After winning the 11th season of "American Idol" on Wednesday, Phillip Phillips addressed what many supporters of his opponent, Jessica Sanchez, may consider to be the elephant in the room.
"Honestly, man, I didn't think I'd even make it to see the judges. I have no shame in saying it - I'm not a great singer," he told reporters backstage. "I just love having fun up on stage, jamming with the guys and just playing good music, man. I like getting the crowd into it. Music's fun, dude. It takes away a lot of things that's going around."
"I have no idea why this happened," he added. "I love playing music and I'm just a lucky guy."
The 21-year-old musician from Leesburg, Georgia, may not be able to hit the high notes Sanchez, a 16-year-old power vocalist from San Diego, California, had reached throughout the season but he wowed the judges and audiences with his gravelly voice and soulful performances of classic and modern rock hits with his guitar and showcased a fun-loving, casual attitude.
"He's real. We watched him come from a guy that was pulling himself out of his soul to a guy who can actually stand up there right now, after two months, four months, and sing a melody without feeling uncomfortable about himself," co-judge Steven Tyler said. "He's just really evolved and he's been vulnerable. I think America loves that."
"Sometimes, you gotta realize the rules of this show are to every time bring it," he added. "Whatever it was they loved the last time, you gotta at least move in that way. However, the guy that won didn't care. And I think America loves that. And that's beautiful. I thought he'd win only because he's so vulnerable and I also think he's going to be a big movie star. I don't know why but I just think that. I look at his face and I see James Dean."
On Wednesday's results how, Phillips performed two songs with rocker John Fogerty, which the "American Idol" winner said marked a finale highlight for him. After Phillips was announced the winner, he performed an encore of "Home," a ballad he performed the night before that was touted as his first potential single. He was seen wiping away tears as he ended the song and ran to hug his family off stage.
"It's just a blessing to have a good family like that - my sisters, brothers-in-law, my nieces, girlfriend, mom and dad and everybody. Just great people," he said, adding: "I might end up crying some more. I hate crying but I'll probably cry some more. It feels good at times."
Both Sanchez and Phillips are expected to soon record their own albums and begin a North American tour with the rest of the top 10 finalists in July.
But first, Phillips has some health issues to take care of. It was announced last week that after the finale, he is set to undergo kidney surgery. He has had several procedures to remove kidney stones since October 2011 and was hospitalized in March after experiencing abdominal pain.
"I wanna get some surgery done so I'm going to get all better for the tour," he said.
Phillips was touted as one of two token heartthrobs this season, along with Tennessee rocker Colton Dixon, and is the fifth male contestant in a row to win the FOX singing contest series since Jordin Sparks captured the title of "American Idol" in 2007.
In a March interview with OnTheRedCarpet.com, Tyler had mentioned Phillips and Sanchez by name while talking about the "good singers" among the Top 7 season 11 contestants. He said after Wednesday's finale that both she and Phillips now have record deals.
"Jessica's got a huge future ahead of her and we're both supportive of each other," Phillips said.