Season 11 – where are they now?

 

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Season 11 final 13

Season 11 featured a wide variety of styles, with the finalists covering virtually ever popular form of music:

  • Phil-Phil – Dave Mathews meets Bruce Springsteen
  • Jessica – pop and hip/hop cover girl
  • Joshua – Johnny Mathis meets James Brown
  • Hollie – Cher’s powerful contralto coming out of a flying squirrel
  • Skylar – Chunky Reba
  • Elise – Jazz lessons from a piano teacher
  • Colton – Christian Rocker
  • Deandre – Sweet falsetto and a ukelele
  • Heejun – K-Pop
  • Erika – Straight pop, homie

th (9)Add Shannon (diva in training with a beach volleyball player’s body), Jermaine (is South Park looking for a new Chef?), and Jeremy (sure, why not?) and this might have been the best coverage of styles the show ever presented.

So, where are they now?

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Phil Phillips

thPhil Phillips – Phil-Phil’s “Home” – his Idol exit song – was a massive hit, selling over 5 million i-tunes downloads. His second single, “Gone, Gone, Gone” generated over 2 million i-tunes downloads, and each of them reached the top of the Adult Contemporary charts. His first album sold over a million copies, peaking at #4 on the mainstream album chart, while his second album sold 123,000 copies and reached #7.

 

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Jessica Sanchez

th (2)Jessica Sanchez – Strangely, Jessica’s most popular videos are covers, either predating or post-dating her Idol appearance and her first album of original music. Her album tanked – another triumph for 19 Entertainment – and she has gone back to making popular covers and posting them to You Tube. She claims to be getting ready to put out a new original album, grittier than the pop slop Idol made her put out. We’ll see how that goes – Jessica is still only 20 years old.

th (8)Joshua Ledet – He’s been strangely quiet. He has his 100k followers on the various social media platforms, and he has a few songs out – but just a few. There doesn’t seem to be any plans to put out a full album, and he hasn’t been touring.

josh and maaliyahThere are some pictures of Josh with Maaliyah Papillion, who is (I think, it’s not clear) the reigning Miss Louisiana. She bears a remarkable resemblance to Amber Holcomb, which is the only reason I looked her up. I thought at first that Josh and Amber were dating.

josh wiht amberSpeak-a-the-devil: the next picture on his timeline? Josh with Amber.

 

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Hollie Cavanagh
Hollie Cavanagh

Hollie Cavanagh – Hollie has the usual Facebook and Twitter accounts with roughly 100k followers, and she stays active on them. She maintains thriving, interactive fansite/website called “Hollie Pops” that is updated constantly., and she seems to put out new material every five minutes. She won’t fail for lack of effort. She is 22 now.

Hollie was chosen to perform the title cut from the movie “Come away with Me” starring comedienne Ellen Gerstein and Charlie Robinson (Night Court).

th (5)th (6)Skylar Laine – Lessee… website? Check. Album out? Check. 100k plus Facebook followers? Check (well, almost). 100k plus Twitter followers? Check. Recording contract? Not so fast, Batman. Skylar wasn’t able to find a contract through 19 entertainment, but she put out her album anyway and she is working social media like crazy. She recently moved back to her hometown, so whatever moving and shaking she has planned is on hold.

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Elise Testone

th (7)Elise Testone – She is performing quite a bit, in several genres, including an Amy Winehouse tribute and some original music projects. Here is a live performance of an original song, worth the listen (translation – it’s really good).

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Colton Divon

th (2)Colton Dixon – Colton is one of the biggest stars in Christian Rock. Each of his first two albums reached number one on the Christian Rock chart, and his first album reached the top of the Gospel chart and topped out at #15 on the mainstream Album Chart.

Deandre Brackensick
Deandre Brackensick

th (8)Deandre Brackensick – The dread locked one is touring Australia and New Zealand at the moment. He posts some really cool shorties on Facebook, either solo with a guitar or big group videos with several Deandres singing separate parts, melding into one blendful performance, like something you might expect from Casey Abrams.

