Apparently America likes their Idols twentysomething, male and cute. At least that seems to be the trend over the past few seasons of the top rated FOX show, American Idol. On Wednesday night’s American Idol 2010 Season 9 finale, Chicago paint store clerk Lee DeWyze took the American Idol title, beating out dreadlocked single mom Crystal Bowersox.
And while DeWyze’s win wasn’t shocking, it was a telling commentary on how Americans vote during the American Idol finals.
Cookie Cutter Idols?
American Idol seemed to showcase more diversity early on, during the show’s first few seasons. But as the show got bigger the pool of top finalists seemed to get smaller- or at least more similar. While talent matters, so does commercialism and marketability.
The last 3 American Idols-David Cook, Kris Allen and now Lee DeWyze– have been white males and all rather similar looking, which points to the fact that the American Idol voting audience is dominated by young girls, cell phones in hand, who text in votes relentlessly.
When someone comes in who’s a tad controversial- Adam Lambert with his makeup and black nail polish or Crystal with her dreads- America gets scared off.
Lee DeWyze had an inconsistent run on American Idol. From odd arrangements and accompaniment choices (he actually bought out a bagpiper when he sang “Hey Jude” during Lennon/McCartney week) to a few really off key performances he was up and down throughout the season.
On the Top 3 finalist’s week, DeWyze had a “Hallelujah” moment though, when judge Simon Cowell handpicked the Leonard Cohen song for DeWyze to perform. It was one of the best performances of the season.
But when it came to Top 2 finals week-where it really counted- Lee choked big time. Crystal shined on all three of her song performances, including the dud “Black Velvet” (which she performed better than the original) and came into the finale night at the top of her game. It was truly a shame that she didn’t take the win, but clearly it didn’t matter- she wouldn’t have won no matter how her performances went on Tuesday night.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m a Lee DeWyze fan. But I’m also a Crystal Bowersox fan. And if I had voted this week based on performance, Crystal would have gotten my votes .
Do I think Crystal Bowersox will go back to singing in the subway? No. I’m sure some lucky record label will scoop her up immediately. But to end a journey a year in the making as the runner up, surely it must be a disappointment to her.
And as for this whole American Idol thing, it’s starting to look a little too vanilla to me.
Sources: American Idol Season 9, FOX TV