Congratulations, Phillip Phillips.
OK, the outcome of American Idol tonight wasn’t what I had hoped for.
I firmly believe, from the start of the finals to the finish, Jessica Sanchez was the superior contestant.
But tonight’s result was a whole lot more palatable that it would have been just two weeks ago.
That’s because Phillip actually outperformed Jessica over the course of the last two weeks.
I was not a big fan of the “We’ve Got Tonight” performance. But “Disease” and “Beggin’” from Top 2 night were both splendid.
Hey, Phillip, didn’t anyone tell you an Idol’s first single isn’t supposed to sound that good?
At least it seldom has.
It marked the first time I thought, “Wow, you know what, this guy might just sell an awful lot of records.”
Even before two weeks ago, Phillip was a tough guy to root against.
There was that aw-shucks persona.
That music first approach to Idol.
That refusal to adapt to others’ expectations, even if it led to a sometimes obscure song choice on performance night.
And especially that refusal to brighten up his wardrobe at Tommy Hilfiger’s suggestion because he wanted it “to be about the music.”
Hard to argue with that.
There was that memorable visit home, too. That reunion with his dad at that pawn shop where Phillip used to work was touching.
Most of all, Phillip peaked at the right time in spite of a pretty serious kidney problem.
Reports are, he’ll have surgery shortly after tonight’s finale, with hopes of recovering in time to participate in the summer tour that begins July 6.
You get the feeling this is a little more serious than Lauren Alaina’s throat problems prior to last year’s performance finale, when a doctor rushed on stage in hospital scrubs, as though he would operate then and there. Now that was one of Idol’s sillier moments.
But I digress.
Because Phillip left us with a great image at the end of tonight’s show.
The guy who said that if folks liked his music, that was fine. If they didn’t, that was fine, too.
At first, he seemed a bit unaffected by his victory as well.
Then he launched into “Home” again.
And, as the confetti fell, the tears started coming.
He didn’t even bother finishing the song.
Instead, he took off the guitar he used so effectively over the course of the season and headed into the crowd to share the moment with his family.
Thanks, Phillip, for that touching, parting image of American Idol Season 11.