Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The Best Season in American Idol
American Idol, the no. 1 TV show, is now on its 8th season. I have been an avid follower of this very influential reality TV. I have to agree with Simon Cowell when he said that the current batch is the best in the show’s history. Another judge Randy Jackson of the Jackson 5, also expressed that this batch is the best, with all in the Top 5 “who can really sing.” New judge Kara DioGuardi, a prolific songwriter, has pointed-out that she is looking for the artist in a singer and she was awed by the discovery that all five have the artistic ability in building his/her own character.
A Filipino-American singer, Jasmine Trias, got the third place on the third season, overshadowing Jennifer Hudson with the popularity voting scheme that had Hawaii and other Filipino communities united behind the sweet Pinay. But Hudson, who was ranked 7th, turned out to be the biggest star with a talent that gave her an Oscar win and a Grammy for an R&B album. On this 8th season, Indian singer Anoop Desai have his own community support but a wiser America agreed with DioGuardi, and voted for the ones with strong artistic potentials.`
I had a Top 5 forecast with consideration to “popularity base”. I included the inspiring blind singer Scott MacIntyre as I was banking on the sympathy vote but he did not make it with his lack of originality. My heart’s final 5 did make it: Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, Kris Allen and Matthew Giraud.
Matt Giraud may have a University degree in Music and gave the true spirit of a musician with every creative interpretation but he missed to give America a charming presence. He had this constantly-disturbed expression – making him look sad at some points. He failed to give the welcoming identity of an entertainer. I guessed it right when he had to be the first to go home in Top 5 elimination. The judges loved his own version of Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover” and the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” but his being a dedicated musician did not save him. Passion was not in the common ground between him and the audience.
With the final four in a rock ‘n roll theme, there was a sure winner for he is naturally born with a rock star musicality: Adam Lambert. His version of English rock band Led Zeppelin’s "Whole Lotta Love " got the longest standing ovation and the nods of the judges with Paula Abdul screaming, “perfect! perfect!” But will America love the metrosexual fashion icon in Adam? Or will fans of mainstream rock will consider his tendency to be theatrical on stage? Can all of America take an Elvis-like handsome presence - always manicured? He was in the bottom 3 twice and these results were after he received excellent comments from the judges. Adam, an experienced stage performer, is my choice but am not sure if America will agree when the current star trend is the raw and all-natural Miley Cyrus and Jason Mraz.
Ladies’ choice is definitely Kris Allen with a flood of “Kiss me Kris” placards in the audience. His humble presence is in sharp contrast to Adam’s star packaging. He is charming and very handsome even with just a T-shirt on. His voice is that of a cool pop star and every performance looks effortless with his sunshine smile. Girls were screaming when he performed “The Way You Look Tonight” and they danced with him in “She Works Hard for the Money.” But the judges specially Simon made it known that he doesn’t have what it takes to be in the Top 3 after a too mild version of the Beatles’ “Come Together.” They were wrong for America’s heart was for pretty boy Kris who is now considered a dark horse in Top 3.
The general public will go for the wholesome Danny Gokey even if the judges considered his singing of Aerosmith’s "Dream On” as “out of his element.” Indeed it was a desperation-soaked rock ‘n roll. But America will remember his heartwarming versions of Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” and Ben E. King “Stand By Me”, Mariah Carey’s "Hero,” and Carrie Underwood’s "Jesus, Take the Wheel.” His presence is that of a gentleman with the mature Harry Potter coolness and having the hairstyle of last year’s winner David Cook gave him that idol stature on stage. This Church music teacher is predicted to get one of the final two slots.
If only voters were all from the High School Musical generation, 17-year-old Allison Iraheta - the youngest remaining contestant and the only female left in the race - would have been given a Top 3 slot. They have loved her spunky personality, and she stood-out with Adam in the rock ‘n roll theme. But she was voted-off in the final 4 performance. The Salvadoran beauty will still become a recording star for she is an awesome rock princess. Her version of “Total Eclipse Of The Hear” was enduring.
Chris Daughtry who also came in fourth place on the 2006 season turned out to be a huge rock star who was named one of Nielsen’s top ten selling artists of 2007.
Allison can definitely be Daughtry but with her versatility, there is a promise of a more bankable career for this new teen idol.
More than 47 million votes led Adam, Danny, Allison and Kris to Top 4. And 64 million votes led to the Top 3 battle next week and a greater audience share is expected. Be part of the best season! Take an American Idol moment and be serenaded by the remaining three princes: KRIS, ADAM & DANNY. Take the Simon power and declare your own new king of songs!