American Idol Season 11 Finale Recap: And the Winner Is... [Updated]

If the Phillip Phillips-vs.-Jessica Sanchez showdown of American Idol‘s eleventh season was an apples-vs-oranges kind of affair, then tonight’s season finale — featuring the inarguably terrific Top 13 12* — was a weird and occasionally wonderful smorgasbord. (*Uncle Nigel: “Jermaine Jones was just a figment of your imagination!”)

We had Season 3 champ Fantasia Barrino in a Crystal Gayle wig and, um, unfortunate spangled catsuit with side-leg cutouts (!) grabbing Joshua Ledet and turning the Nokia into a beautiful, howling messerie. We had John Fogerty, Reba McEntire, and Jordin Sparks dueting with Season 11 standouts Phillip Phillips, Skylar Laine, and Hollie Cavanagh. (More on those performances — including letter grades — a little later in this recap.)

PHOTOS | American Idol: The 21 Best Performances of Season 11!

Marriage was “spontaneously” proposed (said spontaneity almost certainly practiced and perfected in the office of Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo’s publicists). The phone book was sung. (Randy Jackson: “Literally!”) Too many medleys robbed us of individual moments for Elise Testone, Erika Van Pelt, Colton Dixon, and Skylar (who should’ve gotten two numbers, no?). And Rihanna and J.Lo showed us exactly why it’s Idol alumni — and not many of today’s “regular” chart-toppers/floor-writhers — who are the go-to candidates when it’s time to belt the National Anthem at the start of most televised sporting events.

PHOTOS | American Idol: 25 Best Performances of All Time

And then Jennifer Holliday and Jessica Sanchez tore the face off of music as we know it, flipped it, revesed it, performed an exorcism on it, and made it whole again. Or something insane like that. Mama Holliday scared the tarnation out of me, and I loved it.

I could’ve/should’ve blacked out when the performance was finished, but there was still the matter of crowing the American Idol season 11 champ.

RELATED | American Idol Top 2 Performance Night Recap: Home Is Where the Artistry Is

Dim the lights, Kieran! Your new American Idol is…Phillip Phillips! Congrats, sir, and be thankful you got the first decent coronation single in Idol history. There really are no boundaries anymore. Maybe not even at alternative/rock radio? (I know, I know, but I’m an optimist at heart.)

But before we start mullipng P2’s future, let’s review the night’s disparate and many performances:

The Top 12 (minus the Top 2), “Runaway Baby” I can’t lie and say I didn’t like this better when Joshua covered it by his lonesome a few weeks back. (Proof that one voice can be more powerful than 10.) That said, who knew Skylar was so adept at group choreography? And who’d have guessed Mr. Ledet would get his SYTYCD on and wind up falling on his butt? (E for effort, though!) Grade: B-

Phillip Phillips & John Fogerty, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” I couldn’t not love how genuinely excited Phillip looked sharing the mic with the CCR frontman for this performance, but why cover something P2 already sang just a few weeks ago? It’s not like Uncle Nigel couldn’t shake out the couches in J.Lo’s dressing room and clear a half-dozen new ditties for the finale, right? That feeling of déjá vu, combined with just a slight lag in energy, left me spending too much time focusing on what was around Fogerty’s neck (a black rubber bandana, maybe?) and not enough on the music. Grade: B

Phillip Phillips & John Fogerty, “Bad Moon Rising” Aha, now that was more like it. This swampy stomper fit Phillip’s vibe like a teaspoon fits a jar of peanut butter during midnight snacking hour. And the Phillips-Fogerty chemistry definitely benefitted from having a warmup number, too. I just wish the dudes had made it a trip (that’s a typo for “trio,” but “trip” works fine, too) by waving up Carrie Underwood, who jammed out and sang along from her seat in the audience. Grade: A-

Random observation: Of course Randy yells awful stuff like “Put him in the dumpster!” when he sees a wee thing like Ryan Seacrest get hoisted in the air by a mob of dudes.

Joshua Ledet and Fantasia Barrino, “Take Me to the Pilot” A hot, honeyed catastrophe of straining sequins, frantic camera work (Idol Director: “They’ve gone and left the stage!”) and ridiculous holleration? Or two of the best Idol contestants of all time breaking free from musical convention and letting the Holy Spirit take over? My sane half says the former, but the part of me that lost my damn mind hollering and clapping says the latter, obviously! (Also: Is this song set on an airplane?) Grade: D+/A+

Random observation: My take-home message from that whole “Jimmy Iovine repeatedly referring to J.Lo as ‘Jessica’ during his results-show critique tapings”? Dude’s observations are as carefully groomed and managed as Ryan Seacrest’s eyebrows.

Chaka Khan and the Ladies of the Top 12, “Ain’t Nobody”/”Through the Fire”/”I’m Every Woman” I’m not 100 percent sure the music of Chaka Khan brought out the best in any of the Season 11 chicas — though Elise sounded surprisingly solid growling it up on that disco nugget “Ain’t Nobody.” It’s also a shame that Chaka didn’t take notes from John Fogerty/Jennifer Holliday/Reba McEntire about how to engage with the Idols — namely, don’t treat them like underpaid backup singers. They’re the ones pulling in 20 million viewers, after all. Then again, maybe Chaka couldn’t see over her breasts? File under: #PantsuitFail Grade: C

Rihanna, “Where Have You Been” She hasn’t been going to her vocal lessons, that’s one place she hasn’t been. This was all writhing bodies and Egyptian-themed set pieces and pre-recorded vocals, signifying that there’s something really wrong with how we’re choosing our hitmakers nowadays. Grade: D

Skylar Laine & Reba McEntire, “Turn on the Radio” The camera work and sound mix on this performance malfunctioned harder than Fantasia’s stylist. But dangit all, Skylar and Reba’s pumped-up pipes and effervescent stage presence turned it into one of the night’s most enjoyable moments. It’s amazing that a teenager who just finished fifth on a televised singing competition can hold her own — without the slightest bit of awkwardness or trepidation — opposite one of the true legends of country music. Prediction: In five years’ time, Skylar will have sold more records than anyone from Season 11. (Which is not a knock on any of the contestants of Season 11. Skylar’s just gonna sell a lot of records.) Grade: A-

Random observation: Tell me I’m not the only one who half-gagged at that “two become one” image of Steven Tyler embracing a live sloth.

