Our ranting time this week was delayed because I was put into a deep sleep by most things Idol this week. The theme of “California Dreamin'” took me there. Our top four sang on Wednesday–a ditty by an artist from California (or about California), one they wish they’d written, and duets. Could this theme be more random? Then some guest artists performed on Thursday, there were Idol group numbers, and then someone went home. Nothing that urged me to get up and dance or get up period.
I’m going to change things up and rock my thoughts by listing the Idol peeps in the order I felt they ranked for the night via summarizing all three performances, lowest to highest. Then I’ll make some predictions for how it might all shake out based on the history of Idol. Remember, I’m an addict and have watched from Season One’s first second. While it feels like a bit of a toss-up between the top 3, history has some different tales to tell.
Hollie Cavanagh – I am sad to put one of my early faves below Phillip this week, but she earned the lower ranking. “Faithfully” round one was over sung schlock. I’ve been a fan of Hollie since Top 24 week. In fact, I called her a sleeper. She has a great tone, power, and beauty in her voice. She unfortunately also has a tendency to turn on that power and push the “go” button without knowing the location of the shutdown switch. Meh.
“Eternal Flame,” Hollie’s duet with Jessica, was bad. While listening, I tweeted “Oh this is tragic. ‘Eternal Flame’ on #Idol. Jessica’s harmony was off. I’ll need counseling after tonight.” While Hollie shined on the high notes she handled, the rest was BRUTAL. Here’s a door prize for both.
Her last delivery was the Bonnie Raitt classic “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” This is one of my absolute favorite songs. It is on my “Life Theme Songs” iPod playlist and was on steady repeat during my first two years of college as I lived out the lyrics. I tweeted “Oh no. Hollie is attempting my fave Bonnie Raitt song. *gritting teeth* She better not blow this. #Idol.”
Hollie pasted an image of one in pain onto her face and stepped out to tackle the hit. She tackled it right to the ground with some belting that overcast any element of depth and emotion. The judges attacked her for it and were right. I shook my head and tweeted “Hollie on ‘Can’t Make You Love Me’ is nothing near what Kimberly Locke did season 2 on #Idol.” Kimberly, who should have at least made the top 2, sang with song with the quiet stated connection to pain that it has. Sadly, here’s your door prize, Hollie.
Phillip Phillips – He sits here because he didn’t have a crash and burn moment tonight, not because I think he is deserving of making the top 3. Hollie has the better voice. Phillip has the repeated performance level each week that has reeled in steady fans. Plus some folks think he’s dreamy.
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain” was his same old, same old. Sing some notes, look sleepy-eyed at the audience. Phoned in, but user-friendly for his fans. Here’s your door prize.
Phillip’s duet with Joshua on Maroon 5′s “This Love” was far better than their less than harmonic performance last week. Was it magic? Nope, but at this point I’ll take less cringe-worthy. Meh, but improved for them.
His last song was “Volcano,” which is one I’m not familiar with. Dare I say it was a bit interesting? For one of the few times this season–the other may have been his very first audition–I saw Phillip sitting on the stage and felt he was actually present. He seemed connected and into the song (his choice for a title he wished he’d written).
Jessica Sanchez – Jessica, Jessica, Jessica. Oh how you have grown to annoy me. And oh, Jimmy, how you have failed yet again in your promise to pick age-appropriate songs for her to sing. Etta James’ “Steal Away” is about sneaking to get one’s groove on late at night. Yep, let’s have the youngest one purr and growl that one out. It is a bit like watching a way talented kid at a pageant going to town. Good voice, but meh on the unconnected delivery.
See above for the duet bomb. Still ugh.
I got some hate tweets back for saying “Jessica singing a mega hit from ‘Dreamgirls’??? Oh mercy, guard your ears. #Idol” and “What can Jessica relate to in ‘And I Am Telling You’? Sorry, it isn’t about not wanting to leave a show. Just hollering. No feeling. #Idol” Jessica said she picked this last song because, after falling to the bottom and having to be saved by the judges, she wants to stay. Total misinterpretation of the song.
A person needs some life on them to sing that song and hit the truth of the emotion behind the lyrics. Jessica has a beautiful voice and a wicked bag of tricks. That is part of the problem. She’s reaching back and relying on tricks like growling and runs to carry songs through. It is just notes being hit. Meh for the fake parts.
Joshua Ledet – There is the beauty of an old soul that just radiates out of his eyes. Joshua is a contestant that has grown on me. At first, I was a little put off by his “Mantasia” moments of reaching the bridge of each song, turning the corner, and taking it back to church. There is a time and place for amping up like that and every song doesn’t need it. But oh there are some moments where he hits and caresses notes just right that you can feel the angst and believe what he is bringing out.
“You Raise Me Up” was hard to listen to after recently hearing the beauty of what Chris Mann did with it on “The Voice.” While Chris moved along with the simplicity of the soaring arrangement, Joshua took a step back and went psycho gospel singer on it. Meh.
Again, see above for his duet with Phillip.
Joshua ended his performances with “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” He cooed, howled, went low, raised high, and it was all appropriately arranged. Masterful. Earth-stirring. Soul bearing. I’d listen again and I’m afraid my iPod will go up in flames.
A Brief Note on the Results Show
Producers, if you insist on keeping J-Lo on as a judge, please ban her in the future from performing her lip-synched dance songs. Appreciate it.
David Cook returned to sing “The Last Song I’ll Write For You.” The comment of the night for me was when my mom–who I turned into an Idol fan by Season Two–called to say he shouldn’t have written that one either.
With Hollie making her exit this week, we are left with Jessica, Phillip, and Joshua as our Top 3. While I’d love for Joshua to make the Top 2 and I believe he’d be worthy of holding the title based on his talent (though I’m concerned on marketing and song choice for his single and album), history on Idol tells us the road ahead might not be that easy.
If we classify Joshua as R&B, Jessica as pop, and Phillip as artsy-alternative, Joshua’s days might be numbered. Of the past 10 seasons, only six had final 3 rounds with an R&B singer left. Of those, only twice has that person made the top 2 and that was during Seasons Two and Three where Rubin Studdard and Fantasia Barrino carried strong fan bases and won.
Also, based on the ongoing pimping of the judges and steady fan love all season, I think Phillip is going to ride the slow horse on into the next round. If the finale does end up as Jessica versus Phillip, may the one who performs in the most authentic way win.
What are your guesses for top 2? How about for our final winner? What changes would you like to see on the show next year?