Southern rocker and “Idol”-made heartthrob Phillip Phillips, 21, took home the title on “American Idol” tonight, bringing Season 11 to a close and continuing the program’s lengthy streak of male winners. Dudes have now won the last five seasons.
After a record 132 million votes, Phillip bested Jessica Sanchez, 16, who undoubtedly has a long career ahead of her as well.
The Leesburg, Ga. native won his way into the hearts of voter nation early on this season, using his affinity for molding songs to fit his voice and style to carve his niche in the competition and subsequently melt a whole mess of hearts.
Phillip was in the “Idol” spotlight from day one, giving a memorable audition of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and an acoustic version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” As he walked into the audition room, Steven Tyler whispered to Jennifer Lopez, “I have a funny feeling about this.”
“He’s like a little James Brown,” Jennifer Lopez said after Phillip thoroughly impressed the judges with his energy and unique voice.
A little Dave Matthews eventually became the more common comparison.
Phillip, with his trademark rolled-up sleeves, unshaved face and hands glued to his guitar, sailed into the Top 24 after a soulful rendition of Usher’s “Nice and Slow” and was a shoe-in for the Top 13 after a rousing version of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.”
As the season progressed, Phillip’s path mimicked his personality — smooth without much drama or indecision. He never fell into the Bottom 3 all season, consistently pumping out solid performances as the weeks wore on. Phillip did appear to grow a little stale somewhere in the middle of the season, but in the last few weeks, he surged again with fantastic covers of Usher’s “U Got It Bad,” Damien Rice’s “Volcano” and without his guitar he delivered a great version of Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight.”
And in Tuesday night’s finale, Phillip’s stock boiled over with a great rendition of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” as well as his possible “Idol” single, an original folksy tune called “Home” that the judges loved.