Phillip Philips & Jessica Sanchez.

I didn’t need to stay home to watch “American Idol” live, because I already knew that Phillip Phillips had the fan base to pull out the win. It’s not “fair,” in that his vocal talent was not and is not as great as that of either Jessica Sanchez of third-place finisher Joshua Ledet, but it proves, once again, that the show is primarily a popularity contest. Singing is secondary to likeability. The selection of Scotty McReery last year proves that and it has been proven once again.

The selection of the boy rather than the girl proves the bias towards female singers, also. Yes, there have been some female winners, but they are the exception that proves the rule. It is harder for a girl to win this contest than for a boy; maybe in the Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood years, the men, as competition, weren’t as strong. Whatever the rationale you settle on, there is no doubt that young girls vote (repeatedly, it would seem) for their favorite male singer, and this year, that favorite was Phillip Phillips.

When the Top Three made their visits home, Phillip’s father and his relationship with him were a network’s dream. The pawn shop owner was packing a pistol and Phillip even picked up his favorite stuffed turkey and toted it around the store. In the parade sequence, Phillip seemed genuinely touched, and there could be no doubt that he was overcome with emotion at the finale, as he tried (unsuccessfully) to finish singing his song “Home.” I found it touching and rewound and replayed the finale moment(s) more than once.

I find Phillip charming, too. He reminds me so much of a young Dave Matthews, and we certainly can use a young(er) Dave Matthews on the music scene. He writes songs and plays guitar, and his acknowledgement of his brother-in-law’s contribution to his musical success was another sign of the close-knit family from which he comes.

Not that Jessica Sanchez had a family any less close-knit, but, in writing for, I found the half-Filipino/half-Mexican singer being trashed on that international site. Why was she not being praised? The answer is that she was being criticized by a resident of the Philippines for not being “Filipino” enough! I had previously thought that Jessica’s ethnic background might be a plus for her, initially, but, as it turns out, that vote did not materialize.

Those who say, “Well, it isn’t fair. Jessica is a better singer” have a completely valid point. To them, I say, “Is life always fair?” It certainly hasn’t been to me, of late! Talent in any field is not an entree to success if you have to curry favor and win approval of massive numbers of people to cash in on that talent. In the case of “American Idol,” which I have been following since 2007, it has not escaped my attention that someone the audience “likes” (Scotty, last year), rather than someone who really has the pipes will win every time. Remember Adam Lambert’s year? Does anyone really believe that Chris Allen was a “better” singer than Adam Lambert, who had already been in Broadway productions?

I enjoyed the finale, although I found some of it to be sub-par. The Neil Diamond medley and the Bee Gees medley did not “gel” and someone should tell Chaka Khan not to wear a skin-tight catsuit when backed by young women easily 30 years younger and 30 pounds thinner than she is at this point in her career. Also, the “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” number seemed to consist primarily of  screaming and weird faces on the part of Jennifer Holliday, so the less said about that, the better.
As for Aerosmith’s outing as a band: liked it. Can’t help myself, I enjoy watching Steven Tyler dance around. I enjoy watching Mick Jagger dance around. I’m sure I will enjoy watching Phillip Phillips dance around, in years to come.

I predict bright futures for both Jessica Sanchez and, even more so, for Joshua Ledet. I think these fantastic voices will “live well and prosper.” I think that Phillip Phillips will also be one of the Idol winners who will go on to success. He has that “Q” factor that makes you want to root for him, and he seems to know what he wants to sing and who he wants to be as an artist.

One thought I had about 3 programs back is this: Whatever happened to the announcement that Tommy Hilfiger would be dressing the contestants and “advising” them regarding their fashion faux pas, this season? It seems he sank without a trace. Whover put Sklar Laine in her horrible outfit tonight, when she shared the stage with Reba McIntyre, should have their head examined. My God! What a horrific outfit for the poor thing to wear, given her particular figure flaws. Whose Big Bright idea was THAT?

I did think that Tommy Hilfiger’s “advice” seemed to consist primarily of showing the eager contestants a closet full of potential downfalls and letting them select whatever they wanted. That, to me, is not advice. It’s like taking your child to the candy store to instruct them on eating the right foods. None of the contestants seemed to look “better” after Hilfiger’s appearance on the scene. And then, like the Mad Hatter, he simply disappeared. It was weird. He didn’t ever help Jimmy Iovine to dress and look like an adult, nor did he save Randy from the embarassment of wearing a jacket that made him look like he owned a string of ice cream parlors.

The “group” numbers were weak, in general, and Fantasia, Chaka, Jordin, et. al. added little. On the other hand, it was fun watching Phillip sing with an icon and Joshua and Skylar seemed thrilled to be onstage with their idols (Fantasia and Reba, respectively). I also enjoyed the “live” onscreen proposal of Ace (from some long-forgotten season) to former contestant Diana DeGarmo. The comment he made about “taking Broadway” lends some support to the concept that these singers will go on to have careers in music. I know that I, personally, have seen Syesha Mercado and Constantine Maroulis onstage in Chicago in traveling Broadway productions:”Dream Girls” for Syesha and the upcoming Tom Cruise casting as Stacey Jax in the film version of the play is something to ponder.

I noticed Phillip Phillips, during his moments onstage when he was overcome by emotion and stopped singing, trying to spit out confetti that was raining down on the crowd. This confetti looked pretty substantial! It’s no wonder that Phillip gave up on singing the lyrics, given the emotion of the moment and the paper packing his mouth. It didn’t stop the drum major people in the background who kept marching back and forth as Phillip sang about “Home.” I think it was Phillip’s far superior song on the final night of competition that helped him win. Jessica’s song was shrieky and nonmelodic. She had done well up to that point, but song selection was never Jessica’s strong suit during her weeks on the show. She would go from superb, as with her Whitney Houston selections, to really stupid, as with the number she sang in sky-high heels that was her attempt at an “upbeat” number (“Set the night on fire…etc.). That little ditty really didn’t enhance her reputation on the show, and she has Gloria Estefan to thank for that particular miscue.

Phillip, on the other hand, seemed to select just the right song, even if it wasn’t a song any of us had ever heard. He was always interesting to watch and I enjoyed his awkward dance moves. I also thought that Joshua Ledet was the most “compleat” (British spelling) performer of the entire competition. And, for sheer spunky “Let’s get this show on the road” you had Skylar Laine.

Holly Cavanagh got some good moments during the finale, as well she should have. I enjoyed hearing her sing the perennial graduation favorite “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” I did not enjoy revisiting Colton Dixona and DeAndre Brackensick seemed unusually prominent during the men’s group numbers. I actually have forgotten the name of the chubby male singer that made it through primarily because Jennifer Lopez liked him. My spouse did not like Han whatever-his-name-was, the Asian singer, but it was nice to see Elise (Testone) again. This is one of the few “American Idol'” groups that I would potentially pay money to see, as a group. They were that good, in general. I’m still trying to remember the name of the 2 blondes (one with a new short hair-do, I think), because, like all of America, we forget our idols much too quickly.

Jessica Sanchez finishes 2nd on "American Idol."