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Laura Prudom

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'American Idol' Winner: Phillip Phillips Crowned Season 11 Champion

Posted: 05/23/2012 10:07 pm

Unlike the actual "American Idol" results show, we don't intend to keep you in suspense about the winner with two hours of filler. After 132 million votes cast last night (really, people?), the 11th winner of the juggernaut reality competition is ...

Phillip Phillips.

The White Guy With Guitar strikes again! Looks like that stereotypical streak on "American Idol" isn't being broken any time soon. Whatever else you might say about P-squared (and I fully expect you to in the comments section), the ladies seem to love him. He's got a radio-ready sound -- especially with his Mumford & Sons-esque winner's song, "Home" -- and he probably has the greatest chance of making an impact on the charts, as so many previous "American Idol" winners have failed to do.

Did he have the best vocals, an impressive range or the ability to work the stage? No. But that doesn't preclude him from being a successful artist, I suppose. He can at least play his own instruments and write his own songs, and he's had a firm grasp on his identity all season long, which certainly differentiated him from raw and malleable runner-up Jessica Sanchez. He's not the surprising choice, but perhaps he's the most logical choice, since "Idol" has always been a popularity contest more than a talent competition.

Both finalists have the talent (or at least the "right sound") needed to have successful careers, although I'll be interested to see how Phillip does under Jimmy Iovine, since he's seemed so anti-establishment, in terms of resisting the image and vocal makeovers the producers have been pushing on the contestants all season long. I actually think he might have benefited from escaping the show's gravitational pull if he hopes to be an original and distinctive artist (and Jessica probably could've used Jimmy's hand-holding), but time will tell.

I really had no horse in the race once Elise Testone was eliminated, and Phil-Phil's WGWG credentials paired with Jessica's diva belting made this a fairly obvious Final Two right from the start. That being said, I predicted Colton Dixon going further than he did, with Joshua Ledet potentially poised to steal an upset slot in the finale. But let's face it: Both Jessica and Phillip are ideal representatives of their chosen brands, and both would've had a future in the music industry regardless of the outcome.

The rest of the evening was populated with the usual musical filler, interspersed with embarrassing skits from the judges and inescapable Ford product placement. The Top 12 (sans Jermaine Jones, naturally) kicked things off with a shouty rendition of Bruno Mars' "Runaway Baby," presumably just to remind me how much I hate group numbers and hadn't really missed any of the other contestants.

Phillip did a duet with John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" and "Bad Moon Rising," while Jessica paired with ... herself for another haunting rendition of "I Will Always Love You," perhaps as compensation for her horrible winner's song? Bronze medalist Joshua Ledet had the opportunity to sing with his personal idol (and former "Idol") Fantasia Barrino on "Take Me to the Pilot," which was every bit a screechy as you'd expect. Chaka Khan and the Top 6 ladies performed a medley of Khan's songs, while the guys (featuring far too much DeAndre Brackensick for my liking) took on a selection of Neil Diamond hits with Neil Diamond. Thrilling, no? No.

Rihanna, channeling Lady Gaga and sporting trippy fake deadlocks, gave a laser-powered performance of "Where Have You Been," and Skylar Laine got a chance to duet with Reba McEntire on "Turn on the Radio." And that was all in the first hour! Ugh.

The part of the "American Idol" finale I appreciated most was seeing the poor captive celebrities and "Idol" alums held at the mercy of Ryan Seacrest's microphone throughout the hour. Jane Lynch seemed admittedly thrilled by the Chaka Khan number, while Scotty McCreery looked fairly bored throughout. What a difference a year makes.

Perhaps the best skit of the night (since I refuse to include anything involving Steven Tyler and Playboy bunnies) came as a result of Randy Jackson's favorite compliment this season: All of the contestants were so good, they "could sing the phone book." Thus, we saw the Top 12 literally singing the phone book. It was a cute moment -- you probably had to be there.

The second hour kicked off with a double-performance from judge Jennifer Lopez, who energetically sang "Goin' In" and "Follow the Leader," with prerequisite rending of garments. (She tore her baggy top off to reveal a less baggy top ... it wasn't as exciting as it sounds.( Previous "Idol" cast-offs Diana DeGarmo (Season 3) and Ace Young (Season 5) are now dating, so of course they ended up on stage so that Ace could propose to Diana in front of millions of people who had entirely forgotten that they even existed. So romantic.

Then Hollie Cavanagh took to the stage for a rendition of "Never Walk Alone," whereupon she was joined by Jordin Sparks and a full choir. Joshua, Colton, DeAndre, Heejun and Jeremy (with an emphasis on Joshua) then performed a tribute to the Bee Gees in memory of Robin Gibb, which was a little overdramatic, in typical Joshua fashion, but also heartfelt.

Jessica wasn't cheated out of her celebrity duet after all, teaming with Jennifer Holliday for a rousing rendition of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," with Jennifer making more terrifying, distracting faces as she performed than Scotty McCreery and Phil-Phil combined. (If there aren't gifs all over the internet within 10 minutes of the show ending, we should just turn the whole thing off.) Snark aside, it really was spectacular, and Jessica's range and control are truly out of this world. It's hard to believe she's only 16 -- no matter how frequently the judges hammer it home -- on numbers like that, holding her own opposite a Broadway legend who would've blown most performers right off the stage.

Aerosmith closed out the show, with Steven Tyler generally behaving like he was on an acid trip while on stage (what else is new?) as the band cycled through a medley of hits. With only two minutes remaining in the show, Jessica and Phillip (sat on a stool -- perhaps because of his rumored health issues) sang "Up Where We Belong," because that entirely superfluous performance was far more meaningful than the rumored tribute to Donna Summer that the Top 6 girls were supposed to do.

And then, the results were announced, and Phillip took up his guitar for one last performance of "Home," struggling to fight back the tears.

Did the right person win "Idol," or were you rooting for Jessica Sanchez? Weigh in below!

 

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