‘American Idol’: Tonight’s The Night

'[Today] is the last episode of the season and I think we are just really relieved,' finalist Jessica Sanchez says about Wednesday's finale.

The end is finally upon us. On Wednesday night (May 23), someone will be showered in confetti and ultimately crowned the 11th “American Idol” after going head-to-head in last night’s final performances.

Will Jessica Sanchez take home the title, finally becoming the first female contestant since Jordin Sparks in 2007 to win? Or will it be Phillip Phillips , whose stage presence is so similar to the last few years’ winners, apparently all he needs to do is make the ladies melt with that guitar and he’ll be a shoo-in for first place. Regardless, not a lot of people can say they stuck it out this long.

“Of course we all want to win, but it gets to a point where nobody really makes it this far,” Sanchez, a.k.a. the tiny girl with the huge voice, said backstage Tuesday night. “I love that I’m with [Phillip] in the top two. It’s amazing. He’s goofy and he’s funny and he is an amazing artist and an amazing person overall.”

And those feelings were mutual — in so many words or less. When asked what his favorite performance of the night was, the humble yet painfully bashful Phillips replied with that infamous smile, “Probably all three of Jessica’s.”

According to the judges though, it was Phillips’ song choice of “Home” in the final round that stole the show, giving him the one and only standing ovation of the night — a moment that might not have happened had he not calmed his nerves earlier on.

“I was scared to death,” the husky-voiced Georgia native explained after realizing he would be performing in front of more than 7,000 audience members inside the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. “But you know, I went out there and finally loosened up throughout ‘Stand by Me,’ and I just had fun the rest of the night. It was so, so fun.”

And after three months of crazy schedules, lack of sleep, countless critiques, powerful (and some not so powerful) performances, it’s about time to have some fun and loosen up. With Tuesday night’s two-hour finale their last show of the season, both “Idol” hopefuls, who will take the stage singing duets with some of their favorite artists, agree it is a stress-free road from here on out.

“We just feel like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders,” 16-year-old Sanchez admitted. “[Today] is the last episode of the season and I think we are just really relieved. We are going to miss each other so much. We are going to be on tour together, but I mean, this competition has taught us so much and it’s been really tiring too.”

“We got to the point that whatever happens, happens,” Phillips, the only contestant never up for elimination, added. “We are two completely different artists and we wish each other the best with both of our careers.”

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