American Idol recap: Phillip Phillips will sail through to the final, but who will join him?

Categories: Idolize

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It's down to the wire now. Last night's performances will determine which of the three remaining Idol contestants will make it through to the final and ultimately win the entire competition, which, with the elimination of Hollie Cavanagh last week, is anyone's game at this point. The contestants each sang three songs: one chosen by the judges, one by Jimmy Iovine -- this season's mentor -- one personal choice.

Randy Jackson chose "I'd Rather Go Blind" by Etta James for Joshua Ledet. It was easily Ledet's best performance showcasing his talent as well as his personality, a first for the contestant this season.

For his personal choice, Ledet sang John Lennon's "Imagine." Like whenever anyone sings a Beatles or Lennon song, it just didn't quite compare to the original. Ledet might as well have sung "Rolling In The Deep," frankly. Ledet oversang Jimmy Iovine's choice for him, "No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige. There were too many vocal runs, too much belting, too much Aguilera song and dance.

Jennifer Lopez chose Mariah Carey's "My All" for Jessica Sanchez, another strong performance and an even better song choice by a judge. Sanchez showcased her upper range, even her falsetto for this song, now proving Sanchez can sing Mariah, Whitney and likely any other diva out there.

For Sanchez's second song, she chose "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith -- while largely an appeal to Steven Tyler, she again used the opportunity to showcase a different part of her range and voice, this time what we are most familiar with. This song, though, was less about her vocals and more about her "Idol moment" with the cameras and audience -- you know, that one, spine-tingling moment in which the contestant connects with you in a way inexplicable. She had that with "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing." Sanchez's final song, "I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5, was spot-on, but an anticlimactic choice as her last song.

Then there's Phillip Phillips. In past performances, we've criticized him for being too same-y, too predictably Phillip Phillips -- as if the guitar-playing and constipated singing face is all he can offer during any performance. Of all the contestants on last night's episode, Phillips smartly used his song choices to his advantage. His first, a selection by Steven Tyler, was "Beggin'" by Madcon. He performed the song as a blast of rock. His voice was strong, as was his guitar-playing, and this was perhaps the first time he's seemed so confident on stage.

For Phillips' personal choice, he played guitar and sang a more relaxed version of "Disease" by Matchbox 20, decorated by the sounds of a guest saxophone. His final song was Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight" -- no guitar, just Phillips looking nervous (note his left hand tic) and connecting with the song. It was something neither Sanchez nor Ledet was able to do as effectively last night. Phillips will be in the final two, no question.



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