The guitar-strumming, foot-swiveling, five-o'clock-shadow-having Dave Matthews doppelgänger was many critics' early pick to continue the recent trend of cute white boys who strum guitars winning the crown. So MTV News asked some of our favorite "Idol" experts to place their bets on who will be dusting confetti out of their hair when Ryan Seacrest reads the final results Wednesday night (May 23) and, well, it was (almost) unanimous.
"I think she came into the night with approximately zero percent chance of winning, and I don't think that song changed that," said "American Idol: The Untold Story" author Richard Rushfield when asked if Sanchez's last-ditch chance to win was ruined by the treacly pop ballad "Change Nothing." "I think she was doomed from the start. After the top 24 was unveiled, I tweeted a congratulation to Phillip Phillips for winning 'American Idol' season 11, and every week since, I've tweeted the same."
Rushfield said this season gave him no reason to doubt that Phillips would continue the "cute white boy dynasty," because, at this point, it would take something "monumental" to change that, and Sanchez wasn't it. "If something happens five times, you can assume it will happen 20 times," he said.
Longtime "Idol" blogger MJ Santilli sighed and checked the box marked "Phillip" as well, though she wasn't enthused about doing it. "It's just become predictable that there's a certain sort of winner," she said. "Maybe we need someone a little different. ... If Jessica had come out and really killed all three of her songs, she might have had a chance to grab the casual viewers who turn in for the last few weeks, but she really had an uphill battle."
The dissenting opinion came from TVLine.com "Idol" recapper Michael Slezak, who said he was pretty confident of a Sanchez victory. "Phil won the night [on Tuesday], but I think she has a slight edge on him for the season. I think he had a bit of a rocky road through his 'Idol' journey, and somewhere between the top-nine week and the top-four week, he wasn't performing like an 'Idol' winner should."
Even though Phillips came on strong the past few weeks — and Sanchez was almost booted before the judges saved her in week seven — Slezak said she pulled it back together and ended the season with some of her strongest performances. "There's still a cosmic price to pay [for Phillip] for what happened midseason."
Former MTV News "Idol in 60 Seconds" star Jim Cantiello also predicted Phil would win way back in January, but he thinks show creator Simon Fuller's song choice on Tuesday night's show sealed the deal. "That set the tone, and to give Jessica a song that been covered so many times on 'Idol' [Whitney Houston's 'I Have Nothing'] seemed like a slap in the face," he said. "And to give Phil a song only three people have sung before [Ben E. King's 'Stand by Me'] ... it just set up Phil to do his thing."
Cantiello said if Sanchez hadn't gotten eliminated and saved, then there's a part of him that thinks she might have a shot at an upset. "But [Phillip] was never even in the bottom, let alone getting voted off once."
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