We’ve all had times when we want a second chance at something – a do-over, in short. Frankly, can we have one for the top 3? Maybe somebody can “creatively” lose the voting results. Maybe it can turn out that the graphics were wrong somewhere. Maybe there was a breakdown in the AT&T voting system. Frankly, I’m looking for just about any excuse to have a do-over for this week. This was a dismal top three episode. This is a week which is usually good for all-time best performances. It’s safe to say, though, that we will not be remembering any of this week’s performances in that particular pantheon.
Only Phillip Phillips really had anything close to a good night. He was helped out by some good song choices and some song arrangements which worked around his strengths and weaknesses. We’ve Got Tonight was particularly good; this much more subdued Phillip is a better taste to my ears than the normal Phillip we get. Disease was just okay for me – to be honest, it was the Blonde Saxophone Chick and the bongoes that made this song for me. Beggin was a more… traditional Phillip. At least it was entertaining and upbeat. Overall, Phillip had song choices which fit him well and arrangements/staging that worked with him, not against him. The Idol gods (also known as the producers) were working in his favor.
The two big voices left, well, they both had off nights. Joshua, though, had a less disastrous night. Imagine was his best song, but even then I do not like what he did with it. Some songs, you can retool and rework dramatically and it works. Imagine is not one of those, partly because it’s as much a philosophical statement than it is a piece of music. To use a car analogy, it’s like taking a beautifully designed Italian supercar then adding a hot rod paint job with flames, blinged-out rims and lights, and a giant stereo system. Technically, Joshua sang it well, but the direction he took it was not good.
His other two songs, though, were not as impressive at all. I’d Rather Go Blind had the feel of a dated lounge/nightclub performance. As far as Joshua’s vocals, they weren’t bad – but we’ve seen him better. It just felt completely mediocre. No More Drama could not be ironically named; if anything it was too dramatic. It never got into any sort of flow for me, and Joshua bouncing around did not help either. The jacketless part had as much shouting as singing. For Joshua, it was a weird night overall.
And poor Jessica Sanchez…. oy. All three of her songs had significant issues, to say the least. Put even more bluntly: she stunk on top 3 night. I’m not 100% sure if the two “picked” songs for Jessica were this year’s equivalent of the infamous Hit Me Up, but if it was: by Idol standards, it was a subtle bus. But they did her zero favors.
Let’s start with Mariah Carey’s My All. What happened to that “don’t make Jessica sing stuff too old for her” edict? Can anybody with a working brain cell tell me that lyrics like these are age-appropriate?
I’d give my all to have
Just one more night with you
I’d risk my life to feel
Your body next to mine
‘Cause I can’t go on
Living in the memory of our song
I’d give my all for your love tonight
It isn’t. I’m not a prude, but come on! Age-inappropriateness aside, it was just too much for Jessica. It’s a ridiculously tricky song that is as demanding as anything in the Mariah songbook. She might have had a chance had this been a single-song week, but doing something like this on a three-song week… it wasn’t going to work. And it didn’t.
As for I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing… it may be the single dumbest song choice this deep into an Idol season. Why in the name of all that is good in music did she to pick that – and turn it into a putrid, generic-sounding, robotic ballad in the process? She sucked out everything that was good about that song and turned it into a completely forgettable ballad. Which she didn’t even sing emotionally! This song saw the return of robo-Jessica. Bad song choice, bad idea to re-do it as a ballad. Completely ridiculous.
The logic behind I’ll Be There escapes me. I know Jimmy Iovine likes to up the degree of difficulty for his picks – but this was bordering on unfair. Even if she had done it well (which she didn’t – the changing voices in mid-song part sounded odd), it would have done nothing for her. We know she can do ballads just fine. But singers today cannot sell by ballads alone. Neither is it a winning formula for Idol success.
To sum up the night: Phillip got good song choices and did okay, even if you take into consideration degree of difficulty. Joshua had an erratic night, and Jessica threw up what may have been the worst top three performance in Idol history since Jasmine Trias. Now, can somebody lose those voting results pronto? Joshua and Jessica are both infinitely better than what we saw last night.
Choosing Between Big Voices
This week was always going to be a choice between Joshua and Jessica. Barring a disaster from Phillip, one of them was going to go. As it turned out, it was Jessica who had the disastrous night.
Yet that may well be the one thing that will save her. She had the kind of night that propels fanbases to yell “Save Our Idol!” and vote like they’re possessed. It’s not going to hurt her vote total at all.
On the other side, Joshua has been the most over-hyped contestant of the season. He also has a decidedly throwback style that makes one wonder if he is current and able to build a fanbase. Some will think it’s a hard call, but with analysis: it’s not.
The pick: Joshua Ledet to go home.