The finale for American Idol season 11 is set! In the blue corner is Phillip Phillips. Continuing the WGWG (white guy with guitar) phenomenon, Phillips is popular with the millions of teenaged girls and old housewives that watch AI. In the red corner is Jessica Sanchez. Genetically engineered to compete in talent contests, the artist also known as BB Chez has incredible talent and is backed by an ardent Filipino community. Who will win American Idol in 2012? Let’s break it down.
Talent vs. Popularity: Sanchez is clearly the more gifted singer. There’s no question about it. Her range and power are phenomenal for a 16-year old. On a technical level, Phillips is very limited…but there’s no denying his popularity with the ladies. Do you believe America will vote for talent? Or will the frau and teenyboppers flood the phone lines with votes for the guy they lust after?
Genuine vs. Fake: As limited as Phillips is, his style is established and he knows what kind of artist he wants to be. There were several instances of Phillips refusing to pander to voters, judges, mentors, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. He’s definitely the more “real” of the two. Sanchez, on the other hand, is clearly the product of an overzealous stage mom. Her entire home-schooled life was about preparing for stardom. Her style and song choices are all over the place, which indicates that she’s unsure of the artist she wants to be…which makes complete sense because she’s so young that she doesn’t even know what kind of person she wants to be. I hate when she sheepishly says, “Thank you so much.” It comes off as fake, as if she’s replying the way her mother instructed her to. On a side note, being so sheltered and manufactured means that Sanchez will either become an incredibly bizarre adult (see Michael Jackson) or have a series of spectacular breakdowns (see Britney Spears).
As Performers: Between lifting his leg like a urinating male dog, feeling himself up when he doesn’t use a guitar, and those strange, strange faces he makes Phillips is an unusual performer. Like his musical style, his performances are established. You know what you’re getting with P-Squared and it feels genuine. BB Chez is totally lost in uptempo numbers. Her attempts at stage dancing and owning the audience seem silly. She totally owns when performing power ballads, but raise the beats per minute and she looks like a little girl performing in a high school talent show.
X-Factors: While the ladies love Phillips, his singing faces are so weird that they turn some voters off. Is he constipated? Is he passing kidney stones on stage? (He actually does have kidney stones, fyi.) It’s just…funky looking (not in that George Clinton way, but in that dog feces way). People in the Philippines are actually mobilizing efforts to vote for Sanchez. Being half-Filipino means millions of Internet votes using fake IP addresses. Sometimes I love the passion of my father’s people. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. In this case, I’m not sure how to feel.
The Winner Will Be: On paper, Jessica Sanchez should win. This is a singing competition. She’s the better singer. That said, there are some people that are put off by her manufactured nature and (sadly) there are many people in the middle of America that won’t vote for a non-white contestant. Ultimately, it comes down to the power of the WGWG phenomenon vs crazy Filipino voters.
Many have argued that the last four American Idol winners — David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, and Scotty McCreery — were not the best singers or performers in the competition. Many believe they won because teenagers and housewives love white guys with guitars. I’m biased against BB Chez and I fear the frau, so I’m going to go with Phillip Phillips.
How about you? Please vote in the poll above and pick the winner of the American Idol season 11 finale!