Last Tuesday may very well have been the most important night of the competition for Vonzell Solomon, Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice, but surprisingly, American Idol's final three looked the least nervous they've been all year. Could it be they're starting to gain the confidence of professionals? Rosanna Tavarez (a Popstars grad) and Kimberly Caldwell (of Idol Season 2), who host TV Guide Channel's Idol Chat (Thursdays at 8 pm/ET), know a thing or two about the pressure these kids are under. That doesn't mean they held back on their judgments Wednesday morning, when we woke them up to hear what they thought of each performance.
Rosanna Tavarez: In terms of popularity, I think Vonzell might come in third, but in terms of virtuousity, the girl's voice is exceptional. She definitely doesn't come in third because of talent. She did have a few spots where she was slightly off during "I'll Never Love This Way Again." Our standards are so high now because we all get CDs that are so autotuned and superproduced, so it's kind of an insane standard that they have on American Idol. But Vonzell can be slightly off with a few notes and still be phenomenal.
Kimberly Caldwell: Her first song wasn't her best; she did way better on the second and third. But I really enjoy Vonzell during upbeat songs. Clive Davis said that you can't smile during that song. I think it's hard for Vonzell to not smile and not enjoy herself.
Rosanna: "Chain of Fools" was the song she auditioned with, so you could tell she's familiar with that song, and she was having a good time. I had to agree with what Clive told her: Great performance, but you have to be careful with giving these songs that are about loss or fear a pop, happy sensibility. She hasn't done that so much until now because she's trying to mask her nervousness.
Kimberly: I think "Chain of Fools" is one of the best performances she's ever given. I think the judges liked the fact that they were able to have a good time with her instead of just critiquing her.
Rosanna: I love "On the Radio." Yet again, it's one of those odd disco songs where the subject matter [is melancholy]. She can carry off that tune. She's got the range; she's got the energy. It's a song that fits her like a glove.
Rosanna: The first song, I don't think he was totally on as much as the judges thought he was. There were quite a few bum notes in there. I was surprised to hear the judges basically kneel down before Bo and praise him. His performance was not even close to being that perfect. Interesting how they'll criticize Vonzell and they won't criticize Bo. I don't get it.
Kimberly: I don't think there is even a slight possibility of him being voted off at all. When I first heard he was going to do "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" I thought, "There's no way he's going to be able to pull this off." He did it. He came really close to Elton John, which is the hardest thing to do. So I think he did an amazing job. He's adorable. I think he'll take home the whole thing.
Rosanna: He did really well in the second song, ["In a Dream"], which he did a cappella. It's interesting: Some people will be thrown off if they don't hear the music to the song, and others will be thrown off if they do. I think he's the latter. He was spot on because all he could hear was his own voice. He sounded really great. You have to be a brave person to do it. You have to have a good internal sense of the key, the music and timing.
Kimberly: The fact that he took that risk and he even came out stronger than the other two is crazy! I think he thought he needed to do something drastic to make sure he'd win. At the same time, he has a beautiful voice. In the beginning of the competition, they're stripped down naked, they don't have a band, and that's when you can tell who the great singers are. Last night, Bo put it out there for everybody to know: "I am a great singer."
Rosanna: He did well with "Satisfaction." He does have a tendency to hit more bum notes than the other two, so I do notice that. He is getting more comfortable on stage. It's become a lot of fun to watch him. He looks like he's just rocking out.
Kimberly: I think "Satisfaction" was a great song for Paula to pick for him. Just like Randy said, it was like being at the Bo concert. There would be riots in the streets if Bo left, and I would be the one in the very front.
Rosanna: She sang "Crying" beautifully. Although she doesn't have quite the virtuosity Vonzell has, Carrie has such a radio-friendly voice. And country music doesn't require you to run [up and down the scale] as much as Vonzell does. Maybe it's the tone of her voice, but Carrie always gets away with singing a song pretty simply, without too much ornamentation, and yet still sucks us in.
Kimberly: I think just like Clive said, there needs to be that extra spark. And Simon said she seemed a little bit wooden. She has the It factor; she just needs to loosen up and go out there and perform. I feel like she's worried the whole time. She's going to be amazing in the studio.
Rosanna: Granted, Air Supply is nowhere near rock, but "Making Love Out of Nothing at All" can be sung with a little bit of a rock edge. It is the power of power ballads. Carrie's interesting because when she wants to, she can expose some claws, she becomes a lion. She just steps out and her voice roars. She sounds really great when she does that; it adds another color to her voice.
Kimberly: I couldn't believe Ryan called her "Farm Girl." She didn't seem very comfortable with the song. I wouldn't have wanted to follow Bo after his a cappella performance, either. I don't think anybody in the history of Idol would have.
Rosanna: I think "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" wasn't one of her best performances. She's really good about hitting lower notes well, but maybe that started way too low for her, because it was almost like she was speaking in the first part. Once the song got higher up in her register, she hit it.
Kimberly: I think it was a horrible choice of song for her. I grew up in Texas, singing Shania Twain songs, and I think you have to have more of a raspy voice to pull off Shania. Carrie has one of those perfect voices. They should have done something old school, because she's got that older voice.
But really, aren't all three of them going to get record deals?
Rosanna: Absolutely. In terms of how distinct their personalities are, there is no contest. You have three different genres, so they could have three separate records and not compete with each other.
Kimberly: They're all three amazing recording artists, and they're all going to have successful albums, but I think at this point that Bo is going to take home the money.