Thursday, May 27, 2010

American Idol Review
Finals Part II

The ninth season of American Idol is now complete.

What started out with so much promise back in in January, played out exactly as it should have. Originally described as a "ladies year," Season 9 sure did not pan out that way. It was clear from the start that Crystal Bowersox was far more polished than any of the other female contestants. But early on, Siobhan Magnus gave her a run for her money. Other female contestants - Lacey Brown, Didi Benami, Katie Stevens and Paige Miles - all had a moment or two, but they never were able to consistently perform at a high level. The shame was that two other women - Lily Scott and Katelyn Epperly - were eliminated too soon. Both of them had the potential to at least outshine Katie, Paige and perhaps even Lacey (I know, not many of you liked Lacey, but I did).

On the men's' side, momentum change was a regular occurrence early on. Before the top 24 was formulated, it appeared that Andrew Garcia was the front runner. But he never did recapture his effort of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up." Of course, the judges reminded him of that on a weekly basis. Still, that one performance kept him in the contest a lot longer than he deserved. For proof, watch his performance on the finale again. He was completely swallowed up by the song he was singing. The dude has a sweet voice, but is clearly not ready for the big time.

The next two contestants to look like winners were John Park and Alex Lambert. Alex is a good looking kid and he has a very unique voice. Without a question in my mind, he should have made the top 6, at least. Certainly, he was much more interesting than Tim Urban (who, by the way, sounded great Wednesday night) and Aaron Kelly. John, on the other hand, really shined during the auditions. But when faced with a real audience, his song choices and singing abilities fell flat.

From the outset, Casey James was clearly Kara's favorite. Her lusting over him was both disturbing and unprofessional. After the show (including the producers and the other judges) played it to death, it got old. Kara did not help matters either and seemed to like the spotlight. However, her critiques this year were far more accurate than either Randy's or Ellen's. Considering how poorly she performed as a judge last year, it was a welcomed development.

Still, besides his good looks, Casey was pretty good. For a while, it looked like he would give Lee a run for the money. Earlier in the season, it looked like Michael Lynche had a chance as well. But between the overplayed "baby" story and his penchant for weird faces and desire to pick up people, he lost a lot of his charm also.

Lee, on the other hand, had a different problem. His nerves. In fact, when Ryan was announcing the winner, it would not have surprised me to see Lee simply vomit on stage at that point. But the difference was, when he performs, he is in a different place altogether. What Lee had going for him was a mixture between his David Cook-sweetness, his Chris Daughtry-rocker and his Kris Allen-goofy smile. Lee was never the best singer, or even the best performer of the bunch. But he was the one who grew the most and clearly won the hearts of the millions of young female voters.

As I wrote Tuesday night, I really did think those who voted for Casey would then switch to Lee. As each of the female contestants were eliminated, their votes went to Crystal for the most part. So by the time they were all gone, Crystal's total was pretty complete. The reason why I predicted a Crystal victory was because I felt she out-performed Lee Tuesday night.

It wasn't the fist time I picked the wrong winner. I did it last year also. But, as you all know, I didn't write a while back that I felt Lee was the only one who could defeat Crystal. I was impressed with the way Crystal handled herself after the announcement. She had always said she did not think she had the thing won and she looked truly happy for Lee.

But no matter, both Crystal and Lee will benefit greatly from the competition and have better careers tan many other Idol alums.

On a final note, I must say that I will miss Simon Cowell. He really has been the only judge worth listening to and unless they find a suitable replacement (please G-d, NOT Madonna), the franchise will be in serious trouble. In fact, here is my list of chances I feel the show must make to stay atop the ratings:

1. Go back to a three-judge panel. I did enjoy Ellen a great deal at first. Her humor was refreshing and sweet. But she added nothing to the contestants. 9 times out of 10, she agreed with Randy and the other time, she simply said nothing.

2. Find a replacement for Simon who knows the business and can be helpful for the contestants. But, and this is a BIG but, stay away from controversial candidates (Perez Hilton, Madonna, Howard Stern). Don't make the show about them because it isn't about them.

3. Allow the whole top 12 to tour. While it does make for more drama to have the eleventh week so vital, it really sucks for the two contestants who get so far, only to lose that one big chance.

4. Rethink the themes. one oldies week is enough, unless you have a famous guest star. But change it up a bit. But stay away from artists who the contestants can never hope to sing like. It was bad enough having Simon criticize someone for singing a country song during country week.

5. Remind the judges again that it isn't about them. Far too much time was spent on the inter-relationships between the judges. I don't need to see Kara snuggling with Simon, nor do I need to hear Randy constantly booing Simon. ENOUGH ALREADY.

6. Do away with the swaybots. These are the young girls who stand in front of the stage swaying their arms in front of all the contestants. It didn't matter if it was a slow ballad or Alice Cooper's "School's Out." These robots were waving their arms as if by motor. I would have paid to see Lee (or anyone else) stop his song midway and told them to just cut it out already.

7. Do not bring back William Hung again. EVER. I understand bringing the annual joke (this year it was the "Pants on the Ground" guy) back for the finale. But did we really need to have Brittenum Twins, Norman Gentle, Tatiana and the ''Brothers Forever'' guy repeated their 15 minutes of fame? And if you were going to bring back Norman Gentile, at least let him sing!

8. It would have been nice if the producers would have let the viewers know why David Cook was not onstage with the other past winners. Cook had a previous commitment to perform at a cancer fundraiser. His absence was surprising and it was shameful for Idol to not say something.

9. No more sex on TV. Idol is still on during the family viewing hours. If I want to see Ke$ha (or whatever the hell she calls herself), or Janet Jackson in a leotard and basely anything else, I'll watch the Playboy channel. While I do appreciate Alanis Morrisette's self-censorship, wouldn't it have been better to have her sing a different song, instead?

10. No more lip synching. These contestants are there to win for their ability to sing. Having them lip sync during the Wednesday night openings defeats the purpose. They have 7 days to prepare their individual songs and a short medley. What the hell else are they doing with their time. Learn the lyrics!

I thought the finale was very well done. I was surprised by the artists they had on the show and I felt the entire thing was greatly entertaining. Now, we have just 7 months lest before season 10 begins!

No comments: