Well, we’re nearly there boys and girls. We experienced some highs and a helluva lot of lows together these past months as we strained to understand song choices, deconstructed producer machinations and collaborated on some elaborate and probably scarily accurate conspiracy theories of judging and vote-counting falsities… and now we’re down to the final three! We’ve got the early favourite and soon to be gay icon beauty: Jessica Sanchez and her impossibly strong voice. There’s soulful and always pitch-perfect Joshua Ledet who receives perfect reactions from the judges week in and out. And, the sexy and scratchy easy sounds of Phillip Phillips, the man so nice they named him twice. While there’s plenty bitching I can do about their equally balanced negative sides, I’m opting to focus on the good (in this paragraph at least) as we get into these final two days/episodes of singing and declare a winner and a new American Idol.

Tonight, the kids will be singing three songs each: mentor, Jimmy Iovine’s choice, the judges’ choice and the contestants choice themselves. I’m very much always into this week of songs as typically all three are current and nearly always match up extremely well with the type of song we’d like to hear from em’. Followers of my articles know that Phil has been my crush for a while now but I’ve never truly seen him as the man to beat on this show: yes he has the votes there’s no doubt about that but selling power? I think he might go the way of Kris Allen and his cute face/zero CD sales. Further, I think Josh is in the same boat with amazing talent but no real mass appeal to those who still pay for songs in the US these days. Honestly, I think Skylar Laine who got booted a couple weeks ago is their best chance at $$$ this year with her strong southern base where torrents and the like are about as foreign to them as automatic transmissions, but there’s no going back. All in all, I believe it will/should be a Jessica win with her tumultuous near sending home, resultant save and stunning on stage performances. I’ve hated- HATED- the judging this year and wasn’t exactly heart-broken when I heard rumours that Jennifer Lopez might not be returning for another season. I think the show is past her boytoy’s boyfriend’s bedtime and he’s been getting cranky waiting for her to get home from taping.

Joshua Ledet – “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James (Picked by Randy)

Enough with the flowers, the blazers and the crooner old-school fat palm-of-your-hand mic Joshua! I’m not sure who’s been styling him for these past few weeks but apparently the motto of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it… even if it looks f-ing stupid” has been adopted by whomever is in charge of the gospel boy and I hate it. Admittedly this outfit fit him better than the Lane Bryant mediums they’ve been squeezing him into for weeks now, I still don’t understand who they think this style of outfit appeals to. Not kids, and not straight guys- or gay guys with current fashion sense for that matter- so, you’re kinda limiting yourself kiddo. Concerning the song: predictable choice, very well executed. As much as I poke fun of his constant 120% delivery and odd mannerisms, I’ll never claim this boy can’t sing. And, this style is exactly his: slower, older and passionate. HOWEVER, this is not what the youth of today is listening to and I continue to struggle to understand how they’re going to massively and effectively market this guy if he wins. All in all, he sang it dead on, not too too much individuation but a great opener for the show. The judges (wait for it) all standing O’ed… of course.

Jessica Sanchez – “Me All” by Mariah Carey (Picked by Jennifer Lopez)

Gorgeous as all hell. Right swept hair and sleek in floor-length violet, this 16-year old looks like the belle of the ball as she simply stands centre stage and takes on a Mariah piece. First off, I’m gonna call this a BIT inappropes. This song is QUITE sexual and all about bodies next to bodies and I’m doubting her parents are too too excited about the sexual references coming out of their Grade 10 (?) daughter. That said, she sang it beautifully. She was tonally perfect as she’s been in the past but this is one of the rarer songs she’s been asked to sing that she couldn’t belt out full volume and full blast. It was a ranging tune with a lot of control required and she did a very good job at it. Her best ever? No. But a damn great first song. I’m barely going to cover the judges’ opinions tonight and Steven Tyler make it VERY easy for me to decide this as he stupidly announces her the “winner of the night” and we’re twenty minutes in. I hate these idiots. Oh, and surprise surprise: not a single judge even considered getting out of their chairs… only Josh deserves that apparently. Complete crap.

Phillip Phillips – “Beggin” by Madcon (Picked by Steven)

I quite like this song and this was a very unique interpretation of it and I’m most excited about that for Phil. I’m loathe to admit his voice isn’t quite the tank that his fellow contestants’ are but he absolutely puts on a show. Even wearing his simple outfits and rarely moving anything other than the sexy vein in his foreheard, he captures the attention of the entire audience and no one can deny it. On top of that he put the strongest unique spin on this first round attempt and for me that makes him a winner. He sounded great and comfortable with the speed of the lyrics- not all singers can pull that off- and looked great doing it. The judges seem to be in nice mode and continued giving nothing but kind words to him as they did the rest of the kids.

At the end of Round One Randy has declared Joshua the one to beat, Lopez liked Phil and Steven is too high to decide or realize where he is. Next up: Contestant’s Choice!

