Last Night on American Idol: The Two Finalists Squared Off

Last night on American Idol, the final two contestants, Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips, squared off against each other in a winner takes all song-fest. Phillip expressed everyone’s thoughts best when asked how he felt, and he answered, “bebebebebbebebeebebe”.

As in seasons past, each contestant sang one song chosen from Exec Producer Simon Fuller, one song that they performed earlier in the season, and one song written for them that would be their “coronation song”. You can check out for pics and video of the performances from last night on American Idol.

Jessica Sanchez: Jessica started things off with a flourish, as Simon Fuller selected Whitney’s I Have Nothing as her song choice. If nothing else, Jessica has a flair for the dramatic, just as she started Queen Week with their behemoth hit, Bohemian Rhapsody, she started this week with a monster Whitney hit. The first half of the song was slow and measured. When she hit the bridge, she started to get some growl in her voice, leaning toward actual shouting. Maybe some emotion getting in the way. No question, this girl has got power in spades and usually she knows how to use it. She finishes the song as slow as she started it, with tremendous drama. This is the fourth or fifth Whitney song that Jessica has sung in this competition, and most she has absolutely slayed. I think that she sang this one well, but not nearly as well as others we have heard her sing.

Phillip Phillips: Simon Fuller selected the classic standard Stand By Me, by Ben E King for Phil-Phil in this round. He started the song slower than the original, and kept the song at the same measured tempo throughout. After his fantastic performance last week of Bob Seger’s We’ve Got Tonight, where we actually got to see that Phil-Phil not only really can sing a melody when pushed to it, and hit a falsetto or two, it was a little disappointing to see him revert back to this. If anything, this was a little boring.

Jessica Sanchez: In the second round, Jessica chose The Prayer, by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion, which she sang during Top 24 Week. In this selection she displayed her both her incredible vocal power and amazing range (both which were somewhat missing the mark in the first song) as she moved in and out of two or three registers, and up and down falsettos. She was restrained, and she was powerful and she was as passionate as she could be. Most impressive.

Phillip Phillips: Phil-Phil reprised his Movin’ Out from Billy Joel week, and it was every bit as good as it was then. Just as Kris Allen did with Kanye’s Heartless, and David Cook did with Billy Jean, Phil-Phil reengineered Movin’ Out to such a degree that it was practically a whole new song. And there was nothing wrong with it (despite the fact that my wife Lynn insists that “you don’t screw with Billy Joel songs, EVER”).

Jessica Sanchez: If Jessica wins, she will sing Change Nothing as her Coronation Song and we will be hearing her singing it on all of your favorite radio stations. That being said, I wish they found a better song. Like previous coronation songs, this one sucked, and to make matters worse, it was sung poorly. She was screaming through half of it, and was way off pitch through about a quarter of it. It’s a good thing for her that there about 47 other songs to choose from to look back on that she did so much better with. If voters had to base their decision on this last song, she’d be screwed.

Phillip Phillips: If Phil-Phil wins, he will sing Home as his Coronation Song. This was actually a pretty decent ditty that I can imagine hearing on the radio. It was actually very relevant to today’s music, at least the first half was. The second half was more music, less singing, strangely enough, included a marching band. Randy compared it to something that may have come from Mumford and Son, but I thought that Muse could have just have easily recorded it. Either way, the word to use is relevant, and that is what is important here.

Here’s how I saw it:

First Round: JESSICA
Second Round: JESSICA (by the slightest of margins)
Third Round: PHIL-PHIL
WINNER AMERICAN IDOL SEASON 11; JESSICA SANCHEZ (because she is leagues better)