MANILA, MAY 26, 2012 (BULLETIN) By MAUREEN MARIE BELMONTE - After garnering a record-breaking total of 132 million votes, pawnshop worker Phillip Phillips was crowned winner of “American Idol” season 11 Wednesday night (US Time, Thursday in Manila).

Despite recent reports about his health issues, the 20-year-old crooner, much to the disappointment of Pinoys everywhere, bested 16-year-old Filipino-Mexican singer Jessica Sanchez during the season finale held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California.

The announcement came at the end of the two-hour finale show that featured performances by pop, disco and rock artists such as Rihanna, Neil Diamond, Reba McEntire, John Fogerty and Chaka Kahn. Disco legends Gloria Gaynor, Thelma Houston, and Gladys Knight also performed a Donna Summer tribute along with the female finalists.

Two of the judges performed as well. Jennifer Lopez did a couple of sultry dance numbers, singing her recent single “Follow the Leader” with reggaeton duo Wisin & Yandel. Steven Tyler, on the other hand, left the judge’s table to join his Aerosmith bandmates for their classic hit “Walk This Way.”

But the performance that brought the house down was the duet between Jennifer Holiday and Sanchez of the “Dreamgirls” hit “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” which earned them a standing ovation from the judges and even the audience.

Phillips’ win marks the 5th consecutive time that a male contestant had won the show. Continuing the streak of what the “Idol” audience call as “White Guy With Guitar,” Phillips joined previous winners David Cook (Season 7), Kris Allen (Season 8), Lee DeWyze (Season 9), and Scotty McCreery (Season 10). He also continued the winning trend of contestants hailing from the US south with the exception of Jordin Sparks (Season 6), Cook and DeWyze.

His surprise was very much palpable when host Ryan Seacrest announced his name as winner. Overwhelmed, he fought back tears while performing his winning song, "Home."

Hours after the finale, Phillips, probably still dazed about his win posted on his official Twitter account, “Wow. Thank you everyone so much. I can’t say that enough. I’m so overwhelmed. #fb”

In a bizarre moment during the show, Ace Young, a singer and actor who was an “Idol” finalist in 2006, proposed marriage to his girlfriend, another former “Idol” contestant, the actress Diana DeGarmo, in front of the television audience. The couple met while co-starring in the musical “Hair” on Broadway in 2010.


During Tuesday’s [US Time] performance night, Phillips and Sanchez battled it out in front of 7,000 people with three songs. The first round was dominated by diva-in-the-making Sanchez as she sang the Whitney Houston classic “I Have Nothing” while the guitarist-singer did a rendition of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.”

The judges, though, were divided as soon as the second round kicked in when the finalists re-interpreted their favorite performances throughout the season. Phillips powered through with Billy Joel’s “Moving Out” while Sanchez hit high notes in her Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli's operatic song “The Prayer.”

But it was Phillips' rendition of his would-be-first-single “Home,” that drew the biggest applause from the studio audience and had the panel of judges–Tyler, Lopez and Randy Jackson–on their feet.

The judges raved about its originality. “I love that song,” said Jackson, while adding, “I love you. I love the production. I love the marching band. Everything about that was perfect.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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