Judging by his third and final performance on Tuesday's American Idol, Phillip Phillips just may have snagged himself season 11's title.
During the packed one-hour performance show the final two sang three songs: one chosen by Idol creator Simon Fuller, one of their own choosing and their potential first single. And while Phillips and Jessica Sanchez, 16, both gave it their all in a last-ditch effort to win viewer votes, fan favorite Sanchez stumbled during her routines.
Covering Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" at the request of Fuller, Sanchez donned a floor-length black gown to belt out the late singer's 1993 hit from the Bodyguard soundtrack. Though judge Jennifer Lopez was torn between Sanchez and Phillips — who sang Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" — Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler agreed the teen overpowered Phillips in the first round.
But Lopez was especially impressed with Phillips' second song, "Movin' Out," which he first performed during Idol's Billy Joel theme week. While praising Sanchez for her reprisal of "The Prayer," Lopez thought her overall performance lacked a wow-factor. "I've heard Jessica do that before and I just feel like this was authentic Phillip," she reasoned.
Phillips' shining moment, however, came during his final judged performance on Idol's Nokia Theater stage. Debuting what would be his first single should he win season 11 — "Home," written by Andrew Pearson and Greg Holden — Phillips earned the night's only standing ovation from Lopez, Tyler and Jackson. "I love the song, the production, everything about that was perfect," Jackson gushed. "Brilliant, genius!"
While Phillips' coronation song was perfectly suited for the guitar-toting performer, Sanchez, in contrast, may have lost her shot at the title after her third performance of "Change Nothing."
"If I was thinking about what your first single would be, I don't think I would do that," Lopez said in reference to the piano-driven power pop ballad that failed to play to Sanchez's strengths. "You have such a blues quality to your voice. We missed that in this song. When you make your record — and you'll make many records — you need to know you can change songs. You have to be you."
American Idol's season 11 champ will be crowned Wednesday on FOX.
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