Jessica Sanchez vs. Phil Phillips

Phil vs Jessica. These two contestants could hardly be more different.

Phillip Phillips has many traits that make him the favorite to win. He was featured in the auditions a lot, with a total pre-exposure time of more than 1000 seconds, and with his initial audition having been shown in-episode and in promos. He’s white, male, plays guitar, and sings mostly songs that are new to Idol. Compare that to winners past, and you check off a lot of boxes:

Contestant Season Sex Race Age
at start
Hometown Avg Of
WNTS Rating
2/3 ever?
Kelly Clarkson 1 F White 20 Burleson, TX 76.8 11 No
Ruben Studdard 2 M Black 24 Birmingham, AL 63.6 16 Yes (Top 5)
Fantasia Barrino 3 F Black 19 High Point, NC 65.4 10 Yes (twice)
Carrie Underwood 4 F White 21 Checotah, OK 57.3 15 No
Taylor Hicks 5 M White 29 Birmingham, AL 61.3 10 No
Jordin Sparks 6 F Black 17 Glendale, AZ 59.6 11 No
David Cook 7 M White 25 Blue Springs, MO 64.7 15 No
Kris Allen 8 M White 23 Conway, AR 61.1 7 Yes (Top 5)
Lee DeWyze 9 M White 23 Mount Prospect, IL 57.8 9 No
Scotty McCreery 10 M White 17 Garner, NC 52.5 13 No

Here are the stats for the finalists this year:

Contestant Sex Race Age
at start
Hometown Avg Of
WNTS Rating
2/3 ever?
Phillip Phillips M White 21 Leesburg, GA 54.1 11 No
Jessica Sanchez F Asian/
16 San Diego, CA 66.6 6 Yes (Top 7,

The mean age of winners is 21.8 years, and Phil is 21. Phil was never in the Bottom Group, just like 7/10 of his predecessors. All winners except Lee DeWyze and Jordin Sparks hailed from the South or Midwest United States, and Phil is from Georgia.

On the flip side you have Jessica Sanchez. She had significantly less pre-exposure (600 seconds), with her audition never having been shown. She’s non-white (mixed race, if I’m not mistaken), female, has never played an instrument on stage, sings mostly songs that have been sung on Idol before. If she were to win, she would be the youngest ever, at 16. She was the bottom-vote-getter in the Top 7 and had to be saved. She is from California, which has not yet produced a winner.

So, on a purely demographic and historical basis, she would appear to be the underdog.

What can we put in Jessica’s column that favors her? Her approval rating, as computed by WNTS, is significantly higher than Phil’s, at about 67, much more in line with previous winners. She has four performances rated higher than 80 on WNTS (Love You I Do, And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going, I Will Always Love You, and Sweet Dreams), whereas Phil has only one (Volcano). The only contestants to win with as few as Phil has were Lee DeWyze (1 song over 80) and Scotty McCreery (0 songs over 80), so in this respect Jessica has the edge.

There is the matter that Jessica has a large following specifically because of her racial identity. Looking at Dialidol’s Geopredictions, Phil and Joshua barely registered any votes at all in Hawaii, a state with a large population of Filipinos. However, relying on that did not work out so well for Jasmine Trias, Camile Velasco, or Jonah Moananu.

As I said in an earlier post, I think Jessica can certainly win, but probably won’t. In light of the evidence above, I think you might agree that her odds hover somewhere around 2:1. But that’s enough of a margin that if she really kills it, she could take the title. This may be the first Finale since season 8 that actually mattered, and as such I think we can say that it’s been an entertaining year, despite the producer’s fumbles and the egregious judging.

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  • Angelik_B

    Time for a real vocalist to win AI. The winner should be the one that can sing better. Maybe if this is Jessica vs. Joshua…the choice is 50/50. But Jessica vs. Phil…Jessica’s voice talent is just too superior over that of Phil phil.

    • Angelo

      No Brainer.. Jessica is the better singer.. It’s now purely on voting! So Lets vote for Jessica Sanchez..

    • Shandra

      Your such a racist. Tonight’s performance will not tell who deserves to win,and even your statistics. It is very obvious that jessica is the best singer of this season. The whole world will vote for her, and you can do nothing about it.

  • Suevig

    Although Jessica has the powerful voice, she lacks originality. Sorry, but a ballad singer like her becomes boring, without the spark of artistry to remain interesting. Phil Phillips is an original. He’s current, interesting, moving, honest and talented. His career will soar past Jessica’s, no matter who the winner is.

    • raul

      Phil does not sound original. he sounds a little like but not as good as, Sting, James Morison, Dave Mathews… all great artists… but i think Phil is not a fit for a singing contest. He looks good and 70% of the voters are ladies he owe it to the crazy fans.

