Early on in the competition, those contestants currently in the top three were among my favorites. The next week, I solidified my preference. That said, I feared a time when I might have to pick among them. I envisioned the final pitting Taylor Hicks and Elliott Yamin against each other. They are my two favorites (cool if they both reached the final), but I would hate to have to choose between them (not cool if they both reached the final).
Tonight, I went into American Idol planning to watch Katherine bid her fond farewell. She should have gone last week, so it was only logical. Then, my vision of a Taylor/Elliott showdown could occur. But Kat came in with her best game, and my friend Elliott suffered at the hands of his personal song choice.
I feared Elliott's ability to come close to Steve Perry's blueprint of "Open Arms," but was pleasantly and happily surprised to find his interpretation -- while not comparable to the original -- of equal caliber. He also did an excellent job of "What You Won't Do For Love," the Bobby Caldwell song for which I've always had a preference in remake form (anyone remember Go West?).
But then Elliott got to pick his own song. By all accounts, he did a fine job performing it. That said, it was not one easily recognized and embraced by the audience. More people are going to vote for Katherine than for Elliott, I just know it.
Not that Ms. McPhee doesn't deserve props. She was prepared tonight. I could take or leave the R. Kelly song, and think it was the weakest of the three she sang tonight. Despite that, she still sang it well. Then the boom lowered. A song that, in my humble opinion, is one of the best songs ever written. It can be easily mutilated in inept hands, but "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was in Katherine's extremely capable hands. The arrangement was great. Her voice was great. Her performance was great (anyone else notice the correlation of good performance to those done while sitting on the floor?). At that point, it almost didn't matter what her third song was.
Amid it all, Taylor Hicks had three perfect songs that he sang in his inimitable way. He clearly deserves to be in the final, and I would be fairly shocked if he didn't win. But I would say that because I predicted it a couple months ago.
Yeah, I burned up a few phone lines calling in my votes. Tomorrow's show will tell.
On a sideways-related note, for a brief time, I was recapping some of my iPod playlist combinations that I thought were particularly interesting. I've been listening tonight as I wander online and once again am struck by the great segues iTunes has mysteriously created. Here's what it's presented tonight for my listening pleasure:
Shadow & Jimmy
Was (Not Was)
A World That Passed Me By
Danny Gatton & Joey DeFrancesco
St. Patrick's Day
Where Are We Going