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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Can Phillip Phillips give Georgia its first ‘Idol’ crown?

AMERICAN IDOL: The final 2: L-R: Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

AMERICAN IDOL: The final 2: L-R: Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

Here’s a piece I wrote for the print edition of The Atlanta Journal Constitution:

This has been a mixed bag of a year for “American Idol,” the aging Fox music competition show.

With increased competition from NBC’s “The Voice,” “Idol” lost a quarter of its viewers this year from 2011, the biggest dropoff in the show’s 11-year history. The judges were pilloried for hyperbolic praise and excessive standing ovations for the contestants. Most infamous: Jennifer Lopez declaring Joshua Ledet “one of the best singers of the past 50 years.”

But all was not lost. “Idol” this season managed to find genuine talent who generated passionate debate on the AJC Radio and TV blog.

Tonight, the finals feature Jessica Sanchez, a San Diego teen with exceptionally mature vocal skills, and Phillip Phillips, a Leesburg native who blends a confident, laid-back attitude with an emotive vocal approach.

Phillips could finally bring home the “Idol” crown to Georgia for the first time. The state has gotten close a few times. Season three’s Diana DeGarmo of Snellville and last year’s Lauren Alaina of Rossville were runners ups while two others who came in second – season one’s Justin Guarini and season four’s Bo Bice – spent parts of their formative years in metro Atlanta. (Bice now lives in Cumming.)

Here we handicap Sanchez and Phillips:

Phillp Phillips

Age: 21

Hometown: Leesburg (estimated population: 3,000) also home to country star Luke Bryan and San Francisco Giants catcher/first baseman Buster Posey

Three advantages:

1) He brings unalloyed joy and passion to his singing. When he grabs the right tune – such as Damien Rice’s “Volcano” or Usher’s “U Got It Bad” – he can be mesmerizing. As record executive and mentor Jimmy Iovine noted Monday in a press conference: “he’s got incredible charisma.”

2) He’s cute. That never hurts on any TV show.

3) He fits the mold created by recent winners: dude with a guitar.

Three disadvantages:

1) His vocal skills are nowhere near those of Sanchez. His upper register is weak, a problem exposed three weeks ago when he struggled on the chorus of the Zombies’ “Time of the Season.” Normally, he covers that issue up by growling.

2) He can feel derivative at times – his shoulder hunches and vocal stylings evoke the likes of Dave Matthews, Joe Cocker and Chris Martin.

3) He’s suffering from painful kidney problems, which landed him in the hospital in March and has impacted his performances. His personal doctor recommended immediate surgery earlier this month but he’s holding off until after the finale, TMZ said last week.

Chance of winning: 75%

Jessica Sanchez

Age: 16

Hometown: San Diego

Three advantages:

1) She’s a fearless singer, tackling some of the most challenging songs in the pop music canon such as Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” Jennifer Holliday’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” She even picked an Aerosmith song “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” last week in front of lead singer and show judge Steven Tyler.

2) She’s developed a passionate fan base who will fiercely defend her when critics strike. And she has more Twitter followers than Phillips (398,000 vs. 316,000.) And it’s possible Ledet’s fan base will more likely gravitate votes to her than Phillips.

3) Last year, the youngest finalist (Scotty McCreery) won. She could, too. And this is not her first reality TV trip: she performed on “America’s Got Talent” at age 11.

Disadvantages:

1) A female hasn’t won the competition since Jordin Sparks season six.

2) During the top 7 week, Sanchez drew the fewest votes and needed to be “saved” by the judges.

3) She is often criticized for not connecting with the songs she sings. One AJC Radio and TV blog commenter Uncle Buck dubbed her “songbot.”

Chance of winning: 25%

TV PREVIEW

“American Idol,” 8 p.m. tonight. Fox.

97 comments Add your comment

peacebaby

May 22nd, 2012
9:52 am

I hope your predictions come true. Go Phillip.

Deirdre

May 22nd, 2012
9:58 am

Thanks Rodney.

Depending on the performances tonight, I’m leaning toward Jessica. Her voice is really strong and time will make her a better, more emotionally connected singer. Plus, it really IS time a girl won the competition. I have my own theory about her last place finish a few weeks ago having to do with the constant Hollie bashing by the judges. Every year, we talk about a favorite being in danger because of the fans wanting to “save” someone from the judges’ negative opinions. I think that this year, Jessica took the hit.