  • Freeman

    ummm- Phil has zero performances over/at 60. 79 is his best. I agree, the odds are against her, but she has alreadyt overcome other odds= Making finals after the save- low on DI top 3 and making it to finals- first non white/black finalist- so she needs to overcome more odds to win, but it’s possible.

  • V

    Prefer Phillip. He sings from the heart and gut and Jessica, while a nice singer sounds pretty danged MOR. So tired of cultivated pop stars.

  • Kat S.

    I thInk it’s just too close to call. Good job on the stats. Of the 2, I would buy Phillips music before Jessica’s, but I do think her vocals are great. I think she needs a little more charisma and maturity. Of course that can be taught (cultivating another pop star). Phillips does remind me of Springsteen and should sing “Born to Run” in the finale. Still some of Joshua’s votes may go to Jessica. But, it doesn’t really matter..all in the Top 5 will have some kind of musical career. Time will tell who will be most successful. Personally, I think Hollie will have a bigger career than some people may think and Skylar will be a big star in Country music. Winning AI ( as we have witnessed historically) is not always a blessing and doesn’t guarantee success.

    • Jessica

      Heh, thank you for this extraordinarily reasonable comment! I hope Hollie does end up with a huge career; she certainly has a huge voice, and I think with good direction and good songs she could really go far. She’s definitely been my favorite since Erika and her super-sexy alto were voted off (with Elise a close second until her departure).

      • Kat S.

        Thanks for the “kudos”, Jessica. I must add how satisfied I am that your comment is coherent and well-written. So many of the comments are poorly structured and angry.

        • Jessica

          You’re telling me!

  • Seo

    You need to work on your stats. You already messed up big time on the other post. Too weak an evidence to have sufficient strength in your probability. If you like PP, then just say it straight… Make it easy for yourself, there Re only two left. What are the chances? 50/50.

    • Jessica

      Sigh. Yet another commenter who doesn’t understand how statistical modeling works. I suppose your model has been much more successful this year? What data sets have you been using to obtain such accuracy? What kind of regression or fit are you using?

      • Seo

        Hmm. I wonder why my papers get published and I am already tenured if my I don’t know stats enough. Can’t wait to sit in your class.

        • Reuben

          Do not feed the troll.

  • Hi Jessica..Thank you for being my first commenter…I really liked this article on American Idols season 11, thats why i decided to play with it and most it, but i made sure to quite my source. If you noticed, my blog is still under construction.If you are uncomfortable, i can take the post down, but I am sure it would be better if our blogs establish a mutual relationship where we can exchange content..We have “Nigerian Idols” and “West African Idols” here, and if your blog would like to expand to also looking at these, we would be of great help.

  • Shailin

    Great analytics, I must say. As for my own personal preferences, Jessica has vocals that I envy, but frankly, she fails to bring anything new to the table. Her singing isn’t going to be something that would make me buy her record over, say, any other pop or R&B powerhouse vocalist out there. Philip, however, is unique and not only is he a singer, but he is also an artist (and yes, there is a distinction). That being said, A) The “white guy with guitar” trend IS becoming somewhat trite, and B) they are both very talented and both deserving of a victory.

  • mariana

    I’m from Brazil, Rio. I wish I could vote, but no, it sucks! I love Philip style, definily hope that he became a sucess and does concerts on Brazil!!! Jessica it’s greeeeat, but hes more original!

  • Marvin

    Whoever wins, they both deserve it. Statistics or purely guess does not matter. We all know that winning AI does not make you more popular than the other contestants. Whatever happens, hands down to both of them. (And i hope jessica wins :p)

  • Tori

    I think that overall, Jessica had significantly more real talent than Philip. Honestly, if it weren’t for twelve year olds with phones and maybe his looks, he wouldn’t have made it to the finale. He really shouldn’t have made it past the first few weeks. I also agree that if it were Joshua/Jessica, the chances could be equal. I really can’t believe that such a pathetic excuse for ‘talent’ won AI… I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

    • Kat S.

      Alot if whiners like every year. The “my choice wasn’t #1 so I’m gonna insult the winner” is so immature and exposes your lack of character, not to mention originality. Congrats to Phillip and Jessica. You will both do well!

  • Pancho

    “HOME” by Philip Philips was original performed by GREG HOLDEN

    to all those people, webpages, article, etc…saying that HOME was originally performed by Philip Philips…


    • Jessica

      Ok… I don’t recall making any claim about it other than that it’s significantly less execrable than the song they had Jessica Sanchez perform (which was really just awful, in true Idol Single tradition).