Credit: Michael Becker/FOX ©2012 Fox Broadcasting Co.    
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American Idol

American Idol 2012 Recap of the Finale Performances on May 22, 2012: Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips Battle for the Idol Crown

This is it, Idol fans — the last performance show of the season! Tonight, Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez will go head-to-head, and tomorrow night, one of them will be elected President! Errr, American Idol, we mean. The show is coming to us live from the Nokia tonight in front of an audience of seven thousand, all of whom are VERY excited.

The first round is Simon Fuller’s picks, and we’re jumping right into things, apparently!

Jessica Sanchez, “I Have Nothing”: It’s sort of funny, because for years, singers have been told not to sing Whitney Houston, and yet Jessica’s been assigned a Whitney song. It’s a perfect choice for her — this is exactly the type of song she excels at, and she delivers it extremely well. She also looks gorgeous, and unfazed by the large crowd. This isn’t anything we haven’t seen from Jessica before, but the finale is probably not the time to branch out anyway. It’s a big, powerful performance, and we can’t complain.

Oh, apparently the judges won’t be commenting until the end of the round. Weird.

Phillip Phillips, “Stand By Me”: Man, Phillip and Jessica couldn’t be more different, could they? “Stand By Me” is pretty low-key anyway, and Phillip’s made it even softer. It’s a smart decision, actually — he can’t do all the things that Jessica can, but she can’t do the things that he can, either. It’s not as impressive on a visceral level as what Jessica did, but it’s an excellent Phillip performance. He’ll need to do something flashier tonight, though, if he wants to win.

Time to hear from the judges! “It’s like a battle of the opposites... at the end of the day, America has a tough job,” Jennifer Lopez says. She won’t pick a winner for Round One, but Randy Jackson gives it to Jessica. We agree, but not by much.

Round Two is the contestants’ favorite songs of the season.

Jessica Sanchez, “The Prayer”: This was a clever pick for Jessica — this song was from back before the finals, so we haven’t ever really heard it in full. It starts out very softly and builds up, before going back to soft at the end. It’s very pretty. It’s, once again, nothing really new from Jessica, but it’s a very nice performance. We guess this means that it’s going to be an all-ballads night from Jessica.

Credit: Michael Becker / FOX ©2012 Fox Broadcasting Co.    

Phillip Phillips, “Movin’ Out”: Oh, this is a nice choice for Phillip! His best performance of the season was probably “We’ve Got Tonight,” but since that was only a week ago, this is a smart substitute. This is one of those performances where you feel like you’re watching a Phillip Phillips concert and not American Idol, and we mean that in a good way. It’s a shame that the Idol single he’ll have to sing will probably be awful, because he should be able to end the night with this.

“I would have to say that Jessica took it again,” Steven Tyler says. The audience boos. Randy says that round was a dead heat, but Jen gives it to Phillip. Interesting. We’d pick Phillip for this one, too.

The final round is the contestants “winning” singles, which will be released after one of them wins it all. Let’s see how bad they are, shall we?

Jessica Sanchez, “Change Nothing”: Wowwww, this is awful. The beginning is too low for her, and the lyrics don’t suit her at ALL, as the song seems to be about people not understanding how important and wonderful her romantic relationship is. “They don’t know the hell we’ve been through”? Really? This managed to be worse than we expected. She does what she can with it, but ugh. “I did not love the song, but what I did love was that you made something more out of the song,” Randy says. “I thought you sang the song really well... if I was thinking about what your first single was gonna be, I don’t think I’d do that,” Jen says. “I don’t feel like the song was the proper song for you to sing with the voice you have,” Steven says. Jessica agrees that the song was bad, but it sounds like she picked it. Why, Jessica?

Phillip Phillips, “Home”: Wait. Something happened. This is awesome. There’s a folky, Mumford and Sons vibe, and Phillip is selling it like he wrote it. A drum corps joins him on stage about halfway through, and it keeps getting progressively more amazing. Phillip may have just won himself this thing. He gets a standing ovation from all three judges. “Dude, I loved the song, I loved you, I loved the production, I loved the marching band... everything about that was perfect,” Randy says. “I think what was moving about that was it so was different... that was a Phillip Phillips song,” Jen says. “By virtue of your vulnerability and style, you have made the world your home, my friend... you were perfect tonight,” Steven says.

Scotty McCreery shows up to sing us out over a montage of memorable moments from the season, and we’re done.

So you tell us: Who will win?

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05.23.2012 / 07:10 AM EDT by Tracy Fusaro
Related: American Idol, Recaps, Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez

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