Expect big crowds at the Village stage at the Mall of Georgia in Buford tonight (Nov. 21) at 6:30 p.m. when “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips performs a free 30-minute promotional concert, followed by a CD signing.
It’s the day before Thanksgiving so they’ll be shoppers galore. Phillips will certainly sing “Home,” a few covers and cuts from his new album “The World From the Side of the Moon.”
He’ll then sign CDs (remember those?) for two hours. He’s not a gabby sort, but I’m sure he’ll be warm and friendly to everyone there. And if you’re familiar with Mall of Georgia, the stage is by P.F. Chang’s.
I spoke with Phillips last week by phone as he was preparing for a big push for his new album. His first single “Home,” his coronation song, has been an unqualified success, selling more than 2 million copies via download and climbing several charts, including No. 1 on the adult alternative chart last week. When he was first handed the song, he said it wasn’t really up his alley but he’s gotten to like it more as he performs it virtually every day somewhere.
“I’m having fun with it,” he said, “trying to keep it fresh. People really connect with it. And with Hurricane Sandy, it has even more meaning.”
He said he’s been healthy with no more kidney stones to bedevil him for now. “Trying to take it easy when I can but I’m staying busy,” he said.
Phillips did a few charity events to help out victims of Hurricane Sandy, including the PS22 Chorus at that elementary school on Staten Island. “When we did it, I was tired. I had been up since 4 a.m. But when I got to hang out with the kids, it lifted me back up, gave me some energy. They were so mature for their ages.”
He also joined the Restore the Shore benefit, paired with Gym Class Heroes. He got to meet the cast of “Jersey Shore” and members of “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” His girlfriend Hannah watches the latter so he actually recognized the women, including Jill Zarin. Snooki came up to him and said she liked his song “Home.” “That was cool,” he said.
And for the first time, he sang the National Anthem live at the World Series last month and actually did a good job, despite the fact he doesn’t have the range of a Christina Aguilera or early Whitney Houston. “That was nerve-racking, man! I was scared to death. I was sweating and praying I wouldn’t forget the words. Fortunately, it was an awesome experience. I made it through!”
Phillips originally anticipated his debut album would be done for January release. But the label wanted it finished for a pre-Christmas Nov. 19 release. “I said, ‘Wow!’ That was right before we went to the Philippines. I had three weeks to get the album done. After the tour, we went straight to New York and worked on the album, cut the guitars and mastered it in three weeks.”
“Luckily,” he added, “I had songs written. Some I wrote a couple years back, some during ‘Idol’ and after ‘Idol,’ too. It was good. It was long hours in the studio, very little sleep.”
Considering the limited time, “I think it turned out awesome. We just constantly worked. There were guys who worked harder than I did! I’m really proud of it.”
Phillips’ favorites include “Man on the Moon,” “Hold On” and “Drive Me.” He also cut some extra songs for the Target and Wal-Mart releases. And he did one cover, “Wicked Game,” originally recorded by Chris Isaak. “It was easy and quick to do,” he noted.
The album overall, he said, “comes from the heart. It really represents me and hopefully the fans will enjoy that. I hope they pay attention to the lyrics and it makes them think.”
He pushed for the unusual album title (”The Man From the Side of the Moon”) because he didn’t just want his name. “The title represents my whole past year,” he said. “I’ve watched how I’ve grown as a person and an artist, watching myself in this whole other world.”
Phillips isn’t sure of what the next single will be.
And what about all the TMZ gossip that he and his family are in conflict? “It’s all a bunch of nonsense,” he said. “My family is all good. I just spend four or five days with them earlier this month.”
In other “Idol” news, Haley Reinhart from season 10 has lost her record deal with Interscope Records, according to Billboard.com.Her first album sold about 59,000 copies.
Mariah Carey’s earnest “Idol” promo:
Nicki Minaj’s more rambunctious “Idol” promo:
And Keith Urban’s “Idol” promo: