'American Idol' Season 11, Episode 39 Recap - Performance Night: Phillip vs. Jessica
The intro gives us a comparison between our two finalists, Jessica and Phillip, and their stories. Which is kind of weird, because these two seem to inhabit two different worlds. Like, I wonder if they've said two words to each other this entire time. Ryan bravely asks for applause from the Phillip fans, and then the Jessica fans, and it's surprisingly equal. That's probably misleading. Phillip is almost a guarantee.
Jessica looks elegant and gives a Miss America response to Ryan's question. Phillip is wearing his ever-present t-shirt with other shirt and makes a noise with his mouth. Welcome to the finale, everybody.
Jessica will be up first, and Simon Fuller has chosen Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" for her. Probably good that Jessica get a Whitney song tonight, as her only chance is to just bowl everyone over with the belting. Jessica does a fine job considering what she has to live up to, but it does seem like the nerves are getting to her a little bit here.
Phillip gets "Stand By Me," which he has slowed down nearly to a ballad, and possibly changed the time signature for. I'm unimpressed. It's a little boring. I don't think there's much to "Stand By Me" when you slow it down like that. He sings fine, and of course messes with the melody.
The judges respond briefly to round one, with Jennifer saying "it's like a battle of the opposites." Yes, they are very different. You have come up with a new creative way to not say anything helpful, or do any judging in any way. Randy thinks round one went to Jessica. Apparently Steven doesn't get any input.
Jason Derulo comes up for a quick performance of "Undefeated," which viewers helped create, with the help of Coca-Cola. Beverages get to make music now. Jason is out of his neckbrace, which is great, but his staging consists of only one very cheap-looking folding chair, which he stands on, and I fear the neckbrace might be back very soon.
Back to Jessica for round two, who will be reprising "The Prayer," which she performed earlier in the season. I guess two Whitney songs in one night was too much to ask, seeing as "I Will Always Love You" was really her breakout moment. Still, this song is a good opportunity for Jessica to show off her amazing control along with the power and the range. She shows some nice restraint and gives a lovely performance.
Phillip is going back to "Movin Out" by Billy Joel, which when he does it is basically a Dave Matthews song. But the last time he did an actual Dave Matthews song, it was pretty underwhelming, so Billy Joel it is. He does get some nice powerful notes in this number, at least as powerful as it gets for Phillip.
Back to the judges for round two, where Steven compares Phillip to an egg, but says that Jessica took this round. Jennifer calls it for Phillip, and Randy says it's a tie. Guess it was his turn to be worthless.
Round three, and Jessica will be singing "Change Nothing," her "winning song." For the uninitiated, that means the song that the producers had written for the finalists to serve as their first single. It's another slow song, with a bunch of pitch jumps and high notes. Jessica seems unfamiliar with it, but she settles into it by the end.
The judges don't really love it! Randy and Jennifer agree that the song wasn't right for her. Yes, another pop ballad? Bland. Boring. But they did think she sang it great, and JLo actually gives her some great feedback saying that she should be sure, when she makes records, to turn down songs if she doesn't think they're right for her. Don't be afraid to say no, basically. Sound advice.
Phillip will close things out with a song called "Home," which starts out as a gentle acoustic number, with even just a hint of folksy country to it. It has a decent vocal hook, and he brings in a drumline, which adds a bit of southern flavor. It sounds a bit like Mumford & Sons, which isn't a bad thing.
The judges love it! Phillip gets a standing ovation from the judges, and Randy thinks that "everything about it was perfect." He also compares it to Mumford & Sons, so good. I'm not crazy. Jennifer thinks he's incomparable to anyone else out there, which is wrong because that was clearly like Mumford & Sons. Also Steven says it was a bit like Paul Simon. So there's another. Both good comparisons though.
So, that should be the nail in the coffin for Jessica. It was going to be tough to be Cute White Boy With Guitar #5 regardless, but having closed out with a song that the judges hated (not her fault) while they had nothing but praise for Phillip, that should settle it.
Then again, Colton Dixon seemed a lock for at least the Top 3, so the voting has been strange this season.
Cute White Boy With Guitar #4 (Scotty McCreery) closes things out, performing the song you've heard every week behind the farewell clips. Great.