We are just one night away from the announcement of the next American Idol and tonight the final contestants, Phil Phillips and Jessica Sanchez, had one last chance to win over the hearts and votes of the American public. The contestants sang three songs and we were left with the clear sense that Phil Phillips is the one to beat!
The show consisted of three rounds. The first song was chosen by Idol creator Simon Fuller. For Sanchez, he chose Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”. The sixteen year- old sensation wowed audiences before with her rendition of “I Will Always Love You” (making her an early front runner in the competition) and “How Will I Know” during the upbeat 80’s week. For Phil, Fuller chose Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” to match the laid back singer from Georgia’s Dave-Matthews esque demeanor. Both sang well, but Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez gave Round 1 to Sanchez. I agreed. Tyler remained unusually silent…but not for long!
In Round 2, the contestants picked their favorite performance of the competition. Sanchez revisited Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer” and Philips sang Billy Joel’s “Moving Out” . Tyler was back with his odd ball comments telling Philips, “You don’t always have to be a good egg. Hatch or go bad. And tonight, you know, he’s hatched some, but I would have to say that Jessica took [the round].” However, Lopez felt the round went to Philip and Randy called it an even draw. It’s tough to top what’s already considered your ‘best’ perfromance of the night but I think these two managed to top their original renditions of the songs with equal showmanship.
The final choice was up to the contestants. Sanchez delivered the piano ballad “Change Nothing” and Phil selected acoustic tune “Home”. This round was a clear win for Philip. The judges felt that Jessica’s song choice didn’t showcase her urban, soulful style saying “it was just okay”. Whereas Jackson said, “I love the song, I love you, I love the production, I love the marching band … that was amazing,” of Philips performance which received a standing ovation. I’d have to agree. Phillips has been compared to Dave Matthews and Mumford & Sons, great bands which I love, but Phillips has his own unique style. He doesn’t sound like anyone else on the radio and if he becomes the next Idol, I would happily buy his album knowing I would get something different through and through.
It was clear the mixed reviews and overwhelming praise of Phillips last song, left Sanchez feeling a bit defeated. The winner will record their last song as their first single and Lopez said she would not have picked such a pop song for her first single in reference to Sanchez’s choice. Tyler might have sealed the deal telling Phil, “You were perfect tonight, You are the man”. In response to her critques, Sanchez told Seacrest, “I definitely agree with them (the judges). I did want to do more urban something, but this is the finale, and I was trying to pick a winning song, something more that shows my voice. But definitely when I make my record — if I ever do — it’s going to be a lot more me.” Not a strong final statement.
That said, there is no arguing that Jessica Sanchez has an amazing voice, is extremely talented, and will only get better as she matures. She was my early favorite and I said it was just a matter of who would be standing next to her in the finale. That said, she just lost steam throughout the second half of the competition. While I wish her the best and have no doubt she will have a long and promising career, I don’t think she will win this competition. Phil Phillips has been my personal favorite throughout the show and his last few performances have been stronger and stronger. I said in an earlier blog that I thought Phil would be just as happy to let someone else win because he was going to come out and do his thing no matter what. I stand by that statement, but I think he better get used to people liking what ‘his thing’ is. He remains my pick for the next Idol.
The finale took place at the Nokia Live in downtown Los Angeles. To find out who will take the 11th Season title tune in tomorrow night at 8pm on Fox.