[PHOTO - Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Ryan Seacrest on "American Idol," May 22, 2012. (Credit: Fox

MANILA, MAY 24, 2012 (ABS-CBN) Long-time “American Idol” followers are not backing down from their earlier prediction that Phillip Phillips will win the latest season of the popular US talent search.

Following the final two performance show on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning in Manila), TV critics felt Phillips’ performance of “Home,” which will be his first single should he win tomorrow, sealed his victory over 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez.

“Phillip Phillips most likely beat Jessica Sanchez for the ‘American Idol’ title with a blockbuster version of ‘Home’ -- complete with a troupe of drummers on stage -- to close the show, bringing the judges to their feet,” New York-based newspaper Newday said in its recap.

“That was an interesting finale. Vocally, Jessica killed it on ‘The Prayer,’ but PP benefited from much better song choices from Simon Fuller and his winner’s song. PLUS, he got a standing ovation from the judges. I stand by my prediction: PP will win,” the blog said.

Former “Idol” contestant Phil Stacey, guest-blogging for USA Today, also went for Phillip. “It was a showing of tremendous talent and ability by both performers, but in the end, Phillip Phillips comes out on top,” he said.

Coronation song

During the early seasons of “Idol,” the final two contestants get to sing the same “coronation song,” providing a level-playing field upon which viewers can decide who for them is the better singer.

But in recent years, this format has been changed, with the two finalists singing different songs provided to them by the show’s producers.

For “Idol” followers, the new format has become, as Yahoo’s music blogger Lindsey Parker put it, “prime time for conspiracy theorists to speculate regarding which contestant the ‘Idol’ producers were favoring--depending on who got the better coronation song.”

And it was clear from Wednesday’s performance show that Phillips was given the better single.

“I really like this song! It's very commercially viable and sounds like radio today mixed with a little old-school Simon and Garfunkel. And now he has a marching band coming on stage with him!” gushed Stacey on USA Today.

Parker said she also loved the song. “I could have sworn this was a Mumford & Sons B-side, and I have to say, if Phillip wins (which he probably will), this will be my favorite debut "Idol" winner single ever,” she said.

In contrast, Sanchez’s song, the pop ballad “Change Nothing,” fell flat.

“The song is not incredibly catchy,” Stacey said bluntly. “Randy says he didn't care for the song, but that he liked how Jessica made more of the song than it was. Exactly how I was feeling. Jennifer also feels the song was not the right choice. Steven Tyler pretty much agrees. The message: Jessica is great, but the song is weak.”

“Look, I don’t disagree that ‘Change Nothing’ probably isn’t the best first impression Jessica could make at radio — hey, Iovine, it’s not too late to find her something with a little more edge before June comes around — but it also seems a bit disingenous for the judges to hammer her for a composition that I can pretty much guarantee she had no say in covering. Know what I mean?” Michael Slezak wrote for

Yahoo’s Parker agreed. “I think Phillip totally clinched his victory with his performance -- although it's not really fair that he got such a superior song to sing,” she said.

Even Sanchez admitted that the song didn't really suit her style, saying she’d prefer to record something a little more “urban.”

Production values

But more than giving Phillips a superior single, “Idol” followers also couldn’t help but notice that the Georgia singer was presented in a better way.

“Do you notice how they have Jessica up there by herself and they have a full band standing around Phillip?” Stacey said early on after round one when Sanchez sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” and Phillips did “Stand By Me.”

“This is a showing of preference toward Phillip. First of all, song choice, they give Jessica a song by possibly the greatest voice of our time -- at her peak -- and put her out there by herself. Then, they give Phillip a song in a completely different genre than he sings, along with a fresh arrangement, and surround him with a band. The message: Phillip Phillips is an artist. Jessica is still an amateur,” the ex-“Idol” contestant said.

'“If this was a singing competition, Jessica won when Joshua Ledet was voted off. But the fact is, it's a popularity contest, and fun artists are more popular than evening-gown-wearing singers,” he added.

Although Phillips is the heavy favorite, Parker said she believes this could be the “closest” finale since Ruben Studdard won over Clay Aiken in Season 2.

Still she is sticking with Phillips to win the whole thing.

“He certainly didn't do anything to turn off the dedicated fans who've been voting for him all season long (and probably already had their minds made up, and their dialing fingers ready to go, before Tuesday's episode even aired),” she said.

At least one “Idol” watcher, however, is predicting Sanchez to get the title – not counting an astrology website which sees her winning based on her astrological chart.

“Will win the season (in an upset): Jessica,” wrote Slezak on

“Call me crazy, but I think her fan base is gonna help carry her over that incongruous final ditty.”

Supporters of Sanchez in the United States could vote for her by calling 1-866-436-5701 or 1-866-436-5703 or 1-866-436-5705 or 1-866-436-5707. They could also text the word “VOTE” and send it to 5701, 5703, 5705 or 5707. Furthermore, they could cast votes through the American Idol website or Facebook.


Jessica Wows Crowd In Close ‘Idol’ Finale By JANET SUSAN NEPALES May 23, 2012, 8:57pm

LOS ANGELES – Seventy-thousand fans and supporters gathered Tuesday night (Wednesday morning in Manila) at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles to cheer Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips, the two finalists of Season 11 of the top-rated reality talent show “American Idol.”

