May 17, 2012 at 10:24 PM ET
The judges are going to have to find themselves a new favorite to promote in the “American Idol” finale.
Joshua Ledet, who set the unofficial record for Most Standing Ovations From the Judges with his consistently big performances this season, was voted off the show on Thursday. He finished in third place, while Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez move on to compete for the title next week.
If he likes, Joshua can blame mentor Jimmy Iovine, who said that in hindsight, he wished he’d picked something that offered more of a melody than Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama" for the teenager to perform Wednesday. He also regretted his pick for Jessica, thus shattering the “Idol” record of self-critical comments in one night. (He’ll need a remedial course of “Idol 201: The Art of Never Admitting Mistakes” if he wants to come back next season.) And they were more than empty words -- Jimmy seemed genuinely upset with himself when the results were announced, perhaps wondering if a better pick on his part would have been a game-changer.
Joshua could also blame a backlash or overconfidence stemming from the judges’ fervent support of him over the past month, though that sure hadn’t hurt him over the previous few weeks. But really, he can probably blame his growling most of all. In a final three as close as this one appears to be, any little mistake hurts, and his over-the-top crashing about the stage on his final song didn’t do much to win the tender loving care of the audience. When in doubt, he tends to shout, and ultimately, it looks like the viewers plugged up their ears instead of picking up the phones for him.
That sets up the Phillip-Jessica finale, or Dave Matthews 2.0 vs. The Oldest-Sounding Teenager in America. But the big question next week won’t just concern who’s going to win. We'll also find out whether Ford will give Phillip a car like it normally does for the two finalists, despite the fact that he’s been absent from the video shoots. Is he secretly in league with the Japanese auto companies? And what are they going to do for that Ford video shoot next week? Have Jessica sing by herself? (Remember: Phillip has a doctor's note to skip filming those!)
Joshua can also take solace in the fact that he wasn’t the worst performer to take the stage this week. That would go to a lip-synching Lisa Marie Presley, who dragged herself onto the “Idol” stage for the first time. She was part of a gothic set that had her both looking and sounding like something undead. Somewhere up there, Elvis is probably shaking his head and wondering whether she’s studied tapes of him performing. He’s also probably thinking that if he were alive, he’d make one heck of an “Idol” judge.
But for now, it's the viewers who have spoken, and it’ll be a former pawn-shop worker or a California teenager who gets the confetti and the million-dollar deal on Wednesday.
Are you surprised that Joshua was cut? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page! Plus, join writer Craig Berman at 12:30 PT/3:30 ET on finale day, May 23, to chat about the final performances and who you think will win. Sign up for a reminder!
More in The Clicker: