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A possible game-changing moment during Tuesday’s American Idol performance show? Phillip Phillips’ final number, which could easily go down in Idol history as the best coronation song ever.
“Home” was written by Drew Pearson, who has worked with more than his share of Idol alums including Adam Lambert, Casey Abrams and Lee DeWyze. It was originally meant for British artist Greg Holden but was submitted to Idol as a possible finale number by Pearson’s publishing company, Pulse Recordings.
“Pulse has a relationship with Jimmy Iovine and were able to pitch the song directly to him,” Pearson tells The Hollywood Reporter exclusively. “Jimmy heard it and loved it, and that was it.”
VIDEO: ‘American Idol’: Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler Assess the Final Two
And it seems the audience at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre did as well, judging from the thousands who leapt to their feet and clapped along. Pearson was among them and says the moment was surreal.
“It’s hard to describe — it’s not just watching Phillip, it’s watching people’s reactions,” he added.
Although the song wasn’t written with Phillips in mind (Holden is a co-writer on the track), Pearson says the sentiment lined up nicely with the finalist’s experience. “When they did the homecoming episode, Phillips’ [segment] was especially moving,” he explains. “Not just when his dad got all teary, but you could see that it’s a small town and everybody knows everybody. It ended up being perfect for him.”
STORY: Nigel Lythgoe Addresses Future of ‘American Idol,’ With or Without Jennifer Lopez
The distinct Mumford & Sons feel was no accident either. “I do love Mumford,” Pearson confesses. “I also like Arcade Fire and there’s some of that, too, along with a few Irish bands that influenced it.”
Pearson also recorded the song with Phillips just days ago. “He came in to sing on it, sat down and killed the song,” he reveals. “He got into it so easily.” The produced version, he adds, is very close to the rendition we heard on the finale, minus the marching band.
Says the 31-year-old songwriter, who’s also worked with Zac Brown Band, “I thought Phillip did an amazing job.”
As for competitor Jessica Sanchez, her coronation song, “Change Nothing,” (co-written by Jaden Michaels), didn’t garner as many accolades from the judges — especially Randy Jackson, who commented that the tune was “just OK.”
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