Re Phil…I LOVE Phil. He has a charisma that Jessica lacks. The camera is his best friend. His voice is nothing to write home about but his interpretation of the music is spot on and his connection to what he is singing is undeniable. He seem to “get” the music more than Jessica. However, he’s the “dude with the guitar” this year and Idol doesn’t need another one. Also, I see his medical issues as a problem that needs to be solved SOON and winning will do him no favors at all either medically OR musically.

songbot

May 22nd, 2012
10:19 am

i’m not surprised joshua is gone. he was the best singer of the bunch, but sometimes people just don’t like all that screaming (unless its coming from patti labelle). also, i noticed last week on that last song phillip phillips did how beautiful his voice is when he’s not doing that slow-scatting or whatever its called. his plain singin’ voice is very nice. i think he’ll win. as far as ratings, AI reminds me of V-103 radio here in atlanta. when it first came on, it had no competition. now, after at least 5 shows are directly competing, its still holding on strong.

JTesla

May 22nd, 2012
10:51 am

It’s too bad that Phillip Phillips has had this one in the bag for weeks. It would have made a good show if there were an actual competition.

Deirdre

May 22nd, 2012
11:10 am

Does anyone else think it borders on the idiotic that Fox is running Idol’s final performance show on a different night than it’s been running all season????? First they get us used to watching Wed. and Thurs. then they run the season finale on Tues. and Wed.

While I have always preferred their Tu/Wd schedule, changing it at the end of the season seems just weird to me.

Rodney Ho

May 22nd, 2012
11:11 am

Deirdre–the broadcast network “season” officially ends Wednesday, which is why “Idol” is ending a day early. Silliness, I know but that’s TV for ya.

JTesla

May 22nd, 2012
11:14 am

It’s part of the conspiracy Deirdre. I’m not sure which conspiracy yet, but I’m sure that it will play into the “my contestant lost because of X” argument.

Deirdre

May 22nd, 2012
11:16 am

Thanks, Rodney. I guess if they ran the finale on Thursday it wouldn’t count in the ratings. Can’t have that!

Here’s a fun yahoo article about who got robbed this season:

http://music.yahoo.com/blogs/reality-rocks/11-most-robbed-idols-season-11-215414214.html

Rodney Ho

May 22nd, 2012
11:21 am

Carrie Underwood pre-sale code: AWAY for 12/19/12 Gwinnett Center tour date from Wed 10 AM to 10 PM. Regular sale starst on Thursday at 10 a.m.

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
11:28 am

JTesla
May 22nd, 2012
11:14 am

My favorite contestant didn’t win this year because they, nor I, was aware that AI was looking for the best contestant of the past 50 years. :cool:

Actually, I didn’t have a favorite this year.

Deirdre

May 22nd, 2012
11:40 am

Here’s the latest Idolatry where Melinda and Michael try to understand how Joshua got eliminated and basically rip Randy and JLo a new one…apparently ST isn’t even worth a mention.

http://tvline.com/2012/05/21/idology-american-idol-top-3-hometowns-jessica-phillip-joshua-jlo/

Jubie

May 22nd, 2012
11:55 am

The fact of the matter is Americans vote on looks. And you all know what that means in this case.

RxDawg

May 22nd, 2012
12:01 pm

3-1 odds that Phillip wins? I duno, I give Jessica a better shot then that. But I do concede that Phillip is probably favored. The females vote, the females like WGWG.

I still go with pure talent. You can go into any bar in America and find a Phillip Phillips (unless he is an exceptional song writer, but that remains to be seen). But you just don’t find Jessica Sanchez’s everwhere. Sorry if singing perfectly doesn’t suit some of you, but she’s miles ahead of Phillip on the talent scale.

RxDawg

May 22nd, 2012
12:03 pm

“I have my own theory about her last place finish a few weeks ago having to do with the constant Hollie bashing by the judges. Every year, we talk about a favorite being in danger because of the fans wanting to “save” someone from the judges’ negative opinions. I think that this year, Jessica took the hit.”