Jessica Sanchez, “I Will Always Love You” Nigel Lythgoe, seriously, clear more songs for these kids! Jessica sounded as powerful and potent as ever on this encore presentation of her Top 13 Week number, but right down to her blue ballgown, all the details were exactly the same. I mean, why buy the Idol Season Finale when you can get the milk for free on YouTube, if that makes any sense? Grade: B+

Neil Diamond and the Top 12 guys (minus Phillip), “America”/”Cracklin Rosie”/”I’m a Believer” True confession: I don’t care for medleys in general. And I especially didn’t care for this medley in particular. Which is not to say that everything in life needs to play to the 18-34 demographic — otherwise you might as well take me out to the field with a fresh-baked Cinnabon and a blunt object — but everybody involved seemed like they would’ve been more excited to get their hands caught in the door of Jessica’s new Ford whateverthatcarwas. Grade: C

Idol Top 10 (minus the Top 2), “Sing the Phone Book,” A brutal skewering of Randy Jackson’s turgid critiques is always appreciated. But the closing bit of this number — with Joshua getting carried away in a fit of Gospel showboating, and his fellow Idols giving him the exhausted side eye — was a hilarious bit of self-deprecating humor from Season 11’s third-place finisher. Grade: A-

J.Lo and Some People Who Flew in On Pogo Sticks of the Future, “A ‘song’ from a new Step Up movie not starring Channing Tatum and his meaty brand of hotness”/”And also another ‘song'” Ooh, her lipsynch game is as tight as…actually, her pants were shockingly baggy this time around, no? Grade: Girl, don’t you make enough money from Idol and movies and all your product endorsements that you can stop pretending to be a singer now? (J.Lo: “Enough. A 2002 thriller starring yours truly and that dude from The Killing. Get it on Blu-Ray today on for $14.99.”)


Hollie Cavanagh and Jordin Sparks, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” Perhaps not the most inventive, unexpected performance in Idol finale history, but sometimes isn’t it enough to have two lovely ladies belting a ballad with charm and style to spare? Why yes, sometimes it is! Grade: B+

Top 12 guys (minus Phillip), Bee Gees medley Yikes. Nobody told me When Harmonies Attack was returning to the Fox lineup. (That said, Joshua’s “To Love Somebody” kinda rescued the medley, even if it was yet another retread from earlier in the season.) Grade: C

Jessica Sanchez and Jennifer Holliday, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” Holy face-pulling, Batman! La Holliday’s expressions ping-ponged from rage to elation to suspicion to defiance and all the way to “SAAAANG HEFFFUH!” — and I could not get enough. If Steven Tyler needs someone to help him understand the meaning of “over the top,” the search is finished. I loved how the original Broadway Dreamgirl shook and cajoled Jessica using only her eyes and her powerhouse vocal, somehow managing to get the Season 11 finalist to dig even deeper into her reserves of soulful growl, and counter with what’s likely the performance of her young lifetime. Jessica may not have won the title of American Idol, but as far as I’m concerned this duet was the telecast’s biggest prize, one of the all-time great moments this show has ever given us. The end. Grade: A++

Jessica & Phillip, “Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong” A sweet little interlude to take us past 10:00 pm, and thereby cut into Idoloonies’ Revenge time (over on ABC). No, I’m not sure why Jessica wore violet curtains, or why Phillip couldn’t be bothered to wear a dress shirt underneath his tux, but I’ve seen a lot worse outfits on the Idol stage and in my own closet, so lemme just shut my pie hole. Grade: A-

Phillip, “Home” Whether or not you voted for the 21-year-old pawn-shop worker, it was hard not to get a little choked up watching him try (then fail) to get through his lilting coronation single. Because regardless of race, gender, or musical style, at the end of the Idol season, these three things must remain: Hugs, confetti, and tears. But the greatest of these is tears. So thank you, Phillip Phillips for doing your championly duty, and best of luck on the charts! Grade: A

And with that, I thank all of you for joining me for another “Idol journey.” But remember: It’s not over yet! I’ll have an interview with executive producer Nigel Lythgoe posting here at TVLine on Thursday, Idology interviews with the Top 5 contestants running over the next couple weeks, and plenty of galleries and post-season goodies comin’ ‘atcha, too.

So with that, I turn things over to you: What did you think of the final two hours of Season 11? What were your favorite performances? What do you think of Phillip’s win? And was the J.Holl duet a good enough consolation prize for Jessica? Sound off below, and for all my Idol news, interviews, and recaps — including those extended video Q&As with the Idol Top 5 — follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. cimi says:

    Highlight of the night (and tear-jerker) was Philip Philips losing it on stage and then seeking comfort in his familes arms. I actually felt kind of like a sap for tearing up ( my daughter was eyeing me like I was nuts) but, ahhhhhhhh…Philip is a definite winner in my book. I imagine if Jessica S. won she would’ve made it through the whole song and then said the expected thank you’s, which would have been less than stellar to what Philip brought to the “show’s ending. It is a show after all, and who doesn’t love a good cry. Although I am in agreement with one of the posters who wonders how Philip is going to handle all the interviews but, I think now that he gets to exhale a bit he will be just fine. Typical Philip– few words, that will make the interviewer have to actually work a bit. Are ya ready Mr. Sleezak?:) Good job this season btw. Loved the vids! Just use better movie excerpts next season, ok. :)

    • carla says:

      Jessica probably would have gotten emotional too. Just because Jessica is a well-trained singer doesnt mean she wouldn’t have done the exact same thing as Phillip.

