Could the original song make a difference this year?
What was turning out to be a relatively unmemorable, rather sleepy night turned around the moment Phillip Phillips starting singing the original song “Home.”
I have to say Phillip has the winds going in his direction based on recent history. He’s a guy with a guitar, period. He’s got the looks, the humble attitude. He has never been in danger to date of going home. I don’t think tonight changed matters any on that front. He performed well, be it Simon Fuller’s pick “Stand By Me,” Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” or that “Home Song.” I feel he will still win this.
But it’s not a guarantee. If Jessica Sanchez’s fans can regroup after a disappointing original song “Change Nothing,” she could win this. She could draw the Jordin Sparks-type voters (though Jordin’s competition was the never-going-to-win Blake Lewis). Maybe those fans in the Phillipines can find ways to vote as rumors have it.
Though I prefer Phillip and would love to see Georgia get a winner for a change, if Jessica wins, I wouldn’t be bummed. She certainly has the vocal tools, the looks and the potential to be a great artist. She’s still inexperienced and sings a bit mechanically at times. But that isn’t hopeless. It would also be nice to have a female win for a change after five years of guys and this would not be a case of affirmative action by any stretch.
Anyway, here is my take on the six songs:
Round one: “Idol’ creator Simon Fuller’s picks
- Jessica (”I Have Nothing” – Whitney Houston) – Ugh. Simon Fuller picked the song sung more than any other song on this show. This will be the eighth rendition in 11 years, the second this season alone. Trenyce (season one), Jennifer Hudson (season three), Vonzell Solomon (season four) and LaKisha Jones (season six) all tackled it and did well. Shannon Magrane earlier this year? Not so much. Anyway, this was a servicable version but I’m sick of the song. Next. Grade: B
- Phillip (”Stand By Me” - Ben E. King) – I love this song but again, it’s been done already, most notably by David Archuleta season seven. This tune involves almost no range so that helps Phillip, who gives it his usual twisty spin to it. It’s good, not transcendent but solid. Grade: B-plus/A-minus
Round two: personal picks
- Jessica (”The Prayer” Andrea Bocelli/ Celine Dion) – This pop classical nugget just sung by Chris Mann and Christina Aguilera two weeks ago on “The Voice” fits Jessica’s voice well. It’s pleasant, not a gamechanger. She should have gone for “I Will Always Love You,” but may have felt two Whitney songs after doing “I Have Nothng” would have been a bad idea. I would have opted for “Sweet Dreams’ by Beyonce. Grade: B-plus
- Phillip (”Movin’ Out” Billy Joel) – He slows down an aggressive Billy song and gives it a more bluesy edge. Again, I enjoy it. And having sexy Saxy, as we on the live blog call her, never hurts! Grade: A-minus
Round three: originals
- Jessica (”Change Nothing”) – She is saddled with a rather pedestrian pop song though it’s hardly the worst coronation song ever heard on “Idol” (Carrie’s “Inside Your Heaven” is probably my least favorite). At least it has a big loud chorus for her to belt. The judges rightly complained the song didn’t showcase her R&B side. But in some odd ways, I prefer when she doesn’t overdo the runs and vibrato. Grade: B-plus
- Phillip (”Home”) – Generally, most of the originals have been stinkers. Think how Kara DioGuardi tortured Kris Allen season eight so much with “No Boundaries” that they didn’t even bother with an original song season nine. But here is a winner. Sure, the song is a blend of Paul Simon circa 1973 and Mumford & Sons, but it perfectly fits Phil. It has catchy melody, a pretty chorus, Coldplay-esque “oohs” and a driving beat that you can dance to. This should be a single, win or lose. I could hear it on the radio and really get into it. I can’t wait to here the studio production! [UPDATE: credit Drew W. Pearson for the song, according to Shirley Halperin, an "Idol" expert and author.] Grade: A
Here’s highlights from the show.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk