‘American Idol’ has its Phil
Roxy Silver of Buffalo Grove hugs "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips after her interview on May 23. | Photo courtesy of Roxy Silver
Updated: August 27, 2012 6:05AM
Roxy Silver, a Buffalo Grove resident, was at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on May 23 when “American Idol” crowned Phillp Phillips its newest winner. Here’s an excerpt of her memories of that night.
As Idol judge and mentor Jennifer Lopez put it “the battle of the opposites” is what went down on the Idol stage between contestants Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez.
The race for the title was a rigorous process.
“When they announced it was Phillip,” Sanchez said, “I was so happy for him. Literally, he has worked harder than all of us and we have all been working hard — but because of his health issues with his kidneys I think he has been through a lot more than us mentally and physically.”
The first night of the ﬁnal-two consisted of a three-round performance each contestant competing for the title in front of 7,000 fans at the Nokia Theater, Los Angeles. To American Idol 2012 winner Phillips’ benefit, he won the coin toss, choosing to go second in all three rounds. This was an advantage for him because he ended the night with a bang singing his first single “Home.”
On the other hand, the “Grammy-qualiﬁed voice” of Jessica Sanchez, as judge Randy Jackson put it, was not as good as it should have been, due to a questionable song choice. When asked for her thoughts on the second-to-last show, 16-year-old powerhouse singer, Jessica said, “We’re top two. Win or lose, we both won.”
Sanchez and Phillips are similar in talent yet with such different styles. Still, after witnessing the finale live, I was not surprised when host Ryan Seacrest announced: “... the winner of this year’s ‘Season 11 American Idol’ is... Phillip Phillips.
Although the voting was at its all time high, with 132 million votes, viewership was down 30 percent. This is probably a result of the show seeming less star-studded then it usually is. John Forgerty appeared, singing alongside Phillip for two songs. Jennifer Holiday sang with Jessica Sanchez to the audiences delight. Judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were called upon to ﬁll the superstar role in the absence of Lady Gaga or Keith Urban.
When asked why he thought Phillip won, Tyler said, “I think he is real. I mean we watched him come from a guy who pulls himself out of his soul. The guy who won, didn’t care. And I think America loved that, he just don’t care.”
As the title was passed from last year’s “Idol” Scotty McCreery, I asked him how the fame affected his career.
“It influences it a lot,” McCreery said. “Back in the day when there wasn’t necessarily TV and everything was strictly one way and this is how you make it. But now ... you have stars coming out like Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and people that can really make an impact.”
When I finally got to Phillips, he told me how shocked he was.
“It’s so unreal. It hasn’t sunk in yet, it’s just such a blessing, I really have to comprehend it all,” hesaid.
When Seacrest handed him his guitar, seconds after being announced the winner, Phillips was only able to contain himself through half the song when he stopped singing and started crying instead. With confetti flying, fireworks popping, and an audience full of support and cheer there was nothing more he could do then try to take it all in.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything. Not about the song. I really didn’t even want to sing. I just started thinking about the whole journey and how far we made it, its just so overwhelming,” he said.
The title could not have gone to a more humble guy who deserved to win.
“To be honest, when I tried out, I didn’t even think I would make it to see the judges. I have no shame in saying I’m not a great singer. I just love getting up on stage and jamming with the guys. Music takes away a lot of the other things that go around.”
It is now up to America to choose next year’s “Idol.” Maybe it won’t be a white guy white with a guitar.
Still, Phillips’ unique bluesy vocals and carefree attitude make him more than just a WGWG, but a true artist.