Favorite Gets Whacked From ‘American Idol’

Josh Ledet and Jennifer Lopez on American Idol (Frank Micelotta / PictureGroup for FOX)

During the rundown of last night’s Top 3 performances, Jimmy Iovine said that Joshua Ledet, one of the most passionate and professional singers to ever grace the “American Idol” stage, deserved to make it one more week to the finale. “He should be in anyone’s finale,” Jimmy clarified. But what does the chairman of one of the world’s largest music labels know? Apparently nothing!

Jimmy’s been pretty spot-on in his predictions this season, but tonight he was just shockingly wrong about Joshua. Apparently all the soul, passion and precision in the world couldn’t win more votes than Phillip Phillips’s weepy blue-eyed stare. And so we said goodbye tonight to the amazing Joshua Ledet.

With a track record like his—standing ovations from the judges nearly every performance, never a “pitchy” note, and “moment” after “moment,” it’s kind of stunning that Joshua didn’t land in the finale. And yet, no one really seemed that surprised.

The final elimination happened very fast, with Jessica Sanchez the first to sail to safety, followed by a quick few seconds of her trying to pretend like she had no idea this was coming since she was given the prime closing slot on the first episode of the season with “I Will Always Love You,” later reinforced by her snatching that judges’ save. (Mouth drops open, eyebrows arch, hand covers face. Girl needs some acting lessons.) And then we went right along to the decision between Phillip and Joshua. The two friends?/frenemies? huddled close as Ryan Seacrest read out the name of the person “going head-to-head with Jessica” next week. There was barely a moment of suspense before he just came out with it: Phillip.

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Joshua smiled, Phillip hugged him, Phillip’s family jumped around ecstatically, and Jennifer Lopez watched with a cryogenically frozen grimace. There was no further judges’ reaction, no further close-up on Joshua’s ex-competitors. Ryan took us right into Joshua’s goodbye montage, and on the other side, a reprise of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” that was just as powerful as the first.

Only Jennifer looked to be in any way affected by the news, demanding a hug of Josh mid-song, and straining so hard to hold back tears that she kind of looked like Phillip does whenever he sings.

So one week too early, all the tension and suspense in the show is officially gone. It doesn’t really matter what happens now anyway. Jessica has seemed like the clear winner from day one. And guys like Phillip win every year. Both of them will do just fine (so will Joshua). So either way, it’ll be just as we suspected all along. A Joshua-Jessica finale was the only chance that next week’s finale would have had any heat. But as Joshua sang last night, “No More Drama” on this show.

In other news, Lisa Marie Presley is my new favorite person. Her performance of “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” was totally creepy and had just the right amount of Stevie Nicks-brand goth to it. She was everything that Adam Lambert, tonight’s other guest performer, once showed potential to be. Instead of the dark side he hinted at back when he was a contestant, tonight he was pretty upbeat, glowing in the dark and dancing around with his gospel lady backup singers on a fun single “Never Close Our Eyes.” It was neutrally enjoyable.

My new LEAST favorite person, however, is Ester Dean, a shrill and demanding pop singer-songwriter who basically ordered the Idols (including Hollie) to sing over a terrible auto-tuned song on the soundtrack to “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” yelled at them when they messed up, and berated them for not being nicer to her or something.

My second least favorite person is Jason Derulo for writing the absolutely most dreadful lyrics he could possibly come up with for next week’s winner’s song. This Coke ad disguised as a crowd-sourcing opportunity is just icky. I mean, listen: “I’m so high on life, I’m through the ceiling.” Or “There’s no holding back. Life has no reruns.” Or “There’s no time for fear, you only live once.” These are our choices? If we all promise to buy Coke anyway, can they just not force us to listen to what will be the most cliché-riddled song since, well, last year’s winner’s song?

And a final word: the Beatles’ “Revolver” album is getting some play these days. For some reason, tonight’s group sing was “Got to Get You into My Life.” And it was actually very good, because it was really just the Joshua and Jessica Show. You could barely hear Phillip. It was probably the best group number on this show all year. But wouldn’t it have been way cooler if they did the next and last song on that album, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which is having all sorts of a glory moment since playing on “Mad Men” a few weeks ago? Suddenly, the idea of an “American Idol”-“Mad Men” mash-up comes to mind, in which Pete Campbell replaces Ryan Seacrest (who could tell the difference, really?), the blonde sax lady gets the rise-of-a-feminist Peggy Olson storyline, and the Ford Music Video is infinitely more interesting because we’ve had three glasses of whiskey. At least all the brazen Coke product placement would feel like it served some sexy ‘60s throwback purpose. And if we imagine Don Draper wrote “Life has no reruns,” it would somehow become the most meaningful line we ever heard.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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