'American Idol': We Went Home Again

Richard Lawson
The Atlantic Wire
'American Idol': We Went Home Again

Top 3! Home visits! Judges' Choice! Boy, we have almost reached the rickety end of this thing, haven't we? But we're not there yet. We're close, but we've no cigars. While we wait for the glorious, glitter-stained end, let's talk a little about what happened last night.

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There was a chord of finality in the air last night, wasn't there? Everyone could feel it, they had the itchy feet of the end of the school year. Teachers are showing videos, even some of the good kids are cutting class. This thing is almost over and boy is everyone ready for summer. Well, ha, the kids aren't. No siree. They've got a grueling, backbreaking summer of shuttling around in Jimmy Iodine's smelly old van to look forward to, singing in dangerous stormy conditions at county fairs and 4H festivals, crying and shivering on hard cots in roadside "motels" that smell mildewy, where the owners leer creepily at Hollie. They've got a big ol' pile of misery awaiting them, lots of blisters from hauling equipment and scrapes and cuts from all the scrap metal that Jimmy keeps in the back of his van. But everyone else, all the crew and stuff, they are itching to get outta there. So let's get on with it!

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JOSH-JOSH LEDET

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Oh, little turtle. Did we ever think he'd make it this far? Sure he's got the pipes of a well-crafted space organ, but he's a little weird, too. He does his little bird bounces and his flat-hand waves and he screeches and growls like a Baptist banshee. Usually the Idol votertariat goes a little more milquetoast. I mean, remember last year? When it was just two slices of Wonder Bread duking it out, the only difference being that one piece of Wonder Bread had a dingle and the other had a hee-haw? That tends to be where the Idol voters are going these days. Sure, sure, there was Adam Lambert, but gay Frankenstein was an anomaly. Think of everyone else, of smiley Jordin Sparks, of Dayton coffee shop crooners Crystal Bowersox and Phil Dweezy, of David Cook and his little pet monkey Davy Archuleta. They just don't have the kind of, I don't know, passion or whatever that Joshua is clearly leaking out all over the stage. I don't think he'll win, because teen girls are not that discerning, but it's good that he's here, that he's made it this far. You done good, little turtle.

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Last night he sang thrice, as everyone did. The judges, well Randy specifically, chose an Etta James song for him, he chose "Imagine" for himself, and, rather hilariously, Jimmy Iodine chose "No More Drama" by Mary J. Of course Joshua sang them all competently. "Imagine" was sweet and soft, kinda rare for Josh-Josh, and "No More Drama" came screaming out of Joshua from every pore. They kept cutting to his lil' bestie Hollie in the audience (all the kids were there, pretending to have fun) and she was just like dying, just tearing herself to pieces over "No More Drama." Josh did well. We all knew he would. But was it good enough?

Oh and of course there was the home visit. We returned to Louisiana, where we went to Josh's church. When he's talked about his church in the past I pictured some big vaunted place, some palace of light and holiness, but instead it was this little old place by the edge of some woods. Just a really tiny church. Inside it was cramped and there were a lot of big people so it looked very full. A couple other people sang and Josh sang too and they seemed to be having some sort of spiritual moment. Josh also had spiritual moments while parading through his town and going to his big hometown concert, where everyone screamed for him and he proved himself a natural showman, engaging the audience and whooping it up in grand fashion. Good home visit, Josh! But was it good enough?

J SANCH

Ugh, this one, huh? This one. The judges, or specifically J.Lopes, told Jessica to sing Marina Kerry's "My All" because she said it showed some range or it was different from whatever Jessica has been singing all season. Which, really? Hasn't Jessica pretty firmly asserted herself as a mid-'90s balladeeress? Isn't that exactly what she does most any week? I didn't quite get how this song was some big moment of progress for her, in fact I thought it was a step back. Jessica spent most of her time intoning out weird low notes because the song was, y'know, too low for her. Sure she got to bleat out at the chorus, but the rest of it sounded like it was coming from the root cellar. Not good.

Jessica chose to sing "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" because she is an uncreative child. Seriously, J? Of all the hackneyed, obvious, ridiculous, oversung songs you could have chosen, you chose the one by Steven freakin' Tyler? Yuck. I call yuck on that choice. I envoke my right to Yuck on that one, girly. What a slap with a wet baguette that was. Just a total white turd dropped with a thud onto the stage. Ick.

Rounding out the completely uninspiring trio of songs shrieked by Jessica was Jimmy Iodine's pick, The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There." Oh, isn't that cute? Another fucking slowtime ballad for Jessica to caterwaul while everyone sways and pretends they would ever, ever listen to an entire album of Jessica Sanchez. Can you imagine listening to an hour of that? After about ten minutes you would The Happening yourself, lying down in front of a lawn mower or throwing your head throw a window. She would drive your brain crazy. It would be like Scanners, all clench-faced and twitching as Jessica Sanchez shrieks out a high E above C and then the radio explodes. Just really awful. Sorry kid. It's like listening to robos have sex. Unpleasant.

Jessica's home visit was predictably lame and uninspiring. She was just going to San Diego, that's all. I was going to make fun of her for saying "I missed home so much" as she pulled into Chula Vista, but y'know, if I'd spent three months in Worcester I'd probably miss Boston too. So, that's OK. Whatever. But still the lack of distance was lame and no one really cared about her and it was just like "Oh, here is Jessica taking a little road trip. OK. Next." Next.

PHIL²

Phil Phillips' home visit was great. He went back to Hickory Ditch, Georgia or whatever the town was and his daddy cried and hugged Phillip and talked about being a proud papa all while having a gun holstered to his belt. His dad is not a policeman or an FBI agent. Sure his dad owns a pawn shop and maybe that can get dangerous, but it was probably not going to get dangerous while there were a million cameras and stuff in the shop. Probably OK to take the gun off for this part. But oh well. That's not how it's done in Gravel Bluff, GA. Of course there was a parade and aw Phil Phillips cried. Yup. His face got all adorably scrunched and he kept saying "Oh man, oh man" or something and it was cute. Sorry. I'm only human. Phil Phillips is handsome and cute. What can you do about it. Maybe someday I will make the home visit with him. And then his dad will shoot me.

The first two songs Phil sang were boring and nobody cared. There was a Matchbox 20 song at one point which is always a terrible mistake. But! But but but! Jimmy Iodine that old-timey bastard, he chose "We've Got Tonight" to be Phil's third song and oh man. It was very good! I'm a suckery sap who just really likes that damn song, so Jessica Sanchez could have sung it and I would have been a goner, but with T-shirt McGee over there crooning it out, forget about it. Well chosen, Iodine. And well sung, sweet Phil. May the T-shirt gods bless you and keep you.

We're gonna end it here today folks because it's getting late and, well, the season's almost over so let's just blow this joint and go get some fro-yo. The summer is almost ours, dear friends! Hollie-lujah!