The Farr Side: Phillip Phillips in the zone on 'American Idol'

David T. Farr

Phillip Phillips did the unimaginable during Season 11 of “American Idol.” He underwent surgery eight times during the competition and still managed to win.

Season 11 was one of the best “Idol” seasons, rivaling Season 5.

I had favorites from the beginning, including Phillips, Joshua Ledet, Elise Testone and runner-up Jessica Sanchez.

I was pulling for Sanchez, but Phillips proved why he also deserved to win. His final song, “Home,” put him over the top.

Sanchez was equally worthy. At just 16, she showed so much depth and maturity. It seemed like she had it in the bag for a while — especially after receiving the season’s only “Save.”

Both Phillips and Sanchez can be thankful Ledet didn’t advance to the top two, as I’m sure he’d steal the show like he did many times during the competition.

The two-night finale was awesome.

Phillips was right where he wanted to be when sharing the stage with CCR co-founder John Fogerty. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and “Bad Moon Rising” sounded so good by the pair.

Ledet performed with Fantasia, who looked totally different sporting long hair and the night’s most talked about outfit — a body suit. The screeching and hollering between the two soulsters, I believe, prompted a commercial interruption.

But Sanchez gave the finale’s best performance. She performed “And I Am Telling You” from “Dreamgirls” with Jennifer Holiday. It was so smooth, it was like butter.

It was no secret Phillips had health issues. News that he suffered with kidney stones circulated the Internet and entertainment news sites. Sometimes, you could see the discomfort showing on his face.

I began to notice his absence in the Ford commercials that all the other finalists appeared in each week.

I’m happy “American Idol” and Phillips’ family didn’t play up his health while the competition was in gear. Not that it would have made me think differently of him, but it could have had an effect in the form of sympathy votes. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and he won by his own merits. Once in the zone, Phillips was unstoppable.

Phillips’ multiple kidney stone surgeries has prompted at least one more surgery before the “American Idol Tour” is set to get under way next month. This time Phillips will undergo kidney reconstruction surgery which will keep him subdued for the next two to four weeks.

Sanchez’s star has only just begun to shine. The newly named runner-up headlined a performance over the weekend at The White House for its annual Memorial Day concert on PBS. She performed “The Prayer” before returning to give a stirring rendition of “God Bless America” that truly was amazing.  

David T. Farr is a Sturgis, Mich., Journal correspondent. Email him at You can also find The Farr Side on Facebook.