American Idol season finale recap: I Know You're Weary

Bewildered ill person Phillip Phillips wins season 11; Aerosmith and Jennifer Holliday's mouth perform
Ep. 40 | Aired May 23, 2012

HE'S GOT TONIGHT Winner Phillip is longing for shelter (a family hug) from all that he sees (belligerent confetti).

Fox

After a two-hour finale chock full o' lasers, sparkly catsuits, and fresh faces from the '70s, it was time for a very special seven-minute results show that brutally overlapped with the season finale of ABC's Revenge. Victoria Grayson vs. J. Lo in a jewel-toned gown-off: Who wins?

Phillip Phillips! The 21-year-old singer-songwriter-sufferer from Leesburg, Georgia is your season 11 American Idol winner. Try not to freak out. It's really okay. This is a televised popularity contest and the "White Guy With Guitar" happened to get more votes than Jessica Sanchez. It doesn't mean American Idol is racist. It doesn't mean that Phillip won solely due to his extremely alluring chest hair. These finalists were wildly different. Each had strengths and weaknesses, and both deserved to win.

This season, more than ever, it seemed like so many viewers deluded themselves into assuming that the support of one of these kids implied hatred of the other. Are you kidding me? It's a reality show! They'll both get to make records! They've both gotta have it, Ryan! Ugh, sorry, it's just a bizarre sentiment that's run rampant across the internet for the past few weeks AND I AM TELLING YOU I find it utterly ridiculous.

If American Idol fans can't find a way to be happy for an aw-shucks guy who was so overcome with emotion that he couldn't even finish his coronation song, even for a split second, I don't know why they put themselves through the torture of even watching this mess. No one's ever going to figure out a way to get inside America's collective ear and tweak it so that their favorite is the favorite. People like who they like. That's what's great about music. There's more than enough to go around.

Never before has Idol received so many votes! I unexpectedly shuddered when a tall British stranger entered the frame à la The Giant from Twin Peaks. What was this, the Oscars? I imagined that this creature, "Edward Bodington," had slithered out of a giant telescope in order to tell us that "Telescope has counted and certified a world-record 132 million votes." OMG -- nobody cares. Read the verdict, Ryan!

Phillip and Jessica's "Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong" duet, in which the judges played Statues behind the kids and didn't dare look over their shoulders, was the most muted performance of the show. The finalists had very little chemistry beyond a shared sense of politeness and brevity in speech. This was fine -- the rest of the show was packed with enough highs and lows that the finale ended up starring the Top 12 instead of the Top 2.

By far the most riveting performance: Jessica Sanchez's duet on "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" with original Broadway Dreamgirl Jennifer Holliday -- a masterclass for our tiny teen in how to act like there's something, anything, going on underneath a huge vocal. In Jennifer's case, this meant making liberal use of her mouth. Words won't do her facial expressions justice, so I've created this.

The fear of being devoured for dinner shot Jessica up into an entirely new stratosphere of performance value. I've never seen her look this alive. She won the competition right here, Ryan! Hopefully Jessica's fans can take solace in her triumph during this ultimate Idol moment. Meanwhile, Phillip couldn't even croak out a second verse. That bastard!

"Crazy!" cried Randy -- his commentary spot-on for a change. It's never too late.

NEXT: A Fantasia and a Mantasia board a plane...

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