That’s the big question today.
How did Jessica Sanchez get stuck with what’s been universally dissed as a dud for her final song last night?
Especially when Phillip Phillips was handed a potential first single that sounded like … well, a potential hit.
Which is what first singles are supposed to sound like, right?
At first, my mind screamed “fix.”
But let’s remember, Jessica alluded to helping pick that song last night.
Though I’m pretty sure the 16-year-old probably wanted to change everything by the time the judges got down ripping “Change Nothing.”
And Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe weighed in on Twitter today, saying “the record company with the artist” picked that song.
“I agree with the judges,” Nigel wrote. “I was not a fan of Jessica’s record! Mind you I didn’t like Phillip’s first song (“Stand By Me”) so it balanced out for me.”
Well, dear Nigel, it didn’t seem very balanced at the end of the evening.
Not when Randy was proclaiming Phillip’s “Home” as pure “genius.”
And certainly not when Phillip was standing on stage basking in the glory of a standing ovation, looking like he’d already won.
So how did it happen?
Ah, right …
Let’s remember that Jennifer lives in a most-beautiful-person-in-the-world lala land where she’s paid millions to judge or not judge on American Idol, depending on her temperment on a given night.
I’m having a hard time picturing Jessica, a self-described homeschool “nerd,” and just 16 years old, looking at Jimmy Iovine and company and saying: “That song sucks. I’m not singing it.”
The real mystery is that anyone representing a record company suggested she sing that song as a potential first single. Or at least didn’t steer her clear of it once they heard the finished product.
I mean, I knew Jessica had a turkey on her hands by the time she finished the chorus. The three Idol judges — who aren’t exactly overly critical on the best of nights — knew it by the time Jessica finished.
That’s right, Jimmy’s just a week removed from admitting that he botched two of his three song choices on one of the biggest nights of the Idol season.
Look, we should not be surprised by what happened to Jessica. Idol has a horrid recent track record with these end-of-season songs.
Remember the schmaltzy first singles from Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina a year ago?
Worse yet, remember when both finalists were forced to sing the same song. And Adam Lambert and Kris Allen both had to release that “No Boundaries” garbage.
Worse yet, remember Season 6, when both finalists had to sing “This Is My Now,” which fit Jordin Sparks perfectly and fit Blake Lewis like … well, it didn’t fit Blake at all.
Now that was unfair.
Which brings us to a bigger point. As Idol works on those so-called “tweaks” for Season 12, it’s time to overhaul this final performance show.
Ditch the idea of the finalists singing their first single that night.
Ditch the idea of Simon Fuller picking a song for each of the finalists to sing.
And ditch the idea of letting the finalists sing their favorite song from the season.
That’s fraught with problems too. They often pick a song that got the best reception. So if they perform it as well as the first time … well, we’ve seen nothing new and they’ve done what’s expected. More often, it winds up being a letdown because the surprise of the first performance is impossible to top.
So what do the finalists sing in the final performance show?
Let them decide.
Open the song book wide open.
Let them choose any three songs they want, as long as they haven’t performed them before during the season and as long as they can get the songs cleared.
Heck, if they write songs and want to risk it all on performing an original, let them.
That way their fate is precisely where it belongs — in their own hands.