The time has come for American Idol Season 11. Tonight we get to see the parades and the homecomings. Tonight Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez and Phil Phillips each perform three songs to convince America to put them into the finale. I could make an argument for at least three others to be on this stage tonight, but not a compelling argument. This has been a strong season filled with thrilling performances, and it comes down to this.
I am pretty sure that Joshua Ledet will amaze us tonight with his soaring, grinding vocals. You can bet that we will hear plenty of grunts, wails and big notes from Jessica Sanchez. Phil Phillips will growl and grimace his charming way through three songs tonight. Each one of these performers has made a compelling argument for their place in the music industry. Record executives are drooling to catch whichever of these three fall out of American Idol Season 11 this week and start recording their debut record.
The biggest danger for Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez and Phil Phillips will be song selection. Each of the American Idol Season 11 top 3 will perform one song selected by the judges, one song selected by Jimmy Iovine and one song that they select themselves. For all their ranting and ravings about song selection, the judges have proven to be surprisingly bad at selecting songs for the top 3 in years past. Let’s hope none of these three performers are submarined by a bad song selection from the judges.
It is time for the show to start and I am excited. Join me for what should be an exciting evening.
Joshua Ledet opens the show tonight. Randy picked Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind”, great choice Mr. Jackson. The first verse was a little pedestrian but Joshua begins to dig in during the middle of the song. Incredible scatting conclusion to that song. Again the judges leap to their feet. Steven calls it “another Joshua moment”. J-LO says he brought down the house and Randy says he is a classic. In my opinion Joshua Ledet could have taken off a little earlier in the song but he ended with another seemingly uncontrollable, craaaazy soul throwdown.
The judges select Mariah Carey’s “My All” for Jessica Sanchez. The opening verse is too breathy, sung in her lower register, with too many runs. I did not understand a single word of that first verse. When she opens her lungs for the chorus we can hear the lyrics but when she returns to the verses we do not hear any words. I understood very little of that song. Randy called it execellent. J-Lo acknowledged how hard the song was. Steven talks. That song looked hard for Jessica and I am not sure that is what you want at this point of American Idol Season 11.
The judges picked “Beggin’” for Phil Phillips. I am not familiar with this song or Madcon. It is a perfect fast-paced, grooving song for Phil Phillips. This song highlights the rhythm and sonic dynamic decisions that are Phil Phillips trademarks. That was a fun, exciting performance. I don’t know if we saw anything new from Phil Phillips with “Beggin’”. J-Lo says he caught the groove and rode it all the way home. Steven got carried away and compared Phil to Bruce Springsteen. Come on, Steven let’s not get carried away. Randy says we just went to the Phil Phillips concert.
I think Joshua Ledet and Phil Phillips left Jessica Sanchez in their dust for round 1. Randy calls round 1 for Joshua and J-Lo calls round 1 for Phillip. Steven abstains.
It is time to follow Joshua Ledet to Westlake, Louisiana. In the heart of Cajun country they know how to celebrate. Joshua’s homecoming was 9 hours of church services, parades, parties and a concert. Watching Joshua move through his hometown, he just looks like a star. Joshua Ledet chooses to sing “Imagine”. Surprising and interesting, how will this go? That was not the most exciting Joshua Ledet performance but it did show his enormous musical talent. He sang the song beautifully and he made all of the right choices with pacing and dynamics. Steven loved it. J-Lo discusses that his performance quality is what makes him special. Joshua just explained why he is so great. He heard “Imagine”, loved it and committed to standing back and delivering the message of the song. Joshua Ledet is a singing savant.
Now we go to Chula Vista, California with Jessica Sanchez. Jessica experienced her first helicopter ride from Hollywood to San Diego. Jessica Sanchez chooses “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing”. This big Aerosmith ballad is perfect for Jessic’a talents and she takes advantage with big soaring choruses and dramatic notes. My only problem was that I could her Steven Tyler through hear entire performance. Steven says she took a big song and made it bigger. J-Lo says her last note sent everyone into the stratosphere. Randy says she delivered a big moment at the end.
Time to head back down south as Phil Phillips takes us to Leesburg, Georgia. Phil’s favorite restaurant named a meal after him. The “Phil Phillips” is a half order chicken chili nachos with no vegetables. Oh my gosh, Phil’s bawling daddy is packing heat! Phil Phillips chooses Matchbox 20′s “Disease ” to make his big statement. The low key arrangement of Phil on guitar with bongos and sax is the opposite of Jessica’s big orchestra. This is a little bland. I didn’t really like that. Nothing wrong with it but nothing special either. J-Lo agrees with me. Steven thinks it was good but not over the top. Randy did not like it thinking it was too subdued. I agree with the judges? How can that happen?
Now to the final round. Jimmy chooses “No More Drama” from Mary J Blige for Joshua Ledet. Jimmy thinks this song gives Joshua the opportunity to “take it to church”. This season’s idols are going crazy in the audience. Wow. Jimmy was right. Joshua Ledet just went off on that song! Randy says people should just stand up and vote for Joshua. Randy says he is an amazing singer and an amazing performer. J-Lo says he has the magic of knowing exactly what he is going to do and completely letting go at the same time. Steven says it was over the top. I stand by last night’s article that Joshua Ledet should win American Idol Season 11.
Jimmy chooses “I’ll Be There” for Jessica Sanchez. Finally, an age appropriate song for Jessica Sanchez, but does it have enough range for her singing chops? Beautiful tone in her opening lines. Great job, Jimmy. This was perfect for Jessica. That was a beautiful performance that showed the beauty of Jessica’s voice. I loved her great tone, her restraint and her big notes. Steven and J-Lo loved “I’ll Be There”. Randy could not get excited and did not feel like she created any moments with the performance. That performance showed me things I could grow to love about Jessica Sanchez.
Now, for Phil Phillips, Jimmy chose Bob Seger‘s “We’ve Got Tonight”. Let’s see if Phil sticks to the melody. Maybe Phil should stop distracting us with the fanatical rubbing of his leg. This song highlights Phil Phillip‘s limitations as a singer. He struggles reaching the range of that song and his voice sounds thin. The judges give that a standing ovation? For that? Randy says it was his best performance. I don’t get it. J-Lo says it was sweet like a lullabye. Steven says it does not matter if you hit the notes as long as you have the passion. Does that mean I have a shot? I got passion!
I think the judges just handed Phil Phillips a spot in the finale. Join us tomorrow night to find out who joins him as we live blog the American Idol Season 11 top 3 results.