It’s all come down to this: Two singers, six songs, and millions of people texting their votes to decide the fates of two young, talented singers. Jessica Sanchez, 16, and Phillip Phillips, 21, faced off Tuesday night in three rounds of singing. One of the two will be crowned the 11th American Idol on Fox tonight.
Jessica opened with this Whitney Houston classic, “I Have Nothing.” It takes courage to take on anything by Whitney Houston, but Jessica has taken on Houston and Mariah Carey hits, and done an incredible job on them. The first round was hers.
Phillip countered with one of the greatest ballads of the last several decades, Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” As usual, Phillip put his signature on the classic.
In the second round, the contestants chose their own songs. Jessica led off with “The Prayer.”
And Phillip whipped out the Billy Joel hit, “Movin’ Out.” As great as the original is, this version kills, in my humble opinion. It. Just. Kills.
The third round may have been where the night was decided. Jessica went with “Change Nothing,” which despite her vocal perfection, failed to connect. She should have changed the song.
Phillip closed out the season with “Home.” He managed to work in a drum line, and slayed the song.
All season long, including the week when the judges had to save Jessica from exiting the competition a low vote, the talents of all the contestants have pointed to a final featuring these two singers. They have been the most consistent all along, with Joshua Ledet a very close third. Jessica has been my personal favorite, despite the fact that I don’t really care for most of her song choices. She is a gifted singer who can turn from angel to a growl on a 64th note. She’s amazing. And she’s only 16. But all along the way, Phillip has made every song his own. There’s a bit of Springsteen, a bit of Mumford & Sons, and something else in him.
My prediction is, Phillip wins tonight, and both Jessica and Phillip, and Joshua Ledet and a few of the other contestants go on to have very solid recording careers. Jessica may turn out to be the season’s breakout star.
Related: See Tom Neven’s coverage of American Idol at PJ Lifestyle.