      • cimi says:

        I didn’t mean to imply that Jessica wouldn’t have gotten emotional. And you’re right, no one knows what would have happened. I just based my comment on my observance of Jess. I love Jess. I think she has a magnificent voice and will go very, very far.

    • Cris says:

      Jessica will get emotional too, but she’ll finish the song. Didn’t you see how happy she was for Phillip, her congratulatory hug? Since you like to make up stories, I’ll give you one. Phillip didn’t think he would win because he honestly knew he couldn’t sing. So he couldn’t help being so emotional when he actually won. How’s that for a story?

      • cimi says:

        I actually had sort of the same thought– Phil said all season that he had the least best voice, (how humlbe of him to say) and I agree with him. Most of the top twelve could sing circles around Philip2. Jess might have gotten emotional but it wasn’t predictable. With Josh it was. I was not a bit surprised when he choked up and couldn’t sing anymore. And when he left the stage to collapse in the arms of his family…it was who I had come to know him to be. If jess would’ve done the same, it would have been a complet, and utter surprise. See what I mean? In other words, we knew what we were getting with Phil. With Jess we didn’t really see any emotionalness. Yeah, i just made up a word:)

    • Robin says:

      We better get an interview with Phillip Mr. Slezak…I am still bitter about not getting my Casey James interview!

  2. Nikolas says:

    It sure was nice of J-Lo to perform on the finale, thereby sparing Philip from being the absolute worst singer on the stage like he has been since Top 10.

    That J-Lo. Always thinking about others.

  3. Nikolas says:

    They should change the name from American Idol to Cougar Bait.

  4. John says:

    Phillip. AMERICAN. Jessica. IDOL.

  5. Chris says:

    And $250 goes to malaria.

  6. Tim says:

    Idol keeps breaking my heart every season, but I know I’ll be back for more abuse.

  7. idared says:

    And let me give MAD PROPS to the stankiest of all stanky stank faces Jennifer Holliday!! Lawdie!! Slezak (and Melinda) said it best “SAAAANG HEFFFUH!.” and I loved how the original Broadway Dreamgirl shook and cajoled Jessica using only her eyes and her powerhouse vocal, somehow managing to get the Season 11 finalist to dig even deeper into her reserves of soulful growl, and counter with what’s likely the performance of her young lifetime.” I could agree more. Who needs a title and microphone trophy when you get a gig like that??

  8. Allie says:

    I have to say, Josh was my pick for best singer in regards to technical ability. He put everything he had into his songs, whether it went over or not, and when he did “To Love Somebody”, I cried. He was humble and came off very sweet and friendly. I felt that if I met him on the street, he would be kind and modest. Joshua truly doesn’t know how amazing he is. I hope to hear more from him, because he gave me chills.
    From the top 13, I simply didn’t like Jessica. She has a great voice, but she lacks in personality and emotional connection to the music. Most of her performances came off cheesy or karaoke. I remember when she did “Fallin'”, thinking that it sounded exactly like Alicia Keys, only not as good.
    I’m not sure why, but I got this sense of entitlement from her that may have stemmed from her background. She didn’t seem friendly or appreciative or original. I never heard her put her own spin on a song. The final duet was painful, as she tried to outsing a much better vocalist and failed. Jessica is the queen of trying too hard. During her songs, I would find my family cringing as she used far too many runs or held a note far too long.
    I voted for Phillip because I liked listening to him. I like acoustic music of the type he favors. He seemed to have a great personality and though he was a bit of a loose cannon, his highs were very high and his lows were easily forgotten. His single song was something I will definitely buy, and I plan to buy his album. His voice isn’t a powerhouse, but it’s enjoyable to listen to and sing along with. His performances of “U Got It Bad”, “We’ve Got Tonight”, and “Volcano” convinced me that he had the best overall package. I am very happy that he won.
    Jessica is a good singer, though I would prefer to listen to Joshua. She needs more time to learn to be comfortable in her voice and stop showboating.
    Phillip may not sell millions of records, but like Damien Rice or Matt Nathanson, he will gain and keep a solid fan base for staying true to himself and playing his music. Can’t wait to hear what he will write for his album, and I predict a successful (if not explosive) career for him.

    • marie says:

      Couldn’t have said it any better – agree completely.

      • marie says:

        Well, I take that back, ALMOST completely: I never got a sense of entitlement from her, only the kind of naivete natural to a young teenage girl. And nothing against the kid – she just doesn’t interest me, personally.

    • Marianne says:

      All this (above) about 16-year-old Jessica – – yeah…..NO.

      • Allie says:

        Okay, which performance did you think she brought her own take on? Because I didn’t hear her do it once- she was always imitating the original artist, plus fifty runs that detracted from the quality of the song.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      By and large I agree,but I don’t get a sense of entitlement from Jessica at all. She strikes me as a sweet kid. I DO think she needs to mature and find her own voice. Although she didn’t get heaps of praise for “Bohemian Rhapsody” that was one performance where I really felt as though I was hearing Jessica’s own voice, and I enjoyed it.
      Even Reba McEntire has said she could mimic any country singer when she was young and it took a while before she sounded like Reba.
      Joshua is clearly humble. The end of the very funny “sing the phonebook” skit demonstrated Joshua is not afraid to poke fun at himself.

      • tarc says:

        I think we got to see more of who Jessica and Joshua really are on that last show, and that made them even more appealing. The same could be said of Phillip. The Joshua/phonebook thing was actually hysterical.