He just posted this video n his You Tube channel in April, 2016:

Heejun Han
Heejun Han

th (10)Heejun Han – He is now a K-pop artist (think Gangnam Style), and apparently he is having some success. He finished 6th on a K-pop talent show in 2013, and reached the top of the Daum music chart with this song:

This video has nearly 1.5 million hits on You Tube:

Erika Van Pelt
Erika Van Pelt

th (12)Erika Van Pelt – She put out an album, “Independence,” in 2013, that garnered a couple of New England regional award nominations. She has been quiet lately – no shows or new music for a while – but her website promises some new material coming out soon.

shannon
Shannon Magrane

12734204_1040204416037864_2678107554516465409_nShannon Magrane – Now 20, Shannon hasn’t hit it big but it isn’t for lack of trying – she is all. over. the . place. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you name it, she’s workin’ it. She has her website, her You Tube channel, and a couple of singles with official music videos. This is one of her singles:

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Jermaine Jones

th (4)Jermaine Jones – He sued the show, along with a few others, for racial discrimination. The case was eventually thrown out. Jermaine, who tried out for The Voice last fall, has released a few videos since his Idol appearance including this one:

th (1)Jeremy Rosado – He made a full studio album, “Heartbeat,” which was released in August, 2015. The album received mixed reviews; it was dunned somewhat for the sound quality, but the songs themselves were given high marks. Here’s a song from the album (audio only):

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Finals – season 11

Final 13 perform

And then there were 12

Final 12 (I mean 11) perform

Tour roster set

Final ten perform

And then there were nine

Final nine perform

And then there were eight

Final eight perform

And then there were seven

Final seven perform

A play (not) worthy of Shakespeare

Encore, encore

And then there were six

Final six perform

And then there were five

Final five perform

And then there were four

Final four perform

And then there were three

Final three perform

Phil-Phil and Jessica at twenty paces

Final two perform

Final result and a little speculation

Awards show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awards Show

With season eleven in the can, it’s time to hand out some awards. I wanted to get Kelly Clarkson to host the show, but I couldn’t get past the restraining order and get her signed up. I’ll just hand them out myself. The teleprompter app on my android doesn’t work, so I’m going to wing it.

——————————————–

Public Awards

The first bank of awards is based on the results from the public voting, from the semifinals to the Nokia:

Idol: Phil Phillips

Top Male: Phil Phillips

Top Female: Jessica Sanchez

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Private Awards

This bank of awards is all based on my own personal opinion, not tied to the voting.

Most valuable contestant: Jessica Sanchez

Jessie received (by far) the most youtube hits, and she was the most nationally discussed contestant on the gadfly sites; also by a wide margin. THR (Hollywood Reporter) noted in their final netcast that articles with her name on them received more hits than everyone else combined.

Past winners:

Season 7- David Archuleta

Season 8- Adam Lambert

Season 9- Crystal Bowersox

Season 10- Scotty McCreery

Most controversial contestant: Jermaine Jones

Not just the expulsion, but also becoming the first ever 25th contestant in the semifinals. He wasn’t announced officially until he came out on stage to sing at the end of the show. Honorable mention to tent girl, who was patient zero when everyone got sick on group night after being outed for her own lengthy rap sheet.

Season 7- Carly Smithson

Season 8- Adam Lambert

Season 9- Siobhan Magnus

Season 10- Lauren Alaina

Most polarizing contestant– Phillip Phillips

There were quite a few of these; Phil gets the nod because he finished the highest, and as such was polarizing the longest. Honorable mention to just about everyone else in the top 13. It was a polarizing year.

Season 7- Jason Castro

Season 8- Danny Gokey

Season 9- Tim Urban

Season 10- Lauren Alaina

Best looking contestant (male)- Phillip Phillips

I’m pretty confident that I have the right guy, based on what I read on the internet. Honorable mention to Deandre’s dreadlocks andColton’s creepy serial killer/new age televangelist look.

Season 7- Jason Castro

Season 8- Kris Allen

Season 9- Casey James

Season 10- Scotty McCreery

Best looking contestant (female)- Baylie Brown

She looks like a movie star (Denise Richards), or a pageant queen (most of them). Too bad she didn’t sing better. Honorable mention to everyone else; Idol was very attractive this year.

Season 7- Brooke White

Season 8- Kristen McNamara

Season 9- Didi Benami

Season 10- Pia Toscano

Best pure voice (male)- Joshua Ledet

Not close; he ranks with Adam and JD among the best pure voices the show has ever had.

Season 7- David Archuleta

Season 8- Adam Lambert

Season 9- Lee Dewyze

Season 10- James Durbin

Best pure voice (female)- Skylar Laine

Range, power, and a sweet, thick tone; honorable mention to Hollie’s pure belter’s tone and Jessica’s all around versatility. Erika would have contended for this award had she not developed vocal problems.

Season 7- Carly Smithson

Season 8- Lil Rounds

Season 9- Crystal Bowersox

Season 10- Pia Toscano

Most entertaining also-ran (male)- Reed Grimm

Say what you want to about his weirdness, but he was the driving force behind the best group in Hollywood as well as in Vegas, and he became the first Idol to play drums during a performance.

Most entertaining also-ran (female)- Lauren Gray

Most of the entertaining female contestants made the finals, so there weren’t many to choose from. Most people would probably pick Jen Hirsch, and she deserves it, but I was more entertained by Lauren’s sweet, smoky tone.

I didn’t list “past award winners” for the last few awards. I don’t remember enough from the early shows to have a clue who to pick.

Survivor Award- Hollie Cavanagh

Obvious choice; Hollie was in the bottom two more times than anyone in Idol history, and survived all the way to the final four. Honorable mention to Elise Testone, who made it to the final six despite several appearances in the bottom three.

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Performance Awards

This bank of awards is all based on live performances, aired on the show or on the show’s website.

Most creative– Phil Phillips

Honorable mention to Reed Grimm and Skylar Laine, with a nod to Heejun Han and Elise Testone. Phil pulled away with this award late, when he put together a string of his best performances of the season – when it counted the most.

Season 7- David Cook

Season 8- Adam Lambert

Season 9- Siobhan Magnus

Season 10- Casey Abrams

Most thrilling early peak– Skylar Laine

There were times when she looked like she would win it all, but she faded a bit late and finished fifth.

Season 7- Chekeze Eze

Season 8- Lil Rounds

Season 9- Siobhan Magnus

Season 10- Pia Toscano

Most consistent– Jessica Sanchez

By far. Honorable mention to Joshua; who might have done better had he been a little less consistent.

Season 7- David Archuleta

Season 8- Adam Lambert

Season 9- Crystal Bowersox

Season 10- Scotty McCreery

Most entertaining live performer (male)- Phil Phillips

No offense to Joshua, but Phil brought the seat of your pants anticipation every time, while Josh tended to be too predictable.

Season 7- David Cook

Season 8- Adam Lambert

Season 9- Casey James

Season 10- James Durbin

Most entertaining live performer (female)- Skylar Laine

With a nod to Elise Testone’s creativity, and Jessica’s consistency.

Season 7- Carly Smithson

Season 8- Allison Iraheta

Season 9- Crystal Bowersox

Season 10- Haley Reinhart

Flameout award (male)-Adam Brock

I expected him to cruise to the tour, but the producers and the judges gave him what might have been the worst edit in the history of the show during Hollywood Week and the Vegas rounds. He didn’t even get a wild card shot. I don’t blame the show completely, though. Adam said what he said, and he reacted like he reacted. Honorable mention to Heejun, who didn’t seem comfortable once he made the finals.

Season 7- David Hernandez

Season 8- Jorge Nunez

Season 9- Andrew Garcia

Season 10- Robbie Rosen

Flameout award (female)- Baylie Brown

She was an internet favorite who could have cruised to the tour had she sang even reasonably well, but she was horrible in her first live performance. Honorable mention to Haley Johnson, who trainwrecked so badly in the semifinals that she posted a video on youtube of the same song, to prove that she could sing it.

Season 7- Amanda Overmeyer

Season 8- Lil Rounds

Season 9- Ashley Rodriguez

Season 10-ParisTassin

Best audition (male)- Jairon Jackson

His original song went viral on the internet. Honorable mention to Phil’s second song (“Superstition”, with the guitar), and the formerly perfect Johnny Keyser.

