The Washington Post

‘American Idol’ mentor Jimmy Iovine insists Phillip Phillips is different from other finalists

Phillip Phillips (Michael Becker /Fox)

“He has certain things those others . . . didn’t have,” Iovine insisted in a phone conference call Monday with The Reporters Who Cover “Idol,” when one of them asked about the death grip the SSWGWG’s have had on the derby.

Those certain things?

“He’s got crazy charisma and an incredible sound,” Iovine said by way of distinguishing Phil2 from Season 7 winner David Cook, Season 8 winner Kris Allen and Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze. (All won in the pre-Iovine Mentor-in-Chief-ing days of the show.)

(Iovine sets those guys in a different category from last season’s winner, Scotty McCreery, who was mentored by Iovine — and who, of course, was safe, white and with guitar, though not scruffy.)

“It bodes well for ‘American Idol’ that a kid like that can get this far,” Iovine continued — still talking about Phil.

Others might disagree, particularly those who blame the tweener-girl voting bloc for the bland sameness of “Idol” winners that industry navel-lint-pickers say has contributed mightily to the show’s ratings declines. This season, for instance, the performance show is down 23 percent compared with last season with viewers of all ages, and down 30 percent among 18- to 49-year-olds who are the currency of broadcast-TV ad sales.

It hasn’t done much for “Idol”-winner debut album sales, either.

Some industry navel-lint-pickers think McCreery — last season’s country crooning winner — appears to have somewhat broken the “Idol” winner curse, noting that his debut album marked the first time that an “Idol” winner debut album hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 since second-season winner Ruben Studdard.

Jessica Sanchez (Michael Becker/Fox)

Iovine insisted that Jessica Sanchez could win it on Wednesday night’s finale, ignoring the fact that seven of 10 “Idol” winners have come from Southern states and Phil is from Georgia (Jessica — the only other Idolette left standing — is from San Diego). And that’s not to mention the fact that Jessica was already tossed off the show once, only to be resuscitated when the judges triggered their Jennifer Hudson Memorial Judge’s Save.

Jessica, Iovine said, was born with “one of those gifts you see very rarely. Her voice, the tone, the range, her poise — she has every chance to win this thing. . . . She can strike a chord in you, with the right song, that no matter what you heard before that, you will vote for her. She can change your mind on a dime. There are so few people like that in the industry — there just aren’t voices like that.”


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