    • deedee says:

      I agree with most of your assessment, but to me, Jessica did not come off entitled. She was always pleasant, and somewhat unreadable. Whatever emotions were going on inside her, we never got a peek. She either wasn’t feeling much, or she was good at masking her interior with a perma-smile. That was part of her “problem” – not bringing her emotions into the performances. But so glad that Jennifer Holiday managed to shake a bit of that loose, giving me hope that one day Jessica will be able to put all of herself into her singing. Then she’ll really be something.
      Your take on Joshua is right on. He doesn’t know how good he really is. He’s probably the best singer I’ve ever seen on Idol – and I’m including the amazing Adam Lambert in there. Yes, I said that. Go ahead – clobber me! Pelt me with rocks and coke bottles! With a little guidance, and refinement, and good artistic choices, he could be one of my favourite singers period.

    • darcy the slutty twin says:

      Well, I prefer Jessica to Joshua. The “mimic” description is tired and lame. I didn’t feel she copied “Stuttering” at all. I find it funny how some people say she mimicked Whitney Houston’s take of “I Will Always Love You,” when it was Dolly’s original version that reminded me of Jessica’s cover. Jessica’s cover had just a little bit more tenderness than Whitney’s bombastic version.

      I also find it funny how Phillip and Jessica are constantly compared like how one is a true artist and the other a better singer. There are no comparisons because these two are completely different. Phillip is an incredibly attractive man with sexy chest hair who knows his identity as an artist, stands his ground, and happens to be comfortable with a guitar. Jessica is a gifted balladeer who also has the ability to sing uptempo songs. Both of them sing great and both are artists.

      As for showboating, I feel it’s not right to accuse Jessica of doing that while praising Joshua, who to me and to a lot of people I know, showboats “every tahm,” as Skylar said in the phonebook skit. The fact that they included it there means the production, the contestants and Joshua himself, are aware of that. And props to Joshua for having the humor to poke fun at himself. However, I hated, hated his hollerating during Robin Gibb’s tribute. In my humble opinion, it was the definition of showboating and was totally inappropriate. But that is just me. Joshua is mad talented and has a great personality. But I do hope that going forward, he can reign in the OTT performance style. It’s great in small doses, but not “every tahm.”

    • cimi says:

      Hi Ali. Your post was one of the most (out of many) poignant ones that I have read here. And I think you are correct. Like I’ve said at other websites — mainly facebook–people vote for what they like to listen to. It IS a popularity contest based on that alone. I really don’t think the cute factor comes into all that much. Jess is cute, phil is cute. Hell, Adam friggin’ lambert is cute. As was Kris Allen but, most folks wanted Adam to win. Soooooo, the popularity isn’t in the “cute” factor, it’s in the muuuusiiiic

  9. Juan says:

    as an addendum to my comment from last week..
    bang, bang, bang bang, bang bang bang bang bangity bang

  10. Lee says:

    Thank you, David Cook! 4 more idol WGWG winners because of you!

  11. darcy's evil twin says:

    Is it too early to predict next season’s winner?
    Johnny Keyser, anyone? Does anybody remember him? And does he play the guitar? ;-)

  12. HairLikeATeddyBear says:

    Oh my goodness! I haven’t seen the show yet since I’m EST, but I hear that I will get to see Joshua a little bit more! (don’t care if it’s a group perf ‘cos he will shine anyway!). And myyy – Fantasia! Have always thought their voices are too alike to be any good together. But what do I know!? Cannot wait to be totally swept by what I’m sure will be a holleraties-galore!! Only another 1.5hour to go!! Oh – and well done P2!

    • deedee says:

      *GASP* what?? No no no, their voices are nothing alike. Her tone is … what’s the word .. kind of cartoonish (although she’s a fantasticly gifted singer), and his is warm and rich. Totally different – until they start screaming. Normally, I don’t consider what Josh does ‘screaming’, but there was definitely some o’ that in the duet.
      P.S. if you’re EST, it should have aired for you at 8pm last night. (??)

      • HairLikeATeddyBear says:

        “Watched” the finale – was late and tired so will have to watch it properly another time. So really just forwarded a lot of it until the Joshua bits. (It aired at 7.30PM yesterday. This site logs all posts in PDT). Couldn’t get enough of Josh’s in the phonebook skit!! Love how he was tapping his feet and going hollerati-crazy all by himself! And Hee Jun putting his hand up “going to church”! Y’know what, I think Joshua will actually have a great career in acting. The duet with Fantasia was just kinda disorganised … but I enjoyed the mess, anyway – I was expecting it. Fantasia looks like she’s going to do something OTT crazy at any moment… and probably did in the end, we’ll never know. I had to watch the Jennifer Holiday duet, too because of all the very funny postings here about how ‘scary’ she was! Totally agree – from the first word of the song! Those magnificent teeth and that amazing mouth / face! Totally scary-amazing! She reminded me of that Mother alien in the movie (Alien) where it was trying to intimate Ripley by baring its teeth with the mouth within the mouth within the mouth! Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE that movie and that scene! I thought both Chaka Khan + Jennifer Holiday were just fabulous. They just don’t make divas like that anymore!

  13. 0101jyj says:

    for the type of music josh sings..there’s always a fine line between singing and screaming, when done right you get performances like ‘It’s a man’s world’ or ‘No more drama’..tonight josh was as usual on the right side of the line..unfortunately i can’t say the same for fantasia..who unceremoniously dragged the duet down..josh should’ve just performed alone..js..:/

    • deedee says:

      For the most part, Josh didn’t scream, but there was a moment in there when they both crossed that line together. Josh got swooped up in that tornado .. which is why I was not looking forward to this duet. Hot mess. Still love him, though :-*

  14. Sandrine says:

    This is the first time that I didn’t wake up early (I’m not from the US) to catch the Idol finale live since season 3. It was very predictable. I knew Phillip will win no matter what and I won’t give up my precious shuteye for that crap.

