Another season of American Idol is now past us, and – as usual – it didn’t come and go without its own sense of controversy. If anything, what this past season can boast of in all its apparent glory is the fantastic singing that was heard week after week. I had dropped-off the Idol bandwagon after many questionable decisions made by the judges (or the network, as many a conspiracy theorist tends to believe) for their final list of 10-12 singers. It was only after a chance night at home watching the very first performance of this season’s top 10 that I got re-hooked.
Early on, it was quite apparent that this season’s top finalists were pretty significant. Each one could carry his or her weight through a song every week; some slightly better than others. But after stripping the experience down to its bare bones, we were left with a simple and excellent mix of über talented vocalists & artists all vying for the attention of AI’s voting demographic.
(Same old, same old.)
Now that we’re at the end of the season, I feel like there’s nothing left to do BUT beg to question: Is AI’s voting demographic the expert in choosing America’s next big singer? If the success levels of our last four winners (Phillip Phillips is now #5) are any indication, then the answer is a resounding “no.”
You have to examine the make-up of this “demographic” in order to understand this. We’re unsure if there is actually data out there which would suggest any true determinations on this so-called “demo,” but in taking a look at the four winners prior to Phillips (David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, and Scotty McCreery), it is probably safe to make an assumption on who this group of people may be. *COUGH*Tween Girls*COUGH*Housewives*COUGH*Grandmothers*COUGH*
This in mind, you can easily make some solid comparisons to help understand what these past five winners have in common:
a) White males
b) Musically talented (can sing & play instruments)
c) Easy on the eyes
To this demographic, these are the makings of a true matinee idol. But are these the true makings of what an ‘American Idol’ ‘ought to be? That’s up for debate, for sure.
One thing holds true – each of these winners (well, most of them, at least) have experienced well-deserved wins. Phillip Phillips is no different. Personally, I think that he choose a business-savvier path to choose his finals night playlist than his much younger, and inexperienced, competitor – Jessica Sanchez. One might even argue that Jessica’s phenomenal abilities only warrant her being a true vocalist as opposed to an all-around artist. (But there is nothing wrong with being a gifted vocalist.) But she’s still young, and has a lot to come away with and learn from. She is not one to be counted out, especially after she tore down walls and held her own alongside the incomparable Jennifer Holliday. Damn, j.San sang this shit out of that song!!!
Many argue that it was Jessica’s final song choice (at the end of the finals competition) that did her in, and I can probably agree. I must say, though, that I don’t think the song was horrible by any means. Was it the best for her to choose as her “1st single?” Not at all. That would be like Beyonce starting out her career with ‘Halo’ as her first song ever. ‘Halo’ is a good “mid-way thru a singer’s career” song. ‘Change Nothing’ could work as a regular track on j.San’s eventual CD (because I think it’s obvious that she will be a recording phenom as there are already producers who have expressed their desire to work with her), but it truly wasn’t meant to be a carrier single. And shame on the judges for touting Phillip’s song choice, ‘Home,’ as being completely original. First off, it had hints of Mumford and Sons & even Coldplay written all over it. Secondly, it’s a song that has already been recorded previously –not that this should hinder anyone from re-releasing an old track, but this just doesn’t justify some of the judges’ b.s. comments on finals night.
On Extra (the NBC entertainment news outlet), a poll was taken on who would possibly win this year’s contest. A whopping 87% chose Jennifer Sanchez. Apparently, that 87% was not (likely) part of AI’s loyal voting base, which proves that different demographics seek out different things naturally.
But an even further question could (and should) be asked: Should the fate of the U.S. Idol franchise be left in the hands of this demographic of squealing girls and homely mothers and grandmothers who choose the talented “super cute” guy to win year after year? One thing is for sure… This demographic hasn’t helped to catapult previous winners to the higher echelons of superstardom. Whether we will ever see the presence of an Idol with Kelly-esque or Carrie-esque marketability again is uncertain.
I feel that now is the time to end the franchise. While Simon’s absence has been refreshing, and j.Lo has surely brought more in terms of “advice giving” than Paula had in years (or even Ellen in one season), the credibility of the show has been thrown to the throngs of squealing tweens and their mothers/grandmothers who are giving FOX every reason imaginable to reign supreme in the genre. But unless these tweens & moms can pick and choose next year’s winner through the lenses of a record executive, then I think we can expect another cute-faced, talented white guy with a guitar to win season 12. Oh, and he will likely not be the next Steven Tyler either.
Predictable. Fun to watch, still, but completely predictable.