Joshua Ledet – “Imagine” by John Lennon (Contestant’s Choice)

RISKY!!!!! A song sung nearly perfectly by runner up, previous Idol contestant David Archuleta, I’m not sure I would have gone this way. Watching Josh perform this I’m constantly comparing it to David’s and finding it lacking in nearly every way. I’m not just being my typical Josh hater here but honestly, I had goosebumps as I heard David’s original remake and this pales for me. Josh gets ahead of himself in a few places speed-wise and by the time he screams out in “his way” near the midway and by the end I find that he’s completely lost the original meaning and sense of this iconic song. Many of us have complained this boy goes to the scream and 120% too damn often and this is THE perfect example of how that can hurt a song. How can more than 100% be bad right? Well, this is it: it takes away from the quiet power that this song is meant to have and turns it hokey IMO. Before I get yelled at by Josh lovers, I’m going in include the David clip below this so you can see how I believe this song was meant to be sung… tell me you don’t get shivers seeing this. (Oh the judges loved him of COURSE… Jennifer even commented on his restraint. You’re kidding right? That’s like congratulating an elephant for only trampling on five kids instead of a dozen.)

Jessica Sanchez – “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith (Contestant’s Choice)

Sticking to mostly stationary performances tonight (maybe to appease Jimmy who hates her running around) Jessica takes on this big song and of course looks great doing it. The gay in me is VERY happy about the constant costume changes tonight BTW. Her version of this is actually quite interesting as she mixes up the original rises and highs and lows in an effort to lead up to her giant ending. She’s looking and smiling at us as she performances and to me finally starts really connecting as she’s needs to and has been missing out these past couple weeks. Her final note is a total blast and though she cracks a bit, you can tell the audience is forgiving as are the judges who loved it.

Phillip Phillips – “Disease” by Matchbox Twenty (Contestant’s Choice)

Yes, Matchbox is a great pairing for Phil: not this isnt’ the song and speed I would have chosen for him. I guess we’re never gonna get him sing DMB’s “Crash (Into Me)” so this is what we’ll have to settle for. The whole performance is a little dark for me and I think it might have served him better to redo something the younger girls would know better but hey, maybe singing “I gotta disease” over and over again will add to his mystique factor haha. He’s well in control of himself and every note of this song and sounds great doing it I just worry that the saxophone and bongos are gonna make this seem a weird one to the kiddies at home and not exactly draw out the votes. FINALLY we hear some negativity and J Lo kind of rightly says this wasn’t exactly a stand alone and blast em’ back performance and I think she’s on the mark. Uh oh Phil!!

Joshua Ledet – “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige (Picked by Jimmy)

Okay, we HAVE to talk about what he’s wearing. You’re kidding right? It’s a cross between Michael’s “Thriller” jacket and something like 2-year old niece would make with her bedazler and her mom’s shoulder-padded jacket. It’s ridiculous and makes it hard for me to focus on the song.
Which, might be a good thing. I’m not loving this song. While he finally gets around to it when it speeds up, the earlier slow parts seem off and he continues to miss the pacing tonight. By the end of the piece however he redeems himself as his screechy thing well-fits the final ramble- and most importantly as he loses the god-awful jacket. I think most will remember the final notes and ignore the travesty that is the one minute mark of this clip but I don’t know if THIS is the performance that will get him into the Final Two. The judges blah blah and say blah blah and love blah blah. I don’t even care what comes out of their mouths at this point and instead will say: mistakes were made but vindication was had by the close of this puppy.

Jessica Sanchez – “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5 (Picked by Jimmy)

First off, what is UP with the weird amusement park backdrop? I swear this show has idiots running it. It looked like a monster’s creepy eye was trying to eat Jessica this entire performance. Speaking OF the performance: it was well done. She was strong but didn’t overdo it; she killed the high and hard notes; and, she connected the whole time. What the FRIG was up with the arrangement though? Honestly, listening to this was like drinking a cup of that tea that has the sleepy bear on the front of it. I’m angry at Jimmy (?) for having such a slow-paced performance for this girl’s final one of the night. I would have loved a power ballad like a Celine or something to go out on that beautiful and unforgettable final note but oh well. The judges were mixed and Randy called her out on just being okay- go make out with Josh already you idiot. I still want this girl in the finals.

Phillip Phillips – “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger (Picked by Jimmy)

AMAZING. I know I’m biased but I think he SLAYED this, the final song of the night (can you say LUCKY placement?). He was dressed up-for him- in black and hair toned and sang simply and sweetly. The song was again a slow one and while I’ve just come from complaining about that for Jessica, for Phil, here, in this moment: it worked. It was a paced song that pulled us into his eyes the entire time as the production value was removed- thankfully- and all we focused on was him and the sounds. The judges FINALLY deigned to award him a standing ovation as he deserved it and I think he’ll be ringing in the memories of many a caller come the closing of the show! I’m not going to ramble much more as this one stands for itself.

Please, forgive spelling and grammar errors today as I’m rushing to soccer and wanted to get this out ASAP so you kids who’ve decided to smartly skip PVR’ing this thing and just tuning in here for the clips can get instant access to the goings on. I thought it was a GOOD night: not bad, NOT great. I’ve certainly seen better- we all have- but it did give us a very good idea of what these kids have to offer and who they are as artists. I’m declaring this a victory for Phil (thank hell for that last song) and Jessica. Josh is CLEARLY the judges’ favourite but I think his voting luck might FINALLY run out come tomorrow’s results. That, or America hates chicks and it’s gonna be a boy show down. Sound off below and absolutely check in tomorrow night!