  15. marie says:

    Michael! Did you forget that Aerosmith performed???

    • noa says:

      maybe he chose to forget it because they didn’t include Elise with them like they should have.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        ^this^ I thought the same thing.

        • marie says:

          Would have been great, sure, but seems they limit the celebrity duets to the Top 5, which seems a natural place for the cut-off (I THINK this has been the convention in previous years, but don’t quote me on it), or else they would pretty much have had to arrange duets for the entire Top 10 or Top 12, and that’s not practical (and probably over-budget). If only Elise had finished a little higher up!

          • noa says:

            last year Casey got a duet and he finished 6th. in season 7 Carly and Michael sang together and they were 6th and 8th. why not have Colton and Elise sing a duet together? there was so much crap in that finale. Elise could have made it so much better.

          • FreeHaley says:

            +1 really disappointing and shows even more how little the producers have remote respect for those types of talents (especially when they dare to speak up at all, as both Elise and Colton did)

      • smidnite says:

        You’d want to see Tyler drooling over her like a Dirty Old Man?

        • noa says:

          ha! probably not :) but she really wanted to do a duet with him. she said it so many times in interviews. seems like a slap in the face not to have her sing with him even for a little bit.

  16. Kayk says:

    I’m so happy for Phillip Phillips and his adorable family!

    The most horrific moment of the night for me was the Joshua/Fantasia screechfest plus her unbelievably bad outfit. The most confusing moment for me was when they introduced Jessica and Jennifer Holliday. Not being a Broadway aficionado, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never heard of this superstar. In fact, when Jessica mentioned her a few weeks back in her performance of “And I’m Telling You..” I thought it was a verbal typo on Jessica’s part. I thought she must have confused Jennifer Hudson and Billie Holliday and come up with the hybrid Jennifer Holliday. When Ms. Holliday came onstage last night my husband passed through the room (he’s not an Idol fan), spotted her, and thought it was a cartoon or Saturday Night Live-type skit. I simply thought she must be a drag queen. At any rate, the 2 ladies were TERRIFIC on that song!
    A final note – I was sad and disappointed not to get to see one last Elise performance. I was hoping for an Elsie/Stevie Nicks duet!

    • Red in Denver says:

      I don’t think I’d ever seen Jennifer Holliday perform either; and thought, initially when she first started to sing that it was a joke — due mostly to her odd facial expressions and mouth movements. My entire living room was full of friends who had gotten together just to watch the finale; and within SECONDS of the performance beginning, we were all laughing at how ridiculously over-the-top it was. Perhaps we affected each other; but we HATED the performance (other than the comic relief it provided) so this morning, after seeing the grade Slezak gave it, we’re wondering if it isn’t a case of something similar to what happened in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” or something.

    • darcy the slutty twin says:

      Kayk, I LOVE your entire post!

      • Kayk says:

        Thanks! :)

        • darcy the slutty twin says:

          The bit about the divine/scary Ms. Holliday was so honest! I couldn’t stop laughing at your description. While I am aware of Jennifer Holliday and her star status, I also did think she resembled a drag queen. During her earth-shattering performance, I thought that either her wig or dentures would fly off! All the comments about how they thought Ms. Holliday would retract her jaw and swallow itty bitty Jessica are exactly what crossed my mind!

          • Marsaili says:

            She was just scary as all get-out! Jessica is a brave, brave girl to have faced her down and won! (IMHO!) I think Jessica cleaned up Jennifer!

  17. Just goes to show you why it isn’t worth watching anymore. This was the same as the previous seasons, throw the women under the bus. I’ll just keep reading your awesome recaps and watch a few on youtube, but I’m done watching this show. Didn’t see it one time this season and I didn’t miss it.

  18. RealityCheck says:

    que sera sera or something like that! (Gotta ask Doris). Anyway, on a lighthearted note, I loved the singing the phonebook skit! I laughed until I cried :) I also was shocked at all the weight Fantasia gained…did she eat Rueben Studdard? LOL Loved the Jennifer/Jessica duet! I danced around my living room in glee! Jennifer pulls faces like that because she is all Broadway Diva. I initially hoped JHud would sing with Jessica but JHol was just fine. I was disappointed Jessica didn’t win but still got choked up when PP couldn’t finish his song and needed a hug from the fam. I wanted to be mad and swear off idol, but I enjoyed the finale too much. Besides for those of you who are crying PP won because of racism or discrimination or whatever….my own mother voted for him and we are black. When I asked her why Mom why?????? She calmly explained, “He is gonna be your new daddy!” :)

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I was in a local business earlier in the week and the sales associate and I were discussing Idol. She’s black and she was pulling for P2. She said she liked him the best of all of them and she loves Mumford and Sons, Dave Mattews, Nickel Creek, etc. I told her I loved Joshua and his old-school R&B and she didn’t care for Joshua at all, LOL. Granted, she is young and could be my daughter, but I found that amusing in light of all the “racism” charges that fly around this board.

    • Marianne says:

      The “Phonebook” performance was 2nd best of the evening for me. Jessica and JHol WAS NUMBER ONE!!!

    • darcy the slutty twin says:

      Your mom is adorable, but I guess she has to keep dreaming because Phillip is all mine.

    • Mary B says:

      Love this. I laughed so hard I cried.

  19. Chris says:

    Jennifer and Jessica – there are no words other than other worldly. BEST top 5 moments I’ve witnessed on this tv show.


    Congrats to Phillip and Jessica! (Can we eliminate Randy now? Please?)

