For a while there, Jessica had a victory


For two-thirds of Tuesday's "American Idol," I really thought Jessica Sanchez could pull an upset. Then, alas, the final song changed everything. A few comments:

1) Randy Jackson's rule used to make sense: Never sing Whitney or Mariah or Celine; the comparison will hurt you. Then came Sanchez tonight, tackling the work of three great voices -- Whitney Houston, then Celine Dion, then Jessica Sanchez.

2) That last one was the "first single" planned by the "Idol" people; as usual, it was merely OK. All three songs, however, were sung stunningly well by Sanchez.

3) Phillips, by comparison, was only so-so on a song ("Stand By Me") that helps many people soar. He was better on the next one.

4) More importantly, Phillips had two huge breaks: He won the coin flip, allowing him to go last. And -- breaking all traditions for "Idol" -- the song written for him was excellent. This song, called "Home," could easily get near the top of the pop and country charts .... just as a different "Home" has already done, with Michael Buble and then Blake Shelton.

5) Last impressions count big, so I think that sealed it. Sanchez will be runner-up ... just as another immensely talented female, Katharine McPhee, was in 2006.

6) McPhee, of course, is now amazingly good on "Smash." Taylor Hicks, who beat her, has almost disappeared.

7) And there is some good news in the reality-competition world: Donald Driver has won "Dancing With the Stars." As a Packer fan, I've seen Driver do some amazing things. Now he's done one more.