"Idol" Phillip Phillips proud of his debut album
Phillip Phillips' Southern-tinged voice chokes up a little when he thinks of the success of his "American Idol" coronation song "Home." The double-platinum tune, written by Drew Pearson and Greg Holden, has provided the soundtrack to video clips of storm-ravaged areas and touching segments about the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.
"It's pretty emotional," Phillips told SoundSpike. "It's kind of overwhelming, too. I'm glad that the song helps people out that way. It has helped them through so much, through a tough time in their lives."
The success has surprised Phillips -- and critics alike. He said he knew it was a "great song," but had no idea it would become one of the ubiquitous tracks of 2012.
"I'm so thankful for that," he said quietly.
Because of "Home," Phillips' debut album, "The World from the Side of the Moon" began its run on The Billboard 200 charts at No. 4 with 169,000 units sold after it was released on Nov. 19.
"I was a little nervous" about how it would chart, he admitted.
During the making of "The World from the Side of the Moon," Phillips was adamant that he have a hand in the songwriting. Some of the tracks were written before the 11th season of "American Idol," some during it, when he was severely ill with kidney problems, and others after he took the FOX-TV show's top prize.
"It was a good process," he said. "Even on some of the co-writes, they knew I wanted to make the album me and they just let me write the songs as well. Instead of them routing me, they pushed me and I really appreciated that. It was really cool."
That's how he chose his producer, Gregg Wattenberg, famous for working with the likes of Train and O.A.R.
"We wrote 'Get Up Get Down' and he let me basically wrote that whole song, too," he said of Wattenberg. "He was just there to push me and help out at certain points. He's an amazing guy."
One song's lyrics he didn't write was "Take Me Away," a track inspired by a poem that his girlfriend wrote for him.
"I couldn't really write anything to it," he said. "It was tough and it was frustrating me. She sent me the poem one night. She didn't mean for it to be a song. She just sent it to me one night to be sweet. I played around with it and it fell right in there perfectly. I decided to use it."
Phillips, who is plotting a U.S. tour, admitted he was stressed out the first time he played it for her.
"Yeah, I was scared to death," Phillips said. "The minute I played it for her, we were in the living room. I said, 'I have something I want you to hear, see if it's OK or not.' It's after I finished the whole song. I started to sing it and the minute I started playing it she turned red. I was sweating like a pig. It was a funny moment."
"The World from the Side of the Moon" was originally slated for release in January/February, Phillips said. Then the powers that be changed it to December. Finally, everyone settled on a Nov. 19 on-sale date.
"I would only have three weeks to do it," he said. "Luckily, I had all the songs done. We got in the studio and started to cut the guitars and finished mastering it in three weeks. It was very nerve-wracking to do that."
But Wattenberg proved to be a calming figure in Phillips' life.
"He wasn't on me," Phillips said. "He wasn't like, 'You gotta do this. You gotta do that.' He didn't stress me out. He wasn't very forceful. He's very chill guy. Amazing, so nice. He kind of let me make decisions on the album on most of the things. If I said, 'That doesn't sound good,' he would say, 'We don't have to use it.'
"It was really awesome to have him there to teach me a lot of things about producing, how to record a few things. He just showed me a lot. He was excited about the album."
Subsequently, Phillips said he feels "The World from the Side of the Moon" accurately represents him as an artist. His team did a nice job, he added.
"They really did," he said. "They helped out so much. They worked just as hard or not harder than I did, longer hours. We wanted to make it something not overproduced, or nothing we couldn't really do live. I'm more of a 'live' guy, anyway. I feel like we achieved that. I'm very proud of the album."