Another American Idol season is over. Ah, the memories. In all honesty, this was one of the most talented seasons I can remember. Looking back at my past rankings, there were literally times when I was ranking 13 contestants and spots 3-10 were essentially tied. Each contestant was unique, there wasn’t much overlay, and they were all good.
But ultimately I think this is the correct top two. Joshua was fantastic, no doubt, but Jessica’s voice is something truly special, and Phillip’s style and swag can captivate an audience. These two are not only the best singers, they are the best performers and have the most star potential. No doubt about that.
Today’s rankings are a bit different, I won’t actually rank Phillip and Jessica, I’ll simply breakdown each of their performances. At the end of this post I will give my prediction for tomorrow night. Last week that prediction was Phillip, has that changed? Well, you could just scroll down and find out, but that’s no fun, might as well read the full synopsis. Okay, go ahead, scroll down, I understand the temptation. Just make sure to read the post backwards.
Simon Fuller Choice: Whitney Houston – I Have Nothing
I thought this was a solid song choice and solid performance. Jessica is one of the few contestants to go through Idol that can actually sing Whitney. Most don’t even dare, those that do usually fail, but Jessica can pull it off. No one is saying she’s as good as Whitney, but she makes it her own and at least does it justice. Tonight she delivered. It was a great vocal, although I still believe she attempted to do too much with it. Vibrato is like mustard, it must be used lightly, too much and you will overpower the entire performance. I would have preferred a nimbler performance will less of the fancy footwork.
Her Favorite from the Season: The Prayer
Breaking news; Jessica can kinda sing. This was a great performance because it was simple, elegant, and created a “moment.” At the end of the performance I got the feeling she had really captivated that theater and the audience. Those “moments” are incredibly important in the finale, they make or break a contestant. I will say, her original performance of this song was not necessarily her best, her best was certainly Whitney, but two Whitney songs? That would have been crazy.
Single: Change Nothing
This was a giant snooze fest. The new singles are so important, you either get hosed, or it works. And that is just the way song writing goes. This time, it fell flat. I feel bad for Jessica, she didn’t write the song, she didn’t choose it, but at the end of the day the buck stops with her. She could have changed the arrangement, changed her vocal, done something to bring more flare and soul to the performance. The way she sung it was shallow and transparent. It was not deep or emotional, which is when Jessica really shines. She needed to get angry or sad, some type of emotion would have made that performance ten times better, unfortunately it fell completely on its face.
Simon Fuller Choice: Stand by Me – Ben E. King
This was a weird marriage of song and performer, it did not sit right with me. It was simple, which is good for him. His magic is taking a simple song and making it complex and layered, however he failed to achieve that with this song. It wasn’t genuine, it was awkward in many ways. He sang it well, but we’re done judging vocals, we’re judging emotion, style, and performance, and it was all off in this song.
His Favorite from the Season: Movin’ Out – Billy Joel
Then, he redeemed himself. Ahhh, Billy Joel. I loved Phillip’s original performance of this song, and I loved it the second time around too. He made it different, he made it his own. That is a distinct difference between Jessica and Phillip. Jessica is content to stand on stage and power-sing a ballad, Phillip will mold and design a song into something completely different. He’s like a kid with Playdo.
What is there to say about this? It was amazing. A perfect fit for him, a perfect performance. I would buy that song this very instant if given the chance. He sang it beautiful, you could tell he felt the song and understood the emotion. It was complex and deep, but yet simple, very much like Mumford and Sons. At first it reminded me of the The Gabe Dixon Band, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t pinpoint the exact feeling because it was original; it was Phillip.
Who Won The Rounds
Round One: Jessica
Round Two: Phillip
Round Three: Phillip
Who is Winning it All
Ah, the six million dollar question. I’ve said it a thousand times but I enjoy sounding like a broke record, so I’ll continue; this show is funny. Right when you think someone is going to win, they lose. Oftentimes the logical choice is the runner-up. Early in the show’s run that mattered. Now? Doesn’t at all. Both of these artists are getting record deals, instantly, with no hesitation. They are both fantastic, if polar opposites of each other.
So much of this finale is the original single. Back in the old days, it use to be that both singers performed the same song. That was a disaster. Back when Jordin Sparks won, her and Blake Lewis had to both sing “A Moment Like This.” That song clearly favored Sparks. Blake’s rendition was bizarre, it clearly turned off the audience. Did that influence voting? Hard to tell, but I can’t imagine it helped Lewis.
Now, the rules have changed. Each finalist get their own single. Problem solved! Wrong. Every single is not created equal. Case-in-point, last year Lauren’s song was miles ahead of Scotty’s terrible, awful, horrendous “I Love You This Big.” Seriously, that song was like a caricature of country music. But then again so was Lauren’s, singin’ about her momma.
This season, one was great, one was eh. Jessica drew the short straw and got the “eh” song. It’s not objectionable, but it is also boring, meaningless, and shallow. In all fairness that seems to be the meme of Top 40 radio nowadays. But that type of music rarely wins you Idol. Originality and emotion win this show, not awesome beats and confusing lyrics.
Phillip got the better song. And it would be a travesty if he did not get the opportunity to release that single. It was Phillip in so many ways. It was fantastic. I want Phillip to win if for no other reason then I want to buy that song. And that’s what this show is all about, finding a talent that will sell records.
Will Jessica sell records? Absolutely. Will Phillip sell records? Yes, and probably more than Jessica.
On the other hand, Jessica has been the favorite since day one. After that Whitney performance early on, she caught the attention of the entire country, and it seemed like she was coasting along to the finale and eventual victory. Until she had to be saved. Publicity stunt by the producers? Probably. But we don’t know, so we have to assume America decided she wasn’t ready. Imagine if the judges had already used their save? Craziness.
After that save she really had no hiccups. She performed well, sailed through the rounds, and has done great. Although I must say, she’s still not fully developed. Jennifer Lopez made a good point when addressing Jessica after her performance of her potential single. JLo told Jessica that regardless of what a songwriter or producer creates or writes, you have to know yourself well enough to either tweak it, or start over.
In other words, you have to be developed enough to make those big decisions. Do you know what type of artist you are, and are you confident enough in that knowledge that you’ll go head-to-head with even the biggest producer or writer? I don’t think Jessica is there yet. That’s not a knock on her, she’s 16 for goodness sake. But I think that age showed late in the competition and into tonight.
Phillip is matured. He knows what type of artist he is. He knows who he is and will stand up for it. Remember when Tommy Hilfiger attempted to “makeover” Phillip? Phillip completely ignored him. That shows a lot. For that reason, and for the amazing single performance that I want to buy right now, I think your next American Idol is none other than the terribly named Phillip Phillips.
I made fun of his name early in the season, but after several weeks of listening to him, he’s got the full package. He is original, he is a performer, and most importantly he is an artist. He’s not just a voice, he brings everything to the table. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed him since he broke out an acoustic version of “Thriller” in his audition. He sold me with that. I really believe he is one of the most unique talents to win this competition. I think the image below says it all.
And with that, I bid farewell to the American Idol rankings for this season. It’s been a long ride. Thanks to all for coming back and keeping up with my ramblings for nearly half the year. It’s been fun. Until next season…