Tonight, after two hours of also-rans and WAY TOO MANY HASHTAGS, the inevitable crowning of Philip Phillips as the new American Idol happened. And while it WAS a little touch & go there for awhile, we all knew how it was going to go down in the end, right?
So the only way you can win this show is if you’re a WGWG — an acronym that may actually expand its lexicon because as we know, the fifth time is the charm — or maybe just…an underdog. Since David Cook’s defeat of David Archuleta, there’s been one WGWG after another. In the end of that season, the public preferred Cook’s reworkings of popular songs over Archuleta’s slick trained-for-this-since-birth routine.
Even if it is middle-aged women doing the majority of the voting, other votes count, too. And when judges’ fave Adam Lambert consistently knocked it out of the park week after week, he didn’t have to take any risks. Kris Allen was the underdog, who turned it on right when it counted. In the end, the public doesn’t enjoy being told who to vote for and since this show “prides” itself on “finding the most talented singers in the nation,” people want to believe their winning contestant is the one who deserved it more. The home-grown, diamond-in-the-rough, yeah…that one.
Really don’t know how to explain Crystal Bowersox losing to Lee DeWyze except for the fact it IS middle-aged women voting for this and he had a guitar and a penis. White Girls With Guitars can’t win? Perhaps some people were turned off my Crystal’s consistent front-runner status and distracted by the fact it was Simon’s last turn at the table. They might just scratch that season from the record books one day. Who knows.
Last year, Scotty McCreery took it over Lauren Alaina not just because he was a WGWG, but because he was a high school student who seemed like a regular high school student. Alaina was pimped alongside her RIDICULOUS stage mom from the get-go. A stage mom who allowed her to skip homework to do karaoke at the local bar. The average viewer finds none of this appealing — especially when you’re talking high school kids. But the kid who’s bagging groceries after baseball practice and expresses effusive admiration for his favorites teachers, this resonates with people.
Ironically, Lauren is still trying to finish her high school degree via correspondance classes. Scotty, who posted an impressive platinum debut album could easily keep building upon his newfound country stardom yet, he’s decided to take some time off from music and…attend North Carolina State University. Guess he’s just a normal kid, after all.
So is it really a surprise the effectively robotic Jessica Sanchez lost? A homeschooled diva-in-training raised on all the worst of Celine-Whitney-Mariah in preparation for the American Idol stage — for her entire life? A career. So while Phil Phillips has a penis and a guitar, he also has a job in his family business, in the same small town he was raised, and gets on quite well with his laid-back parents who seem to just want their son to be happy, regardless of what path he chooses in life.
Maybe most people tend to root for the perceived underdog. Maybe some long for a Choose Their Own Adventure Horatio Algar story. The show is called American Idol for evocative reasons — you’re not just voting for your favorite contestant, you’re voting for who’s got the biggest American dream and who truly deserves it. If you’re idea of an “American dream” is grooming your child into something YOU always wanted to be and stopping at nothing until this happens, then you’re perfect for Toddlers & Tiaras. American Idol may be an absolute shit show, but if you’re watching it and voting, you’re still buying what its selling. And more than anything, its selling wide-eyed, small-town kids with real lives and big dreams — not the kids who have trained for this since they started walking.
RECAP TO FOLLOW RECAP TO FOLLOW RECAP TO FOLLOW: Sorry everyone, but Amtrak has a no American Idol policy! Er, something like that. My DVR, however, is keeping it warm and I’ll be back to fill you in on all the Finale nonsense — including the Ace Young & Diana DeGarmo marriage proposal? $50 says Seacrest has a new reality show on E! along the lines of…”Idol Matrimony.”