Phillip Phillips crowned new American Idol Season 11

(Photo by Oliver Carnay)

Phillip Phillips is the new American Idol!

(Los Angeles, CA - May 23, 2012) With 132 million total votes garnered from both parties, 21 years-old Phillip Phillips from Leesburg, Georgia, looks stunned when host Ryan Seacrest announced his name as Season 11‘s new American Idol, defeating 16 years-old Jessica Sanchez, a native of Chula Vista, California. Voters from this year were outnumbered from last year’s contest between Scott McCreery and Lauren Alaina which drew more than 122 million votes.

The 2-day Finale event held at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live in downtown, Los Angeles started on Tuesday, May 22, with both finalists singing three songs each.

For the first round, Jessica Sanchez, took the stage and sang a polished Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" while Phillip Phillips gambled an odd version of "Stand By Me." The first round gave Sanchez the judges' (Randy, Steven, and Jennifer) votes.

For second round, both had the choice of picking a song they have previously sang on the show. Jessica opted for "The Prayer," the song which earned her a spot in the top 24. Phillips chose "Movin' Out," from Billy Joel night, with a more confident performance than he had the first round. The three judges had split decisions, with Tyler giving the round to Sanchez, Jackson calling it "a dead heat," and Lopez contending Phillips claimed it with authenticity.

For the last round, both sang a piece that should be their first single song in their album. Jessica chose "Change Nothing," which Jackson said he "did not love the song," and added that he didn't see the Sanchez famous "swag." Lopez advised Sanchez to assert herself more in the future, when presented with material that didn't suit her, which Tyler seconded -- "didn't feel like that song was the proper song." But for Phillips performance of "Home," backed by a passel of marching drummers, he received a standing ovation from the judges.

The announcement
On Wednesday, Phillips dissolved into tears a few seconds while singing “Home,” the song which may be his first single released. “I don’t have an idea why I won!” he repeatedly claimed.

Jessica looked even happier and relieved, “I knew he is going to win, he deserves to win ... he is so consistent despite his kidney problem. I am just happy that it’s over and I am so happy for him!” she said backstage to a pool of media reporters.

Phillips was the fifth Idol winner in a row and like the past four guys who won the title, they were all guitar players (David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, and last year's Scott McCreery). Jordin Sparks was the last female winner who took the crown in 2007.

Highlights of the Show
Although, Phillips won, it may be Sanchez’s powerhouse duet with Grammy icon and Tony award-winning artist Jennifer Holiday performing the latter’s hit “And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going” who brought the house down and that could be one of the most viewed clips on youtube this weekend.

Former Idol contestants Ace Young (Season 5’s 7th place finisher) surprised Diana DeGarmo (Season 3 third runner-up) with an on-stage marriage proposal. The two met and worked in the production of the musical “Hair” and ended up being an item.

Judges Steven Tyler performed with his band Aerosmith while Jennifer Lopez gave a glimpse of her upcoming tour.

Other performers include Rhianna, Jordin Sparks, Reba McIntyre, Neil Diamond, Chaka Khan and John Fogerty.

Spotted at the red carpet were current Top Ten (DeAndre Brackensick, Hollie Cavanagh, Colton Dixon, Heejun Han, Joshua Ledet, Skylar Laine, Shannon Magrane, Jeremy Rosado, Elise Testone, Erika Van Pelt) and former Idol contestants including Fantasia Barino, Carrie Underwood with ice hockey player Mike Fisher, Pia Toscano, Naima Adedapo, Scott McIntyre, Didi Benami, Tim Urban, Jacob Lusk, Stefano Langone, Casey Abrams, David Fernandez, Taylor Hicks, among others. Other celebrities who attended were Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin, Jason Derulo (who came with Jordin Sparks), Julianne Hough, Dean Cain, Jane Lynch, Jane Seymour, and many more.

The first American Idol had Kelly Clarkson winning Season 1, followed by Ruben Studdard (Season 2), Fantasia Barrino (Season 3), Carrie Underwood (Season 4), Taylor Hicks (Season 5), Jordin Sparks (Season 6), David Cook (Season 7), Kris Allen (Season 8), Lee DeWyze (Season 9), and Scotty McCreery (Season 10).

(More photos here )