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‘American Idol’ top 2 performance finale recap: a good… original song?

AMERICAN IDOL: L-R: Phillip Phillips and  Jessica Sanchez on AMERICAN IDOL airing Tuesday, May 22 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

AMERICAN IDOL: L-R: Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez on AMERICAN IDOL airing Tuesday, May 22 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

Who will win tomorrow after watching tonight's performance finale?

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Who do you WANT to win 'American Idol' this year?

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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.

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

175 comments Add your comment

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
9:24 pm

While I wasn’t overwhelmed with the total evening, it was definitely better than the Crystal/Off Key Lee final.

Pavel

May 22nd, 2012
9:32 pm

I think Phil will win. Much more contemporary than “show tune Jessie” … and the girls will vote in mass for Phillip.

One major reason AI’s ratings have fallen so far this year is the creepy over commercialization of the show. Way too much pimping for Ford, various Fox series, JayLo, this and that new movie etc etc. Get back to the roots …the music, the talent, the competition. Quit trying to squeeze a dollar out of every minute and your audience may stay with you next year. (Also, get rid of old Steve the cliche Tyler)

Woodpappy

May 22nd, 2012
9:33 pm

Just seemed to me to be very rushed thru tonight. Hurry Hurry.

mrs_pld

May 22nd, 2012
9:38 pm

I think Phillip did better, and I liked his “first single” better. He and Colton were my favorites from the beginning.

String to the finish

May 22nd, 2012
9:38 pm

Ddnt know he had it in him. But Movin Out was very well done and the original song, “Home” was an absolute home run. I think this Year’s idol comes from south Georgia.

Pavel

May 22nd, 2012
9:38 pm

I didn’t mean to dis Jessica. She has a truly rare and amazing voice. Its just that she has so little soul (she’s 16 and it still shows) and I wouldn’t dream of buying an album of her songs. Phillip, on the other hand, is new — new phrasing, new voice, — I’d definitely buy his CD

Leesburg, GA!

May 22nd, 2012
9:42 pm

Go Phillip!! I believe we have another winner from Leesburg. First Luke Bryan, next Buster Posey and now Phillip…..wow…must something in the water down here…

B-Bro

May 22nd, 2012
9:45 pm

Phillipeeeeeeeee

Seth T

May 22nd, 2012
9:48 pm

Early sample polls seem to be all over the place, some claiming Jessica is an easy winner – others showing Phillip in a fair lead.

With a 4 – hour voting window, may depend on whose fans are willing to vote for a good share of the duration.

hminghmingi

May 22nd, 2012
9:48 pm

Hope Philip wins the title,cos i always pray for him

.....

May 22nd, 2012
9:53 pm

Nobody wins. And as long as they continue to drag this glorified karaoke contest out, America loses. Come on Fox, do the honorable thing and let it die with dignity. Don’t Schaivo the thing.

RxDawg

May 22nd, 2012
9:55 pm

I came in wanting Jessica to win. I left wanting Phillip to win.

Seth T

May 22nd, 2012
9:57 pm

It is very,very likely that J. Lo will not be offered a contract next year, and she is already making other plans. She can then leave the easy way, by having other plans – and won’t have to go-out like Paula and Nicole did on X-Factor.

boots

May 22nd, 2012
10:07 pm

We are Phillip fans, esp since I am from SW GA. However, there is no debate (at least in our home) that he stole tonight’s show. I think you are being generous giving Jessica a B+ on the final song. I score it a solid C. Round one: even. Each sang well for their style. Round two: Phillip. He was much more entertaining and fun. Round three: Phillip in a run-away. I think the studio audience was solidly behind Phillip, which is saying something since Jessica is from SoCal.

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
10:09 pm

If you want to hear a great female voice you should have just seen Dancing With The Stars. Kelly Clarkson sang.

Vast Wastrel

May 22nd, 2012
10:12 pm

With a 4 hour window for voting or 7 hours if you know how to game the system the winner will be determined by the uber fans willing to wear out their fingers. What do they hope to gain by doubling the voting period?

