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Phillip Phillips: Wins ‘American Idol’
Question of the Day
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Phillip Phillips, a bluesy Georgia guitar man, was crowned the new “American Idol” on Wednesday after defeating teenager Jessica Sanchez in record viewer voting. He was the fifth male “Idol” winner in a row.
Phillips, 21, a pawn shop worker from Leesburg, Ga., looked stunned after host Ryan Seacrest announced his name, then wordlessly accepted a hug from Sanchez and congratulations from his fellow finalists.
He dissolved into tears as he sang “Home,” the song that may be his first single.
Phillips received the winning share of the record-high 132 million votes cast after Tuesday’s final showdown with high school student Sanchez, 16, of Chula Vista, Calif. The vote count was not announced.
Sparks was among the guest stars who helped fill out the two-hour finale show, among them Rihanna, Neil Diamond, Reba McEntire, Chaka Khan and John Fogarty. “American Idol” judges Steven Tyler, with his band Aerosmith, and Jennifer Lopez also performed.
But the point of the finale, saved for the final minutes and the highest possible ratings, was anointing the newest Idol and winner of a record contract.
During the three-song showdown Tuesday between Phillips and Sanchez, the show’s judges praised his performance across the board. Sanchez was faulted for a lackluster rendition of her third song, “Change Nothing.”
Although some critics dismissed Phillips as a Dave Matthews clone, viewers embraced him for his humility, his on-camera mugging and his memorable acoustic covers of songs like Usher’s “U Got It Bad.” In weekly tallies, Phillips never fell among the low vote-getters.
On Tuesday, he earned consistently high marks from the show’s judges, while Sanchez faltered on “Change Nothing,” the song that could serve as her first release.
Phillips had better luck with the slow-tempo, acoustic tune “Home,” which the judges said recalled artists like Fleet Foxes, Paul Simon and Mumford and Sons. At one point during Phillips‘ final performance, the pawn shop worker was accompanied by a marching band.
It was a hit with the panel. Jackson, beaming, exclaimed: “I love the song. I love you. I love the production. I love the marching band. Everything about that was perfect.”
Phillips has more in common with the last four winners than gender alone. Like the four winners before him, Phillips is a young Caucasian guitar player, also known to “Idol” watchers as WGWGs — white guys with guitars.
Last year’s winner was Scotty McCreery, preceded by Lee DeWyze, Kris Allen and David Cook. Besides being the last female to win, the African-American Sparks also was the last non-white.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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