Do I know how to pick AI winners or what

I may not be a 16-year-old girl, but I picked Phillip Phillips out of the crowd from his first appearance on “American Idol,” when he sang an acoustic version of “Thriller.” My choice was vindicated last night when Phillips was crowned the Season 11 winner at the end of the two-hour finale on Wednesday, in which a record 132 million votes were cast.

I know a lot of people out there are grousing about WGWGs (white guys with guitars) always winning AI, and they’re right. Phillips
makes the 5th WGWG in a row to win “Idol”; there hasn’t been a girl winner since Jordin Sparks in 2007.  This year’s runner-up, 16-year-old vocal powerhouse Jessica Sanchez, had an amazing run, and you can certainly argue that she got ripped off. But I still hoped Phillips would win, and apparently, I was in good company.

Phillips couldn’t even get through his coronation song, “Home,” which will be his first single, and might have been the performance the previous night that earned him the win.  He broke down in tears as the confetti fell, then unstrapped his guitar and walked off the stage and into the waiting arms of his family in the first row. It was a sweet moment for those of us who have followed this humble, likeable young artist who week after week put his unique stamp on familiar songs.

Phillips was crowned at the end of the two-hour final show crammed with “filler” performances to keep us hanging on until the bitter end.  Some of the numbers were great, while others were cringe-worthy, featuring artists who may have seen better days.

Among the great performances was AI judge Jennifer Lopez, who showed that despite being in her 40s and the mother of twins, she can still break it down.  And, fellow judge Steven Tyler owned the stage when he performed two songs, one of which was “Walk This Way,” with Aerosmith.

Rihanna was great, too, even though she was dressed like a dominatrix and her male dancers like slaves. (Wait, this is a family show?). Whatever. I know the young crowd who make up “American Idol” voters loved having one of their own on stage.

Sanchez reprised her performance of “I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” only this time with Jennifer Holliday, who won a Grammy for the song from the musical “Dream Girls.”  The two of them brought down the house in arguably the best performance of the night. I almost wanted Jessica to win Idol at that point–she’s THAT good.

As for the more embarrassing performances of the night, I’d have to put Shaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” right up there. She was either drunk or had forgotten the words, and as talented as Joshua Ledet is (he came in third), his duet with Fantasia Barrino was a scream-fest that would not end, until the producers mercifully cut to a commercial while they were still screaming, er, singing.

Neil Diamond, who is of course a legend, just can’t sing anymore.  As the boys of Season 11 performed a medley of his songs, he came out and talked his way through “Sweet Caroline.” As for the Season 11 girls’ medleys, the talent of Elise Testone, Skylar Lane, and Hollie Cavanaugh was once again in evidence, reminding us that this may have been the most talented cast ever on “American Idol.” Skylar sang a duet with Reba McIntire which she totally rocked and Hollie sang with Jordin Sparks.  I hope both those girls get contracts, but the night ultimately belonged to Phillips, whose days of working in a pawn shop and playing in clubs and cafés are over.  It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Find out what new entertainment betting odds will be hitting the scene now that this season of America Idol is at a close.  With the recent premiere of America’s Got Talent and tonight’s premiere of So You Think You Can Dance, we anticipate a pretty hot summer!

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