  20. Elena says:

    Best of the night:

    1. JENNIFER/JESSICA DUET — Can’t get over this one! Stupendous (ugly face and all)!
    2. Reba/Skylar duet — I agree, Michael. Nashville is going to love Skylar Laine.
    3. Singing the phonebook skit
    4. Ace and Diana get engaged

    So glad this season is over!

    • Sandi says:

      I would put Aerosmith at #2 on your list and get rid of that Ace/Diana engagement. If I’m being cynical, I would say that it was completely staged. Why would Ryan call them to the stage unless it was preplanned? I would have much rather seen a Colton performance (or any other Idol) than that.

      • Elena says:

        Oh, I absolutely agree that the engagement was staged. I even felt my eyes beginning to roll until I detected the sincerity and nervousness and love between these two. Ace and Diana really are nuts about each other. I thought it was cute.

      • Mary B says:

        They have been engaged for weeks before this. I guess they don’t think any of us reads the show biz rags. Frankly, it really annoyed me because it was so fake.

        • aravis says:

          They have?!! Then what was *that* all about? What was it for?!!

        • FreeHaley says:

          Wow, i guess the nerves were out of embarrassment over pulling of a fake then. Once again this proves just how utterly scripted the show is as the fine print says it’s not a talent contest but a reality tv show.

        • deedee says:

          They have been? If and TWOP didn’t have this info, I doubt it’s true. She looked genuinely surprised by this cheesy stunt.

  21. PatD says:

    I was pulling for P2, but I never expected to be as moved as I was. I have a feeling Phillip’s health issues were much more serious than we’ll ever know. The camera shots of the Top 12 showed a bunch of kids clearly ecstatic that Phil came out on top.

    And I couldn’t agree more about the coronation song this year, Michael. I might even buy that.

    I just want to take a moment to acknowledge Jason’s awesome editing skills. You truly are one talented dude, J.

    • Mary B says:

      I saw on the news he said his whole right kidney is not funtioning. He needs total recontruction of his kidney. I really admire this kid and I can see all his fellow contestants felt the same. He has a lot of guts. Also I saw another interview where he said his girlfriend has been so supportive and wants her to go on tour with him. He said he loves, loves her to death. He said if the girls get mad he has a girlfriend then it wasn’t about the music and that’s what he is about. I really love this guy he is so real and will not pretend to be anyonedo else even if it hurts his success. He is so young yet so self assured. I don’ t know 60 year olds that have this. I really believe he is going to be a huge success in spite of himself.

  22. kierankramer says:


    Now this is why I read Michael Slezak!!!!!!

  23. kierankramer says:

    Shoot! It took out the quote!

    “This swampy stomper fit Phillip’s vibe like a teaspoon fits a jar of peanut butter during midnight snacking hour.”

    Now THIS is why I read Michael Slezak!!!!!!

  24. junebug says:

    I am so glad I didn’t watch it last night. The only reason I was going to was to see Deandre’s performance and Colton’s performance. Apparently, they added so much other crap that each artist couldn’t perform. No wonder this show is sinking fast. J-Lo, get your own show instead of trying to steal this one.

  25. ArticulateConceptualizer says:

    I love the grade you gave to Jessica Sanchez and Jennifer Holliday’s duet – It is so over the top, A++. Truly, this moment, this performance will go down in history as one of the most exciting, electrifying, and should I say exorcising performances in all of American Idol. We saw how an ethereal diva conjured soul and spirit – the best – out of a young diva – as if propelling her up to fly and soar and realize her potential. It was just so pure, full of love, and an experience of the magic of music. I will never forget this powerful performance.

    Thank you American Idol. At the end of the day, I got reminded – despite the economics, the politics, the inauthenticy, the fan wars, that loom around this show – the beauty of American Idol remains to be its organic and inherent celebration of MUSIC.

    Congratulations Phillip Phillips! We love you Jessica Sanchez!

  26. C says:

    I have to say that I don’t think Neil Diamond can sing anymore. Also, the “duet” (aren’t there supposed to be two different parts in a real duet?) with Philip and John Fogarty on “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” was painful to listen to. One of them was consistently flat on the high note, and one had a much clearer, sharper tone to his voice than the other. I’m pretty sure the flat one was Philip and the better tone was Fogerty. Putting PP with someone else back to back really shows his vocal limitations. The guys’ number showed Colton to be the best singer of all the guys to listen to for any prolonged period of time. HeeJun sounded awful. The JLo thing went on for far too long. Thank heaven she won’t be back next year. Bring on Shania Twain! And, Slezak, I’ll take the D+ for Joshua and Fantasia. What a chaotic mess!

    • Robin says:

      I will second that motion for Shania Twain!

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Me three. Shania wrote most of her own music and understands music. Plus, she’s personable. I think she’d be wonderful.

        • Marsaili says:

          I would LOVE for Shania to be a judge! I think she’d be so much better than Jennifer–and she probably wouldn’t be constantly using Idol for her own career. She was a fabulous mentor, I think she’d be a great judge!

          • Templar says:

            Mmmm. I guess I’d rather see Cher as a judge. I love Shania, but Cher has had top 10 hits in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. She knows the music biz from Phil Spector til now and she doesn’t BS. She’d bring a lot of new fans to the show.

  27. Bobbi says:

    That Joshua/Fantasia performance was atrocious! I love Joshua but had to mute the tv. I don’t want to be screamed at when I’m expecting music.

    Other than that, the only performance I truly enjoyed was Skylar/Reba. I am sick to DEATH of Jennifer Lopez and really hope she leaves the show. The piece on Steven’s “dressing room” was pathetic on so many levels. Jimmy’s name issues and the song on the phonebook weren’t fantastic but they were cute. They at least made me smile.

