'American Idol' Season 11, Episode 37 Recap - 'Top 3 Performance Night'
We're down to just three contestants, which means that tonight, each of them will sing three songs: one of the judges' choosing, one of Jimmy's choosing, and one of their own choosing. Get ready for more useless comments from the judges than we have ever heard before.
The three finalists stand on stage as Seacrest does his Seacrest thing for the opening. I like these three kids, but my god, do they lack charisma. Jessica is the only one who knows how to smile and look at the camera apparently. I know Phillip can be charming when he wants, but right now it doesn't look like he wants to be there.
The judges' pick for Joshua is Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind," which Randy calls "I'd Rather Be Blind." I'm beginning to wonder if Randy really chose this song. Regardless, it's a great choice for Joshua, provided he isn't doing downtempo songs all night. He seems a little less connected to it than he usually is, but it's a strong performance anyway.
The judges love it! Jennifer and Randy love the classical style, and Randy is already looking ahead to Joshua's career, hoping he can breathe a little life into modern R&B as well. Joshua is seriously bad at these little interviews. I feel like Seacrest is trying to lob him some softballs, but he might want to lob even softer.
Jessica is up next, and Jennifer says they decided to give her a tender song, and gets so caught up in it that she forgets to say what it is. It's Mariah Carey's "My All," by the way. It's a difficult song, at least it is the way Jessica is singing it: she's putting in all kinds of crazy runs that might even be causing her to miss a couple of notes.
The judges love it! Randy is very impressed with Jessica being able to tackle a Mariah song, and so is Jennifer, who noticed how hard it was halfway through. Steven says Jessica should "get used to encores" and sorta calls Jessica as the winner.
Phillip gets "Beggin'" by Madcon, for the express purpose (according to Steven) of making him sing a melody for once. It kinda works, too: Phillip still manages to slide all over vocally and put in his growls, but when he sings the chorus, he does stick to the melody. At least he does the first few times. That's really all we can ask, isn't it?
The judges love it! The audience goes nuts for about 5 minutes. To be fair, it was a pretty good performance. Steven says that Phillip could be a "new age Boss," indicating he could be the next Bruce Springsteen. That's pretty generous.
Before Joshua's second performance, we get a look at his visit home, set to "Son of a Preacher Man," of course. "They are really acting like I'm Barack Obama," says an incredulous Joshua. We also go to Joshua's church, which is the tiniest little run-down thing in Louisiana, like it's out of a movie or something. There are some terrifying old white ladies in Joshua's home town, and Josh is appropriately unnerved. After the parade, though, he actually looks legitimately excited for once. It's a good look for him, he should do that more.
Joshua's pick is "Imagine" by John Lennon. Interesting, and very different from the Joshua we have been shown thus far. Honestly, it's not my favorite arrangement of the song. There's a kinda sappy key change that cheapens it a bit, and Joshua gets a little dramatic with it. I was excited about it, too.
The judges love it anyway! Steven lauds it, Jennifer praises the performance and the emotion. Randy asks for the story behind the song, and praises Joshua's connection to it.
Jessica's trip home could have easily been by car, since it's only about a two-hour drive, but instead Jessica gets a helicopter ride and lands in Petco Park. She gets some pretty massive crowds, considering she's in such a big city. Jessica's house is big too, by the way. Jessica is awarded with a "Jessica Sanchez Day" in Chula Vista, and sings for some Navy reservists, including her father.
Jessica's choice, oddly enough, is Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." Was she even alive when "Armageddon" came out? Is this song an oldie to her? It's not her most impressive performance, but of course it's still good, because it's Jessica. Maybe after her Mariah challenge, she wanted something easy. She strains to hit the high note at the end, unfortunately.
The judges love it! Steven especially loved it, and Jennifer notes how rare it is that Steven likes when somebody sings his songs. Seacrest asks how old Jessica was when the song came out. She was 5 years old. Yeesh.
Phillip takes his trip back to Georgia, and is met by a cage full of screaming girls at the airport. I laugh out loud because it looks like the 8-year-olds in front are being crushed into the fence. Don't worry, they're okay. Phillip meets a small crowd at the pawn shop too, including some fat lady who gets a clearly unsanctioned hug. Phillip Phillips Sr. and Jr. get a little teary-eyed at their reunion, which is cute. His crowd is pretty sizable as well, and they're certainly louder and shriekier.
Phillip's choice is "Disease" by Matchbox Twenty. Wait, what? Matchbox Twenty? Really? I don't understand this kid. Anyway, he's joined on stage by bongos and a saxophone, and it's pretty underwhelming. Somehow, Phillip singing Matchbox Twenty makes sense, though.
The judges kinda love it a little! Jennifer thinks it was a safe performance and not a "wow" performance. Steven agrees it "wasn't over the top" but it was good. Randy does his shtick again, and marvels at how they're all agreeing that it was "just okay."
Jimmy's pick for Joshua is "No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige. His brother has nothing but confidence: "You GOT that," he says. Jimmy claims he wanted Joshua to have another "Man's World" type of moment, so we'll see if he gets there by the end. It's not quite up to that caliber, but it's still a great performance from Joshua. The other finalists out in the audience look shocked at Joshua's all-out performance.
The judges love it! Randy thinks that people should vote for Joshua no matter what. Steven says he heard the last 40 years of music while Joshua performed.
Jessica will be getting "I'll Be There" by The Jackson 5 from Jimmy, which she listens to on her brand-new Beats By Dre speakers. Ooooooh. Jimmy notes how it was a bit of a bridge song for Michael Jackson, mature but youthful at the same time. The pre-chorus is in a weird range for her, but when she gets to the actual chorus, the big notes work really well.
The judges love it! Steven loved the chorus, and called it all "delicious." Jennifer says she sounded almost just like Michael at the beginning, but also notes that she might have needed Jermaine for that one section. Randy didn't love it and was missing the "moment."
Jimmy gives Phillip "We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger. There ya go. Jimmy notes the romantic blend with the more Phillip-type stuff, and also hopes, like the judges, that Phillip will stick to the melody. He does, and it's a very nice, subtle, emotional performance. A really great choice by Jimmy.
The judges love it! Randy praises it for the "moment," saying it was the perfect song at the perfect time in the competition. He might be right, there.
With that in mind, based on today's performances, Jessica might be in trouble. Phillip's weak second round was saved by Jimmy's pick for him at the last moment, and that might be all the push he needed to get to the final. To be honest, he might have gotten there without it. Jessica didn't get any negative feedback, but she was lacking the big moments that Phillip and Joshua had. I fear we may be looking at a Joshua/Phillip final, which is sad, because we will now be going 6 years without a female winner. But hey, the can still surprise us.