The final three aspiring stars performed on “American Idol” on Wednesday night, each one striving to produce what the judges call “a moment,” with a view to winning a spot in next week’s finale. The three diverse contestants-Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez, and Phillip Phillips— each sang three songs: the first being the judges’ choice, the second their own choice, and the third chosen by mentor and producer Jimmy Iovine. The show also featured hometown visits for each of the contestants, complete with parades, concerts, fireworks, and interviews.
Joshua Ledet, a preacher’s son from Westlake, Louisiana, brought the judges to their feet with his rendition of “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James. The judges called him a “throwback” and a “classic stylist” who could “save R & B.” Ledet has received numerous standing ovations from the judges this season. For his second number, Ledet sang “Imagine” by John Lennon. Judge Jennifer Lopez called it a “pulled back and controlled performance” and Randy Jackson said it was “brilliant.” In his third and final number Ledet performed “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige. Lopez said he “took us to church” and Steven Tyler called it “over the top.” Sixteen-year-old Jessica Sanchez from Chula Vista, California, was up next. Sanchez, who was homeschooled throughout high school, sang Mariah Carey’s “My All” for her opening number and nailed it, according to the judges. Steven Tyler predicted that Sanchez would be in the finale and could win the whole thing.
“We tell people not to sing Mariah, but that was one of the best we’ve heard,” Jackson added.
For her second and third numbers, Sanchez sang “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith and “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson Five. Singing an Aerosmith song with Tyler as a judge was a gutsy move, according to the other judges, but all three felt she pulled it off. Her final number did not receive as high praise as the others, with Jackson saying that she failed to deliver “a moment” and that he would have preferred the Mariah Carey version of the song.
That left Georgia native Phillip Phillips to perform last. Phillips sang “Beggin'” by Madcon for his Judges’ Choice number and Lopez said that he won Round 1 with his performance. Tyler agreed, saying that Phillips “crawls into a song and changes it.” Phillips’ second song, “Disease” by Matchbox 20, which none of the judges particularly liked, was labeled merely “good.”
“Here’s why,” Jackson explained, “It was a subdued moment for you– you could do that in your sleep.”
Phillips finally produced a “moment” (according to the judges) with his final number, “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger. Phillips sang without his usual guitar, and although he “didn’t hit all the notes,” he sang with “passion,” according to Tyler. Lopez commented that there were 20 million girls out there who wish he were singing to them.
Jackson was even more effusive: “Finally, when you needed a moment, you had a great one. You got ’em, dude. This boy is in it to win it.”
The final two will be declared on the May 17 results show, find out who will win American Idol according to the odds on each performer.