    Skylar is probably the only one of these finalists that will make me buy an album. I might invest in a single or two from a couple of others, depending on the song.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      My hubby loves Reba and he sat down to watch the Reba/Skylar duet. when it was over he said, “This girl is going to be huge in country music”. I hope he’s right. I was never real wild about Skylar on the program and I finally figured it out – I think I’ll enjoy her more when she’s singing her own music, kind of like Carrie and Kellie Pickler. I did love the song with Reba – that song suited Skylar perfectly.
      The other morning a friend and I were discussing Carrie Underwood and what a success she’s been. We didn’t think she was that great on the show and we were shocked she won (she was pretty dull, actually) but look at her now! Go Carrie!

      • deedee says:

        I said the same thing after first night of live performances – Skylar is the clearest bankable one of the group. Last night she completely proved it. No doubt in my mind she’ll have at least as much success as Kellie Pickler, who is not doing badly at all.

  28. gailer says:

    WOW PP took over the #1 spot from Carly Rae Jepson! Call Me Maybe

  29. googlecat says:

    The Jennifer Holliday and Jessica Sanchez duet is the highlight of Season 11. It was the ugliest and most beautiful performance I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how that could happen but it did.
    AI should hire Jennifer Holliday as a mentor. In that one performance you could see how she uses her talent and experience to bring out the best from a new artist and not be threatened. She obviously has the generosity (yes, I’m calling you out JLO) to be a mentor and the credentials as well.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      You hit the nail on the head. It was a great duet but at the same time it was ugly. I never cared for that song anyway so it was difficult to endure (Amber Riley’s is about my favorite though – lots of power with a minimal amount, if any, of holleration).

      • deedee says:

        Speaking of Amber Riley, did you see Joshua singing into her face during
        “Take Me To The Pilot”? Cutest moment!
        If I’m not mistaken, she auditioned for Idol a few seasons back, but got cut in Hollywood.

      • tarc says:

        LOL! Ugly in the good way. The Joshua/Fantasia duet was ugly the other way. That was no what I was hoping for with Joshua.

    • Jaxguy says:

      What made it even more special is Jennifer drew one of the most brilliant performances out of a contestant that Idol has ever seen. Not only was that incredible, but if she could do that for Jessica imagine what she could do for other contestants. Apparently even in rehearsal this was a great moment.
      I know its hyperbole, but I didn’t even think I would see anyone top Adam Lambert’s insane vocals on Idol, but Jessica won my top spot in Idol history. (Much credit needs to go to Jennifer for that.)

  30. darcy's evil twin says:

    I find all the comments about Fantasia, well, interesting, to put it mildly. I never cared for her when she on Idol. How in the heck she beat LaToya London, Diana DeGarmo, and even Jennifer Hudson (didn’t really care for her either, but she was better than Fantasia) I have NO idea. She sounded like Minnie Mouse sucking on helium on the show and did a fair amount of screeching back then. Granted, she’s had a successful career, and good for her – more than anything I’m a capitalist and I want to see all of these kids out there working, successful, and making boatloads of money. Whether or not I enjoy their style is really immaterial.
    Her performance last night reminds me a bit of the fable about the little girl that agreed to give a scorpion a ride in her pocket if it didn’t sting her. When they arrrived at their destination, the little girl reached into her pocket to get the scorpion out and it stung her. When she asked the scorpion why it stung her, the scorpion replied, “You knew I was a scorpion when you picked me up”.
    The fact that Chaka Khan and Fantasia showed up in those ghastly catsuit unitards only demonstrates their egos must be way out of control. Jennifer Lopez can pull that off, ladies, but please save your unitards for exercise class.

    • Jaxguy says:

      The one pleasure I got from this performance, which was ghastly, is all the people who kept complaining about Josh”s screaming, (I wasn’t one of them. I think he’s great,) finally heard what screaming really is. Sorry Fantasia fans, that was horrible.

    • darcy the slutty twin says:

      At one point when they were in the audience randomly yelling in people’s faces, Joshua was running around looking lost and then Fantasia was yelling, “Joshua! Joshua!” and I was like, “WTF is going on?!” Did they choreograph this, or did they just go down on a whim and confused the cameramen and terrorized the audience?

  31. E says:

    The Fantasia/Joshua bit was straight up awful. Glad they got “played off” to commericial because it was an embarrassment. Felt awful for Joshua.

    • imho says:

      agreed. They “done went off the stage” and just literally screamed at the audience – and it was NOT a good mash up of howls that’s for sure.

  32. Miscellaneopolan says:

    Um… why no grade for Aerosmith? I thought they were the highlight of the night, or certainly near the top.

  33. caligirl says:

    The right guy won. I couldn’t be happier!! Congrats Phillip!!!

  34. umbrella says:

    I would have preferred just the audio for J Holliday. Her facial expressions gave me nightmares.

  35. lisak says:

    yes … jennifer lopez should have worn the cat suit and Chaka and Fantasia needed more the caftan look ..

  36. Frank O'File says:

    If nothiing else, the evening proved Joshua could sing the phone book and make you want to listen to it again and again.

  37. Robin says:

    So 877 comments and 4 cups of coffee later, I want to say congrats to Jessica and Phillip. They went after a dream. Their passion for music will take them both places. It’s a very talented Top 10…will be interesting to see how many of them will get signed and be able to get started on a career. Had to check out Itunes…way to go Phillip…13 songs in the Top 200!!! I also rewatched Phillips Idol coronation and ended up in a puddle of tears again. That had to be the most heart-wrenching Idol moment for me…Good luck in the future to all the contestants…bring on the tour! Looking forward to the rest of Idology with Michael and Melinda as well as contestant interviews!

    • Robin says:

      Just read Mjsbigblog in which she updated that Phillip has 20 songs in the Top 300…good for you Phillip!

  38. More of a question than a comment. It’s assumed that Philip won in part because of teenage girls voting for him countless numbers of times. But do we KNOW that or it i just assumed to be so (cute guy means teenage girls vote in large numbers)? Couldn’t there have been just as many multiple votes cast by people in the Hispanic community in support of Jessica?

  39. imho says:

    Diana’s bangs and Ace’s hair having a baby – lol!

  40. imho says:

    I liked much of the finale, but could do w/o Rhianna – again, and J.Lo – again – barf. I missed how they used to do more duets etc instead of big group #’s for the top whatevers. Maybe J.Lo said “I get 2 songs or I walk!” Seriously – anybody could say the recycled stuff she says each week, so I woulda let her walk.

    • deedee says:

      I also missed them bringing back some of the memorable characters from the auditions. Like – that Seacrest imitator guy should have been given something to intro, no?

  41. MrTemecula says:

    AI realizes they do have a ‘white guy with guitar’ problem and tried to sandbag Phillip with all the ‘melody’ crap. Too bad America has better taste and wants to hear a ‘Phillip’ song. It’s a shame because of all the five previous winners, Phillip is the most talented and interesting.

    AI’s rating is cratering because there is an impression that only one type of contestant can win and Americans are realizing it and are turning to other programs. Moreover, the more people talk about the WGWG problem, the harder it will be to fix. It will be heavy-handed and awkward like this year.

    Moreover, kids are abandoning this show because AI’s developing reputation as unfair to women, and people of color contestants. Nobody wants to be associated with a bigoted show, and that, unfortunately, is happening to Idol even though AI is one of the most diverse show on TV.

    It’s a shame, because once an impression sets in, it’s almost impossible to change it.

    • Jaxguy says:

      The problem is so many people complain about singers with great voices being boring. Pia/Jessica/Hollie. I don’t accept that but ok. Then you have interesting voices like Elise, Allison, Josh, Adam Lambert and America votes for the white bread WGWG. (And yes they are usually cute.) Like MrTemecula says, they get diverse singers and America has only picked the the most middle-of-the-road safe ones. It’s hypocritical America, and it has completely ruined the show for me. In other words, and hear I go trashing Phil again, Any of the top 12 would have been my choice on the safe, middle-of-the-road person who won.

  42. Kristi says:

    While I’m happy with the winner, I think this was one of the worst finales ever. I would have much rather them cut the performances from J. Lopez, Rihanna and even Aerosmith in favor of more performances from Skylar and Joshua, not to mention Colton and Elise! Too much filler with the “surprise” proposal and other videos. I watched all season, let me see my favorite contestants once more and let me see them sing songs I haven’t already heard this season. With few exceptions, I thought the two hour show was pretty boring when compared to the finale for Kris Allen/Adam Lambert, and even David Cook/David Archuleta.

  43. kevin says:

    you forgot to review Aerosmith!! They kicked total ass!

    P2 winning..couldn’t have called that about 8 weeks ago…who else would win except WG Rocker…

    So many great moments on that finale tonight to count.. Jennifer Holiday seriously owned that stage so hard though..

  44. Scout says:

    The best part of this season was Michael and Melinda. Thanks for awesome recaps! I enjoy them much more than the show…. Cheers.

  45. parlew says:

    The debate on who should have won is irrelevent since it’s a popularity contest and the most popular singer won. My question is why are fans subjected to a lousy finale? Is it not possible to pair up contemporary artists with Idols budding stars? Would have loved to see Bruno Mars.Dave Matthews, Beyonce- anybody of this generation performing in the duets. Elise and Colten were not given enough stage time. Jlo & Steven Tyler – too much!

  46. Yo' says:

    The good news: if the demographic for this show were men, every winner would have big boobs.

    I’m thinking big guitars are a metaphor and men are more direct.

  47. Betsy says:

    That was the most boring awful finale EVER – with regard to the entertainment, I mean. I turned the volume DOWN more often than I turned it UP. Usually the finales are fantastic surprises, great artists/songs, total entertainment. This one was generic and no more exciting than any other results episode. BLAH!

    • Red in Denver says:

      I agree. the first ‘super star’ duet with John Fogerty and Phillip sort of set the stage for how the evening would go.

      I was telling my friends to compare that boring, seemingly unrehearsed performance to the performance a couple of seasons ago to “Apologize” by One Republic with David Archuletta.

      And I heard J-Lo is quitting the show — so why are they still giving her a platform to promote her …. performances (I can’t call it singing) ???

  48. givemeglenn says:

    I would also like to point out to everyone that if you go to iTunes and look at the downloads page from the finales songs, take particular notice of each singer’s ratings. Not only did Phillip “smoke” Jessica on the number of ratings, but he also had a higher number of stars than Jessica (meaning Phillip’s songs got more positive comments on his songs than Jessica did). This tells me that Phillp’s fans are willing to put their money where their votes were whereas Jessica’s aren’t, so Phillip’s votes were honest and Jessica’s weren’t. Congratulations to all of you Phillip fans!

  49. Tommyo2000 says:

    So agree on the JH/JS duet … yes JH looked a just a little crazy and JS wasnt a bit scared … and you are so right at the end of the duet when Jessica gets to sing alone JH just stares right at her with a look like ” OK … I brought you to this crazy place take us home now, and dont you dare let me down!” … and man Jessica just killed it … it was a little crazy, over the top, wonderful, indulgent … it brought the house down … unforgetable …

  50. Red in Denver says:

    I can’t believe Michael gave the Jessica Sanchez and Jennifer Holliday performance of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” an A++

    Myself and my friends (who got together to watch the finale) were ROFLOAO within seconds of it beginning. It was so ridiculously over the top (and not in a good way).
    There is a fine line between an emotionally moving performance and looking like an idiot.