Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips performed for the “American Idol” crown on Tuesday night. The show aired live from the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, and judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were on hand to offer their opinions for the final performances.
In the first round, the two finalists sang Idol creator Simon Fuller’s song choice. For round two, the contestants sang their favorite song of the season. Finally in the third round, Jennifer and Phillip performed the song that would be their potential future single if they were named the new American Idol.
Here’s what happened:
Jessica went first singing, Simon Fuller’s choice — Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” It was a big reminder of Jessica’s powerhouse performance of Whitney’s “I Will Always Love You” from earlier in the season.
Phillip was given Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” for the first round, and he turned it into a gentle, acoustic singer/songwriter ballad.
Weighing in on the first round, Jennifer said it was tough to judge since Jessica and Phillip were pretty much opposites. Randy thought Jessica was the winner in round one.
Before round two got underway, Jason DeRulo came onstage to sing “Undefeated,” the song he’d been writing with “Idol” fans online as part of the Coca-Cola Perfect Harmony contest.
Starting round two, Jessica revisited Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer,” the song that earned her a spot in the top 24. It was a powerful performance backed by a full orchestra.
Phillip went with “Movin’ Out” by Billy Joel for round two. It was a moody and strong performance, but it lacked the “wow” factor of Jessica’s offering this round.
As for that round, Steven thought Jessica took round two as well. Randy called round two a dead heat, but Jennifer went with Phillip on this one.
Jessica kicked off round three singing her potential winning song, “Change Nothing.” It was a pop power ballad, and Jessica really shined on the big chorus. Randy didn’t love the song, but he thought Jessica made the most of it. Jennifer thought Jessica sang the song really well, but she wanted more soul from Jessica’s debut album. Steven didn’t like the song either.
Phillip’s potential winning song “Home” featured intricate finger picking on the guitar and felt like something Mumford & Sons might record. A low key marching band joined Phillip onstage towards the end of the song. It was a much better fit for him as an artist than Jessica’s song “Change Nothing.” The judges gave Phillip a standing ovation. Randy loved the song and called it the best performance of the night. Jennifer loved how different the song sounded and called it a “Phillip Phillips” song. Steven heard some Paul Simon in the performance and called Phillip “perfect.”
Reigning “American Idol” champ Scotty McCreery closed out Tuesday’s show with his version of Tim McGraw’s “Please Remember Me,” which has served as this season’s Idol exit song.
“American Idol”‘s new champion will be announced on Wednesday’s results show at 8 p.m. Eastern.