Phillip Phillips wins ‘American Idol’

KD Suarez
The win ends the weeks-long competition in the search for the "next American superstar"

ELEVENTH "IDOL." Winner Phillip Phillips performs onstage during Fox's "American Idol 2012" results show at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on May 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Mark Davis/Getty Images/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – America has voted: Phillip Phillips is this season’s “American Idol.”

Host Ryan Seacrest announced the winner at the end of a two-hour, star-studded season finale for American television’s highest-rating reality competition show, broadcast worldwide on Wednesday, May 23 (Thursday, May 24 in Manila).

Phillips bested Jessica Sanchez, ending the weeks-long competition in the search for the “next American superstar.” The finale was dubbed as the battle of opposites: the sassy “diva-in-training” pitted against the dreamy, boy-next-door singer with a guitar as his best friend.

An “Idol” world record of 132 million votes were cast by America during the 4-hour voting window after Tuesday evening’s (May 22; Wednesday, May 23 in Manila) penultimate broadcast, Seacrest announced at the start of the show.

Phillips’ win marks the 5th consecutive time a male contestant won the show. He also continues the winning streak of contestants from the US south (he is the 7th; only Jordin Sparks, David Cook, and Lee DeWyze come from other regions).

Music megastars, as well as the other top finalists for the season – Joshua Ledet, Hollie Cavanagh, Skylar Laine, Elise Testone, Colton Dixon, DeAndre Brackensick, Heejun Han, Ericka Van Pelt, Shannon Magrane, and Jeremy Rosado – performed during the results night, broadcast live from the famed Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California.

The night was filled with music from different decades, with performances from Credence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty, Chaka Khan, Rihanna, Neil Diamond, Aerosmith, Wisin Y Yandel, Reba McEntire, Jordin Sparks, and Jennifer Holliday.

The male finalists paid tribute to the former Bee Gees member Robin Gibb in special number, while the girls performed a Donna Summer tribute.

There was even a surprise segment: season 5 finalist Ace Young proposed to girlfriend Diana DeGarmo, who was the runner up in Season 3.

Performance night

The previous night, the two finalists battled it out infront of 7,000 fans and millions more at home watching the proceedings live.

The two finalists tackled 3 songs each: Idol producer Simon Fuller’s picks, the contestants’ favorites in the whole season, and their potential first single if they win the competition – a song selected by the record company.

The two singers alternated in performing during the night, with Jessica going first.

During round one, Sanchez performed the Whitney Houston hit “I Have Nothing.” Phillips, meanwhile, sang “Stand By Me,” a Ben E. King original.

In round 2, the contestants performed songs they previously sang in the competition: Andrea Boccelli’s “The Prayer” for Jessica, and Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” for Phillip.

Finally, original songs were the theme of the final round. Sanchez sang the ballad “Change Nothing,” while Phillip performed the song “Home.”

The judges – Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson – did not comment after each performance during the first two rounds, but gave their reactions after both contestants already finished singing.

The results were mixed. Round one of the last showdown went to Sanchez for her performance of a popular ballad that was right in her comfort zone, but Phillips snatched round 3 when he got a standing ovation from the judges. Round 2 was a draw, with one judge favoring Sanchez, one Phillips, and one saying it was a tie.

Predictions

Early on, Sanchez, the 16-year-old powerhouse from Chula Vista, California, was viewed as one of the favorites, with her performances of “I Will Always Love You,” “The Prayer,” and “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

On the other hand, Phillips, the 21-year-old former pawn shop worker from Leesburg, Georgia, was a bit off the radar in the first few weeks of the competition, but came strong in later weeks, with his performances of “Volcano,” “Beggin’,” and “We’ve Got Tonight.”

Phillips becomes part of the elite group of “Idol” winners:

  • Kelly Clarkson (Season 1)
  • Ruben Studdard (Season 2)
  • Fantasia Barrino (Season 3)
  • Carrie Underwood (Season 4)
  • Taylor Hicks (Season 5)
  • Jordin Sparks (Season 6)
  • David Cook (Season 7)
  • Kris Allen (Season 8)
  • Lee DeWyze (Season 9)
  • Scotty McCreery (Season 10)

The show, once the top-rated show in all of American television, has been suffering from major ratings drops.

From a high of as much as 40 million people tuning in for the show, ratings for the most recent broadcast (the finale performance show) dropped to 14.39 million according to Nielsen, the lowest ever finale show since season 1. – Rappler.com

Click on the links below for more of the American Idol finale.