After a streak of four male winners in the past four years, the eleventh season of American Idol could be the year a girl triumphs. That's what music producer and Idol mentor Jimmy Iovine thinks anyway.
"Jessica [Sanchez] is born with one of those gifts that you see very, very rarely -- the tone of her voice, the range, her poise," Iovine told reporters on a call Monday. "She has every chance to win this thing because she can strike a chord in you with the right song that, no matter what you think before that, you're going to vote for her. She can change your mind on a dime because those voices don't come around every day. There are so few people who can sing like that in the industry today.
"She's a pro," Iovine continues. "She's 16 years old, but when this girl is 18, when she grows the next few years, she's going to be, as they say, a 'problem,' which means she's going to do really, really well. She has all the capabilities and all the skills to do great."
In order to clinch the win, however, she'll need to pay attention to song choice. "Believe me, we've worked on this," he says. "Jessica has to on [Tuesday] find that balance between what her capabilities are and reach inside and have the right song to click the emotion. It has to get people to vote for her, people who haven't voted for her in the past... I believe in the songs that she's chosen and that Simon Fuller has chosen for her. We worked on an original song, which I really liked."
Regardless of who wins, Iovine is still a fan of both finalists. He's happily surprised by Phillip Phillips' performance in the competition so far and what that might mean for the future of American Idol. "Phillip is a very unusual artist to get this far on American Idol, and I'm really impressed with that," says Iovine. "He's a singer-songwriter. His career is going to be based on ... 'What are the songs?' That part the audience doesn't know yet, but he's got crazy charisma... and incredible sound. I think it bodes well for American Idol that a kid like that can go this far."
As for the judges' table, Iovine doesn't know anything about the rumors that Jennifer Lopez is leaving after the end of this season. "I am low on the totem pole," he says. "I don't get to make these decisions about the judges. They don't consult me whatsoever. Jennifer is wonderful, funny and beautiful."
Over the past two seasons, Iovine's opinions about the contestants' performances have become valued to the point that fans have called for him to become a judge. But he's not looking to switch jobs anytime soon. "No one has asked me," he says. "I like working with musicians and I like the creative aspect of what I do on the show. It's a lot of fun for me. That would change that, so probably not, you know?"
The American Idol two-part finale will air Tuesday and Wednesday at 8/7c on Fox.
Do you think this Jessica has a chance to win? Would you want Jimmy as a judge?