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Slezak is less optimistic. He thinks if Phillips wins, he’ll be a redux of DeWyze, the least successful “Idol” in the show’s history. (DeWyze’s post-“Idol” album, “Live It Up,” sold just 39,000 copies when it debuted.) Besides a fondness for gritty vocals, they both share blue-collar backgrounds. DeWyze worked in a paint store. Phillips helped out in his family’s pawn shop.

“`Idol’ could desperately use another winner on the charts,” said Slezak. “What makes it a must-watch show is the contestants you’re voting for today end up playing on the radio and selling out concerts tomorrow. `Idol’ doesn’t need another winner who sells 40,000 copies and gets dropped by their label. What’s the point in watching if that’s the end result?”

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AP Television Writer Lynn Elber contributed to this report.

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Fox is a unit of News Corp.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.

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Online:

http://www.americanidol.com/