It’s the night all Idol fans have been waiting for since those first auditions in January. Tonight is the night in which we finally find out who will be this year’s American Idol. Will it be Phillip Phillips, the good looking, guitar playing bluesy singer from Georgia or the fresh faced, sixteen year old power vocalist, Jessica Sanchez from California? After last night’s performances, it may be harder than ever to tell.
Last night felt a bit like a whirlwind and didn’t really have the feel of a finale episode of American Idol. I’m not sure if this is because it was all jam packed into one hour or if it is because the performances have been staged so extravagantly all season that there wasn’t much difference between finale night and a normal performance night. Either way, we were treated to three performances by each of the final two Idol contestants, none of which left much room for criticism.
Jessica started off the night with Idol creator Simon Fuller’s pick for her “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston. Not the most original choice, however, the beautiful and emotion driven song showcased Jessica’s big voice and was overall a good performance. Simon’s choice for Phillip was the Ben E. King classic, “Stand by Me,” in which Phillip promptly turned upside down to suit his own style. The subtlety of Phillips rendition left the judges lukewarm, leaving them to unanimously declare Jessica the winner of round one.
In round two, the Idol hopefuls got to choose their favorite song of the season to perform again. Jessica opted for one of her earlier selections that earned her a spot in the top 24 with Celine Dion’s “The Prayer.” With such an amazing song, it is difficult to compete with the original, however, Jessica seems to pull it off nicely, if not perfectly. Phillip brought us back to Billy Joel night in which he performed his rendition of “Movin Out” even better than the first time he took it on. Judges were split on this round with Steven giving it to Jessica, Jennifer giving it to Phillip, and Randy being noncommittal and calling it a “dead heat.”
For the final round of the night, the final two were to sing the song that would be their first single on their upcoming record. Jessica started off her performance perched somewhat uncomfortably on the edge of the piano and that is where she stayed throughout the entire performance of “Change Nothing.” The song itself was, for lack of a better word, a bit boring and didn’t seem to fit Jessica’s style or even be appropriate for her age. The judges weren’t crazy about it either, arguing that she should have done something more urban. Philip, on the other hand, took the final round by storm singing his song “Home” with, as Steven put it, a bit of a Paul Simon feel mixed with something that was all Phillip. With a bluegrass meets tribal feel, we were treated to acoustic guitars, what looked to be a steel drum, and even a marching band. The judges hooted and hollered and leapt to their feet, declaring Phillip an easy winner for round three.
With so many mixed reactions throughout the night, it is near impossible to predict who will win tonight. While Phillip has a strong fan base and took the night’s final performance, American Idol has been bankrupt when it comes to female winners since Jordin Sparks in 2007. Will the male winning streak be broken, leaving Jessica to be the youngest American Idol ever or will Phillip’s unique style and quirky, yet humble persona earn him a spot alongside Idols past? Based on the night’s round winners, it should be Phillip, however, American Idol loves a good shocker, ala, Adam Lambert’s surprising loss, so you never can tell. The only thing for certain, is that tonight one of these final two is sure to finally have the “moment” judges have been raving about all season.
The American Idol finale airs at 8/7c on Fox.
Image via: Fox