American Idol Review: Who Can It Be Now?
It's the American Idol performance finale. Finally! Months of preparation, nearly a year's worth for Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez, come down to tonight.
As Ryan reminds us, this is the biggest event of the season.
There will be three rounds tonight, and after winning the coin-toss last week, Phillip, like a fan of football, has deferred to go second. Judges' comments will come at the end of each round. Let's get to it and see if we can pick a winner.
Round One: Simon Fuller's pick
For Jessica Sanchez, Simon chose Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing." This is a strong pick for her. She's got a big voice that needs a big song and Whitney songs certainly deliver. She sounds great, but for a song to open the night with, something about it lacks charisma. Maybe it's the arrangement, but it feels like the music behind the lyrics isn't big enough.
Phillip Phillips will be singing Benny King's "Stand By Me." This is a perfect song for Phillip. He dresses it up a little with a slightly different arrangement, but he sticks to the basic melody of the song. It's really simple and allows him to show off his skills on the guitar. Since he's being promoted as a singer-songwriter, this is smart.
J.Lo says this is tough because it's a battle of opposites. True words, J.Lo. America's job, she says, is to decide who makes you feel something and vote for that person. Randy says Round One went to Jessica. After a commercial break, J.Lo says she agrees with Randy. I now disagree with both of them. I think Round One went to Phillip.
Round Two: Contestant's Favorite From the Season
Jessica Sanchez has chosen to revisit "The Prayer" from her Top 24 journey. I don't remember when she sang this. It's a beautiful song, but I'm not sure it was the best choice. She hits a couple of monster-huge notes and sings the song well, but it was sleepy AND felt rushed at the same time.
Phillip Phillips' favorite number from the season was Billy Joel's "Movin' Out." Again, he's doing a great job of picking songs that showcase his style. His first time through this song was the moment when he first defied the powers that be and said "This is me. This is who I am." This song, again says "Here's who I'll be if you pick me, America."
Steven says Phillip has only hatched a little tonight and Jessica's taken Round Two. Randy called the round even. J.Lo says Phillip. I, again, say Round Two goes to Phillip, and I think it has everything to do with Jessica's arrangements and not her talent. Her talent is good, pure, and present, but the arrangements of these songs tonight are doing nothing to help her. Nor is she being helped by the fact that they have what feels like 60 seconds to sing.
Round Three: Potential First Hits
Jessica Sanchez' song is called "Change Nothing." The song's too low for her, first of all, which makes it so that I can't understand a word she's saying. Second, it's supposed to have some big moments but she's planted on the piano the whole time so the moments fall flat. Third, it's an awful song altogether.
Randy says he didn't love the song, but he loved that she made something out of it. J.Lo says she sang really well, but it was a pop ballad, which wasn't the right kind of song for Jessica. Steven dittos the other two.
Phillip Phillips' song is titled "Home." It's written so that he can play and sing, which is good since that's what he does. It's got a Mumford and Sons quality to it, which is a nice touch. It's not something we've heard from him yet, but it's current and relevant. It's pretty fantastic.
Randy loved the song and Phillip and the stage production and sounds like he's almost lost his voice. J.Lo said what was moving was that it was so different. Steven said Phillip has made the world his home.
Jessica Sanchez is talented, she's pretty, and, as J.Lo said, she'll no doubt make a record. Maybe even a lot of them. But I think Phillip Phillips might become the fifth consecutive male winner of American Idol, solely because he seems to really know who he is and what kind of records he wants to make. He has a level of artistry and confidence that Jessica seems to lack in clutch moments like tonight.
So... who will win, TV Fanatics?
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Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.