He was a favorite to win early on.
Favorites like that on this show typically lose. (Danny Gokey anyone?)
But Leesburg’s Phillip Phillips bucked strong competitors and painful kidney stones to take home the crown.
He also became the first winner with Georgia ties after 11 seasons. The state has gotten close before with Justin Guarini (season one), Diana Degarmo (season two), Bo Bice (season four) and Lauren Alaina (season 10.)
And speaking of DeGarmo, her beau Ace Young (season 5) proposed to her on air on the stage. Was she caught offguard? Maybe. Sure beats proposing at a baseball stadium, eh? Anyway, this is the first “Idol’ coupling that has become an engagement! When I interviewed them a few weeks back, they sounded incredibly happy together.
After Ryan Seacrest (from Dunwoody) informed Phillips the win, he tried to sing his coronation song “Home” but broke down partway through, took off his guitar and hugged his family. It was truly touching.
Reports are that Phillips, after he does press the next couple of days, will fly back to Georgia and have surgery for his kidney issues.
By some measures, this was a troubling year for “Idol.”
The show lost a whopping 23% of its viewers due to increased competition and age. The judges were panned frequently for zealous over-the-top praise and standing ovations galore. But fans who stuck with season 11 were impassioned and dedicated to many of the singers this season, including runner-up Jessica Sanchez, third-place finisher Joshua Ledet and others. Overall, the season was a satisfying one.
Producers have to wonder: what will it take to change the type of winner? For five years in a row, the white guy with a guitar (nicknamed WGWG) has been the victor (though last year, the dude did sing country.) The trend could not be stopped this season, even after a record 132 million votes.
Phillips is charming with his an interesting style, even if it reminds folks of other artists. He seems both laid back and happy go lucky. It’s a combo that was hard to beat. He was never in danger of being voted off, based on how patterns played out this season. And as I noted earlier, he was a favorite even entering the top 13, a trend that only veered off path briefly three weeks ago, when his illness was clearly affecting his performances. He looked like he wanted to go home at a certain point.
But he rallied in the top 4 and gave some strong performances near the end, including a cover of Damien Rice’s “Volcano” and the original song “Home” last night.
As for the finale tonight:
- It opened with a promising cover of Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby” from the top 12 (minus Jermaine Jones) in all (unflattering) white.
- John Fogerty, with blatantly dyed hair, graciously rocked two big CCR songs with a thrilled Phillip Phillips.
- Mantasia -as in Joshua Ledet and Fantasia – go to church with “Take Me To the Pilot.” It’s a big hot mess, a screamfest that’s taken into the audience and continues even as the producers cut to commercial. Fantasia is wearing an impressively unflattering gown that splits at the thighs, making said thights look even bigger. Joshua dresses impeccably as usual.
- A hysterical blooper real of Jimmy Iovine calling Jennifer Lopez Jessica (that’s his daughter’s name). He does it over and over and over again. It’s still funny the 10th time around.
- Chaka Khan medley. Shannon Magrane, who I barely remember, stands out like a giraffe, towering over Skylar Laine. The dresses are very… spangly and very… tight. Vocally, it’s decent and Chaka looks good for a 59-year-old woman, even in a catsuit.
- Rihanna blinds us with lights and smoke and cubes and dancers while singing “Where Have You Been.” Not sure if I saw clowns and an elephant, too. It looks like something “The X Factor” would conjure up.
- One of my favorite moments was seeing Skylar and her doppelganger Reba McEntire cut it up with “Turn Up the Radio.” As one of the live bloggers said, Skylar could be Reba’s long-lost love child!
- Steven Tyler gives us a warped tour of his dressing room, replete with… a live monkey? No cocaine or strippers, though.
- Jessica returns with “I Will Always Love You.” Now we know why she didn’t sing it last night, though she should have.
- A Neil Diamond medley. Colton Dixon mugs a lot and does the best Neil Diamond imitation until the real thing comes along. “Sweet Caroline” ends it. Woohoo!
- Randy Jackson’s cliche o’ meter includes “You can sing the phone book.” So in a funny spoof, the contestants literally sing a phone book. Scarily, I bet many of the kids had never opened a phone book in their life! (Why not just Google it?)
- Jennifer Lopez is singing…er… lip syncing and dancing. I enjoy it for what it’s worth. Flo Rida and others join her as she thrusts her hips a lot and looks hot.
- Ace and Diana get engaged. Sniff.
- Hollie sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone” with season 6 winner Jordin Sparks. Jordin looks fab. And they sound fab together.
- In honor of Robin Gibb, the men do a Bee Gees medley. Sadly, with times a wastin’, a Donna Summer medley with the ladies is scrapped for time.
- Jennifer Holliday and Jessica Sanchez square off on “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Yowza. This is powerhouse vs. powerhouse. Scary faces on Jennifer’s face!
- Aerosmith’s Joe Perry makes amends for TV ratings by joining Steven Tyler and the rest of the band. It’s actually a fun few minutes as they rock it out with abandon.
- And if you have a good memory, Bo and Carrie sang “Up Where We Belong” during the finale seven years ago. So Phillip and Jessica reprise it and they sound lovely.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk