American Idol took over the Nokia Theater L.A. Live on Tuesday night as finalists Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez hit the stage for the last time in front of 7,000 fans. Throughout the hour, the audience was overwhelmingly in favor of acoustic rocker Phillips, and he received the loudest cheers for his last song, "Home." The applause was so deafening it even drowned out comments from the judges and host Ryan Seacrest. And while the judges gave Sanchez glowing reviews for her first two performances, they were extremely critical of her last song, "Change Nothing."
Shortly after Tuesday's show wrapped, Phillips and Sanchez spoke with reporters backstage about the night's pressure and if the judges had any words of wisdom before a winner is crowned tonight. "We never get to really talk to them after [the show]," said Sanchez. "Every interaction we get is on stage, so when they give us criticism, I think we both take it and work on it and just thank them so much because they're trying to make us a better musician."
Phillips added that they still hadn't had time to process what the judges said about their finale performances. "It's all so much to take. They want to help us out — sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn't, so we just take it in and do the best with what we can."
Sanchez admitted that the pressure was stronger than ever and recognized it might have been apparent in her own performance. "We had a lot of stuff on our shoulders," she said. "Tomorrow is the last episode of the season and this competition has been really tiring. Of course we all want to win, and I love that I'm with [Phillip] in the Top 2."
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