I 100% agree this is what happened. Coupled with the fact that Jessica was such a strong favorite, no one thought she could get into any trouble if they didn’t vote for her. In fact, now that we are down into the top 2 I’d say that theory has been proven. Best judges save ever used IMO.

Deirdre

May 22nd, 2012
12:27 pm

Agree, Rx…best judges’ save. I have never objected to the judges’ getting one save. We have always had someone eliminated way before their time for a variety of reasons. However, this is the first year, imo, that the judges used the save wisely. And believe me, using the words ‘judges’ and ‘wisely’ in the same sentence did not come easy!

Rodney Ho

May 22nd, 2012
12:32 pm

I agree with Deirdre. Just for “Idol’s” sake, I hope Jessica wins just so they can prove a female can win nowadays. And she could better use the victory than Phillip.

MyPatootie

May 22nd, 2012
12:34 pm

One correction for RoHo: Buster Posey is actually a catcher for the SF Giants, not a first baseman, and by all means don’t leave out one of Leesburg’s best musical products, Roy Hamilton. He was big in the late 50s, had a hit song called “Don’t Let Go” and heavily influenced such artists as Elvis Presley and the Righteous Bros. He was big in R&B and early rock. He died at the young age of 43.

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
12:41 pm

Deirdre
May 22nd, 2012
12:27 pm

“this is the first year, imo, that the judges used the save wisely.”

And this is precisely why I’m against the save. How many years and it’s finally used wisely in your opinion? It’s been a wasted effort to protect the judge’s personal favorites.

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
12:43 pm

Deirdre
May 22nd, 2012
11:40 am

Thanks for the link. Enjoyed their thoughts, but are they really confused about the recommendations and comments of the judges? Really?

By the way, I’ve stated this before but will never hesitate to say it again, Melinda was my favorite in Season 6.

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
12:45 pm

Oh yeah, another thing about the lame “save” afforded the judges that I said was used for personal favorites. Keep in mind that JstankHo wanted to use the save on Deandre Makesmesick. Deandre? Seriously?

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
12:48 pm

RxDawg
May 22nd, 2012
12:01 pm

I like to go on talent as well which is why Melinda Doolittle was my favorite in Season 6. But we all know the winners are not based on pure talent. If so, how can anyone explain:

Taylor Hicks
Jordin Sparks
Lee Dewyze
Kris Allen

and the list will continue to grow.

Rodney Ho

May 22nd, 2012
1:32 pm

Kelly Clarkson is doing a press conference on ABC to promote “Duets” now. Anything I should ask her?

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

May 22nd, 2012
1:36 pm

Hey y’all,

Well, I actually think that Jessica will win. Why? Simple. I like Phillip! ;) I’m fairly average when it comes to picking the winner.

And while I agree that it’s awfully silly to have the finales on Wed/Thurs, I’m not complaining…as there’s a new little show called Duets that starts on Thursday evening.

BTW, Taylor, Jordin, Lee and Kris. One of these things is not like the others! And aside from the obvious one, Jordin is actually really talented. Now Melinda is a tremendous talent, but I don’t think that she was judged in the same way as all the others. At the very least, she should have made the finals over Blake.

Rodney Ho

May 22nd, 2012
1:42 pm

@Kellie & Carrie Fan. Amazingly, after 10 years, this is the first time I just asked a question to Kelly Clarkson. She was very sweet, explaining why she chose to do “Duets.” (I was the first journalist asking a question with her and the producer so I just went for an overarching “how did this all come about” question)

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

May 22nd, 2012
1:42 pm

Rodney, yes, you should ask her whatever happened with Already Famous. :)

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

May 22nd, 2012
1:43 pm

Aw, Rodney, I’m glad you got to have your moment. I just came back to the blog. I look forward to reading the write up.

Rickster

May 22nd, 2012
1:47 pm

I didn’t start watching till Season Six. But I can’t remember a final two that has me less interested.

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

May 22nd, 2012
1:52 pm

Rickster, final twos:

1. Kelly and Justin
2. Ruben and Clay
3. Fantasia and Diana
4. Carrie and Bo
5. Taylor and Katharine
6. Jordin and Blake
7. Cookie and Archie
8. Kris and Adam
9. Lee and Crystal
10. Scotty and Lauren
11. Phillip and Jessica

This one ties with Lee and Crystal for me…lower tier.

