To some, Phillip Phillips' "American Idol" victory was assured from the first moment he moseyed on screen in Savannah, Georgia, and nailed Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." To others, he clinched the championship with his simmering take on Usher's "U Got It Bad." And while the timeline may be up for debate, there is one thing that isn't: Pretty much everybody knew he'd win.
After all, he was the judges' darling, rarely — if ever — receiving criticism for his performances (even if his detractors loved to point out the fact that he essentially did the same thing every week). But while Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson sang his praises, two-thirds of them won't be back for "Idol's" twelfth season, and Jackson's role on the show is still uncertain. So how would Phillips have fared with new judges Mariah Carey and (maybe) Nicki Minaj? We decided to put that question to him ... and, as it turns out, he's not certain his victory would have been so assured.
"I don't know, that's a good question because I don't know how they judge," Phillips told MTV News. "I'm curious to see how they judge, well, at least Mariah, because I don't know who else is going to be on there. But if Nicki was on there ... she might be very critical, or she might not be."
Still, if Carey would have been critical of his performances, well, Phillips definitely would have listened. After all, when it comes to singing, there's few who do it better than Mimi. And when "Idol" returns, Phillips will definitely be tuning in to see how she'll handle her new role.
"She's amazing, and I'm curious to see if she's going to be very critical, like almost mean, or if she's going to be really nice, and like 'No sweetie, it's just not right,' " he said. "She's an amazing singer, so she'll tell you if something's off or not."
And Phillips said that regardless of whomever replaces the departed Lopez and Tyler, he hopes they're willing to channel their inner Simon Cowell's and let it rip. Because even he'll admit that last year, he had it pretty easy.
"I would say I hope they're a little more critical," he said. "Because there were some times when I performed, especially on 'Time of the Season,' man, my ears went out, but that's live television, I can't just stop the song, so I just pushed through it as best as I could and then they gave me good feedback and I was like 'Come on guys, it was horrifying.' So, I'd like for there to be a little more criticism on the show."
Do you think Mariah Carey will be a critical judge? Give us your predictions in the comments!