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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol, May 16 – Three Very Different Singers

I wish Jennifer Lopez wouldn’t have been so honest. It’s right at the crux of the season when everything is getting really exciting, down to the final three. She picks this time to announce to Ellen DeGeneres that she’s not sure if she’s coming back. What? I wasn’t in any way comfortable with this group of judges two years ago, but now I think it’s worked it’s way into a comfortable spot. I sure hope it’s just a momentary lapse in judgment for J-Lo.

As usual, there are three rounds of songs tonight for final three night. The first round will be judges’ choices, the second round contestants’ choices, and the third round Jimmy Iovine’s.

Joshua Ledet is leading us off, and it was judge Randy Jackson who chose for him. He picked an Etta James song, I’d Rather Be Blind, for him since he’s become known on the show for his classic R&B style. It’s how he’s excelled on the show in the past, and why fix what’s not broken?

Joshua is using that old-style microphone again which I really like on him. It’s just something different. He does really well with the song, and exactly as we all knew he would. It isn’t my most favorite ever that he’s done. He seems a little subdued even … for him. This song, to me, needs more passion. And all I can think of is little Rachel Crow singing the snot out of it last fall on The X Factor. The judges, of course, give him a standing O.

Steven Tyler feels it’s another Joshua moment to hear him sing those old songs and deliver them and hear the audience scream in just that right spot. Out of 70,000, there’s only on American Idol, and he sang like that one tonight. Jennifer explains they struggled to pick songs for the Idols, especially Joshua, and one of the reasons for that was wondering if they should give him something more up-to-date. But he’s such a throwback and always brings down the house with them. They just fed him him what they knew he would feed back to them, and he brought down the house once again.

Randy tells Joshua that he’s such a classic stylist, and thinks the song fits him like a glove. He’s hoping in the future he can take what he does and bring that into modern time, “which deserves a lift, because it’s aching right now.” Ryan Seacrest compares tonight’s show to a sporting event and asks Joshua how it’s different for him. He has no other answer other than he just keeps remembering how badly he wants this. As a funny aside, the Kraft commercial on afterwards is playing I’d Rather Go Blind.

Jennifer mentions that when it came to making a pick for Jessica Sanchez, right away she knew she needed to hear her sing a song like this. They’ve only heard her sing the big ballads, and they want to hear her sing this softer ballad, going after a tenderness in the song that she’ll kill. She’s singing My All.

Tenderness is great, but Jennifer doesn’t seem to get that this younger girl should not be singing such older lyrics, no matter how many times others bring it up. She indeed sounds exquisite, but her face is a blank slate. There’s nothing there as she just fights through this very difficult song. There’s a part of it, too, that completely buries her.

Randy thinks it was absolutely beautiful and perfectly the right song for Jessica. He brings up again working with Mariah mentioning that they usually say not to do Mariah, because it’s a lesson in the most difficult things to sing. Yet, he thinks this is one of the best times a Mariah song has been done on TV. Jennifer agrees it’s a hard song, and she realized in the middle it was, but she felt Jessica did it beautifully and in her own way. She didn’t even go to the big part at the end, and Jennifer loved that, to prove she could do it.

Steven thinks Jessica makes people hang on every note when she sings. He hopes she gets used to encores, and in a crazy way, he believes she’ll be the last one standing there. Ryan goes back and asks about him predicting the winner, but Steven only asks, “Don’t I always?”Jessica loved the song and loves Mariah Carey, but agrees with Jennifer that it was a really hard song.

For Phillip Phillip’s judges’ pick, Steven picked Beggin, because it has a melody that they’re trying to drag through Phillip and get him to come to his senses and hit a little stronger. He’s done it in the past, so they want to see him do it again.

I’ve never heard this song before, but it’s a great song choice for Phillip. It’s definitely in his wheelhouse. He once again accompanies himself on the guitar. Part of what I like is it’s not a song I’ve heard so many times before on the radio or on shows like this. It’s completely unique. There’s no judges’ standing O, but Steven is turned around telling someone how good it is, and Jennifer is raising her fists triumphantly in the air. Steven asks the crowd, “Can you believe this guy?”

Jennifer tells Phillip he’s very funny, as they listened to Steven say he picked this song because of the melody, but Phillip couldn’t help it. He had to mess with it. But he catches a groove in a song that is all his and he just rides it all the way home, and it was great. Steven thinks it’s beautiful to watch him unfold from the guy who was trying to crawl out of himself to a guy with a spotlight in his face where it belongs. When you’re facing the sun, the shadows fall behind you. He’s hoping he writes his own songs, as he could be the new age “Boss,” aka Springstein.

Randy likes the poetic-ness of Steven’s thoughts. Predictably, he isn’t poetic himself, saying we were “just at the Phil Phillips concert right there, y’all.” He is so in the zone and has been since day one. He doesn’t care what’s going on around him, has a good time, takes the song, the challenge, and the melodies. It was another incredible performance by him. Phillip is who he is and we love it.

Ryan approaches the judges and points out that Joshua got a standing ovation, and wonders if there was a clear cut winner of round one. Randy isn’t sure the winner was so clear cut, and thinks they all did exceptionally well. Vocally, Joshua probably did his thing at the end and has a slight edge. Jennifer really loves Joshua, but she has to (begrudgingly) admit that Phillip’s performance really moved everybody. Steven points out how he comes in and takes a chance and crawls into a song, and Jessica can sing like an angel. He’s still on the fence.

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