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

May 22nd, 2012
1:55 pm

PS. My picks, from those final twos, as a lot of times my faves didn’t get there, Kelly, Clay, Diana, Carrie, Kat, Jordin, Cookie, Kris, Crystal, and Lauren.

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
1:58 pm

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥
May 22nd, 2012
1:36 pm

“…Jordin is actually really talented.”

I agree to a certain degree. Jordin is talented, but she was the first contestant, in my mind, who was being heavily pimped by the judges. I have a theory about that so here goes:

Season 2 was great (I didn’t see Season 1 live). Reuben and Clay. I voted for Reuben because I thought he was the most consistent throughout the season, but Clay performed better at the end. He evolved into a fine performer. Either one could win and the show would win as well.

Season 3. One word describes this mess – Fantasia.

Season 4. Another great season. Carrie and Bo were my favorites from the early stages. The right person won, but Bo made a strong showing. Again, the show ends on a high note.

Season 5. Big bump in the road. Simon didn’t think Taylor Hicks should even go to Hollywood yet he won the whole thing. Talents like Chris Daughtry and Katherine McPhee were passed over for a guy who looked like he was a grandfather. The show ends on a low note.

Season 6. Jordin pimping. I don’t believe the judges or producers wanted another grandparent winning the show so they sold themselves out and pimped one of the younger contestants. Talented, yes, but Melinda blew her out of the water. But Melinda wasn’t as “marketable” as Jordin, so the judges were in lockstep about who should win. They got what they wanted, but this was another low point for the show in my book.

Pierce

May 22nd, 2012
2:05 pm

why is it that the artists who have no agenda all favor Jessica. Among others Beyonce, Jennifer Holliday, Billy Joel, Mario Lopez, Apl de Ap, Jennifer Hudson, Jane Lynch, Jesse McCartney, India Arie, Jazmine Sullivan, Ne-Yo, Colby Caillat, Adam Lambert, Akon, Hailey Reinhart, Chris Rene, Lauren Alaina, Mary J Blige, etc. look it up, go ahead…google it!

JTesla

May 22nd, 2012
2:08 pm

Pierce: I don’t care.

Mercedes S.

May 22nd, 2012
2:11 pm

Thanks for 1-2 listing, kcf!
Interesting to see if the winner or the runner up had a better career. IMO:
1. Kelly
2. Clay
3. Diane
4. Carrie
5. Katharine
6. Jordin
7. Cookie
8. Adam
9. Even? Never heard of either Lee or Crystal again.
10. Scotty

Sam-A

May 22nd, 2012
2:12 pm

Pierce: Who cares about these people’s opinions? I don’t. I’m sure many others don’t. And sure many others “favor” Phillipx2.

Mercedes S.

May 22nd, 2012
2:15 pm

Always enjoy listening to Michael and Melinda. Michael proclaimed Jessica this season’s winner. Among his earlier winning claims: Adam and Crystal.
Glad they agreed on horribility of judges (JLo and the bad dresser, they didn’t mention Tyler at all).

Sam-A

May 22nd, 2012
2:15 pm

Mercedes: Actually, Crystal had a guest star role on one of the cop shows, and a pretty widely shown commercials re diabetes supplies. So she certainly trumps Lee.

Mercedes S.

May 22nd, 2012
2:16 pm

Sam-A and others: maybe “they” feel it’s politically correct to cheer for Jessica.

Mercedes S.

May 22nd, 2012
2:17 pm

I stand corrected, thanks Sam-A. And good for Crystal!

RxDawg

May 22nd, 2012
2:26 pm

Piecer, I care about these people’s opinions. Well…not really, but certainly see how it’s relevant. They all perform for a living. So who else could recognize a special talent when it’s there? I get the point you were making. The people that matter like Jessica.

Rickster

May 22nd, 2012
2:28 pm

Mercedes, I’d give the season 9 advantage to Crystal – solely on the basis she was in a diabetes commercial with the legendary B. B. King.

Rickster

May 22nd, 2012
2:40 pm

And Mercedes… who is this “Diane” you mention in Season 3? ;-)

Mercedes S.

