Well folks for the 6th time, we are finally here. From what seems like ages ago (remember those auditions that just wouldn't end?), we have whittled down over 100,000 applicants aspiring to be our next American Idol down to our final 2. Many people are shocked at the final 2 left standing. Many people are upset. Many people have lost the will to care! Yes, Melinda Doolittle, arguably one of the best voices ever to grace the Idol Stage, did not have enough power with the American Public to outlast the far more marketable Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis. Yes, it's a singing competition, but at the end of the day were any of you going to rush out and buy Melinda's album when it came out? I guess it could be argued that no one will buy Jordin or Blake's albums either...but I personally think they have more of a fighting chance. One thing is for sure though, Season 6 will be remembered (in my eyes) as the first season since season 3 where the American Idol Formula has shown its weakness and is screaming for a desperate RE-INVENTION before becoming a parody of itself (might be too late for that!).
If you have been a reader since Seasons 4 or 5, you will know what I like to do in the Season Finale Blog. Oh yes, I love doing my little walk down memory Lane of the past seasons! Let's revisit one more time the 2 contestants from each of the past 5 years that made it to the big show at the Kodak Theater. Let's recapture some of the the drama and the history we experienced:
Season 1: Kelly Clarkson vs Justin Guarini
spinoff of the British sensation POP IDOL (also starring Simon Cowell as a judge) that spawned British Pop Superstar WILL YOUNG (yeah...he never really made it over here. And if you watched Idol Rewind or Season 1, you may remember HE HAD A LISP too!!!! That stuff just doesn't fly with us Americans!) Anyway, that summer, Idol grew through word of mouth....and the watercoolers were buzzing across the work places. And millions and millions of people got to meet and be amazed by an undiscovered budding superstar in Kelly Clarkson. I will admit, I was/am caught up in it! (oh hell, anyone that knows me knows that I feel I have a personal stake in her career since she was my favorite back in season 1!) Anyway, looking back on Idol Season 1, there seems to have been just as many bad contestants that made the TOP 10 (yep, from season 2 onward they extended to a Top 12 to get 2 more weeks of premium commercial air time). But there was lots of drama. America was introduced to Simon Cowell and boy they didn't like him! But at the same time, we grew to love his brutal honesty! I could go on and on about Paula and Randy, and Brian Dunkleman (nice move on IDOL's part of getting rid of that guy!), and how Tamyra Gray had an off night and a surprise outing in the final 4....but we've covered all of that. It all boils down to crowning our first American Idol and STILL the most successful to date (although she has some huge competition!), Multi-Platinum selling, Grammy Award Winning artist, KELLY CLARKSON. 3rd Album "My December" hits stores Tuesday, June 26th and we're all waiting to see if Kelly can continue her amazing success!
My Personal Rank of Season 1 out of 6: 1 (Can never top an original, can you?)
Clarkson did. Yet, many found their prayers answered in Clay Aiken. The geek with the HUGE voice. No one could deny that his pipes were/are incredible. And American Idol may as well have been Extreme Makeover in season 2. They were dealing with some very interesting looking contestants. Season 2's theme? "AMERICA IS NOT SHALLOW" (Season 6's theme? total opposite!) Both Plus sized singers Kimberly Locke and Ruben Studdard had some appeal about them that went past physical appearance and allowed them to sail to the final 3 (of course who knows what would've happen if Frenchie Davis didn't get booted from the show?). Everyone thought Clay had the show in the bag....but Ruben had a lot of support in Area Code 205 as well as the entire country. It came down to possibly the closest vote ever in Idol history, but Ruben took the crown. I argue to this day, that Idol Producers intervened and allowed Ruben to win as a marketing strategy to get the most sales out of both contestants. Of course, looking back now, does it really matter? Neither of them are lighting up the charts like Kelly and another Idol winner I'll be discussing shortly.
