So now we're down to three. It was no surprise that Holly Cavanaugh was eliminated tonight. As far as I was concerned, she should never have made the top 7, although I will admit she did improve quite a bit over the past few weeks. However, it was always apparent that the judges did not wish for her to win and their "judgements" were less than fair (more on that below).
But tonight, the voters got it right and saved the right 3 contestants. I would still have preferred Colton to have made it to at least #4. But like almost every year, my favorite doesn't win (the only one of my season favorites was Season 7's David Cook).
The theme this week was a two-parter: "California songs" (Based on what songs they perfected, I can only assume the idea included any song that had even the slightest connection to the Golden State), and songs the contestants "wished they had written." This was perhaps the vaguest theme idea Idol has ever attempted and frankly, it wasn't good.
3 -- Phillip Phillips
Phillip's first song, "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" was performed well, but did little for him at this stage of the competition. First of all, while I understand that CCR formed in Los Angeles, does anyone equate them with California? Louisiana, maybe. Anyway, he sang it well and there really wasn't anything wrong with it. But it wasn't memorable. On his second offering, he came out with Damien Rice's "Volcano" - a song I admit I was unaware of. All of the judges liked it and Jimmy Iovine (the only sane voice of the bunch) felt it was "exactly what you need right now." Randy felt it was his "best performances on the whole season." Well, it wasn't that good. But certainly good enough to move to the next round.
2 -- Jessica Sanchez
No matter what happened this week, the judges have made it clear their preference of Jessica over all others. Perhaps it's the parental instinct in each of them. Jessica's first song, Etta James' "Steal Away" (she was also born in LA), was a mess. Frankly, 16-year-olds should not be singing this song and it just wasn't believable. The judges, of course, disagreed and couldn't stop gushing over it. Although, Jennifer was a little less convinced. As I said last week, Jessica has a tremendous voice. However, she doesn't really do much other than sing. There wasn't much originality to her first performance. Her second song, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going", was a different matter. Her performance was only upstaged by Joshua tonight and is the reason I placed her above Phillip.
1 -- Joshua Ledet
For the past few weeks (since Colton's elimination), I have felt Joshua deserved the top spot. This week was no different. I could have done with not hearing another version of Josh Groban's "You Lift Me Up," though. But Joshua nailed it, nonetheless. But it was his second performance, James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," that brought the house down. There are only a handful of songs performed on this show that really stand out. A few that come to mind are "Summertime" by Fantasia, Constantine Maroulis singing "Bohemian Rhapsody," Chris Daughtry with "Walk the Line," Blake Lewis changing around "You Give Love A Bad Name," David Cook's "Billy Jean" and Adam Lambert's "Mad World." I'd add Joshua Ledet's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" to the list. It was that good.
My biggest criticism this week is once again the judges. I understand their each individual roles, even if they constantly blur the lines. Randy is supposed to be the critical one, Jennifer is the emotional one and Steven is...well, I'm not yet sure what it is that Steven brings to the table. The only reason they even get away with this is because of Jimmy Iovine, who really supplies the tough love that was once the domain of Simon Cowell. But the judges favoritism has really been a major turn off to me (as well as many fans on the AI site.
This year, their favorite child (and perhaps it's because she is a child) is Jessica Sanchez. I'm not saying she didn't deserve the save she received a few weeks back. However, the way the judges have been praising her each week is enough to make anyone sick. Yes, she has a spectacular voice and I agree she seems to have way more experience than she possibly could at 16. But the adulation goes too far and that causes the judges to look hypocritical with their assessments.
Let me give you an example: The judges all praised Jessica for showing the maturity to tackle Etta James' "Steal Away." The song is about two people sneaking and James' sang it with sultry passion (as only Etta James could). All three judges loved the performance and admired her maturity.
Yet when Holly Cavanaugh sang "I Can't Make You Love Me", all three judges were lukewarm and told her that she didn't connect with the song because she had never experienced the subject she was singing about. Well wait, excuse? And Jessica did? As for her performance, I thought Holly sang the Bonnie Raitt classic very well. While I agree Jessica was better tonight, Holly deserved at least the same discernment as Jessica. If this were the first time the judges sent mixed messages, it would be one thing. But to basically tell two people of the same age that she was wrong to sing a mature song, and then praise the other for doing the exact same thing is just unfair.
So, we were down to three. Will it be an all-boy's final? Will Phillip's popularity be enough to put him through? Will Jennifer stuff the ballot box assuring Jessica advances? Will Joshua wear a normal fitting jacket in the finals, if he makes it?
I guess we'll find out next week.