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'American Idol' finale 2012: How to compare Phillip and Jessica?

May 23, 2012 |  8:40 am

American Idol finalists Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez with host Ryan SeacrestThe first thing that Phillip Phillips is going to need to do is change his name, or take on a nickname, if (or when) he becomes America's 11th American Idol. If he's to continue his pop career, he's going to need something less obvious. Maybe Phillip Danger, or Phil Trembley, or Flannel Phil. A name that has some pizazz so he can separate himself from the pack after concluding what host Ryan Seacrest described on Tuesday's final performance show as "one of the tightest finale races in our history."

If that's true — Seacrest is one of most hyperbole-prone hosts in the history of the universe — then 16-year-old powerhouse vocalist Jessica Sanchez on Tuesday didn't make that race any tighter. Though she's got just as much magnetism as Flannel Phil, Sanchez's performances were on the whole less captivating than his — especially the final songs of the evening, those picked as potential singles for the singers.

Sanchez chose a bland ballad called "Change Nothing," and Phillips, who earlier in the night had made Billy Joel's "Movin' Out" his own, opted for a high-energy march called "Home," and within those choices they answered the question that judge Jennifer Lopez posed during the two-hour event. She called these final performances "a battle of the opposites" before wondering, "How do you compare?"

INTERACTIVE: "Idol" vs. "The Voice"

It's hard to argue with a drum line, which Phillips rolled out during his song, "Home," a Mumford & Sons-style romp that conjured the rustic pleasures of (and copped a song title from) Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Judge Randy Jackson compared the song to Fleet Foxes, and was so impressed that the avalanche of "yo yo yo," "dude," and "dawg" compliments that sprung from his mouth Seacrest could have described as "one of the most excited bits of enthusiasm in our history."

When he wins — OK, if — Phillips is going to need more than Jackson's enthusiasm. In years past, Jackson has been just as excited by other men in the competition whose names are now musical footnotes: Taylor Hicks, Kris Allen, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Lee DeWyze, David Cook, David Archuleta, and Scotty McCreery. Each was a finalist, and each was poised for big things. (Adam Lambert's new album, "Trespassing," is an outlier, having just debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.) 

If Phil is going to break out, he'll have to bust the pattern. Maybe he should change his name to Shawty Mane, Phillip Bieber, or Phil Sweatshirt. Something freaky. Something shocking. Something to keep the people talking long after the closing credits run during Wednesday night's "Idol" crowning.

Because as history has proven over and over again, those rolling credits tend to signal the end of something, not the beginning. 

RELATED:

Full coverage: 'American Idol'

'American Idol' recap: Joshua Ledet goes out with style

'American Idol' recap: Top three's unexciting fight for the finale

— Randall Roberts
Twitter: @liledit

Photo: Phillip Phillips, left, Jessica Sanchez and Ryan Seacrest on "American Idol." Credit: Michael Becker / Fox.

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