COMMENTARY | Perhaps it was on purpose that Jennifer Lopez dressed herself like a rainbow for the Top 3’s fateful vote night on “American Idol” this week, because it would be the end of the rainbow for one of these talents, and rumors swirl that Ms. Lopez herself has determined her time on the show has reached its end. In the face of their nervous wait, the trio of Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, and Philip Phillips, offered an upbeat take on a Beatles classic, “Got to Get You into My Life,” and it’s a sure thing all three singers will be in the lives of the music-buying population for a long time, no matter who takes the title.
Joshua Ledet was called up first by host Ryan Seacrest to have a look at his performances as reviewed by producer/mentor, Jimmy Iovine. Jimmy deemed the “I’d Rather Be Blind” performance “very good, but not great” and called the judges “generous.” Calling Ledet the “most exciting” performer of the competition, Iovine felt “Imagine” did not fit well with Ledet’s style of spectacular runs, and the number became “overblown.” The producer knew there was plenty of emotion in Joshua’s wrenching rendition of Mary J. Blige’s, “No More Drama,” but that song lacked enough melody for the singer to hook his chops into well enough.
A light interlude ensued, showing the talents singing with songwriter, Ester Dean, for her song on the soon-released, “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” and a dark performance by Lisa Marie Presley of her “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” bad-girl single, but mom Priscilla still approved. Jessica Sanchez had to suffer through her critique next, and the consensus was that, despite her vocal abilities that Iovine lauded as deserving “to be on the Grammy’s,” her performances “didn’t all come together” for a singular moment for Sanchez. Jimmy admitted that his selection of “I’ll Be There” basically went wrong because it required Jessica to be Michael and Jermaine Jackson in the same song. Isn’t that something a producer is paid to know before a performance?
Season 8 “Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert offered up “Never Close Our Eyes” from his “Trespassing” CD with familiar, flamboyant style before Philip Phillips was summoned to his performance summation. Iovine praised that Phillips was becoming “more original” in ways even the producer himself could appreciate. He blasted Phillips’ own selection of “Disease” as “a real snooze fest,” but raved that the Georgia boy had won the night with his “We’ve Got Tonight,” showing more emotion and vulnerability than ever.
None of Iovine’s words or the past standing ovations or praises of the panel mattered in the final moment, though, only the tremendous tally of the 90 million who spoke their wishes for the finale. Jessica Sanchez was the first name called as half of the pair for the finish next week, leaving Phillips and Ledet linked under the dim lights. Philip Phillips was voted the other contender, and Ledet was left to sing his farewell, choosing “It’s a Man’s Man’s World” to the cheers of the audience and his tour mates in the Top 10. Never lacking even a pinpoint of its passion, Ledet was motioned by Ms. Lopez to come around and give full embraces to the panel, all the while singing. His final embrace was with his mother on the “Idol” oval. Center stage will be familiar territory for this faithful Louisiana son for years to come.