Last night’s 14-hour “American Idol” premiere presented the usual suspects of hopefuls. To paraphrase judge (and hideous eyewear collector) Randy Jackson at the end of the Savannah, Georgia, trip, “We came, we saw, we mocked immigrants’ accents, we patronized and lusted after hot girls, we competently read off of producers’ notes, we conquered.”
Then, just as the expected parade of planted craycrays and daughters of athletes wrapped up, “Idol” introduced its eventual season 11 winner, Phillip Phillips.
First let’s talk his name. It’s so ridiculous, it’s awesome. You’ll never forget it. Not to get all numerologist on you, but for season 11, a digit comprised of “one” repeated twice, a name like Phillip Phillips is destined to end up on top. At least he is in a pretentious overwritten novel.
But Phillip Phillips’ unavoidable victory truly comes into focus once you realize that he’s a tried-and-true mash-up of every male winner in the show’s 10-year history.
Musically, Phillip2 is a Dave Matthews worshipper (hi, season nine’s Lee DeWyze!) with the Joe Cocker mannerisms of season five’s Taylor Hicks. His first audition song was a Stevie Wonder classic. (Sophomore class president Ruben Studdard made his first impression with a Stevie song, too.) And just when you thought fellow contestant Colton Dixon had the David Cook fans in his corner by singing the season seven winner’s “Permanent” (and sharing a passion for haircuts tragique), Phillips rocked a “Thriller” of an encore: a white-dude twist on a Michael Jackson fave à la Cook’s “Billie Jean.”
Then there’s the look. He showed up wearing the uniform of two different male victors: reigning champ Scotty McCreery’s jeans and sandals combo and the “um, bro, I think you still have three more buttons to utilize on your plaid shirt” shtick of season eight’s pocket-sized Idol Kris Allen.
It’s no wonder “Idol” producers are drooling over this dude. Notice how Phillip2 was magically allowed to play the guitar for J.Lo, Steven and Randy, even though past seasons have forbidden instruments at this point in the audition process? Nigel Lythgoe knows that this dude with boyish good lucks from a small Southern town who works a boring-but-memorable day job is going to have the “Idol” superfans (myself included) making embarrassing homemade signs, leaving lengthy comments on blogs, tweeting hashtags that only a few dozen people understand and bitching about how overproduced his major-label debut will be. It’s the same formula movie producers use when adding a “2″ to the end of a hit movie title. We’re sheep, guys.
So go back to the woods with your giant boyfriend, Tent Girl. And to the 17-year-old lady-killer who was compared to a young MJ but reminded me more of the woman who played Gary Coleman on Broadway’s “Avenue Q,” better luck next year. My personal fave, funky nutjob Ashlee Altise? Your joy-hop dance is about to turn into a depressed stomp.
This is Phillip Phillips’ now. Cue the confetti.
So … when’s “The Voice” start again?