It was finale night on Idol, a time for the final two contestants to get the spotlight without a lot of filler, and while Jessia Sanchez may have had the best performance of the night, Phil Phillips ended the night with the best song.
Everything I hate about American Idol, the awful judges, the mind numbing filler stories and the overbearing Ryan Seacrest gets stripped away to the minimum on the final performance show of the season, and the spotlight lands where it should be — on the final two contestants. The show remains a rarity in the reality competition genre, a show that can stand alone and allow to see both singers on equal footing.
Phil Phillips, the pawn shop owner’s son from Georgia, and Jessica Sanchez, the little girl with the big voice from San Diego stood toe to toe on the stage and tried to convince those who hadn’t already made up their mind to vote for them. Both did a pretty good job, but it was the kid left in the pimp spot who may walk away with the title.
Jessica came away with what I considered to be the best performance of the night when she belted out Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer”. Emotionally overwrought? Yes. But emotion works well in this venue, and when Phil countered with a lame version of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out”, Jessica had the early lead.
And then came what we call the “coronation” song. These are songs especially written for the competition, and then chosen to fit the contestant. Here’s where Jessica may have lost the title.
Strike one, she had to go first. Strike two, her song sucked big time. Titled “Change Nothing”, the lyrics were the typical insipid drivel that these songs have come to be. A lot of words about being true and rising up and inspiring no one. BLECH. Even her best vocal effort couldn’t save that song.
Phil, however, got a great song. A contemporary sounding ditty called “Home” which reeked of the sensibilities of the hottest alt-rockers out right now, Mumford and Sons. The song fit his voice perfectly, and it just sounded hipper and more modern than Jessica’s. It was the kind of performance that left people at home going, “Hey, I kind of like that.”
Whether it causes people to pick up the phone and call remains to be seen, but as I predicted early in the competition, I’m giving the title to Phil Phillips.