My Personal Rank of Season 2 out of 6: 4
This was the first sign that America was getting tired of the American Idol format. Ratings were slipping a bit and there were really no likable contestants. But there was Fantasia....the judges worshiped the illiterate single mother that was barely scraping by in life. She had an attitude about her that just seemed to make me want to throw something at the TV or at the very least, turn it off! But she was a good singer, if you liked the raspy Macy Gray stuff. But, we already had Macy Gray! And boooooy was she uggggly! (yeah, and I'm not ashamed to say it!) Some will argue that her rendition of "Summertime" (click for youtube clip) was quite possibly the greatest performance in all of Idol History. I'll still argue Kelly's big band night performance of "Stuff Like that There" takes the cake. But the sign of Season 3's weakness could be seen in Fantasia's final 2 competition. 16 year old bubble gummy Diana DeGarmo. Great for a 16 year old, but not really that great! Diana and tone-deaf Jasmine Trias beat out vocally dominant Latoya London. Why? People couldn't really identify with miss London who seemed to have no personable qualities outside of her performances. Her performances were technically fantastic, but America always wants more in their winners. (sounds a bit like Melinda doesn't it?) Anyway....I found myself doing other things during the season 3 competition, even though I always had it on. I was about to give up on my favorite guilty pleasure TV show.
My Personal Rank of Season 3 out of 6: 6
Federov, the REAL rocker Bo Bice and country sweetheart CARRIE UNDERWOOD. Yes, there were many others worth noting (ahhh Scott Savol how we miss you!), but I'd like to focus on Carrie Underwood (naturally). From the minute she set foot on the audition floor, I could tell there was something special about this girl (most of us could). Her voice was so pure and so strong. It made listening to country music (fora non-country listener at the time) not only bearable, but desirable! And yes, many argued that Carrie lacked the stage presence and personality to make it all the way. But Americans were drawn to the voice, her marketable appearance, and her "small town girl meets the big world"mentality with which she approached the show. Anyone remember when Ryan asked Carrie if she had seen any Stars in Hollywood and she responded with something like "well, it's been too cloudy since I got here!" Ahhh yes. You just can't write a better story than seeing Carrie Underwood find success! And she really did! She edged out a great run by Bo Bice, perhaps with a little help in the fact that the Finale Songs favoring her vocal style more than his. But her career has flourished since her time on the show. Her album "Some Hearts" remains in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 Albums chart (just hit 6 million sold on May 9th). With her single "Before He Cheats" she has crossed over from her accomplishments in Country Music and found Top 40 mainstream success. She has won Grammy Awards and every Country Award around (including Top Female Vocalist and Album at the latest Academy of Country Music Awards). And what a treat it has been to watch the girl come out of her shell on stage to become a very engaging performer. I actually have been fortunate enough to see her in concert at the beginning of her tour with Brady Paisley and at the end of it. She was a polished poised performing machine by the end of that tour. Crazy stuff! If you want to thank anyone that you have these blogs to read every week during Idol, you can thank Carrie Underwood. She made me a believer in American Idol again!
My Personal Rank of Season 4 out of 6: 2
Ahh Season 5. I remember being disappointed at the end of last season, expecting more. But it may have been part of me coming off the season 4 high. I think it's safe to say, though, that Season 5's cast had the largest amount of talent across the board than any season of American Idol ever. Maybe not the BEST singers we've seen come out of the show, but the majority of the top 12 were GREAT singers and/or performers. Just look at the success that they're having. Chris Daughtry, Elliott Yamin,Katharine McPhee, Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington all have had some pretty good success with their first albums (you can even hear Daughtry's "HOME" every results show during Idol this season which he even performed tonight. And of course, you hear "It's Not Over" any time you turn on a Rock or Top 40 radio station). Kellie and Bucky may be exclusive to Country fans only but still have been welcomed into the Country Community. I believe I just read that Paris Bennett's album was just released too. Never was a fan of hers, but still...the pool of talent last year was insane! And in a season so unpredictable of who would win the crown it ended up coming down to a Popularity Contest. Looking back at last year, I was a sucker for the most popular as well. Taylor Hicks, with the trademark Grey Hair came into his audition and gave a quirky yet uniquely inspiring performance. Paula and Randy loved it....Simon Hated it and said that no one would EVER vote Taylor into the top 12. America became inspired to vote Taylor Hicks not only into the top 12, but into the exclusive AMERICAN IDOL winners circle. If anyone watched and believed dialidol.com they would've seen that it was pointless to vote for any other contestant all season because Taylor was DOMINATING the votes every week. Taylor even turned in some very uninspiring performances in the middle of the season, but it never mattered. The guy had it in the bag. And this may have led to my disappointment in season 5. It had the potential to be so much more than it was, but it is hard to argue with the talent that was delivered. The ironic thing is....all of the contestants I mentioned above have actually found more success than the quirky grey haired winner. I'd love to see Taylor be a breakout success,but it just doesn't seem to be his style. Still, a very entertaining season (if not just for the entertaining BLOGS - Remember Chris Daughtry and his affair with Molly the Mic Stand? ahhh genius! and of course
Elliott as Mr. Tumnus!). But let's be honest...we were all rooting for Kevin Covais the whole time, right?
