Release Date: Nov 19, 2012
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock
Like his name, Phillip Phillips' music often seems redundant: When we've already got Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz, why do we need another earnestly raspy balladeer with ace acoustic-guitar skills? The American Idol winner is especially hard to take in covers, like his scary-in-the-wrong-way version of "Thriller" (from the Target deluxe edition). He's far better in originals like "Gone, Gone, Gone" and his hit "Home," which build from folksy picking to hooting power-ballad choruses, a pleasantly popified take on Arcade Fire. Those songs are redundant too – but the tunes leaven Phillips' overbearing self-seriousness.
White Guy With Guitar. That’s the popular term (and inevitable #WGWG Twitter hashtag) often used to describe the past five winners of American Idol: David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery, and, most recently, Phillip Phillips. So when the gravelly-voiced strummer, 22, earned the confetti shower in May — beating out bellowing diva-in-training Jessica Sanchez — Idol cynics rolled their eyes.
What American Idol winner Phillip Phillips may lack in artistic mettle, he makes up for in impeccable timing, as his debut, The World from the Side of the Moon, arrives in the throes of the roots-rock revival that’s seen acts like Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers scoring big commercially. To that end, Phillips, an unapologetic Dave Matthews Band acolyte, has the good fortune to sound relevant in a way that few American Idol winners ever have, as The World from the Side of the Moon often plays like Mumford & Sons’ Babel with training wheels. As a more polished, radio-friendly reiteration of what a host of other artists are already doing, the album positions Phillips for broad commercial success, but it also raises significant questions about whether or not the singer-songwriter has the chops to maintain relevance once this folksy bubble inevitably bursts.
Perhaps no “American Idol” winner has been more transparent about his or her musical intentions than Phillip Phillips. Week after week, the grumpy-voiced reigning champion stayed so unwaveringly true to his vision that anyone who watched already knows exactly what “The World From the Side of the Moon” sounds like. It’s essentially a magnet with two poles — Dave Matthews (his true north) and Mumford & Sons — and it’s just a matter of how far each song swings the needle from side to side.