Tuesday, May 22nd 2012
A Fight to the Finish!
by The AI Insider
Their journeys began on opposite sides of the country, but on Tuesday night Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips faced off to become our next American Idol. At the Nokia Theater L.A. LIVE, in front of 7,000 diehard Idol fans, Jessica and Phillip competed in three rounds.
For Round 1, Idol creator Simon Fuller chose Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" for Jessica and Ben E. King's classic "Stand by Me" for Phillip. Phillip won the coin toss, so he elected to go second in each round.
"For me, this is a tough one, because it's like a battle of the opposites," Jennifer said. "With Jessica you have amazing vocal prowess, power, control, grit, beauty. With [Phillip], you have a modern-day crooner, soulfulness, originality, artistry." After the Top 2 performed, Randy said Round 1 went to Jessica, and Jennifer agreed.
Next, Jason Derulo performed the world premiere of "Undefeated," the song that you at home helped him create.
Then it was time for Round 2. The contestants each chose their favorite songs of the season: Jessica picked Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli's "The Prayer" — the song that earned her a spot in the Top 24 — and Phillip performed "Movin' Out," from Billy Joel week. Steven thought Jessica "took" the round.
"When it comes to Phillip Phillips, I would say you don't always have to be a good egg — hatch or go bad," Steven said. "Tonight, he's hatched some, but I'd have to say Jessica took it again." Randy, however, called the round a "dead heat," while Jennifer gave it to Phillip.
"Jessica blew it away so hard in the first round," she said. "I'm gonna have to go with Phillip Phillips on [this] round, because I've seen Jessica do that before, and I just feel like that was authentic Phillip Phillips right here."
For Round 3, the contestants unveiled the songs that they would release as singles if they won the competition. Jessica performed "Change Nothing," and Phillip sang "Home."
As for Jessica, Randy liked her performance, but he wasn't thrilled about the song choice.
"I did not love the song, but what I did love is that you made something more out of the song," he told her. "When you're making your record, you have that Beyonce kind of swag, you got urban in you, so to do a straight pop song without having your flavor in it is kind of weird for me."
Jennifer told Jessica, "I thought you sang the song really well. It was a pop ballad; for your first single, I don't think I would do that, because you have so much soul, so much inside of you, so much blues quality to your voice — that's what surprises everybody. I think we miss that in [this] song. When you go to make a record, you have to be able to say, 'This is not me' or 'This is me, I can put a twist on it.' Everything has to be you."
Steven agreed, saying, "I know how good you can sing, and so do millions of people in America and all over the world. I just didn't feel it was the proper song for you to sing with the voice and the places you've taken the world before this."
Jessica responded that she does want to be more "urban," but she was trying to pick a "winning song" for the finale.
For his final song, Phillip earned a standing ovation from the judges.
"Dude, I love the song, you, the production, the marching band, everything about that was perfect," Randy said. "I loved it. That's your best performance of the night. That was amazing. It was a true artist performance —brilliant, genius."
Jennifer added, "I think what was so moving about that is it was so different. I couldn't think of any other singer or band that you sounded like in that moment. It's just Phillip Phillips. There's nothing on the radio that sounds like that. Congratulations."
Steven was also blown away. "By virtue of your vulnerability and style, you have made the world your home," he told Phillip. "I heard a little Paul Simon and other ungodlike creatures on this planet. You were perfect tonight, and I think you are the man."
So who's going to take it all in one of the tightest finale races in Idol history? We'll find out on Wednesday night, when Season 11 of American Idol comes to a close!