Maybe it's just me, but there is something missing in these final three on "American Idol" this season.
In years past, at this stage of the competition — one week before the finale — I can remember sitting in front of my television set in awe.
Whether it was Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood or Fantasia Barrino, there was that "moment" that Simon, Randy and Paula keep talking about these contestants "almost" achieving.
In fairness, music mogul Clive Davis didn't do these singers any favors by choosing their first songs.
Elliott Yamin looked like a deer caught in the headlights singing Journey's "Open Arms," Katharine McPhee thought she was all that when Davis chose her to sing R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" and Hicks proved why Bruce Springsteen has never agreed to let an "Idol" contestant do one of his songs on the show before tonight.
Hicks tried "Dancing in the Dark." I wouldn't count on hearing another Bruce song from any future contestants, that's for sure. Not even a young Courteney Cox doing the white man's overbite with Hicks on stage like she did in The Boss' video could have saved that performance.
For the second song of the night, the judges got to choose the songs, and proved why these three are the most famous talent show judges of all time. They know their stuff, or more accurately, they know their contestants.
Elliott sang "What You Won't Do for Love," by Bobby Caldwell.
There's my boy Elliott Yamin! From the opening stanza, it was clear that cover tunes are not Clive Davis' forte, and I never thought I'd be saying this, but Paula Abdul got it right, and that performance would have put Elliott in the Kodak Theater next week — on any other night.
Simon chose "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for McPhee, and before she sang it, Simon hoped she'd have the aforementioned "moment."
She did not disappoint. But I'm sorry, it was better when I played it back with my eyes closed.
Katharine McPhee has such a wonderful voice, but her performance is so affected it's very difficult for me to like her. Not to mention the fact that her pose sitting on the stage floor was already cemented in "American Idol" lore by Fantasia two seasons ago.
Randy Jackson chose Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful" for the king of the Soul Patrol.
Finally. I've been praying for Hicks to do a Cocker song ever since Hicks' audition, when Simon was berating Paula and Randy for liking the silver-haired crooner and Hicks mumbled, "Hasn't this guy ever heard of Joe Cocker?"
After a shaky and rough start, Taylor made it his own, but the rendition will do wonders for Joe Cocker record sales, because if nothing else, Hicks' performance shows just how great a singer Cocker is. That was a hard song to sing.
But Taylor pulled it off, and the judges I think surprised even Taylor. They said it was his best performance ever.
The difference between Taylor and the rest is that he is an artist. It's apparent that music moves him. That is something that cannot be faked, or compensated for with humility (Yamin), or longing looks into the camera (McPhee).
Wanting to be there and absolutely, positively having to be there are not mutually exclusive.
The contestants themselves picked their final songs of the night.
Elliott didn't do himself justice. He picked Danny Hathaway's version of "I Believe," originally done by Ray Charles.
At this stage of the competition, he needed to blow the audience away with a familiar song. That was not the one. Simon Cowell was the only one to tell it to Elliott like it is.
"Whatever happens you will make your mom very proud by what you achieved in this competition," said Cowell.
"Get me that phone so I can cast a sympathy vote for Elliott right now," is what I thought. You can't help but to like the guy.
Katharine McPhee did "I Ain't Got Nothing But the Blues," by Ella Fitzgerald.
Randy seemed insulted that McPhee continues to sing songs that were made great by legends in the business.
Part of me agrees with that sentiment — how dare she think she's that good? But then again, if she doesn't believe that she's that good, who will? It's a catch-22.
Artists should never judge themselves, however, and arguing and giving flabbergasted looks at the judges like they wouldn't know a good singer if they ran over one probably won't help her in the long run.
With Hicks' "Try a Little Tenderness," it was all over. Taylor Hicks is the next "American Idol."
Katharine McPhee or Elliott Yamin better hope Clive Davis chooses all his songs next week — something tells me it will be Katharine vs. Taylor though.
Check out FOX News' coverage of next week's "American Idol" finale from The Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.
Brian Kilmeade, Lisa Bernhard and I are Hollywood-bound for full coverage of behind-the-scenes interviews with past and present contestants, the judges, host Ryan Seacrest and of course, this season's "American Idol."
VIDEO: Watch Mike's "Real Deal" Web cast.