Inside the packed Nokia Theatre, the fans screamed with delight after every performance.

For the first round, 16-year-old Jessica sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” while dressed in a brown long gown.

Phillip, for his part, sang “Stand By Me.”

The first round went to Jessica. ”AI” judge Jennifer Lopez said, “America will have a hard time to choose.” Randy Jackson said, “I think the first round went to Jessica.” Then Jennifer added, “I agree with Randy.”

For the second round, Jessica had to relieve her favorite performance of the season and she sang “The Prayer.” Phillip sang Billy Joel’s “Moving Out.”

“The second round is a dead even,” according to Randy. For Steven, round two went to Jessica again. But for Jennifer, round two went to Phillip.

For the third and last round, the two finalists had to sing the song they will sing as their first record. Jessica sang a song titled “Change” to the best of her ability, but the judges apparently didn’t like the song.

Randy said, “I didn’t like the song. It was a straight pop song and it was a little weird to me that you would choose that song. The song was just ok.”

Jennifer said, “You sang the song well but it is a pop ballad. You are known as the 16-year-old who has so much soul and you can do blues. That’s what surprised me. I felt that the song was not for you. You will make records, and I know you will make many records, and when you do make records, you should be able to tell someone that this song is not me. You will have options as an artist. Everything that you sing has to be you.”

Steven, for his part, agreed. “I know you are a good singer and the whole world knows that too. But that is not the song for you.”

Jessica, when asked by host Ryan Seacrest about her reaction, agreed with the comments of the judges. “Definitely, I agree with them,” she said. “When I make my own record, it will be a lot like me.”

Phillip, on the other hand, performed a song titled “Home” and got a standing ovation from all three judges.

Randy said, “Dude, I love the song. I love you. I love the production. I love the marching band. It was your best performance of the night. You are a true artist. That was brilliant! Genius!”

Jennifer added, “It was so different I can’t think of any other singer who can sing that. That is a Phillip Phillips song. Congratulations.”

Steven, for his part, said, “You have made it Phillip. There was even a Paul Simon there. It was perfect. I think you are the man.”

Filipino-Americans who watched the show at Nokia commented that “It now all depends on us. We have to vote and show our support to Jessica Sanchez.”

If Jessica wins, she will be the first Filipino-American Idol. She will be the youngest winner and the first saved contestant to win the competition. She will also be the first female Idol winner after a long time.

But right now, Filipinos-Americans are busy voting and hopefully, will make that dream come true today.

“This is a dream come true for me because I never thought I would go this far,” Jessica said in an interview backstage with the press. “I am just happy that I am standing here with Phillip because he is an amazing singer. He is goofy and funny,” she added.

Asked if she was aware that Filipinos have been campaigning on the social networks like Facebook and Twitter to vote for her, including people distributing flyers in churches after masses, Jessica replied that she really does not know what is going outside of “American Idol.”

“I don’t know anything that is going on outside of Idol,” she said. “We don’t get to talk to anybody outside of Idol.”

At this point of the competition, Jessica admitted that she feels relieved. “I feel that a weight has been taken off my shoulders,” she said.

Outside of Nokia Theatre, fans of Jessica carried placards that read “America loves Jessica Sanchez” or “I love Jessica Sanchez.” A group of nurses and teachers from Pomona, Riverside and Fontana arrived with their own handmade posters. “We are here to show our support to Jessica even if we still did not get enough sleep,” according to a Filipina nurse.

Filipino-Americans also gathered at Nokia Theatre waving their “AI” tickets as they watched the show live at Nokia. “We will be going home to have voting parties,” they said.

A Filipino couple, who came all the way from Chula Vista where Jessica hails, also had their own handmade poster.

On the other hand, a group of Filipinas from San Diego drove all the way to Los Angeles to watch the program and show their support to Jessica.

Meanwhile, win or lose, lawmakers, led by Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. are seeking the adoption of the House resolution commending Jessica Sanchez for her “impeccable performance and display of extraordinary talent” in Season 11 of the reality television singing competition “American Idol.”

Belmonte said he would personally push for the adoption of House Resolution 2425, which was filed by Bataan Rep. Herminia B. Roman last Monday.

“She’s already a winner for us,” he said in an interview. The House leader earlier vowed that the chamber would honor Sanchez, whose mother hails from the first district of Bataan.

Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones expressed readiness to co-author the resolution with Roman.

Actress-turned-Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla also agreed with her colleagues, describing Sanchez as “Pambansang Tinig” (national voice) as earlier declared by her husband, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.

Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, Youth Against Corruption and Poverty (YACAP) party-list Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez, and AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe also sought the immediate adoption of Roman’s resolution. “We are all very proud of her. I am a music lover and she’s one great singer,” Sarmiento said.

“The House will definitely adopt it. Jessica is a world class talent and she has Filipino blood. We should all be proud of her,” Lopez enthused.

Batocabe also threw his “absolute” support to HR 2425’s adoption, saying that Sanchez “gave tremendous honor not only to us but to Mexicans as well.”

“Sanchez continues to exude superior talent, confidence, grace, and humility throughout her journey towards the finals of the American Idol. It is only fitting that Filipinos recognize Jessica’s triumph and express our support for her quest to be chosen as the 2012 American Idol,” Roman said in filing the resolution. (With a report from Charissa M. Luci)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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