Friday, April 23, 2010

'American Idol 9' - A Crystal vs. Lee finale appears to be taking shape

The other night my neighbor asked me what I though of this season's American Idol. I told her I was bored to death by it! She agreed, invoking the name of Chris Daughtry as a standard by which Idol should be measured. I countered with Adam Lambert! We both agreed that this season there is no one that even comes close to generating the kind of excitement and buzz that we've seen from contestants like Chris and Adam in past years.

Now, with the contestants pared down to six, it is becoming fairly obvious that the judges (and probably the producers) are envisioning a Crystal Bowersox/Lee DeWyze finale. And quite honestly, the judges incessant pimping of Lee is beginning to get on my nerves. Clearly, they are trying to tell us who they want in the finale, and while Lee isn't the worst contestant in the lot, I can't quite figure out why him.

I suppose this is where I point out the similarities between Lee and the last two winners, Kris Allen and David Cook. Okay, they are somewhat similar, and while neither Kris nor David has taken America by storm, they've sold reasonably well and their songs do get played on the radio. They've represented Idol well and seem like decent guys who just want to make good music.

To me, however, this is all beginning to feel a bit formulaic. We take an ordinary guy who plays acoustic guitar, mix well, and turn him into our next American Idol. What happened to diversity? Why not Michael Lynche, who is a much better performer than Lee, but for whatever reason has failed to connect with viewers. I'd be much happier seeing him in the finals.

I can't imagine Crystal not being in the finals. Of course, there is always the possibility of a "shocking boot" ala Chris Daughtry, who was eliminated in the Top 4 or Melinda Doolittle, the early Season 6 frontrunner who was tossed in the Top 3. I really don't see this happening to Crystal, but I can envision her not winning. Seriously.

All you have to do is think about last year. At this point last season, did anyone really think that Adam would not win? And while by the Top 7, Kris was beginning to attract some attention, I don't think too many people would have predicted he would actually win it all at that point.

The problem is that Idol is just getting old. There is a finite number of "types" that can be cast on the show, and after nine seasons, we've pretty much seen them all. Adam certainly broke the mold as does Crystal in her own way. But America, or at least the part of America that watches Idol and votes, is fairly conservative when it comes to its musical preference. A nice looking singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar is safe. And this year, Lee's that guy.

If you doubt me, listen to the judges closely for the next few weeks. Unless Lee falls flat on his butt, the fawning will continue and he'll sail through round by round. I have no idea who else will make the Top 3, but I guarantee you, Lee will be one of them.

Speaking of Idol history, my new book, This Week in Idol History, is now available for sale on in either paperback or download. The book offers a comprehensive look at the first eight seasons with performance show mini-recaps, a history of the show, a list of all finalists, and other information. It's a good way to get a little perspective on this season. Please check it out!  It will also be on in a month or so.

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