Season 7- no clue

Season 8- Danny Gokey

Season 9- Andrew Garcia

Season 10- Casey Abrams

Best audition (female)- Ashley Robles

She blew up “I Will Always Love You” on the Aircraft Carrier, but stumbled in Vegas. She would be a decent flameout award candidate, actually, but she had problems with her voice so I excuse her. Honorable mention to Shannon Magrane and Jane Carrey.

Season 7- No idea

Season 8- Lil Rounds

Season 9- Didi Benami

Season 10-ParisTassin

Best Hollywood performer (male): Reed Grimm

Weirdly, an easy choice even though he didn’t make the finals. His two groups were standouts, and as I said earlier he played the drums during an individual performance. Honorable mention to Joshua Ledet, and those two towered over everyone else.

Season 7- David Hernandez

Season 8- Danny Gokey

Season 9- Andrew Garcia

Season 10- Casey Abrams

Best Hollywood performer (female)- Skylar Laine

Not only did she sing great; she was the only contestant who got sick and survived the cuts to make the semifinals. Honorable mention to Lauren Gray and Elise Testone.

Season 7- Carly Smithson

Season 8- Lil Rounds

Season 9- Lilly Scott

Season 10- Lauren Turner

Best live performance (male)- Phillip Phillips, “We’ve Got Tonight”

It probably won him the crown. I still don’t know what the heck he was doing with his hand. Honorable mention to Joshua, for several songs which were amazing, dynamic – and impossible to tell apart.

Season 7- David Cook, “Billy Jean”

Season 8- Adam Lambert, “Born to be Wild”

Season 9- Casey James “Jealous Guy”

Season 10- James Durbin, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”

Best live show single performance (female)- Jessica Sanchez, “You Are So Beautiful”

Honorable mention to Hollie (“Bleeding Love”, “River Deep”) and Skylar (several songs) as well as Jessica herself (several songs). Elise had a couple that should be mentioned as well, including “Vienna” and “Whole Lotta Love” (which I ranked second overall).

Season 7- Carly Smithson “Jesus Christ Superstar”

Season 8- Allison Iraheta “Someone to watch over me”

Season 9- Crystal Bowersox “Up to the Mountain”

Season 10- Haley Reinhart, “House of the Rising Sun”

Best Judge– Steven Tyler

By default, but I did sort of think he gave some honest criticism at times, not that it mattered. Tweedle Abs and Tweedle Dawg just kept drowning him out, almost angry that he tried to give some actual honest criticism. It was a horrible year for the judges. Jimmy’s Thursday critiques were the saving grace this year.

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THE BIG FIVE AWARDS

Enough preamble; it’s time to give out my five major awards for Idol’s eleventh season: The Chekeze, the Casey, the Allie, the Adam and the Carrie.

I’ll talk about them as if they are important, mainstream awards; but I’m just making them up. Some day, if they catch on, you read it here first. I added two new ones this year; the Casey and the Carrie. I redefined a couple of the others as well, to get rid of some redundancy from the minor awards and clarify what I’m trying to honor.

The Chekeze

The Chekeze award is for the single most electrifying early season live show performance. I didn’t define it as “early season” last year, but all of my previous picks came in performances before the show pared down to ten, and set the tour roster. Past winners:

Season 7- Chekeze, “She’s a Woman”

Season 8- Adam Lambert- “Satisfaction”

Season 9- Siobhan Magnus- “Paint it Black”

Season 10- Pia Toscano, “All in Love is Fair”

Drum roll…….

THE SEASON ELEVEN CHEKEZE AWARD GOES TO….

Skylar Laine

“Stay With Me”

Honorable mention to Joshua for “When a Man Loves a Woman” and, of course, Jessica for “I Will Always Love You”.

The Casey

Loosely defined, the “Casey” is for the best all around musician of the season. I picked Casey as the title for obvious reasons, as you will see when you look at the list of winners.

Season 7- Brooke White

Season 8- Matt Giraud

Season 9- Casey James

Season 10- Casey Abrams

Drum Roll….

THE SEASON ELEVEN CASEY AWARD GOES TO….

