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American Idol – Down to the wire with the last two contestants

For me, picking the winner this season is a no brainer. The kid from Leesburg, Georgia has got this competition in the bag.

- Season 11, Episode 40 - "The Top 2 Perform"

On Monday, I got the opportunity to chat with Jimmy Iovine not only about the fast-concluding season 11 of American Idol , but the finale and many of the contestants. One of the more interesting things that came out of that brief conversation was when I asked him about his thoughts on the Idols over the past few weeks:

“… I’m on their side in crafting the songs for the contestants. At the end of the game, they get to talk about what happened. If you’re in a playoff game and the coach comes back and says he didn’t do well or this one did great, it’s just about what it is. It’s my responsibility to help the artists, the singers and the audience, give them my take on what happened … and what did happen … why things happened. Or why I felt it didn’t work … or why I agreed or disagreed with the judges. It’s part of the creative process and I’m the front of it and the back of it. It’s my responsibility to train the team and then let them know what happened [afterward] ….”

The bottom line is that Jimmy takes his responsibilities to heart when it comes to coaching the Idols in their endeavors. It’s the reason why songs have changed during rehearsals. It’s the reason a particular tempo or arrangement or piece was done in a certain manner than originally planned. He also is hard on himself when he believes something has gone awry based on his decisions or suggestions. The seemingly hard-hearted coach and mentor of last season has become someone I, personally, have really enjoyed this season.

Additionally, I look forward to what he has to say about the performances of Jessica and Phillip come the finale Wednesday evening.

Which takes us right into the penultimate episode of this year’s Idol. Three rounds consisting of creator Simon Fuller’s personal picks for the contestants, Jessica’s and Phillip’s favorites from previous shows performed once more and the song the Idols will record and release if they are crowned the winner of season 11:

Jessica Sanchez “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston
Jessica did well with the song, but it was a big ‘ole song for her. It didn’t swallow her by any means, but it could have been better.

Phillip Phillips “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King
A very calm, cool and collected Phillip started his set with the Ben E. King classic calmly, coolly and collectedly. What a very odd rendition of the tune, however. But the difference between his performance and Jessica’s was … audience participation. That right there speaks volumes.

Jessica “The Prayer”
Again, nice … but I just don’t see Jessica as the American Idol doing this kind of song. If I had to judge her as to whether she should be the Idol based on this tune alone, I would say she’s boring. And she is … despite her outstanding voice.

Phillip “Movin’ Out”
Versatility and *umph*. Some strangeness. And a smidge of unpredictability. This is what an American Idol is all about. And Phillip’s got it in spades.

J “Change Nothing”
Wow. Interestingly, none of the judges liked this song. I’m not even certain Jessica was into it. That doesn’t bode well. When you don’t have confidence in the song you’re singing, you’re not going to sing it well … and that’s something that came across in her performance.

P “Home”
Folksy and completely comfortable, “Home” wasn’t a typical Idol first single. But it’s a perfect one for Phillip and his style.

Let me make this perfectly clear, folks:

I do not have one shred of doubt Phillip will win the American Idol crown Wednesday evening. Period. No doubt in my mind at all.

Onward …

Photo Credit: FOX

3 Responses to “American Idol – Down to the wire with the last two contestants”

May 23, 2012 at 7:30 AM

You scare me when you are this sure. Perversity of the Universe does not like being taunted.

Phillip should win. And, if you need more proof, check out the half smile Jessica gave DURING the last note of “I Have Nothing”. She was done with the song, she had hit the notes she was nervous about hitting, and she had no concept of the importance of staying “in character” with the message of the song until the curtain rang down. Compare that to the look on Phillip’s face at the end of “Home” and you will see all you need to see about who SHOULD win.

But “no doubt” predictions scare me.

May 23, 2012 at 10:24 AM


Phillip’s “Home” is the only performance that I enjoyed last night, and it was the song that worked perfectly for him with his particular style and vocal limitations, disguising his weaknesses and highlighting his strengths. Jessica’s last song did the opposite. That song was not right for her; it would have been okay for Hollie, who doesn’t have Jessica’s slow, strong vibrato. From Jessica I was looking for something more like “Sweet Dreams” or “Stuttering.”

May 23, 2012 at 11:04 AM

I don’t believe it really makes all that much difference…who takes the title. Both will get a contract. Some runners up have gone toe to toe in record sales with the winner, while others have surpassed them. Some winners, winning will be an Al Bundy moment.

As Paula Abdul once said…we cannot make you a star, only give you the opportunity. Don’t know why the Idol Overlords picked ‘Change Nothing’..but are getting a whole lot of flack over it. Jessica, at sweet 16, is still very very young and in so saying, can still grow.

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