A lot of people are saying that this has been the best ‘American Idol’ season in a long time. In the show’s 11th season the contestants have certainly been extremely talented, and incredibly diverse.
That said, I confess I’ve watched for one reason – Phillip Phillips, a 21-year-old pawn shop worker from Leesburg, Georgia. Phillip had me at ‘Thriller’ which he sang at his audition in Savannah. When Phillips sings, he grimaces and his body jerks and twists like that guy in “Men in Black” who gets possessed by an alien. He is absolutely compelling to watch.
He doesn’t have the world’s greatest voice in the same way that Dave Matthews doesn’t either. No one would say that Matthews sings better than Beyonce or Josh Grobin. But then, that’s not why we listen to DMB. It’s about the music, and Phillips is a true artist in that sense. He’s all about the music.
Jessica Sanchez, the other finalist, has an absolutely gorgeous voice, and at 16 she’s only going to get better and better. She sings Whitney and Mariah flawlessly. She can sing rings around Phillips. And she just may win. In a way, she certainly deserves to, and I think Phillips would agree. It will be interesting to see how the odds on who will win American Idol stack up after tonight’s performances.
Sanchez sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” for her first round on Tuesday night’s finale, which was chosen by “Idol” producer Simon Fuller. She sounded great and looked beautiful. The performance was nuanced, controlled, and perfect.
Phillips sang “Stand By Me,” and as a big of a fan as I am, I thought he appeared nervous and the performance was a little flat. It just didn’t have that big effect that Jessica’s song did. It was good—it just didn’t showcase Phillips at his best. The judges gave round one to Sanchez.
For her second number, Sanchez sang “The Prayer” and it was, again, beautiful. This round was meant to reprise their favorite performances of the season, and Sanchez got it right. It was one of her best moments. Phillips sang “Moving Out” by Billy Joel, which showcased his funky, acoustic version of the song in which he only approximates the original melody. It was, again, really good, but he had better songs during the season.
For their final number, both sang an original song that was written for them and will become their first single on an album should they win “Idol.” There hasn’t been a good one since Kelly Clarkson sang “A Moment Like This” on the first season. This year was no exception. Jessica’s was a stupid love ballad that did not fit her soulful voice. The judges didn’t love it. Phillips’ song, however, was called “Home” and fit him to a tee. The judges gave him a standing ovation, with Randy saying he “loved everything about it” and Tyler compared him to Paul Simon. It was another Phillip Phillips moment.
I’m sticking with Phillips, even though Jessica Sanchez is the better singer. There’s just something about the boy.
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