Reed Grimm

I hesitate to give a major award to someone who didn’t even make the finals, but his overall musicianship towered over everyone who made the finals. He was the driving force behind the best group in Hollywood, and he was the driving force behind the best group in Vegas. Honorable mention to Elise; who plays piano, guitar and drums and teaches advanced students. I’d give the award to her, but she was in Reed’s Vegas group and it was obvious that she deferred to him about musical decisions.

The Allie

I didn’t specifically define it last year, but I think of the Allie as a female contestant and the previous winners were all female; so the Allie Award is officially a female award. Here are the “Allie” award winners from season 7 to season 10:

Season 7- Brooke White

Season 8- Allison Iraheta

Season 9- Siobhan Magnus

Season 10- Haley Reinhart

Drum roll…..

THE SEASON ELEVEN ALLIE AWARD GOES TO….

Hollie Cavanagh

Skylar could have won in many years, but she wasn’t going to win over the little wood sprite blonde engine that could this year.

The Adam

The Adam award is for the “moment-maker” of the season. Think of it as the “entertainer of the year” equivalent.

Season 7- David Cook

Season 8- Adam Lambert

Season 9- Crystal Bowersox

Season 10- Haley Reinhart

Drum roll…..

THE SEASON ELEVEN ADAM AWARD GOES TO….

Joshua Ledet

While I can’t say I was personally invested in Josh, he was easily the best live performer of the season. Phil’s body of work wasn’t as consistent, so he is relegated to second place here. Skylar would be my third choice, with Jessica and Elise right below her.

The Carrie

I added it this year, as the “most likely to succeed” award. I’ll add the previous years, not in hindsight, but as I would have picked them at the time:

Season 7- David Cook

Season 8- Adam Lambert

Season 9- Crystal Bowersox

Season 10- Scotty McCreery

Drum roll…

THE SEASON ELEVEN CARRIE AWARD GOES TO….

Phil Phillips

I seriously considered Skylar and Jessica, but at this moment Phil not only holds the crown, but he has about a dozen songs on the I-tune charts. His Idol single is at number one.

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That’s the show, folks. Be patient as you file out, and drive safely.

Final result and a little speculation

Phil Phillips is the new American Idol!!!

Congratulations, Phil; I’ll have more about his win when I recap the season as a whole.

Some quick futures speculation on the top 13:

13- Jeremy Rosado: Coming to an Idol reunion show near you

12- Jermaine Jones: Just stay off the police blotter, my man

11- Shannon Magrane: Future Senator fromMissouri

10- Erika Van Pelt: Coming to a nightclub near you

9- Heejun Han: Movies or TV, maybe the stand-up circuit

8- Deandre Brackensick: Several years before we’ll know

7- Colton Dixon: Christian Rock career, probably a good one

6- Elise Testone: Indy artist

5- Skylar Laine: Nashville hitmaker

4- Hollie Cavanagh: High powered collegiate arts program

3- Joshua Ledet: Male diva, respected, will he be loved?

2- Jessica Sanchez: Diva in training, will sell lots of albums

1- Phil Phillips: Will he be David Cook, or Lee Dewyze?

Final two perform

Tonight’s finale contestants are a study in opposites. A boy against a girl… A Caucasian against an “Amexipino”…A WGWG (white guy with guitar) and a Diva (Divette?)… Dave Matthews Jr. and Whitney Houston Jr… A growler and, well… a growler… Maybe the smallest voice to ever make the finale against one of the biggest… An “artist” and a “karaoke singer”… A post-grunge blue eyed soul/folk singer against a pure pop singer….In just about every way it’s a battle of opposites or near opposites. Just about the only thing they have in common beyond being carbon based is that they are on Idol.

Idol has had:

– A boy/girl matchup six times, with each gender winning three times.

– White versus non white three times, with the non white contestant winning two (David Cook won the battle of the Davids in season seven)

– WGWGs have made the finale six times, winning five times including the last four in a row.

– Divas have made the finale four times, winning three times but none since season six.

