Sometimes “American Idol” gets so crazy it all seems planned. This week, it got so ridiculous it almost became unbelievable.
“You're one of the best singers ever on this show,” Randy Jackson told Joshua Ledet, after “To Love Somebody,” another one of his showboating performances that overwhelmed his incredible voice.
Jennifer Lopez felt the need to go even further. “You're one of the best singers I've seen in 50 years,” she said with a straight face.
Really J.Lo? The last 50 years!?
Truth be told, Ledet wasn't even the best singer of the last 50 minutes of “Idol.” Forget that he started off sharp. He was shown up by all three of the remaining female singers, who understand the power of restraint far more than he does. They also understand the power of melody better than he does.
Jessica Sanchez's version of “You Are So Beautiful” was gorgeously understated, a master class in letting the melody shine by holding the notes purely from a 16-year-old.
Skylar Laine's version of “You Don't Have To Say You Love Me” was passionate without being fake, tapping into her own genuine emotions and sharing them with the viewers.
Even Hollie Cavanagh, who struggled earlier this season, offered a far more believable connection with the audience on a poignant, restrained version of “Bleeding Love.”
So what's going on here? Are the ovation-happy judges simply playing off an old Joshua-loving script? Or are they simply laying the groundwork for Joshua's “shocking” elimination this week or next? Hard to say.
Phillip Phillips is acting like he's tired of the whole thing, which, frankly, even the most patient, most fame-hungry musician would be by now, considering how little the judging has to with music these days. “The bad news is I miss the melody,” Steven Tyler told Phillips after he reworked “The Letter.” “The good news is you get away with it.”
“At least he strives to be original,” Jackson interjected.
But it was another week in which Phillips decided to be challenging and interesting, rather than “Idol”-ish, and Lopez and Tyler criticized him for it. They liked “Time of the Season” better, but were still relatively muted. It seemed like they were ready to usher him out, but fans of the adorkable singer who makes faces for nearly every closeup may disagree. After all, he's the only contestant left that has never been in the bottom three.
That streak will probably end this week. But Phillips' safety would likely set up the elimination of either the beloved Ledet or the once-beloved Sanchez and the blame for that really should fall at the feet of the judges who have given them terrible advice all season. Ledet has a good voice, but he needs to hold back and to learn to respect the songs. As much as the judges question Phillips' desire to sing around a melody, they really should listen to the last minute of Ledet's “To Love Somebody” where he steamrolled through the melody with ridiculous runs and ad-libbing.
Sanchez listened to Lopez's criticism of her not being exciting enough and tackled Tina Turner's “Proud Mary,” where she expended a lot of energy, but drew the focus away from her vocals.
“I liked seeing you throw your hair around,” Lopez told her. Gee, that's helpful! My guess is that it will help talented young Jessica right out the door.
Jessica Sanchez, “You Are So Beautiful”
Skylar Laine, “You Don't Have to Say You Love Me”
Hollie Cavanagh, “Bleeding Love”
Phillip Phillips, “Time of the Season”
Joshua Ledet, “To Love Somebody”
Joshua Ledet, “Ain't Too Proud To Beg”
Phillip Phillips, “The Letter”
Jessica Sanchez, “Proud Mary”
Hollie Cavanagh, Skylar Laine, Jessica Sanchez, “Higher and Higher”
Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet, “You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling”
Hollie Cavanagh, “River Deep, Mountain High”
Skylar Laine, “Fortunate Son”
BOTTOM THREE: Phillip, Joshua, Jessica
WILL BE ELIMINATED: Jessica
SHOULD BE ELIMINATED: Joshua
ACTUALLY ELIMINATED: ???