Yeah, that's right, I am an American Idol fan. Sue me, but I can't get enough. It is consistently the only reality show to excite me when it starts every January, and keep me glued to the TV on Tuesday and Wednesday (and occasionally Thursday) nights all the way until the end of May. I always had a theory that it was because A.I. is the only reality show to treat itself like the once-a-year event that it is...every January through May viewers can expect to see American Idol...and it consistently brings in more viewers than any other program. Genius strategy. But that's another blog for another time...
...Watching Idol this season has been both a joy and a frustration. The joy is that this might be the deepest talent pool the show has ever produced--7 or 8 out of the final 12 contestants have all been good-to-great. The frustration comes with the popularity contest that is the weekly nationwide call-in vote. Only 5 of those 8 strong contestants remain, simply because the better candidates got booted before their time. Last week, the Australian import Michael Johns was the latest to get the ax, in probably the most shocking moment of the season thus far.
To update the uninitiated: seven contestants remain, five of which are legitimately good--David Cook, Syesha Mercado, Carly Smithson, Jason Castro, and Brooke White. Cook, incidentally, is a genius and a star...if he does not win, the universe is not in proper alignment (though when has the universe EVER been in proper alignment?). Smithson has the most incredible voice of all the finalists, though she has not found her niche yet. Mercado is another stunning vocalist, who has fallen victim to the racism that America exhibits when confronted with the "boredom" of "another really good black female singer" (also another blog for another time). Castro and White both are unconventional and great, with lilting vocals and unique musical arrangements.
So, who are the other two contestants rounding out the final seven? Kristy Lee Cook and David Archuleta, that's who. Kristy Lee has been a perennial 'bottom three' contestant, and she should have been voted out three different times by now (apart from the fact that she never should have landed a final 12 spot to begin with). She has a weird cross-eyed look when she performs, like a deer in the headlights. She is just not in the same class as the other contestants.
And what of Archuleta? Well, he is a little boy. He's 17 going on 14, a kid who wears polo shirts on elimination nights. He also happens to be a very cute kid, which is what has carried him through the competition thus far. He happens to have a very nice voice, but he cannot and will not be a star...not at his current age. The pre-teens who vote for him barely have the money to buy any CD, and even if they did they would never buy an Archuleta disc, which on the basis of his Idol performances would consist of slow, turgid love ballads. He is the least marketable of all the finalists--even less so than Kristy Lee, who could still sell country albums, even with a sub-par voice and horrid performance anxiety.
So...what is the point of this post? I was thinking this morning over an eye-glazingly boring trip to work that Archuleta needs to leave Idol, simply because he is a kid trying to play during adult swim. Every other contestant is more grown-up and substantial than he. It seems to be the Year of the Adult on A.I., and I personally love that. And by that logic, David A. needs to go.
But then I came to my senses. In actuality, Archuleta is not a kid playing during adult swim. Every other contestant is a grown-up in the kiddie pool. American Idol appeals to me as an adult, and I am not ashamed of that---it appeals to many other adults as well. But the adult appeal is watching the performances. The kid appeal is calling in to vote (that logic seems screwy, but it is true). And with kids, it will always be a popularity contest: who can blow the biggest bubble gum bubble? Answer: people just like David Archuleta.
If the kids weren't controlling the show, Michael Johns, arguably the most adult performer of them all, who took on the most mature (and therefore uninteresting to the kids) song choices, would still be competing. If the kids weren't controlling the show, Amanda Overmyer, A.I.'s first ever female rock star, would not have been voted off during the second week of top 12 competition. If the kids weren't controlling the show, Archuleta would have at least been in the bottom three on a couple different occasions.
But the kids DO control the show. And remember last season? The Idol winner was not the stellar front-runner, the very adult, very intangible Melinda Doolittle. It was Jordin Sparks, who was wonderful, and who actually has a great career now. But the fact remains, she was more appealing to the kids...who run the show. How old was Jordin Sparks when she won? She was 17...the same age as Archuleta.
Am I saying, then, that my not-so-monumental epiphany means I have undergone a change of heart, and that Archuleta deserves to win? No, don't be crazy...that would require a heart transplant. Or at least a brain transplant. But I am saying that he is the odds-on favorite to win.
I just hope those kiddie voters don't pull another Daughtry and vote David Cook off before his time. Because if David A. must survive to the final two, at least David C. would be there to show the boy what it takes to be a star.