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

May 22nd, 2012
10:13 pm

dvr’d AI to watch after DWTS finale, and K&CFan, KELLY LOOKS INCREDIBLE!!! Her weight is down, and her wardrobe is incredibly flattering….and she sounds good as ever!!! back to see comment later, perhaps…not reading ANY comments here yet!!!

MWAH! all

Jeremy

May 22nd, 2012
10:15 pm

The show wasn’t the same after Elise and Colton got voted off. I can’t wait to hear Elise’s first cd. She’s the bomb!

Seth T

May 22nd, 2012
10:17 pm

Just caught Kelly Clarkson doing her latest hit on DWTS. (Don’t watch that show but knew Kelly was on).

And if you want to separate the real deal from amatuer appeal – just play a Kelly album after listening to the downloads of some of these girls from Idol, The Voice, the UK Voice, etc. Kelly’s tone and energy, without screaming melisma, is pretty hard to match.

Atlanta Native

May 22nd, 2012
10:20 pm

Jessica got her shriek on tonight big-time. Her Change Nothing song sounded like a screech-owl, about a half-note flat (when she manage to voice something akin to singing).

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
10:21 pm

Vast Wastrel
May 22nd, 2012
10:12 pm

“What do they hope to gain by doubling the voting period?”

Ryan being able to say “after 100 million votes…..”

Seth T

May 22nd, 2012
10:22 pm

I agree the show morphed-into a bore-fest after we lost Elise, Skylar, Hollie – even Heejun and Colton at least added something different. By the time it got down to the top 3, there wasn’t much speculate on anymore, even if they were all doing well..

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
10:26 pm

Vast Wastrel
May 22nd, 2012
10:12 pm

“What do they hope to gain by doubling the voting period?”

Conspiracy. :lol:

Actually it will help the judge’s favorite, 7th place finisher Jessica “Mulligan” Sanchez, to gain more votes. P squared is on Eastern Time while J is on west coast time. Her voters are more apt to continue voting for 4 hours.

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
10:27 pm

Seth T
May 22nd, 2012
10:22 pm

Agreed about everyone except Hee Haw.

MyPatootie

May 22nd, 2012
10:35 pm

Here’s hoping Phillip wins if for no other reason than if JS wins the judges will take big credit for saving her, therefore allowing her the chance to win. Deep down they would love for that to happen.

Karen

May 22nd, 2012
10:40 pm

Just finished watching. Loved Phillip! Steven said it all – he is the man! Hope he takes it tomorrow night. Gld to see JLo depart.

Andi

May 22nd, 2012
10:43 pm

Great. So I go out of town and miss a week and didn’t know it was on tonight. I was looking forward to tomorrow night. Oh well, thank goodness for DVRs.

Andi

May 22nd, 2012
10:49 pm

i’m not even done watching but I’m already voting for Phillip.

Deirdre

May 22nd, 2012
10:52 pm

Do y’all understand how the time zones work? West coast won’t even see the show until 11pm east coast time. Their voting period is the same as ours. from 9pm to 1am. They do NOT get 3 extra hours of voting. They are NOT voting right now. They won’t get to vote until midnight our time.

mrs_pld

May 22nd, 2012
11:01 pm

Still voting for Phillip…. I really should go to bed.

ACE

May 22nd, 2012
11:01 pm

Do they have some way of knowing which time zone votes for which number. It would be possible for someone on the west coast to get numbers and vote for Jessica now just has it would for people to vote for Phillip after the time is up on the east coast. I live close to the bama line and they are an hour behind us so I could cross the line and vote there too. Dial idol which has predicted the winner correctly since it started has Phillip in the lead.

Mercedes S.

May 22nd, 2012
11:01 pm

In NYT article, Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment at Fox, promises “creative reinvigoration” of the Idol franchise next season. I read into it: No JLo, fairer voting. Oh well… one can hope!