The best comparison to Phil-Phil and BeBeChez is probably Taylor Hicks versus Katherine McPhee in season five. Taylor won, becoming the first male to beat a female in the finale, even though Kat was considered the better singer. Kat had a similar reputation to Jessie; that of a great singer who didn’t really “feel” her songs. Taylorwasn’t so much an “artist” as he was an everyman who everyone thought was nice, fun and dynamic.

The Voice just completed its season, with a different voting system but a similar audience. They also had white versus non white, and male versus female. Pop versus rock. The non white male pop singer won over the white female rocker, in a mild upset.

Oh wait, they are singing tonight too, aren’t they? I guess that might make a difference, though I can’t see how unless the judges decide to shill for one or the other. I don’t expect it, honestly. They played favorites heavily towards Josh, but between Jessie and Phil they have been fairly neutral.

Three songs each tonight, including each of their respective first singles. Let’s have it, kiddies…

The Singers, the Songs:

Round One, Simon Fuller’s choice:

Jessica Sanchez, “I Have Nothing” (Whitney Houston)

Aside: It just occurred to me that the whole “Jessie doesn’t feel her songs” complaint is based almost one hundred percent on her age and the assumption that she is too young to feel her songs. Well, I’m almost fifty years old and I’ve been singing for decades. There are certainly songs that I feel emotional about, but in most cases what I feel is the need to sing it as well as I can.

A lead singer might feel a dozen songs, but that’s out of hundreds, if not thousands of songs a lead singer will sing over a long period of time, and the ones that are felt are ones the singer has been singing for a long time. I defy anyone to learn, memorize, block out and perform song after song, week after week like they do on Idol, and feel any of them. Phil is 21, so he is allowed to “feel” his songs, but Jessie is only 16, so how could she feel her songs? That’s the assumption. Am I right?

Jessie isn’t not feeling her songs because of some personal lack on her part. Jessie is feeling her songs as much as anyone would be feeling them under these conditions, and no more and no less than Phil feels his songs. The whole “Jessie isn’t feeling her songs” complaint, if you ask me, is rank prejudice and stereotyping based on her age. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before.

Did she sing her song great? This time she did. Her daring key change came off perfectly, and she didn’t miss a single note or rhythm. I’m pretty sick of this song since it’s been done to death on Idol, but Jessie nailed it. A-

Phil Phillips, “Stand By Me” (Ben E. King)

Phil had his eighth surgery this week for his kidney stones. His voice was really strong last week, but on this song he seemed to be missing some of his power. I won’t dun him for that, because he’s proven that he has at least a decent amount of power; enough for what he does, anyway. I liked his guitar picking, though he needs to be a little bit smoother to really have his guitar be a show-off part of his performances. He’ll get there. He had his signature style working, and while I didn’t much like the sleepy arrangement he hit what he was aiming for. A-

Round One Scorecard:

Jessica 10

Phil 10

Even so far on my card, though the judges called it for Jessica after some thought.

The Jason Derulo song “Undefeated”, co-written by internet voters, was about what you would expect from a Song by Committee: all clichés and stock lines with a generic dance mix background. Good luck feeling that song, though teenagers will probably eat it up. It’s easily digestible, which is important. Big Macs sell. Broccoli? Not so much.

Round Two, Encore performance:

Jessica Sanchez, “The Prayer” (Celine Dion)

Not to beat the “feeling” thing to death, but I was surprised Jessie picked this one for her encore. My guess is that she “felt” it more than some of her other, more noteworthy performances. Unlike most of her performances, she didn’t just smile at the end. She looked to be completely under the spell of the song. Did she sing it well? Of course she sang it well. She’s a good singer. I noticed, on her first song, that her tone was a little bit raspy. The rasp was there again on this song, and I am pretty sure that those falsetto notes were a lot harder to get out than she made them look. It appears that both of our finalists are less than 100% tonight. That’s fair, and in a way more interesting than simply hearing them both at the top of their game. A-

Phil Phillips, “Movin’Out” (Billy Joel)

