American Idol 5: The Top 3

Welcome to American Idol‘s Top 3 night! With Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, and Elliot Yamin jockeying for positions in the Top 2, we’re looking at an exciting race to the finish! Here’s a recap of the music, and Superblessed’s thoughts on who’ll duke it out in the Final Two of American Idol!

TAYLOR HICKS
Taylor Hicks’ Songs: Dancing in the Dark, You Are So Beautiful and Try a Little Tenderness

Dancing in the Dark
Just like last week, Taylor Hicks opens the show, this time with the Bruce Springsteen chestbut Dancing in the Dark. I never liked this Dancing in the Dark, and even with the horns blaring in the background, Taylor and Springsteen just do not go together. The crowd loves the Hicks version of Dancing in the Dark, though, and Hicks’ vocals are spot-on, not a single note out of place, so score points for Taylor Hicks on this one.
Song Choice: C
Vocal: B+

You Are So Beautiful
Joe Cocker’s You Are So Beautiful receives the Hicks treatment, and Taylor Hicks’ version of You Are So Beautiful is poignant and moving. I’ve heard many versions of You Are So Beautiful though, so I can’t say that he brings anything new to the song. You Are So Beautiful does suit his voice and his vocals are almost impeccable, save for a flat “hoo” somewhere in the middle of You Are So Beautiful. I hate to admit it, but Taylor seems to have this competition sewn up.
Song Choice: A
Vocal: B+

Try a Little Tenderness
Otis Redding and Taylor Hicks. Who would’ve guessed? Taylor sings Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness, and knocks it out of the ballpark with his trademark shaking and what have you. An up-to-par vocal does not hurt Hicks’ case, and unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on who you support, Hicks seems to have booked his place in the finals with Hicks’ version of Try a Little Tenderness. Again, props for this song choice.
Song Choice: B+
Vocal: B+

Overall Performance: B+

ELLIOT YAMIN
Elliot Yamin’ Songs: Open Arms, What You Won’t Do For Love and I Believe To My Soul

Open Arms
Ugh. Elliot won a karaoke contest a few years back, and the choice of Open Arms is the ultimate in shmaltzy karaoke. I’m sorry, Elliot, that was Open Arms a good choice, not matter how much good you sound. Given that, forgetting your lyrics is criminal! This song does nothing for Elliot: the trademark vibrato only goes flat in several places, and his emotion-driven delivery plunges into oblivion after he forgets the chorus. Tsk. Elliot’s nerves seem to be getting the better of him.
Song Choice: C
Vocal: B

What You Won’t Do For Love
I thought, “ooh, good choice, Paula.” I wanted so desperately for Elliot to knock this out of the ballpark. Elliot’s version was – eh. Yamin tries every ad lib and vocal twist in the book, falling flat in the improvs, going sharp in places (sharp! I thought that was only Mandisa territory). The instrumentation wasn’t particularly good, though, and the lack of excitement and passion that characterized last week’s performance sealed Yamin’s fate.
Song Choice: A
Vocal: B-

I Believe to My Soul
If you think Elliot Yamin is going to stand by and watch helplessly as Taylor Hicks take on Otis Redding, you’ve got another thought coming. Elliot takes on – bravely – Ray Charles! Yamin’s version of I Believe to My Soul is amusing and spirited, although I question the suitability of Yamin’s voice to Charles’ I Believe to My Soul. He definitely brings more soul into this track than he does to the other two, but will he make it?
Song Choice: B+
Vocal: B

Overall Performance: B-

KATHARINE MCPHEE
Katharine McPhee’s Songs: I Believe I Can Fly, Over the Rainbow and I Believe To My Soul

I Believe I Can Fly
Ban R. Kelly songs from American Idol! With Katharine McPhee’s version of I Believe I Can Fly, that makes 0 for 2 for Idol finalists who’ve taken on R. Kelly and done nothing with the song (remember Anwar Robinson’s icky shmaltzy version of this track? Ugh.). Trying to give I Believe I Can Fly that diva take does not work for Catherine McPhee, and her high cat-pitched caterwaul just flies – no, scratches its claws – I Believe I Can Fly. Who do you think you are, Miss Thang? You ain’t no Yolanda Adams.
Song Choice: C
Vocal: C

Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Simon recommended Somewhere Over the Rainbow for one of the finalists in the British version of American Idol, and well, it looks like he was setting Katherine for a great performance. Was it? Well, that a capella intro was stunning. It’s amazing how good Katherine McPhee can sound if she does not try to belt. Somewhere Over the Rainbow was stunning. Very good.
Song Choice: A
Vocal: B+

I’ve Got Nothing But the Blues
Ella Fitzgerald’s I’ve Got Nothing But the Blues receives the Katharine McPhee treatment, and she ain’t no Mandisa. While vocally, it’s more than adequate, McPhee’s I’ve Got Nothing But the Blues tries too much (just like Elliot’s ), coming across more like a cheap version of Lady Ella . Sheesh, find your own spirit, McPhee.
Song Choice: B
Vocal: C

Overall Performance: C+

Ganns’ Rankings: Taylor, Elliot, Katharine, with McPhee getting the boot
Ganns’ Prediction: Look to a bottom two between Yamin and McPhee, with McPhee narrowly escaping the boot, resulting in an uproar of indignance and the most lopsided final in the history of American Idol

SPOILER
It’s official. I finally got one prediction right. Who got voted out on American Idol? Elliot Yamin. Elliot is eliminated, Elliot is out. Who got eliminated on American Idol? Elliot Yamin. Booo.

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