"American Idol" crowns 11th winner
A 21-year-old pawn-shop worker from Leesburg, GA, became the fifth consecutive male to win " American Idol," besting a 16-year-old diva in the making.
Bluesy singer Phillip Phillips, who was plagued with kidney problems since the contest began, was named season 11's "American Idol" after a record 132 million votes Wednesday (5/23).
With a voice that drew comparisons to Mumford and Sons as well as Paul Simon, a weepy Phillips made it about three quarters of the way through his winning single, "Home," before he left the stage to be with his family.
"It's been such an honor to be up in the stage playing with everyone," Phillips told host Ryan Seacrest just before he learned that he'd beaten co-finalist Jessica Sanchez.
The finals, held at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, were a star-studded event, featuring the Top 12 Idols singing with established artists. Phillips teamed up with John Fogerty to duet on "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" and "Bad Moon Rising."
Third placer Joshua Ledet, who was nicknamed "Mantasia" for his love of onetime "American Idol" winner Fantasia, performed with his fave on "Take Me to the Pilot."
The ladies of the top 12 and special guest Chaka Khan, who looked a little unsteady walking down the stairs, performed "I'm Every Woman" after a medley of her hits.
A charismatic Skylar Laine and Reba McEntire played "Turn on the Radio," after which the men of the top 12 were joined by Neil Diamond on "Sweet Caroline." Hollie Cavanagh and "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks sang the Liverpudlian anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone."
For her part, Sanchez had a duet with original Dreamgirl Jennifer Holliday.
There were individual performances as well. Rihanna let loose before Aerosmith debuted its new single "Legendary Child." Co-host Jennifer Lopez hit the stage as well.
The show stealer, however, had nothing to do with singing. Former "Idol" contestant Ace Young dropped to one knee and proposed to fellow ex-Idol Diana DeGarmo and proposed after Seacrest invited the duo on stage. Cheers filled the venue when she tearfully replied, "Yes."
Before the winner was announced, Sanchez (who is of Filipino and Latino heritage) and Phillips served up a version of "Up Where We Belong."