Dim the lights, here we go: One of the remaining “American Idol” contestants will say goodbye to the popular reality television singing competition today, leaving the final two for the season finale face-off next week.
Top 3 finalists Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet and Phillip Phillips fought hard for a slot in final two in Thursday’s performance episode, where they sang three songs each—a judge’s pick, a personal choice and mentor Jimmy Iovine’s preference.
Who has the clear-cut advantage?
Judge Steven Tyler called Filipino-Mexican Sanchez “the last one standing” after round one of the performance episode, during which the powerhouse singer performed the Mariah Carey hit “My All,” chosen for her by judge Jennifer Lopez.
“Jessica, when you sing, you make people hang on your every note. I just hope you get used to encores because… you will be the last one standing here—I believe,” Tyler told the Philippine bet, who shone in a rich purple gown—a creation of Filipino designer Oliver Tolentino—in the first round.
“That was absolutely beautiful, perfectly the right song for you. I’m telling you what, I think it’s one of the best times a Mariah song has ever been performed on TV,” said judge Randy Jackson.
“Hard song… But you did it so beautifully, and you did it in your own way… You didn’t even go for the big part at the end, and I love that,” Lopez said.
Tyler said Sanchez’s interpretation of her choice song, the Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” was a great song made greater. Lopez called it “amazing” while Jackson said she was “choosing some really tough hills to climb.”
But her rendition of The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” got mixed reviews. Tyler said it was a “perfect song, perfect voice” and Lopez said Sanchez “almost sounded like Michael.” But Jackson thought there was lacking a moment. “I liked it, OK. But I didn’t love that. It was never a ‘moment-moment.’ It needed a ‘moment-moment’ moment,” he said.
Sanchez is the second contestant of Filipino descent to reach the competition’s Top 3. Filipino-American Jasmine Trias finished third on the competition’s third season.
All three finalists earned a standing ovation from the audience for their performances.
In round one, Joshua Ledet performed Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” Jackson’s pick; while Phillip Phillips sang Madcon’s “Beggin‘,” Tyler’s choice.
Round two, Ledet chose John Lennon’s big hit “Imagine,” and Phillips, Matchbox 20’s “Disease.”
Iovine’s picks for the final round: Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama” for Ledet, and Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” for Phillips.
Over the weekend, the Top 3 were honored as hometown heroes in the competition’s traditional homecoming event. Sanchez returned to her hometown of Chula Vista, California; Ledet to Westlake, Louisiana; and Phillips to Leesburg, Georgia.
Messages of support
With the title of “American Idol” almost within reach, fans of Sanchez sent cyberspace into overdrive with messages of support for the singer.
On the social networking site Twitter, the hashtag #JessicaForTop2 became one of the top trending topics of Twitter Philippines, while “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” one of the songs that Sanchez performed yesterday, became a trending topic worldwide.
Tweeted American TV host Mario Lopez: “Vote for my fellow Chula Vista girl @JSanchezAI11! She’s a star & ready to shine! Deserves to win… #Idol #619.”
“Jessica Sanchez incredible. Mexicanita Filipina! Great!” wrote Mexican superstar Thalia.
“To all my friends and fans in the USA please vote for Jessica Sanchez at 1-866-436-5702 #SupportJessicaSanchez #Proud2bPinoy #AmericanIdol,” posted actress Ruffa Gutierrez on her Twitter account. The same message was retweeted by her mother Annabelle Rama.
Filipino designer Rajo Laurel tweeted: “Friends! Please Please vote now for @JSanchezAI11. We All Need To Volt In!”
Designer Oliver Tolentino also wrote: “@JSanchezAI11 Thank you, Jessica, for wearing my purple gown tonight! I’m rooting for you!”
Posted “Idol” season 10 finalist Pia Toscano: “@JSanchezAI11 falsetto is absolutely flawless… So pure… Flawless… Jessica is an absolute vision… That control at 16 years old is truly inspiring. You can tell she’s worked hard at her craft #idol.”
Adam Brock, one of this season’s eliminated contestants, posted on his account: “There is no denying… that little power peanut @JSanchezAI11 has pipes beyond belief… especially for a 16-year-old!”
American singer and Tony Award-winning actress Jennifer Holliday also urged her Twitter followers to vote for Sanchez.
“Ok, everybody… Get ur fingers typing faster! 2nite is very crucial, so please vote @JSanchezAI11,” Holliday tweeted, along with voting information.
Fans of the singers also posted messages of support on Sanchez’s official Facebook fan page, which has over 205,000 “likes.”
The season finale is on May 23. With a report from Inquirer Research