Who will be the next American Idol?

In January, American Idol gave out more than 300 “golden tickets to Hollywood” to those who successfully passed the scrutiny of Jennifer Lopez, ­Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler. Now after four months of performances and eliminations the competition in the highly successful talent show is down to two singers.

It’s a faceoff between Jessica Sanchezand Phillip Phillips today on American Idol. Tomorrow, the 11th winner who would follow in the footsteps of Carrie Underwood,Kelly Clarkson and Chris Daughtry will be announced. Will it be Jessica or Phillip?

If you were to ask most of the fans of AI in the Philippines, you’d get a unanimous answer. But let’s not preempt her victory, it’s an American show after all and in its history no contestant of Asian lineage has ever walked home with the title. Or this time we could expect one.

Critics predicted the singers who’d be in the final two. Joshua Ledet unfortunately, didn’t win the approval of the voting Americans, who probably have gone tired of him screaming his lungs out all the time. While JLo and the rest of the judges loved it, that style didn’t sit well with the voters.

Twenty-two year old Phillip has never found himself at the bottom of the three since the show started. The blue-eyed singer-guitarist makes every girl scream every time he hits the stage. Though JLo thinks “We’ve Got Tonight’ was his “best performance ever” on the show, many remember Phillip for tweaking Usher’s monster hit “You Got It Bad” during the top seven redux show. And that song sealed his place in the final 2.

Phillip singing Home:

Phillip Phillips performing Moving Out:

And here is Phillip’s version of Stand By Me:

Phillip’s strongest weapon in the competition is his personal style—his ability and his boldness to breathe new life into a song, owning it in other words. Some people think Phillip’s weakness is his stage presence. He barely moves when onstage, but when he does it’s like he’s feet are being pulled by lunar gravity.

Meanwhile, Filipino-Mexican-American Jessica, who was due to be eliminated during the finals’ sixth round but reinstated by the AI judges in what most people call a dramatic episode on Idol to ploy publicity. Jessica is the first finalist to receive the judges’ one-time-only power to save and made the top 2. But then again she is too good a singer to be dropped from American Idol. And she has just proved that she’s worth to be saved.

Jessica’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You” and “And I’m telling You I’m not Going”—difficult songs that requires excellent vocal ability and clear enunciation—are so far her best performances on Idol show. The teenage singer can be boring at times but that’s what viewers see on TV. Seeing a singer sing live has got a different feel.

Video of Jessica Sanchez singing Whitney Houston classic, I Have Nothing:

Her performance of the ballad, The Prayer:

And her own single, Change Nothing:

Both Jessica and Phillip would be easy to market. Both can be packaged as pop artists for a wide range of audience, especially Jessica as she can belt out ballads then shift to RnB or Pop. Phillip, we must say, appeals to older audience. But their fate in music business lies on how they will be managed after their AI stint. Phillip cannot be packaged as the next Dave Matthews or Jessica cannot be the next Beyoncé or Jennifer Hudson. They should be mentored in a way that they can find their own voices and not just a copycat of another popular music star. Although it’s still important to win the title ofAmerican Idol, given that Jessica and Phillip already have the amount of exposure they need to be introduced to music consumers, what is imperative is to sustain their popularity and then create better records. There are Idol wannabes that succeeded in music business even without winning the title.

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