American Idol Recap: The Top Three Sing Three

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And mostly live in the past...

Last night was the penultimate performance show for American Idol season 11, and I will say what I've been saying most of the season: These contestants are really quite talented, but I don't really have a favorite. How can that be? Last night's show was a good example why. Each Idol has something I really like, and something that leaves me cold. And the song choices…all season long, and last night in particular…have been really old school and played out. I mean, that's nothing new for Idol, but it has seemed more boring to me this year.

So let's dig in…I'm just going to talk about each semi-finalist as a whole:

Idol #1: Joshua

Joshua has an amazing range…low, high, he's got it. He really does seem like he can sing any note. And oddly enough, he has an intensely physical way of performing…his whole body goes into it. I like that. I also like when he finds moments to restrain himself, and that just doesn't happen often enough. For them to call that rendition of Imagine restrained was a total joke. So, what leaves me cold? Yes, it's that he seems to know no other approach than Gospel-y over the top performance, but mostly it's his cold, dead eyes. Even when his whole body seems to be spasm-ing with emotion, his face, and really his eyes, don't betray that same feeling. It's weird and disconnected. It's why I call him all voice, no soul. And I know that's counter intuitive, given his voice *sounds* so soulful.

Joshua sang two really old songs last night…an Etta James number, John Lennon's Imagine…and one song more than a decade old in MJ Blige's No More Drama

Bottom line: I think Joshua deserves the finale. He was consistently strong last night, and, look, cold, dead eyes (as I've said before) didn't stop Carrie Underwood from winning. And she got a lot better with experience too.

Idol #2. Jessica


Jessica does have an amazing technical instrument, but last night was not her night. I thought she was kind of a lock for the final, but don't think so anymore. First of all, she has a slight issue in that she often seems to be imitating the original artist, more than making a song her own. Second, she was saddled (or chose) three pretty lackluster songs. She sang My All by Mariah Carey…a 15-year-old song that was too quiet and low and lackluster throughout. Certainly she had none of Mariah's dynamism on the number. Then she sang Aerosmith's own I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, also from that same year. A song that has been sung (to only moderate success) on Idol for years, and then she closed out with I'll Be There, the Jackson 5 chestnut from 1970. Yes, she sounded all Michael-like, but why is that a good thing. Overall, she had little zip or sparkle last night.

Bottom Line: I think she just kiboshed her trip to the finals.

Idol #3: Phillip Phillips

Phillip represents the only Idol standing whose album would actually have music I might be interested in buying on it. But unfortunately for him, I already own the entire Dave Matthews Band oeuvre, so i wouldn't need to buy Phillips'. Phillip sang the only songs that were from the last 5 years even, with Madcon's Beggin' being from 2007. I don't know what melody they were hoping Phillip would sing, but hopefully it wasn't that monotonous one he did sing. Then he pulled out Disease by Matchbox 20 for his own choice, a 10-year-old song. It was fine, but seemed almost identical in sound and staging as the previous song. Finally, he closed out with that Bob Seger oldie but goodie, We Got Tonight. He sounded tentative and timid, although I will grant that he wasn't as affected and imitative as he usually is. I actually think Phillip is talented, I just don't think he pulled it off (enough) last night.

Bottom Line: Even if he didn't, I'm not sure I believe he is really in danger of missing the final…he's been a total fan favorite since the beginning.

Who's Going Home?

Should be: Phillip

Will be: Jessica

But what did you think?

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