Which brings us to this season. It would've been near impossible to draw the same amount of talent that season 4 and 5 drew which could only lead one way. DOWN....way DOWN! And sure, there were some good singers this season, but after such marketable seasons as 4 and 5, there just is not much to write home about in season 6. But, as stated before, 2 people with the best shot at success in our crazy Music Industry still remain standing. The first teenager I've ever been inspired to vote for and seems to transcend any age labels (except Randy's insistent attempts "Dude, you're 17!!!!"). The beat boxing hip Idol, with a decent voice but a fabulous sense of rhythm has found a way to land himself many many adoring female fans. It's Jordin vs Blake, Evening Gown Teenager vs a guy not afraid to put a little white in his hair or don a Tuxedo T-Shirt! Voices of the Past and Present vs Potential Sounds of The Future! Is there any way to sum up such a bizarre season that introduced us to SANJAYA? Who will win? We'll find out for sure Wednesday Night. But for now we have some work to do!
3 Songs Tonight from each Blake and Jordin. 1.) Contestant's Favorite performance from this season 2.) New Song chosen by Contestant 3.) American Idol Songwriter Competition Winning Song. Let us point out, that according to what we are shown on camera Blake wins the coin toss and LETS Jordin choose to go 2nd. Now that is just silly IF Blake is trying to win this thing! Another big note: No American Idol FINALE Choir this year! WOAAA They better be there tomorrow night or I'm soooo quitting on watching this show! They are the best unintentional comedy of the year! EVERY year! Ok, let's get down to business.
Round 1 - Blake's Favorite Performance Song vs Jordin's New Song Choice
- Blake - "You Give Love a Bad Name" - Bon Jovi - This was a no brainer for Blake. He HAD to perform this song again. It's the performance that showed his originality, the song that boosted him BACK into this competition, and his ultimate display of his beat boxing abilities. With that said, I didn't think it was as good as his first time around. He was having some "out of tune" problems here and there, and he just didn't seem AS into it the first time around. We were introduced to tonight's theme of Great Performer (Blake) vs Great Singer (Jordin) and later told that this performance was the best "PERFORMANCE" of the night.
- Jordin - "Fighter" - Christina Aguilera - I thought this was a really good choice of song for Jordin, but for some reason, she just didn't seem too into it either. Her vocals were totally there, except for those few screechy notes that Simon pointed out. I thought she was rushing the lyrics here and there a bit too. But it still led broken nose Paula to declare her prediction (that she never told anyone) that Jordin vs Blake would be the best finale ever, was indeed correct. (Yes, Paula tried to avoid stepping on her chihuahua and fell flat on her nose....ahhh good times. Stuff like this only happens to Miss Abdul, doesn't it?)
After the first performances of the night, I felt that neither Blake nor Jordin were really in this thing to win it. But had to agree with the judges that Blake edged out Jordin to win Round 1.
Blake: 1 - Jordin: 0
Round 2 - Blake's New Song Choice vs Jordin's Favorite Performance Song
- Blake - "She Will Be Loved" - Maroon 5 - Well, it looks like Blake took my advice literally when I said that Maroon 5 is the type of music he should be doing! He went ahead and followed up "This Love" from last week with "She Will Be Loved" this week (Maroon 5 is all about the LOVE in their songs!). Once again, we can just see how limited Blake's vocal range truly is. If anything, the guy did me a favor. I had been pondering bringing this song into my arsenal of Karaoke tunes. But seeing Blake struggle with it has made me reconsider! Thanks Blake! With all of that said, I was glad Blake dropped the beatbox for his 2nd two songs and sang one straight up. I always liked the song and disagreed with Simon that it's not a memorable song. But I will agree that the way Blake performed it was pretty forgettable.
- Jordin - "Broken Wing" - Martina McBride - Yeah, this was one of the Jordin gems from earlier in the season. She whipped this out on Country night and even risked singing it with Martina herself being the mentor. Once again, she rocked it out of the park. Do I have to remind everyone that she's 17? Oh Randy already did? My bad! And yet for another American Idol we could see the fix settling in as the Judges started praising one contestant over another. (Now are we really thinking Blake just was THAT nice to let Jordin go 2nd?) And I must note: Why is Paula so insistent on America thinking that "You are in Good Music tonight" is an actual expression? She used it twice tonight on Jordin. And I swear she has said it in previous seasons! Man, that crazy nose break must have her traveling back in time!
