At the beginning of this season of American Idol I would have picked at least four of the six girls as potential winners. After last night’s performances, I just don’t see how Jessica Sanchez can overcome two terrible song choices. It makes me sort of angry and sad, because it’s felt like all year, the boys could have a weak night and survive, but the moment a girl falters, they are gone. I don’t think production and judging have helped any, but discussion how how the show can make itself fairer and better will wait until next week.
Picks from the Judges
I wasn’t expecting much from this round, since the only judge who could pick a halfway decent song left for another judging competition. (Say what you will, Simon often chose songs that highlighted something new about a contestant, or played completely to their strengths.)
Joshua Ledet “I’d Rather Go Blind When I first saw the set list on Twitter, I totally pegged this for Jessica. I think the last few weeks Joshua has really figured how to balance his performances so that he still can insert emotion without going over the top. That said, I wish the judges would have picked something a little more surprising. B+
Jessica Sanchez “My All” What on Earth is this choice? Jessica is in no way this type of singer. If they wanted to show her vulnerability, there are so many other songs that fit her style. She struggled the entire time to keep on key, and while the choruses were quite lovely, this was a complete disservice to someone who deserves better. C
Phillip Phillips “Beggin'” Probably the best song choice of the round. I will give Phillip a lot of credit for having fun with this and singing it really well. My only concern was that it highlighted a lot of what I find troublesome with him: his tendency to over growl and his penchant for finding the middling part of the song without digging too deep. B
In previous years, this round has been more important. In the last two seasons of American Idol theme weeks have been a lot less restrictive, so this round is diluted by this. This used to be the one time that a contestant could either shine or fall based on what they chose to highlight about themselves. (Think “Heartless”, the song that won the whole shebang.)
Also, point of contention: they have never shown hometown visits on performance night. It’s patently unfair, because no matter how they are edited, it’s obvious who gets the biggest crowds. That said, I think I was most moved by Joshua’s, but no one had the heart of Elliott’s or Kris’s or David’s. But at least there wasn’t the emptiness of poor Katherine or Syesha.
Joshua “Imagine” Usually I’d tell someone to stay away from this, because David Archuleta’s semi-final performance is still ringing in people’s ears, five years later. That said, I loved the restraint he did have, and I completely understand his reasoning for choosing it. B-
Jessica “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing No. Just no. To highlight how much I dislike this song, this is the only studio song I do not own from David Cook’s reign on American Idol. I find it an overdone piece of dreck, and frankly, since this is the seventh time this song has been done in eleven seasons, just the song choice alone astounds me. Did Jessica sing it well? Sure. There was one wonky note towards the end, but she showed a lot of control. Was it the song that she should have picked? Absolutely not. C+ (downgraded for completely terrible song choice.)
Phillip “Disease” The most astute choice of the contestants, Phillip could really do well in a Matchbox 20/Rob Thomas type career. However, by adding the saxophone, and losing his usual intensity, this took on a karaoke/muzak feel that devalued the greatness of the song choice. I’m glad the judges picked up on this, too. B-
Jimmy Iovine’s picks
Last year, Jimmy did a great job of picking songs, unlike previous years of producer picks (I’m looking at you “Hit Me Up”), and Clive Davis picks (his love affair with “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” was tiresome and predictable). This year was no different.
Joshua “No More Drama” You know what was great about this? Everything. I loved that Joshua wasn’t afraid to get dirty with this song, and frankly, if he goes on to this type of career, I am on board. This was the perfect song to go over-the-top on, and it paid off. A
Jessica “I’ll Be There” I saw a lot of complaints that this wasn’t a big enough song for her. I say boo. I think Jimmy expected her to choose a big diva song, and unlike the judges, he picked a great song for showing the pureness of her vocals. The best part of this for me was that this is the most natural and relaxed Jessica has looked the entire competition. I just fear it’s too little, too late. A
Phillip “We’ve Got Tonight” It figures that it took a song choice from Jimmy to get Phillip to do what I’ve been asking for all season. This was a song that highlighted everything great about Phillip’s voice. For once there was tone color and inflection, and weird hand gestures aside, was his best performance ever. A+
It feels like this whole season, people have been voting week to week. If that remains true, watch for an all boy finale, because Jessica was the weakest of the night. But if you take into account the whole season, I’m going to be honest: I’d prefer a Jessica/Joshua finale. No matter what happens, I don’t think anything would shock me. What do you think, did Jessica’s song choices doom her, or will her fans rally to save her?