LOS ANGELES — Phillip Phillips, the season 11 American Idol winner said that with the recording contract he’ll sign and consequential high income he’ll command, he’d finally be able to buy his own first name, after having to borrow his family’s surname as his first name for the last 22 years.
“When my folks had me, they were just fresh out of college, starting out their lives so they couldn’t afford to get me a real first name,” said Phillips, gesturing towards his proud parents sitting in the audience after the announcement was made on Wednesday night that he had beaten fellow Idol finalist, Jessica Sanchez. “The choices were limited then — they could either borrow, beg or steal a first name for me, so they decided to borrow from the family. Of course I don’t hold anything against them for it, things were tough back then,” he added, blowing a kiss to his mother.
“Now the first thing I’ll do when I get my recording contract advanced payment is to walk over to the National Registration Department and get my own name. I can’t wait to say goodbye to my pseudonym, Phillip,” said Phillips, reflecting on the difficult years in school being teased for having the same first and surnames. “I mean, Phillip is a wonderful name. But the fact that it’s just borrowed from a last name, that’s kinda taken the good vibe out of it. I felt like I was ordinary. It was tough. I had only one friend throughout high school who sympathised with my predicament, I’ve always wished for the day when I could change it.
“This win’s for you, Michael Michaels. We did it, buddy!” yelled Phillips into the camera, wiping tears from his cheeks.
Phillips continued, “It was bad enough to be called ‘stutter name’ or ‘carbon copy kid’. When I tried to alleviate the problem by just using my initials ‘PP’, they called me ‘PeePee’. I was traumatised.”
Fellow finalist Jessica Sanchez said that while she was disappointed that she didn’t win the show, she was inspired by Phillips’ success story. “I know how hard it is having a borrowed name — for a few years my best friend in school was stuck with the name Willow Willows. Fortunately in senior year, her parents bought her the first name ‘Wendy’, so she could start over her life. But not everyone was as lucky to have been able to afford a new name.
“Despite his handicap, Phillip proved that he could break through the discrimination and social stigma. I can’t think of a better person to beat me in the show. Congratulations!” said Sanchez, hugging Phillips.
Phillips said that he hopes to finalise his name purchase and registration before he releases his first album. “It would be a good start to my career. Yes, my fans and the American Idol voters know me as Phillip Phillips, but I don’t think having a different first name will affect their support.
“Artistes change their names constantly, and their fans didn’t leave them. Look at The-Artiste-Formerly-Known-As-Prince-Then-Changed-Into-A-Squiggly-Symbol-And-Now’s-Back-As-Prince. He still sells records. It’s all about the music.”
Asked what his new first name would be, Phillip Phillips admitted that he had not finalised his choice as yet, having been tied up with winning the show and all. “Honestly I haven’t been able to lock in to one name, I’ve got a few choices flying in my head,” he said, apparently overwhelmed by the turn of events. “I’d need to think about this carefully, my first name will determine my career success,” he stated, seriously.
“I’ve always liked ‘Alejandro’ and ‘Maximillian’. My folks did want to name me ‘Benjamin’ when I was born, but they couldn’t afford it. So maybe I’ll use all three.
“Alejandro Maximillian Benjamin Phillips. Now that sells records. Yeah!”