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Phillip Phillips performs on the FOX show American Idol on May 16, 2012. / Rob Thomas is pictured on stage at a Matchbox Twenty private concert in Las Vegas on Nov. 15, 2011. - Provided courtesy of FOX / flickr.com/photos/brianbsorensen/

Phillip Phillips praised by Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas for 'American Idol' performance

Get more: 'American Idol', TV
05/18/2012 by Corinne Heller

Phillip Phillips may have failed to impress "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson, his harshest critic, with his Matchbox Twenty cover earlier this week but the alternative rock band's singer, Rob Thomas, thought the finalist did a "great job."

Phillips, a 21-year-old Georgia musician, and Jessica Sanchez, a 16-year-old power vocalist from San Diego, California, were on Thursday named the final 2 contestants on the current 11th season of "American Idol" following the elimination of 20-year-old Joshua Ledet of Louisiana.

A day earlier, Phillips had performed an acoustic version of "Disease," from Matchbox Twenty's 2002 album "More Than You Think You Are." The original track has a hard rock sound. Jackson said he didn't like Phillips' rendition, calling it too "subdued." Co-judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were also not that enthusiastic about it.

"Great job on 'Disease' the other night," Thomas said to Phillips on his Twitter page on Friday, May 18. "Like what you did with that."

"Thanks man i really appreciate that....love your work dude (sic)," Phillips replied.

Also on Thursday, Matchbox Twenty announced the name of their upcoming fourth studio album - "North." It is the group's first major record containing new songs since 2002 and is due to hit stores on September 4.

Phillips has emerged as the token season heartthrob and his voice has been compared to Dave Matthews'. The latter singer's band has a similar fan base to Matchbox Twenty, which is also known for songs such as "Push," "Real World," "Bent" and "If You're Gone."

On Wednesday's episode, all three judges praised Phillips excitedly for his other two performances, namely his soulful rendition of Bob Seger's 1978 ballad "We've Got Tonight."

"The perfect song at the perfect time and your best performance on the show ever!" Jackson said. "Here is why - finally in the end, in this moment, where you need moments ... You had a giant moment."

Sanchez had been seen as a frontrunner throughout the season and was eliminated last month but brought back by the judges in a rare move.

She had drawn comparisons to Mariah Carey. On Wednesday's episode, she sang one of her songs - "My All," earning praise from the judges. Jackson later said she should have sung Carey's version of another track she performed - "I'll Be There" by the Jackson Five. Sanchez also sang "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith, Tyler's band.

Earlier this month, Sanchez booked a high-profile gig - she is set to perform at PBS' National Memorial Day Concert in Washington D.C. The event takes place days after the "American Idol" finale, which airs on Wednesday, May 23. It is set to feature performances from last year's winner, Scotty McCreery, as well as Rihanna and other "surprise guests." The top 12 "American Idol" contestants will also reunite on the show.

>p> Ledet told People magazine that he was not surprised he was eliminated from "American Idol" and added that he even "felt relieved" about it.

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