She was close to being the youngest "American Idol" contestant in the show's history to win the competition earlier this year, but Jessica Sanchez had to suffer the fate of those who would dare challenge the "Idol" rut of WGWG (White Guys With Guitars) winners. And although she missed out on the automatic album deal that winning "Idol" conveys (not to mention a bigger cash prize) to laid back strummer Phillip Phillips, the just-turned 17-year-old California singer has now penned a recording deal with Interscope Records, the company headed by "American Idol" mentor Jimmy Iovine.
Call it a belated birthday present (Sanchez turned 17 on August 4) or whatever, the contract was more than deserved. The tiny vocalist was undoubtedly the most accomplished singer in the competition during Season 11, blowing away her rivals with songs culled from the catalogs of legendary performers like Jennifer Holliday, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion. Even winner Phillip Phillips was no match for Sanchez on vocals; his song arrangement creativity, vocal stylings, and personality (and don't forget that guitar) added up to a winning combination that the teen just couldn't overcome when the votes were counted at season's end.
All that aside, Sanchez walked off stage Wednesday night after the "American Idol Live Tour" completed its show in New York City and announced on iHeart Radio that she had been signed to Interscope.
“After the show, I got signed to Interscope Records,” she said.
Like the song says, "If you can make it there..." Looks like she made it.
During the show, she performed a new tune, "Fairytale," for the "Idol" fans. Presumably, it will be one of the tracks on her upcoming album, along with her "Idol" coronation song, "Change Nothing."
According to EW.com's "Music Mix," Sanchez isn't the only Season 11 finalist singing original material on the "American Idol Live Tour." Phillips has been singing his coronation song, "Home," of course, but third-placer Joshua Ledet has been performing a song called "Broken Man," which debuted on I Heart Radio Wednesday as well, and seventh-placer Colton Dixon has been delighting crowds with his song, "Never Gone."
Sanchez' deal isn't the first of the finalists that came in behind Phillip Phillips, either. Ledet signed a "huge deal" just after his elimination in May, something he announced on his Facebook page and promptly removed (probably because he wasn't supposed to announce anything ahead of Phillips, the "Idol" winner). Ledet and Sanchez, like Phillips, are contractually bound to "American Idol" for a certain period, with Interscope having first dibs on the finalists. However, once the the "Idol" contract expires (different for each contestant and dependent on placement), the artists are allowed to pursue contracts with non-affiliated labels.
Phillips was signed to Interscope as part of his winning Season 11. His first album was expected to drop in November or December. (Most "Idol" finalists release their first album before Christmas the year they compete, generally following the lead of the winner. For instance, Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery released his first album, Clear As Day, on Oct. 4 last year with Lauren Alaina releasing Wildflower a week later.) But he recently told radio station WPLJ in New York City that he didn't expect to see it released until January or February. But there's good news that came with the disappointing: Since Phillips has written about 50 or 60 songs, the album is expected to contain mostly Phillips compositions (or at least co-written compositions).
Phillips first single, "Home," has sold over one million units since its release in May. It was featured during the 2012 Olympics in London as backing music for the women's gymnastics events and also in the trailer of the new Clint Eastwood film, "Trouble with the Curve."
Regardless, with all the drama surrounding the judges situation at "Idol" -- those that are in and those that are out of consideration -- for Season 12, it is good to hear some positive and unambiguous news for a change.
As for when we can expect a new album from Sanchez, it is far too soon to tell. However, unless producers can push the laid back Phillips to pick up the pace, it is doubtful that they would make the other finalists wait to release their albums. So expect at least a couple of new "Idol" albums from the Season 11 crop before the holidays.
Watch and listen to Jessica Sanchez' new song, "Fairytale," via mjsbigblog.com:
(photo credit: Aajim, Creative Commons)