Jessica Sanchez Wanted To Push ‘Girl Power’ On ‘American Idol’

'I just wanted a girl to win this year so bad,' the 'Idol' runner-up tells MTV News of losing to Phillip Phillips.

To hear her tell it, Jessica Sanchez didn’t exactly have high hopes heading into last week’s “American Idol” finale . In fact, she didn’t have any hopes, high or otherwise. Which, given her supreme talent (and diva-riffic pedigree), is sort of surprising.

“I never thought I was going to win,” she told MTV News. “And I think at that moment, during the finale, I knew I wasn’t going to win, and I was like, ‘Let me just sing my songs, let me have fun, let me be in this moment.’ Even making it to the finale surprised me. You saw my face!”

Of course, if you ask her to elaborate on just why she felt she had no chance at beating eventual champ Phillip Phillips , she’ll mention one thing: “Change Nothing,” the (genuinely pretty terrible ) “coronation song” she was saddled with during the finale. Simply put, from the moment she first heard the tune, she knew it wasn’t the right fit for her. But, as she’d done all season, she was determined to give it her all, no matter what.

“It was confusing, because it was the winning song, and you try to pick a song that you’d want to put out as a single but also that would sound good when you won the competition. … I felt like I had to sing a vocally strong song but also one that was kind of mainstream, and that was in the middle, kind of,” she explained. “And even listening to it, I was telling them, ‘Some things have to be changed in this, because this is not completely me.’ And when we did that, nothing was really that changed, and that’s why it came out like a pop single. I totally agree with Randy [ Jackson]: That song was not me at all. I want to do pop, but, like, just a sprinkle of it, not a whole bucket.”

And while Sanchez has nothing but praise for Phillips (“He’s a really great talent”), and despite her claims that she never believed she had a shot at the season 11 crown, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t disappointed by the results. Because she was definitely looking to reverse recent history and win one for the girls.

” ‘American Idol’ isn’t fixed. It really is America, and if America enjoys [male singers], then they do. I’m just here to please my fans, and make music for them. Now that the competition is over, I can do that and be happy with that,” she said. “But it’s definitely one thing that pushed me to want to really win. … I was doing it for my family, I was doing it for myself because I loved it, but I just wanted a girl to win this year so bad — even if it wasn’t me. It could’ve been Hollie [Cavanagh] or Skylar [Laine]. But I was just like, ‘We gotta show that girl power!’ ”

From the sound of things, Sanchez is certainly looking to push the “girl power” agenda with her post-”Idol” debut, mentioning the likes of Beyoncé as an inspiration and saying she’d definitely like to move in a more “urban” direction. She’s already made up her mind how she plans to approach the project — “I don’t want people to just hand me music and be like, ‘Here, you sound good on this. Sing it.’ I want to be able to say ‘This is me,’ ” she said — and she’s definitely gunning for some top-tier talent to contribute to the album.

“This is going to seem odd, but I love Eminem, because he has so much conviction and emotion in the way he raps; every word that he raps, you feel it,” she said. “And I think our talents would mesh. So, hopefully, it could happen, and I would just die if he’d collaborate with me!”

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