“American Idol” is in the home stretch — and after Wednesday night’s performance episode, we have absolutely no idea who the voting public is going to pick to advance. Admittedly, the show felt a little as though the contestants were really trying really hard to get votes, but not having enough fun in the process — there were far too many ballads, and the whole presentation of the show didn’t have the sort of energy that we would have expected at this phase.
None of the performers were necessarily bad, though, and there were still some moments throughout the episode where the singers stood out.
Joshua Ledet, “I’d Rather Go Blind” – Rather than try and stretch Joshua as a performer, Randy Jackson decided to give him an Etta James number that was firmly in his comfort zone. While this was a performance that checked all the right vocal boxes (and drew the standard “amazing” criticism from the judges), we have to wonder — is this the sort of performance that will actually get people voting for him?
Jessica Sanchez, “My All” – We don’t really know why Jessica is that excited about Steven saying that she could win — mostly because he says that to pretty much everyone. While it was a subtle change for Jessica (especially since most of her ballads have been of the “sing big notes” variety), it was also a little sleepy.
Phillip Phillips, “Beggin'” – Two weeks ago, we were writing Phillip off as a contender to win this entire competition. However, he was brilliant on “Volcano” last week — and this time, he took on a great song “Beggin'” and managed to turn it completely on his head. Steven may not be the best judge, but he was the best at picking songs.
Joshua Ledet, “Imagine” – This was an interesting choice for Joshua to make — whenever we hear this song, we either think about John Lennon or, in “Idol” terms, David Archuleta.
We are still torn on this performance. It doesn’t benefit Joshua to do ballad after ballad, but it was nice to hear a more restrained vocal from him rather than just yet another rendition of the man “taking us to church” (as the show likes to say).
Jessica Sanchez, “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” – In this week’s editing of “making Steven Tyler proud,” Jessica performed an Aerosmith hit and did a pretty good job. However, at this point we really have to admit that the show was dragging. The hometown visits lacked the emotion that we saw in the past, and this was the fourth ballad in five performances on the night. If Joshua and Jessica don’t do more to start working the stage again, Phillip could end up taking this despite hopes for a different sort of winner.
Phillip Phillips, “Disease” – Phillip’s hometown visit was easily the funniest one of the group, in between him talking to a stuffed turkey and being forced to hug a rather enormous woman in the street despite him clearly not being interested in doing so.
As for the song choice here, it was smart for Phillip to take on a mid-tempo track in the midst of some of his ballads — we actually liked this arrangement more than the original, and he somehow managed to give the show a bit of a pulse again. After being rather negative on Phillip for about a month, we’re starting to come on board.
Jimmy Iovine’s picks
Joshua Ledet, “No More Drama” – We don’t want to sound like we absolutely despite ballads here — and what actually made us not end up being particularly big fans of the earlier performances was that they were soporific — there was no passion, no intensity, and the arrangement was akin to a lullaby.
This, meanwhile, was incredible. We saw Joshua completely take over the stage, hit some incredible notes, and also showcase his full range of emotion. It was yet another top five moment from him this season.
Jessica Sanchez, “I’ll Be There” – What a smart man Jimmy is sometimes. He has been trying to make Jessica appeal to younger audiences all season, and he finally had a chance to do just that with her final performance on Wednesday night. “I’ll Be There” was a song that was a reminder that Jessica still had a youthful energy and spirit, and it also gave her an opportunity to tackle a moving, well-known song with a simple message.
Phillip Phillips, “We Got Tonight” – This performance started with Jimmy nearly falling on his face in the crowd, and then we had the bizarre sight of Phillip uncomfortably massaging his leg through much of this performance.
For Phillip, things fortunately did not get from there. While he never really looked comfortable, it was one of his better performances of the entire season. Steven also contributed something when it came to the critique — he set off the censors. (He did something!)
What was your favorite performance during this week’s show, and who are you voting for?