News Column

The Buzz: Competition Heats Up on 'American Idol'

April 18, 2012

Casey Gillis

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One of the best singers on this season of "American Idol" almost went home last week.

If it wasn't for the judges' save, 16-year-old belter Jessica Sanchez would have said buh-bye to the competition.

This season has been one of the better ones in recent memory, with a ton of talented singers. But Sanchez clearly stands out among those left, and it would have been a travesty if she'd gone home too soon. But she'd be following in a long line of singers who seemed to be ousted before their time.

Last season, it was Pia Toscano. A few years before that, it was Jennifer Hudson. Who, you know, went on to win an Oscar. So maybe she didn't need "Idol" after all.

In the fifth season, Chris Daughtry got the pink slip. He just missed cracking the top three, shocking fans everywhere. Even if his band's style of rock isn't for you, you can't deny he was a much better singer than that season's winner, Taylor What's-his-name. I'm serious. I can't even remember his last name.

But this is what happens when you let America pick your winner.

We vote with our hearts and not always with our heads. I'm as guilty as anyone. I was a big Chris Allen fan a few years ago and rooted for him to beat Adam Lambert, whose constant screaming irked me. He did, and we, sadly, haven't heard much from him since.

This season, for me, is all about Dave Matthews sound-a-like Phil Phillips. I love it when singers -- whether they're contestants on "Idol" or already-famous musicians just having fun -- reinvent songs we know and love.

Phil did it early on with Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" and has continued to wow me ever since. I'll remain loyal to him and will continue voting, even when he gives an occasional lackluster performance, like he did last week.

Maybe it's about that loyalty? Do we get attached to certain singers and want to see them stick around?

I can recognize that Jessica is a better singer. And that Joshua Ledet, whom I also love and root for, has more stage presence. But there's something about Phil that puts him a little ahead of them in my mind.

Until last week, though, I truly didn't believe he could win this season. But he didn't need to, I thought. Plenty of runners-up have gone on to have better careers than the winners, and I was sure Phil would fall into that category, while someone like Jessica or Joshua or even that spitfire Skylar took home the crown.

But now I'm not so sure. And with the "save" no longer in play, things are about to get a whole lot more interesting.

A new episode airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Fox.

Source: (c) 2012 The News & Advance (Lynchburg, Va.)

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