The always candid Jimmy Iovine spoke with us immediately following last night’s American Idol finale, and he gave us his take on why Phillip Phillips won, what kind of careers the finalists will have, and what happened with Jessica Sanchez’s final song. Jimmy also addresses that looming question about whether he’d ever join the Idol judging panel, should there be an opening next season.
Why do you think Jessica won over Phillip?
Jimmy Iovine: They’re both great but they are doing two very different things, and appeal to completely different audiences. They are both equally as gifted in their own way, so in the audience of American Idol there were more [Phillip fans] than there were Jessica fans at this point and that’s probably what happened. I think Phillip did a great job and worked really hard and won a lot of people’s hearts this year.
Would you ever be a full-time judge on the show?
No, that's not really my thing. You can see by the little clip that they had, I am not good live. You never know what you are going to get live. It's not what I do and I like working with the kids. It goes back to when I was a record producer and I get to work on the music and that's what I really want to do. And it's fun to do and you can feel them a lot better like that and that's a great experience. It's fun. Being a judge is probably not for me
Can anyone other than a white boy guitarist win American Idol?
You know, I don't know. I guess… not this year. It's over. But I don't know, I don't know how it really happens. I kind of spend my time doing my thing.
You said you really liked Jessica's song, “Nothing Changes,” but it bombed?
It did bomb. That song for Phillip came into my office three days ago, and Jessica had a bunch of songs to choose from and we went to the R&B flavored song, but they didn’t have quite the melody, this song had the melody. We also didn’t have enough time to tweak it to the place we wanted to get it which was a little more soulful, so I guess it didn’t work. I love the song but live it just didn’t work as well as Phillip’s song.
Could Jessica just have said no, I don’t like that song?
Of course. Of course, we had about four different songs. But she liked the song. We never force a kid to do anything, you know, we really don't. Why would I do that? But I don't think it came down to that one song, I think it came down to Phillip having that country base, that young girl thing going, and that is hitting the button a lot of times. They're both wonderfully talented kids, they really are.
What was the highlight performance for you tonight?
I think it was Jessica's “I Will Always Love You,” probably. And there was one of Phillip’s that I really liked but my brain is gone again and I'm going to call him Jessica in about a minute. (Laughs)
Did anyone else stand out for you this season?
You know Joshua [Ledet] is very talented, Skylar [Laine] is really talented. There are a bunch of kids, they just need work. This is the crazy thing — you go to [the] stadium, you audition, and then you’ll turn into this. And the hard thing right now for Jessica and Philip and Joshua is to leave this behind you. You have to leave this behind you and make your first album. People that make their first albums are very humble and they are grateful for the opportunity. So now it’s time for them to just leave this behind. They’re young people but they both seem to have great roots and great humility and I have great hopes for both of them.