Top 2: Dueling Vocals

Well, if last night proved nothing else it proved this: a performance episode of American Idol can be only one hour long and still satisfy the audience. I’m just sayin’.

The night needed an epic trailer, so that’s what the AV guys put together for us. And as some unknown hand model scrawled different words and phrases onto a page with a calligraphy pen, I was taken back to my childhood when I really wanted to learn calligraphy. Who knows? If I had filled my potential and pursued hand model stardom, would I be the one featured in the American Idol trailer? Ah well, hindsight is 20/20, right? The road not taken…

I loved our first glance at the final two because even just LOOKING at them, you can tell the differences.

Phillip is in his typical down-dressed duds and Jessica is swathed head to toe in a formal dress. Similarly, Phillip has a cool and calm (but heart-felt and authentic) feel to his music and Jessica is all about the drama and showing her vocal prowess. And when Ryan proclaimed this the tightest finale race ever, I think I kind of had to agree with him. I think Kris Allen/Adam Lambert and Clay Aiken/Ruben Studdard were close calls, too, but the level of talent this year is definitely heightened.

Here’s how last night went down:

Round 1 – Simon Fuller (creator of American Idol) picks the song.

Round 2 – Contestants pick a song they’ve already done.

Round 3 – Each performs the song they’d release as a single if they win.

Ding! Round 1!

Simon Fuller’s pick for Jessica – “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston

Um, that is not a very imaginative choice, Simon. She already has an iconic Whitney song under her belt so I thought Simon did her a disservice here. Let’s not kid ourselves, Jessica is an amazing talent. She rarely (if ever) has pitch problems and she knows how to entertain an audience. But though she was commanding and technically perfect (c’mon, the girl has CHOPS!), I didn’t think she had much emotional connection to the song.

I like that there were no judges comments until the end of the round. Maybe that could be a neat innovation for you to make, Simon!

We came back from the commercial break with Ryan yucking it up with the audience. What a magical place the Nokia theater is! A place for host and audience to come together and make funny, funny jokes.

Simon Fuller’s pick for Phillip – “Stand By Me” Ben E. King

Okaaaaay, THIS is a very cool rendition of an old song. Phillip actually made me like the song more than I originally did, which (in my humble opinion) is the point of doing a cover. Plus, I like that he took it more minor especially in the final note of that first phrase.  He really settled into this song and played it from the inside out.

Phillip stayed true to his mellow, guitar-wielding vibe but even sitting on a stool he can’t keep his legs still. The whole performance gave off a singer-songwriter-y vibe, which is why I love the guy. And since the screams were hard to ignore, I’m going to say that the audience…okay, the girls…sure do love him, too!

In the audience, I spotted a “Pheel better Phillip!” sign and I gotta give props to the sign-maker for being able to convey a sweet message in a clever way. Well done, random audience member. Well done.

The Judges Weigh In On Round 1:

I thought they were right with the “competition of the opposites” assessment. According to RaJax, J.Lo, and SteTy, round 1 went to Jessica.

Jason Derulo Performs “Undefeated”

Tonight, it appears that the only performer on stage that has had a pitch problem thus far has been the much-acclaimed Jason Derulo.

Also, Jason, do you think it’s a good idea to dance on top of a chair when you just recovered from a neck injury? Safety first! Now, the dude can dance and entice Jordin Sparks to sing along. But I’ve never seen an artist dance and sing with equal success at both…see example: Usher.

Ding! Round 2!

Jessica’s Reprisal of  “The Prayer” by Andrea Boccelli and Celine Dion

I thought Jessica was going whip “I Will Always Love You” out of her bag of tricks, but I think she was smart for going back to an audition song rather than re-doing a song that we’ve heard during the live shows. It made the performance seem fresh even though it was practiced. And nobody needs to take two Whitney songs on themselves in the space of an hour.

I also loved her choice because I happen to love this song. I may or may not have had to rewind it completely because I found myself singing along. And it’s not fair to judge Jessica’s performance with my warbling in the background. The full orchestra was a nice touch and even cold-hearted-watched-a-million-episodes-of-this-show-and-I’m-impervious-to-the-performances teared up at that big note. Masterfully done, Jessica. What a GORGEOUS rendition of that song.

Phillip’s Reprisal of “Movin’ Out” by Mumford and Sons

Aw, man! I was hoping he’d do the stripped down version of “Thriller.

Okay, I take it back…I love this song! And he sounds soooo rock solid because the style suits him so well. I’m not as familiar with Mumford and Sons as I should be seeing as how much I love their songs before I know who sings them. But that’s really a problem for me and my iTunes account. I really appreciate how Phillip has stayed consistently who he is through the whole competition and still just revels in the music. You can tell that half the fun for him is playing with the other musicians. And if he’s accomplished all of this while still not feeling well? I can’t wait what he can do when he’s firing on all cylinders.

The Judges Weigh In On Round 2:

Since the judges are probably contractually obligated to not back any specific artist too far, they were predictably split when asked who they thought took the round. Randy saw it as a “dead even” race, Jennifer picked Phillip and Steven picked Jessica. Thanks for nothing, Judges.

Ding! Round 3!

Jessica’s Single: “Change Nothing”

At first I was mostly taken with the fact that the pianist was playing from music on his iPad. What a nifty world we live in these days, eh?

This song was a solid pop ballad…and I liked it. I thought Jessica sang it well and the lyrics were good. It wasn’t a nonsense song. In fact, I think it could rival any song in this genre that’s on the radio right now because it had an interesting hook. All that said, though, I have to agree with Randy. That song was too small for Jessica and didn’t suit her as well as her first single should have. On the other hand, I don’t know how much “urban” she’ll want to infuse into her sound at first if it’s just going to make her sound like a Beyonce sound-alike.

But if fashion plays any role, Jessica did have the coolest outfit of the evening. Hands down.

Phillip’s Single: “Home”

Phillip was super smart in his choice of this song. It was very bluegrassy and fit him like a glove. The song allowed the simple melody to show off his vocal in all the ways that made him look good. And we were left with a clear picture of who Phillip is and will always be, even when he enters the music industry.

But I’m not sure where the marching band comes in. Well, I saw where they came IN, but I’m not sure WHY. That was such an odd choice.

Phillip left the night with the only standing ovation by the judges. And while I don’t always agree with their shenanigans, I’m glad the judges supported what I thought was the best performance of the night.

Scotty McCreery “Please Remember Me” Recap of the Season

This was kind of stupid because we couldn’t really see the video! Plus, I don’t think that vest fits Scotty very well. I want to see the video! Sorry, Scotty. And he had some major pitch problems towards the end there, so I was glad that the credits ushered us out.

I honestly think that either one of them could take it. Sure, Phillip has never been in the bottom two and obviously has a lot of girl voters on his side. But Jessica probably scooped up Joshua and Holly’s voters and there’s a large group of people who want this year’s Idol winner to be a girl. And Phillip is many things, but a girl is not one of them. But I voted for Phil Phil and hope he wins it all. Either way, though, I won’t be sad. They both deserve it.
Haddock out!

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2 thoughts on “Top 2: Dueling Vocals

  1. Liz Johnson says:

    Did you cry when Phillip cried at the end? I was so next to sobbing! He’s so adorable, and he was just overwhelmed. I hate that they made him sing when he was clearly overwhelmed. I voted for the first time EVER for Phil. 🙂

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