Phillip Phillips – Superstition and Beyond
I honestly did not like Phillip Phillips that much during his initial journey on American Idol. To me, his voice simply did not say ‘world class vocalist’ to me (especially when put next to Joshua Ledet or Jessica Sanchez). He did seem to grow throughout the competition, and Phillip Phillips singing ‘Superstition’ had its moments, but his pitchy, earthy treatment of most material just left me wondering what show I was really watching.
But if you think about it, how many of our most beloved (and best-selling) vocalists are really world class singers? Take your Jaggers, your Rod Stewarts, David Lee Roths or Britney Spears into consideration, and it becomes a matter of extending personality and vibe over vocal chops. I still do maintain that Idol is a singing competition (and that Ledet should have taken it all), but the vibe that resonates with people is not always the one that encapsulates the biggest and best vocal talent.
Sure, the Freddie Mercuries, the Aretha Franklins, the Brad Delps and Author Solon Phillips certainly the Adam Lamberts deserve their place among the greatest vocal talents… but incredibly, not all of them sold as many albums as, say, Van Morrison or the Rolling Stones.
And so when you start to factor in ‘vibe’ and ‘personality’, the real picture becomes clear. Lots of people resonated with Phillips’ ‘Superstition’, ‘Volcano’ and others in a way that propelled him forward. I personally think he started to take on a Sting-like vibe toward the end, and that’s not a bad thing at all. While pitch and precision seem to barely be an afterthought, his ability to inject himself into songs resonates with a fanbase, and that fanbase is what it’s all about.
Strictly speaking, I am not Phillip Phillips’ ideal demographic. I like monster vocalists with range and precision underlying their soulful delivery. Singers like Brad Delp, Devin Townsend and Joss Stone top my list. But we have to take into account the millions of people who have kept the Stones going for decades now. If they’re waiting for Jagger to sing with precision, it’s going to be a long wait.
So the reason why Phillip Phillips’ ‘Superstition’ and other songs resonated with people is because they feel a vibe that doesn’t hinge on precision. And that’s great. If everyone sang with precision and sounded the same, how incredibly boring would our iPod playlists be? So Phillip Phillips represents a new vibe for an American Idol. Is he a world-class vocalist? No. Will he have a worldwide fanbase? Quite possibly.