Nigel’s room afterwards. But I think for this case, they were all prepared that one of the three would go and like they said, with America it’s really a toss up at this point. So they were probs happy for Philip – and happy about the top 3 in general and more so that than being happy Josh is gone. :)

      • FreeHaley says:

        yeah agreed, I don’t think were glad to see Josh gone at all, but happy enough for P2 that could live with it, but yeah Steven had that come on mannnn are you kidding me look again as he did with Haley when she got booted.

        • FreeHaley says:

          Yeah I was so glad to see Steven not having TPTB BS and refused to join in with the greyhound fleet after Haley BS (I was really disappointed when one week JLo just went from at least semi-pro Haley to just greyhound fleet x10 every week all of a sudden) and when he even defended her on some shows when she spoke back when Randy singled her out and he kinda got on the other judges a bit and he just answer this has Randy ever been a singer? etc. You could see her just recognized what she brought and I got the impression that underneath he thought the treatment of her was kind of a sad joke. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but heck Haley seemed to notice it too if you saw which words of Benny and the Jets she sang in front of each judge haha.

          And yeah he sure seemed to have that “whyyyyyyy” face for Joshua too.

          (but again I don’t think the others, this time, were at all glad to see the other person go, but they just didn’t have that musician’s heart slowly breaking one more bit look either)

          • deedee says:

            “but they just didn’t have that musician’s heart slowly breaking one more bit look either”
            That’s exactly how I see Steven’s reaction to both Haley and Joshua. For all Steven’s goofiness, he’s a real musician and an amazing vocalist. He understands a quality performer.

    • Mary B says:

      I noticed the same thing.

  28. Sha says:

    His life isn’t over but that doesn’t make it any less sad… JOSHUA :(

  29. Steve Z says:

    I was hoping that Jessica would get something powerful that she could show her range and growl. I was thinking “I Surrender” would have been the perfect song for her and I don’t think anyone has performed it on the show since Kelly Clarkson in season 1.

    I thought “Imagine” was a waste on Joshua. “Sign Your Name” would have been so much better for him.

    Phillip just seems to be coasting. It must have been so nice for a contestant to actually get a day of rest every week while the others had to keep pushing themselves to live up to the responsibilities of the competition.

  30. Chris says:

    ugh. I have absolutely NO INTEREST in a p2/Jess finale. Adios American Idol 2012. It’s been nice knowin ya…

  31. Lisa says:

    I am done with American Idol. For Joshua not to make it into the finale is ridiculous. I have no more left. Why invest the time and energy into watching a show that is meant to find a new star when originality is not rewarded? Evidently America wants yet another sound alike winner in Phiiip. I am done. No more AI for me. I have watched since year one. Now I am done

  32. FreeHaley says:

    I have a weird feeling that P2 is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy far ahead and Jessica has no chance just like Lauren had zero shot and even Haley would’ve not really had a chance (although without country split and her mad performance she may have made it vaguely approaching something not vastly far away from close). Then again, dial idol has been kinda random this year, last year it always had Scotty with more votes than literally every other contestant combined, this time P2 is only 25% ahead of Jessica and since she might pull more Josh votes (maybe?) maybe it’s fight??

    • WishesRandyCouldn'tSpeak says:

      I’m scared of that too. I was sooo happy Jessica was safe, I was as shocked as she looked right there. I was expecting Josh to be called first and then Philip to be called next…I litterally jumped out of my chair screaming I was so happy (I rooted for Hollie/Jessica/Philip/Colton this year mostly Hollie 1st and Jessica more afterwards & Colton but he got out and I sorta resented Philip afterwards lol). But yeah I’m so scared that as happy as I am Jessica is in — Philip may be miles ahead of her in terms of votes. :( :( :( :( :(

    • Name That Tune says:

      I’m not even scared. I expect P2 to win. And if he does, it will be very hard to deny that ONLY the WGWG can win this show.
      Talented young women – audition for one of the other talent shows!

    • cd says:

      Dial Idol may have run it’s course. With online voting, the telephone demographic may not be a large enough sample to be representative.

      • FreeHaley says:

        Yeah but has online voting changed THAT much just since last season? The whole texting and online revolution started years ago.

  33. TopCat says:

    America is just plain stupid.

    • Nope , America just rejected someone that was being forced down their throats for the last few weeks.
      Joshua is a good singer and stage performer , BUT , he has not yet learned how to allow an audience to see his soul. He really needed to lose and take a few years to learn his craft before going big time.

      • Marie says:

        I saw Joshua’s soul a heck of a lot more than any of the other contestants this season. So there goes that theory Joseph Angelo. If AI is suppose to be about real talent, then Josh should have made the finals-regardless of the judges and Jimmy Iovines’ understandable love for the guy.

