Two contestants, six songs, one hour: This is the American Idol performance finale!
Either 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez or 21-year-old Phillip Phillips will be named the winner of the show's 11th season tomorrow night. But first, the pair of fan favorites had one more shot at attracting the majority share of the tens of millions of votes up for grabs.
Who, as Jennifer Lopez asked, made us "feel something"?
First up, each had to perform a tune hand-picked by Idol creator—and their future record-label boss—Simon Fuller. The Brit tasked Jessica with Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing," and the teen gave her usual polished, older-than-her years treatment to the tear-jerker ballad.
Phillip, meanwhile, did Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" justice, but Randy Jackson gave round one to Jessica.
In the next round, however, the former Georgia pawn-shop employee turned Billy Joel's "Movin' Out" into a sexy, growling, guitar-stroking singer-songwriter tune, and edged out Jessica's beautiful but not as memorable rendition of "The Prayer." Let's just say, Yolanda Adams' version is still tops in our heads, then Josh Groban's, then Jessica's.
The third round comprised the so-called winners' songs—Jessica's "Change Nothing" will be her first official single should she win, and the same goes for Phillip's "Home."
Warning: These songs are never that great. They tend to be pretty generic when it comes to theme—usually either love or the journey that has led to "this moment"—and lyrics ("I Love You This Big," anyone?), and unfortunately, that tends to affect the contestants' enthusiasm and the judges' comments.
Jessica appeared to wince when she came to the end of "Change Nothing." And, sure enough...
"Let me be straight up, I did not love the song," Randy said, and all of the judges agreed that Jessica has too much soul for a, to put it kindly, simple pop ballad.
"You have to be able to say to someone, 'This is not me,'" J.Lo informed her. "You can change songs. Those are your options as an artist."
To be fair, they aren't Jessica's options as an artist yet. She is still just an American Idol finalist for now.
Phillip got quite a bit luckier—he not only got to play his guitar, but "Home" was just plain better than "Change Nothing."
We're not sure what was up with the marching band behind him, but at least someone went out and wrote Phillip a folksy, indie-rock-sounding tune that would not sound completely out of place on his debut album. In turn, he got the best reception for a "first single" song that we've seen in years!
"Dude, I loved the song, I loved you, I loved the marching band, everything about that was perfect!" Randy raved, mid-standing-ovation.
The next American Idol will be crowned in roughly 24 hours.
Who won the night in your book? Did Phillip get an unfair advantage by getting the better round-three song? Will it matter? And most importantly, who's gonna win?! Please share your thoughts in the comments section!