Phillip Phillips continues the winning streak of WGWGs (white guy with guitar) on American Idol.
The 21-year-old pawnshop employee from Leesburg, Georgia, was declared winner of American Idol Season 11 during the finale held earlier today, May 24 (May 23 in the U.S.), at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
Phillip beat 16-year-old Filipino-Mexican-American Jessica Sanchez after getting the most number of votes.
According to host Ryan Seacrest, 132 million votes were cast for this season’s finale—a new world record.
Phillip is now the fifth WGWG to win the popular American reality singing competition—after David Cook (Season 7), Kris Allen (Season 8), Lee DeWyze (Season 9), and Scotty McCreery (Season 10).
THE GRAND SHOWDOWN. Yesterday, May 23 (May 22 in the U.S.), Phillip and Jessica faced off in the finale where they sang three songs each: Idol creator Simon Fuller’s choice, their personal favorite performance, and an original composition that will be their first single if they win.
In the first round, Simon chose Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” for Jessica and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” for Phillip.
The judges gave the first round to Jessica.
In the second round, Jessica chose Celine Dion’s “The Prayer” as her favorite performance in the past; Phillip, on the other hand, picked Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out.”
The judges gave it a “dead heat” between the two finalists.
In the third round, Jessica picked “Change Nothing” as her first single in case she wins while Phillip chose “Home.”
The judges didn’t like Jessica’s song while they gave a standing ovation to Phillip.
That moment seemed to have sealed the deal for Phillip as America voted for him to become the 11th American Idol.
THE GRAND FINALE. Today’s grand finale, showcased the best musical extravaganza American Idol can offer.
The show opened with the ten semifinalists performing Bruno Mars’s “Runaway.”
Phillip jammed with legendary musician John Fogerty for the songs “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” and “Bad Moon Rising.”
Top 3 finalist Joshua Ledet gets to sing with the “greatest inspiration” of his life, Season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino. They performed an electrifying rendition of Elton John’s “Take Me To The Pilot.”
The Top 12 ladies—Jessica, Hollie Cavanagh, Skylar Laine, Elise Testone, Shannon Magrane, and Erika Van Pelt performed with Chaka Khan for a medley of the latter’s hit songs: “Ain’t Nobody,” “Through The Fire,” and “I’m Every Woman.”
Rihanna took center stage with her hit single “Where Have You Been.”
Top 5 finalist Skylar Laine sang with her idol Reba McEntire for the song “Turn On The Radio.”
Jessica got to sing again one of her best performances in the season—Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”
The Top 12 male contestants— Joshua, Colton Dixon, Heejun Han, Derrick Brackensick, and Jeremy Rosado—performed with legendary singer Neil Diamond with a medley of his hit songs.
Judge Jennifer Lopez performed two of her hit songs—“Going In” “Follow The Leader.”
Fourth placer Hollie Cavanagh sang with Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks for the inspirational song “Walk On.”
The Top 12 guys Joshua, Colton, Heejun, Derrick, and Jeremy paid tribute to Robin Gibb—who died recently—by singing some Bee Gees hits.
One of the highlights of the evening was the vocal showdown between Jessica and the original Dreamgirl, Jennifer Holliday, for the show-stopping “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”
Steven Tyler and Aerosmith reunite for a rockfest.
Before the announcement of the winner, Jessica and Phillip sang a duet for the first time—"Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes.
Phillip, who can’t hold back his tears, closed the show with his first single, "Home."
An interesting sidelight on the show was the proposal of Season 5 finalist Ace Young to Season 3 runner-up Diana DeGarmo.
Celebrities who were spotted inside the Nokia Theatre are American Idol past winners Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, and Scotty Mc Creery; Dean Cain; Kyle Chandler; Lisa Rinn; and Jane Lynch.