Interview with newest 'American Idol' champ Phillip Phillips

On May 23, singer Phillip Phillips was named the winner of Season 11 of American Idol. The following day, Phillips, 21, spoke to me about his future career in the music industry.

As you know, winning American Idol doesn’t come with automatic success in the music industry. What do you hope this win will do for your career?

I completely agree, man. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. I can’t stop for anything. I just want to get my own music out there so people can enjoy it. I’m probably going to have a lot of sleepless nights. That’s what it’s going to take to make it big. I’m just going to stay focused on what I want to do with my career and my music. I already know what kind of artist I am and what kind of music I want to put out and what I want to be known for. I’m just excited to tell my own stories through my music.

How have you evolved as a musician over the last few months?

I can sing a ballad and not feel too uncomfortable on stage. It’s not really something I want to do for my career, but I guess people wanted to see that. I felt like I did a good job.

Did you surprise yourself at all?

I surprised myself by performing this many songs, honestly. When I saw how many songs [Season 10 winner] Scotty [McCreery] did, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do that many. I’m really proud of myself for doing that. Throughout this competition I was really pushing myself.

Unfortunately, the Season 11 finale was the lowest rated finale in American Idol history. What do you think that says about the show’s staying power after 11 seasons?

I don’t know, man. Some people might still be diggin’ the show, some people might not. That’s what makes the world go round. It’s a good show. Some people like it and some people don’t.

Do you think part of the reason ratings have dropped is because the field has been diluted by other singing competitions on TV like X-Factor and The Voice?

PUBLICIST: Next question.

The Huffington Post wrote an article after your win called “Why Phillip Phillips and the White Guy with Guitar Trend are Bad for Business.” What do you think of critics who think you won because of your marketability and not because you were the best singer?

It’s just people’s opinions, man. If they paid attention they’d understand there was a big difference between me and other guitarists. A lot of them just play different chords and strum. I’m just excited to get my career on the right path and have fun with it.

You broke down during your last song in the finale and were unable to finish it. What were you thinking about that made you get so emotional?

I just started thinking about the Top 12 and how far we'd come. I was thinking about the journey. It's not as easy as it looks on TV. There is a lot of work put into it.

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