Andi

May 22nd, 2012
11:03 pm

Done watching. Philip FTW.

And Mercedes, I’m hoping right there with you!

Mercedes S.

May 22nd, 2012
11:04 pm

Same NYT article quotes Jeff Alexander who recaps Idol every week on “Television Without Pity”:

“Ms. Sanchez probably can’t remembe ra world without ‘Idol’. She’s trained to be on the show since she was 5, and it’s like watching somebody who was grown in a vat for this purpose.”

Uhhhhhhh

May 22nd, 2012
11:06 pm

Deirdre … Cool thing they just created called the Internet. Pretty easy to vote online. Doubt AI is tracking the time zones of individual IP addresses. Yes, Cali people could start voting at 9 eastern. Don’t need phone numbers, just the ability to log in and click on the person you like.

mrs_pld

May 22nd, 2012
11:08 pm

The online voting is capped at 50 votes.

Andi

May 22nd, 2012
11:10 pm

That’s hilarious Mercedes. I don’t want to knock the kid, but watching her was much like watching a “Stepford Singer”.

Mercedes S.

May 22nd, 2012
11:18 pm

New name for Jessica: Stepbot (robot squared)

Seth T

May 22nd, 2012
11:23 pm

RE: someone’s post on DailIdol accuracy -

The dialIdol score numbers have been wrong way more than right this year. You can scroll down on the score box to each week – and the last-place contestant on their numbers has stayed-in, more often than been voted-off.

In fact, Phillip was last/lowest score on Top 5 week, Skylar was the only one predicted “safe”, and she was shown the door.

Rebshadow

May 22nd, 2012
11:23 pm

I agree with Andi. If you want to be sneaky open a Google voice account for each time zone look up area codes. Just kidding but I’m sure techies could do it. Go Phillip. Tonight was really boring except for Home. I read an article of Where are they now half of them are in Church surprised Joshua was not in top two.

james patrick

May 22nd, 2012
11:34 pm

hi i like best winner u that jessica true

princess sarah

May 22nd, 2012
11:37 pm

i like best winner that jessica is song true ..

princess bostio

May 22nd, 2012
11:41 pm

like jessica is winner

leslie batadlan

May 22nd, 2012
11:43 pm

jessica is winner :)

tintin sarita

May 22nd, 2012
11:47 pm

i want like song that jessica is best win true
:)

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
11:50 pm

james patrick
princess sarah
princess bostio
leslie batadlan

:shock:

Vast Wastrel

May 22nd, 2012
11:51 pm

The instructional slideshows on Youtube linked here a few days ago give explicit instruction on how to utilize Skype and other VoIP methods to game the system and phone vote for Jessica Sanchez from anywhere in the world. The only thing they have wrong is giving the 2 2-hour windows rather than the 2 4-hour sessions announced tonight. They overlap since PDT is 3 hours behind EDT leaving a 7 hour opportunity to vote an unlimited amount during that time frame. 9am thru 4pm Manila time.

Here is the first one of the instructional slide shows I just obtained in a quick search on Youtube, many more abound:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3XvQ92xgy0

There is a possibility that a lack of knowledge of the voting time expansion in countries outside the US would leave those following these instructions to only vote for 4 hours. But I feel it will still be determined by who has the most rabid fans willing to spend all night or all day depending upon location to vote thousands of times each.

gforce

May 22nd, 2012
11:51 pm

Jessica for the win!

arliza fleres

May 22nd, 2012
11:52 pm

very good song is jessica best true

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

May 22nd, 2012
11:52 pm

no doubt in my mind that Phillip took the night. I was hoping for a girl, but once Elyse left, i was not so sure it would be … Grateful beyond words that Joshua did not make the finals. Great ability, but by the end of the season, i was completely bored by him. same ol’ same ol’ … not sure i can stand a freaking TWO HOUR finale tomorrow, however. will dvr and go back later to watch.

nite all