For weeks now on "American Idol," it seemed like Joshua Ledet was the Season 11 contestant to beat--the judges certainly thought so, anyway. Steven Tyler once said Joshua was "one of the top two Idols of all time," Randy Jackson declared him "one of the best singers ever on this show," and Jennifer Lopez even called him "one of the best singers of the past 50 years." Joshua even received no less than sixteen standing ovations throughout the season. But apparently ovation number 16 was not so sweet--because this week, Joshua "Mantasia" Ledet narrowly missed making the finale, shockingly going home in third place, leaving Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez as the final two.
An emotional goodbye [photo: Fox]
This was wrong. Just WRONG. Apparently, it's a man's, man's, man's world...but not a Mantasia's world.
So what happened? Was Joshua a victim of the over-the-top overpraise that, some might theorize, hurt past judges'-pet contestants like Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert, and Pia Toscano? Was his elimination symptomatic of a larger problem with "Idol": the fact that African Americans, particularly African American males, haven't fared well on this show in many, many years? (Note: You have to go all the way back to Season 2's Ruben Studdard, who won nine years ago, to find a black male winner, or even a black male making the finale at all.) Were his flamboyant, sometimes screechy performances too polarizing? Did his reserved offstage demeanor make it difficult for viewers to connect with him, especially during a week when Phillip and Jessica's homecomings were so emotional? You know, I'm really not sure why Joshua stalled in third place--but I am certain that many interesting conspiracy theories will rage across message boards and Twitter for days to come.
The judges bid Joshua farewell [photo: Fox]
[PHOTOS: "Idol" Season 11 performances]
Whatever the reason, I'm just deeply saddened that this phenomenal talent didn't make it all the way to the very end. While Phillip Phillips is an undeniably great performer, and Jessica Sanchez is an undeniably great singer, Mantasia was the one Season 11 contestant who always combined both qualities in one dynamite package.
Joshua's amazing final song
Well, at least Joshua went out with THE best exit performance in "Idol" history, with the teary-eyed, seemingly devastated judges (yes, even Steven Tyler was crying) and Joshua's proud mama joining him onstage. Phillip and Jessica sure are going to have a tough time topping Joshua's "Man's World" tour de force when they compete on next week's big finale.