Come on Jordin ballad vs Blake Ballad? Was there even a question?
Blake: 1 - Jordin: 1
Round 3 - "This is My Now" - by Scott Krippayne, Jeff Peabody
I have to go on record saying once again that I DID vote in the AI Songwriter Competition and I do recall listening to "This is My Now." Sure, this is the bland song that the Idol producers are looking for their winner's first song release to be. But bleh....that is some generic uninspirational "muzak!" But if I had to rank the 6 finale songs, "This is My Now" does not fall to the bottom of the list. (please don't make me do it! It's too painful a task!) But the real mission/curse of the AI Song is really for the producers to get the contestant THEY want to win the competition. We saw it with Kelly beating Justin with "A Moment Like this" (Justin just couldn't hit the notes!), Ruben and Clay got their own songs because they were both "stars" that season, Fantasia made Tamyra Gray's "I Believe" a Fantasia standard and Diana DeGarmo had no shot, I still have nightmares of Bo Bice singing "I want to be inside your heaven" it just seemed so inappropriate! "Inside your Heaven" was written for Miss Underwood, and of course Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee had their own original songs to perform. And Taylor's crappy tune "Do I Make You Proud" was turned from a bland nothing into a Taylor classic. Katharine let her Idol song take over and drown her.
Yes folks, the Idol Song is the true test of AMERICAN IDOLISM. Do you fit the IDOL MOLD? How well can you sing a cheesy song? Can you make a cheesy song listenable? Will you inspire millions of americans to BUY said cheesy song to get your guaranteed #1 single? If so....you WIN!
- Blake - For the first minute, I was just trying to get over Blake's Sparkly gold and black vest. Then I realized his sneakers matched. After this....I noticed he was SITTING on the big Screen on the back of the stage. The epitome of cheese. It would seem Blake was trying to make up for his disinterest in selling out to the IDOL SONG by his attempt at "COOLNESS" Then I realized, he WAS trying to sing the song. But Blake just wasn't up to the challenge. "This is My Now?" try "This is My Out of Tune Performance!" The judges couldn't take it seriously and America didn't either. It's in a "MOMENT LIKE THIS" when you pretty much know how the rest of the season is going to pan out.
- Jordin - Yep, she nailed it. From first note to her breaking out in tears at the end of the song. Jordin bought into the lyrics and sang the HELL out of her Idol song. Right from the start of the top 12, we began to see Jordin Sparks turn from over-achieving 17 year old to a bonafide IDOL CROWN contender. And as the weeks went by, it became impossible for me to imagine anyone else winning American Idol Season 6. Will I buy this crappy song? Oh, I don't know if I can admit to that! But I think many Americans will be inspired to do just that!
No brainer once again. The Fix was already in once Melinda lost!
Blake: 1 - Jordin: 2
So, I guess with all of the no-brainers going on tonight, my choice for Idol winner will be a no brainer as well. But let me just state for the record, you are dealing with a very efficient Idol picking machine right here! I'm 4 for 5 for the past 5 seasons (yeah...that Clay thing got me too). Granted, only season 2 and 4 were really too close to call, but STILL! You gotta give me some credit this year for picking Jordin at the start of the top 12! And yes, all of these words will come back to haunt me if Blake somehow miraculously wins tomorrow night. With all of this said here is my pick:
AMERICAN IDOL WINNER 2007: JORDIN SPARKS!!!!!
Never thought I'd pick a teenager to win the whole thing until this year. But Jordin earned it this year! Good Luck Jordin!
Well kids...that's it for me tonight. As always, tomorrow night's blog will be quite short due to pulling double duty with a 2 hour LOST finale. But that's why I put a lot of extra time into tonight's blog. Hope you enjoyed!
Your turn everyone, thoughts on season 6? I know some of you are angry that Jordin is the favorite to win this thing. I know some of you will support Blake right to the end. But are some of you still crying over Melinda's departure? Any thoughts for how they can re-invent the show next year? Only thing I can think of is to Audition myself! It IS the last year I can!
We got 12 comments for the Finale Performance Blog last season (and 36 comments on the Lost blog last WEEK!)....Let's see if we can break some records! Post away and see you after we crown the winner!
My Personal Rank of Season 6 out of 6?: 5