May 22nd, 2012
2:57 pm

Rickster… “butterfingers” AND mindmeld

Jenny

May 22nd, 2012
3:13 pm

Alex – SO with you. Here’s what I posted yesterday when G mentioned how Jordin’s “I Will Always Love You” sounded like a wet cat (or something similar).

G – yeah, I’m not surprised that Jordin couldn’t handle Whitney. She had absolutely no business winning her season. She was good, but should’ve come in maybe fourth or fifth. She was the first person I can remember to get such over-the-top pimping, and it worked. They got their young teen pop singer…. woo hoo….

Seasons 5 and 6 were very, very low points for Idol, winner-wise, and the beginning of it turning into nothing more than a popularity contest.

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
3:19 pm

Pierce
May 22nd, 2012
2:05 pm

“Jane Lynch”

The lady from “Glee”? Big deal. My mail man, make that mail WOMAN, likes P squared. Her opinion means has much as Jane Lynch.

Sam-A

May 22nd, 2012
3:20 pm

PC or not, I’m now on the Px2 train, hopefully charging into the winning station. But, have to say, I won’t be totally bummed out if he doesn’t win – Jessica is certainly a better choice than Lee or Scotty!!!!!

K&CF: Good to see you, girl! I agree with most of your faves, but voted for Bo (that country thing, you know), and didn’t care at all for Jordin or Kat.

Jenny

May 22nd, 2012
3:20 pm

And the rest of my thoughts…

Rickster at 1:47, I know how you feel. Though I like Jessica and am looking forward to tonight, last year was the least interesting final two I’ve ever sat through. (Sit through it I did, but I didn’t really enjoy anything other than Lauren’s song to her mom. I later I wished I hadn’t wasted the hour.)

JT, I think you’re correct. yup, I am hoping against hope for Jessica, but I’m pretty sure PP has had this one in the bag since the first squee-ing soccer mom posted on facebook about how cute he was.

D and Rodney – yes, the night change is so odd!! I was thinking the same thing. “Official network season end” or not, how many people will miss the show because they’re not thinking it will suddenly be on a Tuesday? So it may hurt the ratings anyway. (Unless DVR settings count?) Most people probably turn the results off as soon as it’s over, and don’t pay that much attention to Ryan anyway, so they missed him saying it. (If he even did mention it… I can’t remember.)

Plus, people’s DVRs will catch it, but probably not in time for them to vote…. Oh NO!!! Ryan might not be able to yap about Eighty! Thousand! Million!!! Votes came in! The most EVER!!!!

What ever will we do.

Curiouser and curiouser….

Jenny

May 22nd, 2012
3:25 pm

Oh, and my comment on Rodney’s thread title… “Can PP give GA its first Idol crown?” …

Well, let’s hope and pray NOT. Doesn’t matter what state he’s from, his voice isn’t good enough to win. After Off-Key Lee and maybe Taylor, he’s the weakest-voiced WGWG they’ve had.

If Jessica wins, maybe the vote-for-cuteness herds will lose a little interest for next year, and the tide will somehow start to turn…

If Jessica doesn’t win, Idol’s got a giant credibility problem. The WGWG thing is already quite snickered about in the press… so Idol may really become a bit of a laughingstock if ANOTHER one wins. Especially over all the strong talent that this year gave us.

I guess one bright side to a PP win would be the almost certain voting changes that would follow. :-)

Jenny

May 22nd, 2012
3:29 pm

Hmm, maybe I should change my name to Negative Nancy today. I guess I’m just bracing myself to hear this tomorrow night.

The Winner.

Of American Idol.

2012…

Is……………….

(two-minute dramatic pause)

Phillip Phillips!

Rickster

May 22nd, 2012
3:29 pm

Clicked the “Woman fired for being too hot?” link on the AJC main page. Woman is suing because she said she was fired for being “too hot.”

If I’m the judge, I’m throwing the case out for lack of evidence.

Alex

May 22nd, 2012
3:34 pm

Jenny
May 22nd, 2012
3:25 pm

“The WGWG thing is already quite snickered about in the press…”

But this sort of thing can backfire. Most people don’t like to be told that someone “should” win or “needs” to win to help AI regain credibility. That level of pimping is what hurt Screamin’ J.

If AI wants to restore credibility they’ll get rid of all 3 judges. They are collectively the biggest financial and credibility drain the show has at this time.