American Idol
Performance Show

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M. Giant: B | Grade It Now!
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Hometown Heroes

In front of moodily-lit mug shots of the final three on the projection screen behind him, Ryan runs down their hometowns: Leesburg, GA for Phil; Chula Vista, CA for Jessica; and Westlake, LA for Josh. Then he walks over to where the real things are standing and asks us who will make it to the finale. I'm guessing at least two of them, but beyond that I'm not committing. This is American Idol.

The judges come out. That kid from Touch is in the audience a night early. Ryan reenters and takes his time calming down the crowd (and Steven) before plugging the finale in seven days. Is that all? It seems like just a few years ago that this season began. That means a performance show on Tuesday and the finale on Wednesday. I'm so confused. I also don't know what that means for Glee, but I guess Ryan knows what he's talking about (translation: I'm actually not that worried about it). Ryan reminds us of the top three's hometown visits that will be shown tonight, and says there will be three rounds this episode: one round of songs picked by the judges, one round of songs picked by the contestants, and one round of songs picked by Jimmy Iovine. Themes are for suckers.

After the first round of ads, Randy announces that he picked "I'd Rather Be Blind" by Etta James for Joshua's first round. That is the dictionary definition of enabling. Josh sings it into a fake old-fashioned microphone, phoning in the first verse or so, obviously just waiting until he can inevitably cut loose and leave the song's original rhythm and melody in his dust. Which he does. You know the drill.

Steven and Randy give him a standing ovation, followed by Jennifer. Steven said it was like a dream come true and that Joshua sang like the one American Idol out of 70,000. Jennifer's comments are all about the judges' choice of song, and Randy talks about Joshua bringing R&B into "modern times" and thus fixing it. So, no pressure. Ryan asks Joshua a nonsensical question that Joshua dismisses and then babbles a nonsensical answer to some other nonsensical question nobody asked. So if this doesn't play out, he can always be the Republican vice presidential candidate.

Coming back, Ryan shows off the rest of the top twelve all sitting together near the front rows, including Heejun under a chic new haircut. Heejun appears to be behaving himself, which I take it to mean that the producers have taken his mother hostage.

Then Ryan heads over to the judges' table so Jennifer can announce the judges' pick for Jessica. I can't believe it took me until just now realized that the top three and the judges have the same demographic makeup. This fact is underscored, deliberately or not, by which judge announces which contestants' song. Jennifer talks about how they wanted to make Jessica do something we haven't heard from her before... namely some Mariah Carey. Oh come on. Both those things can't be true. But then Jessica sings "My All" while sporting a purple prom dress and, I admit, some actual restraint. She still hits as many notes as she can, of course, just not as hard as usual. Can't fault her control there.

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American Idol

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