  34. givemeglenn says:

    If any of you took the time to listen to Jimmy’s comments about the performances from last night; a professional from the industry for more years than many of you have even been born, thought Phillip had, by far, the best performances of the night, and Joshua had a better night of performances than Jessica. He has no skin in the game other than looking at the music as a professional producer who will be putting the music out with these singers; all three of these singers.

    Now you can hate on Phillip all you want, and insult him all you want, but go back and listen to what Jimmy said about him as an artist, and then about his performance(s) as compared to the other 2. Phillip deserved to be in the finale, and so did Joshua, at least according to Jimmy.

    • Mary B says:

      I am thrilled Phillip made the finale but I am still really sad. They truly all deserved it. I

    • deedee says:

      Well, he also said that Jessica should be singing at the Grammys, so how do you figure he gave Joshua a better score?

      • Marsaili says:

        Because he actually came out and said Joshua should be in the finale–he did not come out and say that about Jessica even though he did say she should be singing at the Grammy’s. he pretty much stated that the top two people should be Phillip and Joshua and he had TONS of good to say about Phillip—I felt vindicated by Jimmy for my Phillip love (even though I feel sick to my stomach about Joshua)

    • Veyna Moran says:

      well, jimmy goes this way and that way. i’d say most of the time, he hits the bullseye; sometimes, not. no, not really. but remember what he had to say about jess after hearing her sing “and i am telling you i’m not going”: if the audience see and the judges see what i saw, it could be GAME OVER. supremely high compliment, i’d say. he’s saying the rightful winner is right here!!! and then, we have steven tyler’s prediction last night after jessica’s rendition of his band’s hit ballad: you’ll be the last man standing. the die has been cast!!! waiting for the coronation…

  35. darcy the slutty twin says:

    Phillip’s stroking of his left thigh while singing drove me to ecstasy! I just knew he was sending me sex signals!

    Jessica should be top two by virtue of having a sex-on-a-stick did with hot biceps!!!

  36. Name That Tune says:

    Not surprised about Joshua. His Idol journey reminds me of Melinda Doolittle in Season 6. He belonged in the finale. But he won’t be there.

    It will be very interesting next week. Jessica and P2 are very different, so the season’s winner will be about who (or better yet) which type of artist is more popular.I will be very pleased if Jessica takes the win, but my guess is P2 is coasting to victory.

  37. Kindness says:

    Thank God. My prayers has been answered… Jessica made it to the finale… I will vote for her harder next week… It’s about time…
    Jessica for the win.
    We Love You Jessica!

  38. Carrie says:

    I think it’s like a season 6 of american idol
    Joshua is Melinda Doolittle>>> lands at 3rd place
    Philip Philips is Blake Lewis>>>2nd place
    Jessica Sanchez is Jordin Sparks>>>hopefully the female winner once again

  39. NedPepper says:

    This show constantly pisses me off….I don’t even know why I watch. Second year in a row they eliminate everyone I love, like, or kinda like and leave me with a finale rooting for….no one. So….the question becomes do I even watch? I didn’t last year. I dunno yet.

  40. Veyna Moran says:

    comparing the great melinda doolittle to josh ledet is unfair, inappropriate and sacrilegious!!! puh-leeez!!! other than their 3rd place finish, they have absolutely nothing in common. melinda doesn’t scream or overact or resort to hysterics. if anything, i was scared more for jessica meeting the dreaded “melinda syndrome”, ya know, the best one being sent home too close to the final run. both melinda and jessica delivered powerful song numbers week after week after week that many people enjoyed and looked forward, too. i am way too glad that jess made it thru the final 2. god knows how heart-broken i was when melinda didn’t. in my book, jessica’s triumph is justice for melinda! (jess apparently had a sore throat so her so-so outing last may 16 is definitely forgiveable; a minor misstep in a season of great musical strides.) and oh, j.lo is thinking of quitting the show? good riddance! i will vote for the great melinda doolittle as the new idol mentor/judge? how about it, folks?!?

  41. two J's all the way says:

    I tried to tell everyone earlier today this was how it was going to go down, the judges did this to Joshua with their over praise.
    Jessica takes it home next week, I will get my fifty votes online next week.

  42. hardy curtis says:

    i don’t know why some are saying that jessica has a bad performance last night. but i watched all of their perfomances but i dont see it underrated. i don’t know why michael ranks “my all” the lowest yet for me this hard to sing song, she definitely nailed it.

  43. ashley19 says:

    Sorry Jessica says she is Phillipino. Her Dad is Mexican. So she is Mexican Philipino. She is ashamed of her heritage and wears trashy clothes. What a great role model for other 16 year old girls.

  44. Mel says:

    Damn, Slezak, you’re good. Is there an Emmy for television blogging? Because you deserve one. I’m not even watching the show anymore (not bitter, but too sad that my favorites aren’t there), and it’s clear that I don’t need to watch. I feel like I did. Your words are that good. Love the ship metaphors. Bravo. Please write a book. I’ll buy it.