While he lacks the balladeering prowess of Sanchez and Ledet, and critics have called him a clone of Dave Matthews, Phillips' silly personality and musical certainty have seemingly made up for any vocal deficiencies he has in the eyes of voters. Matthews himself joked to New York magazine that perhaps he can retire and Phillips "can take over my band."
Slezak is less optimistic. He thinks if Phillips wins, he'll be a redux of DeWyze, the least successful "Idol" in the show's history. (DeWyze's post-"Idol" album, "Live It Up," sold just 39,000 copies when it debuted.) Besides a fondness for gritty vocals, they both share blue-collar backgrounds. DeWyze worked in a paint store. Phillips helped out in his family's pawn shop.
"'Idol' could desperately use another winner on the charts," said Slezak. "What makes it a must-watch show is the contestants you're voting for today end up playing on the radio and selling out concerts tomorrow. 'Idol' doesn't need another winner who sells 40,000 copies and gets dropped by their label. What's the point in watching if that's the end result?"
AP Television Writer Lynn Elber contributed to this report.
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