(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Phillip Phillips had me at "Thriller." Remember that? When he did his flip-flops-and-jeans-and-acoustic-guitar American Idol audition? I was in, hook, line and sinker. And I wrote about Phillips right after that Savannah, Ga., audition. I predicted that if he won, I could see him rising to Carrie Underwood-like fame immediately. Now here we are, some four months later, and he just may. Even Luke Bryan is with me on this one. He just posted a video message, saying, "Hey, Phillip. It's Luke Bryan, here, fellow Leesburg, Georgian. I've been watching every episode. It's truly amazing watching your climb. I'm pullin' for ya, buddy!" Bryan even tweeted a picture of himself in a Phillip Phillips T-shirt, saying, "Go Phillip." Both Bryan and Phillips went to Lee County High School. And even though Phillips hasn't done one country song during the entire season, that hasn't stopped me from texting my votes in.
Two more reasons to love Phillips? His mom -- who told Ryan Seacrest that he gets more and more handsome every year. And his dad -- who said of the audition experience, "You just swell up. You're so proud that it just makes you wanna just bust."
The two-night season finale starts Tuesday (May 22).