Phil seemed to hit his stride when they kicked it in, and his voice sounded somewhat stronger. This performance was vintage Phil, and as such it can be taken several different ways and get a grade anywhere between A+ and F; depending on whether you like what Phil does or not. I tried to imagine him first in a coffee house, just him and the guitar, and how that would play. My guess is that an open minded crowd would have loved it, with a few very high hipsters sitting in the back moaning “sooooo cooooool…….” while the sober bartender looked on nonplussed, wishing he was high so he could understand what the hell they saw in that weird arrangement of a classic song. Next I envisioned him at the Grammies, pulling it out as one of his already known originals. In that scenario he would get a big hand, with a few very high hipsters sitting in the back, moaning “sooooo coooool…..” while the sober, reformed old rockers in the crowd sat back, nonplussed, and mused; “dam, I miss weed……” A-

Round Two Scorecard:

Jessica 10 (20)

Phil 10 (20)

Still even on my card; judges were divided out loud, undecided under their breath.

Round Three, First Single:

Jessica Sanchez, “Change Nothing”

I’ve noticed that these “singles” almost always get a little bit butchered by the contestants the first time they sing them publically. Even Adam butchered his a little (who could blame him? “No Boundaries” sucked out loud), and the only one I can remember being done well was the epic Crystal Bowersox performance of “Up the Mountain” during the season 9 finale performance night. Jessie wasn’t immune, going flat several times on her high notes. From what I’ve heard in the past, she will have the song down pat and nail it by the time she has to perform it outside of the show. As far as the song itself, I kind of like it. I need to hear it a few times to figure out if I love it or not. B

I’m not sure what to say about the judges’ comments. They didn’t really hammer on Jessica, they hammered on the song. Based on Jessica’s comments at the end, it seems that she actually picked her own “single”. Did she? That would be a first, I think. I always thought Idol’s producers chose the singles. The facts (ma’am) are that the song is pretty good, but Jessica doesn’t have it down yet so she didn’t nail the high notes like she usually does.

Phil Phillips, “Home”

What?

The first half of the song had me moaning “soooooo cooooool” (no, I’m not high)… I was getting into it, digging Phil channeling his inner Paul Simon and enjoying everything…. Then a marching band crossed the stage behind Phil. Seriously, I am not kidding. A freaking marching band marched across the stage in the middle of Phil’s song.

The marching band appearing out of nowhere, running across, and disappearing back into nowhere…. it reminded me of those streakers we used to see at sporting events and concerts back in the 1970’s. I was waiting for a bunch of British Bobbies (cops) to run by chasing after them, running around in circles, waving their batons and falling down and running into each other before leaving in a confused gaggle, loud voices fading away after they left our view. Phil turned around when they marched by, and I imagined him mouthing “WTF are you doing out here?” at them, but apparently he knew they were coming. Honestly, it was surreal. They did this on purpose?

I was, as the sober bartenders and old rockers were, nonplussed. I don’t wish I had some weed, I don’t smoke weed, but if I did I’d fire one up right now and watch that over and over several times. It was so weird…

I can’t grade something like this, other than to say either you loved it and it was a moment or you hated it and you want to go punch Phil in the face. I guess I’m in the middle, more confused than anything else. Hell, Paul Simon liked marching bands and he used them sometimes, so why not? B; with the caveat that this was in no way a B performance. It was somewhere between brilliant and horrifying, with little in the way of middle ground.

Round Three Scorecard:

Jessica 10 (30)

Phil 10 (30)

I scored them basically even tonight overall; if either had an edge it was Phil for getting a lot of love for his last song. Neither one of them had their best voice, so neither one of them had their best night. Someone should be fired for giving Jessica three ballads, but that’s been the theme all season: too many freaking ballads. Phil’s middle of the road style stood out in stark contrast, and probably made the competition even closer than it already was. I still think Jessica is going to win, but it’s something like 52-48 or 51-49, if not 50.2-49.8. It could go either way, and nothing will be the least bit surprising.

The final editing of their performances came up last, and I really noticed how tinny and raspy Jessica sounded tonight. I thought her edit might hurt her at first, but then I saw Phil’s edit. They didn’t do him any favors, showing weaker parts of all three of his performances. Honestly, they didn’t do either one of them justice with the final edit.

Who’s gonna win? Hell, I don’t know….. It’s going to be close. I picked Jessie before tonight, and while Phil won the night by a hair I don’t know if he moved the needle enough to change the outcome.