Well, I was wrong. And I have never been more pleased to be wrong.
It took Candice three times to get to the voting rounds. When she did though… she dominated. Kree and Angie came close and at least made it a race, but there was never really any doubt who was the best singer. As dreadful a season as it was, Candice held up her part of the bargain. She sang brilliantly, navigated the themes as well as she could, and would have been a contender in any Idol season. It was as close to a textbook Idol campaign as you can imagine. She is, simply put, a champion.
Kree ran a pretty good campaign, too. Perhaps if she had a flaw, it was that while she was consistently good, she really didn’t have that blow-me-away moment that Candice delivered time and again. The same was true of Angie, if you think about it: they were both very, very, good. Maybe both of their talents translate better to the studio than the live stage. They both ran good campaigns, and frankly coming up behind Candice is nothing to be ashamed off. I wish them all the best post-Idol.
That said, though… the season was still an absolutely terrible one overall. Yes, the past two weeks have been tolerable, and Idol crowned a fantastic winner. But the whole process that got you, me, and every Idol winner to this stage was a complete and utter fiasco. It was, and still is, inexcusable. Don’t let the euphoria of a solid finale fool you. This season was still a trainwreck of truly epic proportions.
I autopsied this season a few weeks ago and looking at the big picture, it was entirely correct. The judges continued to embarrass themselves – climaxing in the most disgraceful two hours of Idol ever. The song choices and themes seemed to be designed to discover a cure for insomnia, not entertain audiences. Outside of the top three, the talent was almost non-existent. I’ve said many times that the mid-card is what makes or breaks an Idol season, not the top of the field. This year’s mid-card was flawed, to say the least. And you had five cannon fodder contestants. Five. No season could survive that kind of imbalance.
Rumor has it that Idol is going to have an entirely new panel next year. Randy Jackson already left (and will largely be unmourned), and all of the last offseason’s prize signings are probably going to get fired. Gone, too, will be long-time producer Nigel Lythgoe. Perhaps his feelings about this season are obvious by his relative absence from Twitter until his real TV love, So You Think You Can Dance, premiered. The last person standing from Season One will be Ryan Seacrest. In a way, it’s fitting: Idol made Seacrest into a national star, and his steady hosting skills have managed – mostly – to keep the hours of live TV on track. If it’s possible, one could call Ryan Seacrest still underrated. As a live show host, I think he’s that good.
The inevitable changing of the guard at Idol has to be about more than just faces and contracts. My friends at What Not to Sing already put forth some good ideas. Everything has to be considered up for grabs. Unlimited voting, the audition process, everything. Yes, Idol has had twelve pretty good years of television. Yes, it still brings in more than $800 million dollars a year. But it won’t be doing that for much longer unless you realize that the current formula is either dead or dying, depending on what you think. It has to be a new era for Idol.
I could go on for much, much longer, but I won’t. Because I have an announcement to make. One I really, really didn’t ever want to make.
I’ve been an Idol pundit for quite some time now. I first started commenting on a weekly basis in Season Six. It was… an interesting time to enter the field. It was the year we were introduced to Sanjaya Malakar, for starters. At the end of Season Seven, I moved to my own site here, where, for five years, I’ve tried to provide amusing and useful commentary on the mad, mad world that is American Idol. I do it for the sheer fun of it: as MJ loudly proclaims in her header, “I love this cheesy show.” Not only that, I thought it would be fun to write about it. And, for a long time, it was.
Not only that, there were some really interesting stories and music that I came to love. It shouldn’t be too hard to guess at least some of my favorites throughout the years. For all its flaws – and it was legion - Idol was still a worthwhile way to spend a couple of hours a week. It was still fun.
This season, however, hasn’t been fun. Each of the many problems of the season, and the seasons before it, has been like the proverbial straw on the camel’s back. And after this year… it’s too much. If Idol is going to start a new era, it’ll be without my site.
For now, at least, this will be the last Idol Guy blog post. I’m not completely leaving Idol punditry – I’ll still be snarking on Twitter, but I’m retiring from writing recaps and analyses. I don’t even know if I’ll even watch next year, to be honest.
I dearly hope that you, my readers, have found some value and comedy out of my efforts. At some level, as a writer, that’s all I can ask for – that I haven’t wasted your valuable time.
In the finest tradition of Idol, I’m going to have a song to sing me out. I’ve chosen one of my all-time Idol favorites. Ladies and gentlemen, from Season 11, Vienna, by Elise Testone.