AMERICAN IDOL: The Final 3: L-R: Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Josh Ledet. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

AMERICAN IDOL: The Final 3: L-R: Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Josh Ledet. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. (May 17, 2012)

It's the "American Idol" Top 3 - Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez. When they are introduced, Jessica is rocking a purple ball gown like Miss America Barbie. So pretty! And Josh looks sharp as always. Phillip, whose style is fine, that's who he is - kind of looks like a hobo by comparison.

Round 1 tonight is judges' choice, Round 2 is contestants' choice and Round 3 is Jimmy Iovine's choice.

1. Joshua Ledet, "I'd Rather Go Blind," Etta James

Oooh, nice choice, dawg. Love the use of the hand-held old-timey microphone again. Vocally, Josh sounds great - some of his runs that go super low give us goosebumps. The key change is handled well, without a lot of production, but it leads into just a little more screaming than we like from Josh. However, the ending scat is fabulous. Overall, a very strong first outing.

The judges talk a lot about how he's a throwback and Randy talks about him bringing his sound into modern R&B for his album. It'll be interesting to actually see what Joshua releases because he doesn't really fit in with the modern landscape much, but something like Bruno Mars' album could really suit him, maybe.


2. Jessica Sanchez, "My All," Mariah Carey

We're not sure about this song for Jessica. There is more quiet tenderness in the song, but is it the kind of soaring ballad that will send her voters to the phones? Guess we'll see. But she's handling the range and the jumps like a pro - and this song is hard. I mean, do you hear how all over the map she is and what tiny moments she has to get a breath? Degree of difficulty is astronomical on this sucker. It's not a jump-up-and-cheer song, but just the fact she could sing it shows her tremendous talent. Phillip and Joshua can't sing that. Not in a million years.

J.Lo cops to the difficult in her comments, but she makes it sound like she was unaware of how hard it was. Dude, J.Lo - you couldn't sing that song, lady.

People come on this blog every week and trash Jessica's actual talent, which is just mystifying. It's fine if you don't like her style, if it's not your thing, but how anybody can deny that she's the best singer this season by a huge margin is just crazy. She's one of the most talented singers this show has ever had.


3. Phillip Phillips, "Beggin,'" Madcon

Steven Tyler hilariously says in his pre-performance schpiel that Phillip Phillips basically can't find the melody with a flashlight and a map. Which, yes, is a huge problem for PP.

For Phillip, this is a solid choice. This is exactly the type of song he should release, on an album that vacillates between upbeat stuff like this and slower things like "The Stone" by DMB. Pitch-wise, this is solid. He makes his own tweaks to it and he's not perfect, but that's not really what PP does. He's not really a vocalist. Though we don't imagine it much matters what Phillip does - doesn't it feel like Jessica and Joshua are fighting it out to lose to PP in the finals?

When asked who won Round 1, the Randy says that vocally, Joshua did his thing and then J.Lo picks Phillip. Steven Tyler then picks no one. Are they HIGH? Jessica killed that round. They handed her a song that like four people in the world could sing!

Phillip may do his thing, but it's also a thing you can see in 2000 bars across the country, no joke, y'all. We have a high school friend who has a band - and he's really cute, he plays great guitar, he writes his own songs and he does interesting covers of famous songs. He's Phillip! There really isn't anything special about what PP does, he just got really lucky to be plucked from obscurity on "Idol" and then the girl voters took over.


OK, the hometown footage is soooo boring, y'all. I shan't be recapping that.


4. Joshua Ledet, "Imagine," John Lennon

Interesting choice. Not even close to what we would've predicted, but he pretty much nails it. And largely that is due to him respecting the song as it was written and not getting all crazypants up on its butt. There's a time and a place for vocal gymnastics and this song really isn't it.

You know what's especially nice? On "you-HOOO" he went falsetto instead of belting. Very pretty. The modulation is an OK change to the melody line. He's staying true to the melody while still making this very much his own R&B jam, which is tricky to do with such an iconic song. The one scream was unnecessary, but that's what he does, so whatever. The change to the ending is our only quibble - that was a little too pageant-y of an ending. The song should've ended quietly and tenderly, that would've actually been a much better "moment" for him.


5. Jessica Sanchez, "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," Aerosmith