I’ve been really ambivalent about Phillip Phillips on this year’s American Idol. Yes, I know he’s an excellent singer, and he plays guitar – which always sends a contestant soaring upwards in my estimation. But for me, there’s been no real spark.
Last night, Phillip took on a Damien Rice song with the theme of “songs the contestant wishes they had written”. He chose, Volcano, which is one of my personal favourites.
Normally I would be extremely protective of a song like this. Any deviation from the original would have been a travesty, and I’d be ranting for days about Reality TV crucifying another brilliant song.
This wasn’t the case with Phillip Phillips last night. Somehow he managed to evoke the atmospherics of the original – aided by a sole cellist and a backing singer – but he raised the game very subtly by introducing a wonderfully husky tone to his voice. The overall effect was a dark and rich cover version that had all the magnificence of the original, but an angsty vibe that I adored.
I’m still not certain I want Phillip to win Idol this year – he gives me the deja vu tingle of another Lee Dewyze – but this was an outstanding performance by any stretch of the imagination and deserves all the praise we can heap upon it.