A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Finally...Artistry in the AI Final

It was time to take a break from all the political blather and get to something American and as light as a Twinkie on a feather....I am talking about the finals of "American Idol". Yes, I have written before in this blog that I am a sod for all Syco reality talent shows. It probably dates back to my tap dancing childhood, too many entries in talent shows and a few unmemorable and tearful moments---like when I was seven and caught my braided hair on the umbrella that I was twirling on my shoulder. That's right, the hair wrapped itself around the shaft of the umbrella and when it was time for all of the dancers to swing the umbrella down to the floor to tap around it in a circle, my umbrella was stuck to my hair. I thought quickly (for a seven year old, I suppose) and smiled while holding back my tears, catching a glimpse of four or five boys in my class pointing and laughing at me and tapped off-stage where a mother in the wings helped me unravel my thick braid. I tapped back on-stage (the show must go on, after all) and finished the number. I then exited off-stage and dissolved into a little bawling mess. I won't even tell you the ribbing I got from the boys who had front row seats to the debacle of my debut on the school stage. 

I've watched "American Idol" every year (except the first season). The hardest thing to watch is when the show has produced winners that are  mainstream "pop and predictable"...neophytes who sing ballads that sound like every balladeer on the radio.Young women who want to be like Mariah Carey, but fall short. Not many have broken through with a distinct style, except for Chris Daughtry who has carved an amazing career for himself even though he came in.  When Taylor Hicks broke out to win in 2005, with his Joe Cocker-esque voice, it was a milestone. He just didn't fit the "pop star" mode. He was, by AI standards "old" at 30, he had streaks of white hair prompting Cowell to say that he looked like "someone's dad".  He had a huge following, but conflicts with Cowell's management company (he wanted to do his own music) didn't help him. He was dropped from his contract.  It has been year after year of talented people who win, but none that I would say, "Wow! I would love to see this person in concert."  So, this season, I am over the moon not one but two of the most original talents are in the finals...Crystal Bowersox (my favorite from the beginning) and Lee Dewyze. It's also a fitting way to big farewell to Simon Cowell, the biting, sarcastic and now, Hollywood celebrity who took an unknown talent show and made it into a corporation.

Crystal is a throwback to the 60's a mixture of Janis Joplin and Miss Aretha and she has never had a bad night on AI. She is a single mother who has been singing her heart out since 13 and is a musician, busking in the subway for change and doing gigs in small dives. She is the antithesis of the American pop idol which is why I am cheering her on. Lee Dewyze has a raspy voice which reminds me a bit of the young Springsteen and he has blossomed from a very shy paint salesman into a real artist. Both of these young singers have a shot at the prize.  The key? Who will still be singing five years from now? My money is with Crystal.

Either one will be a great American Idol...but I'm with Mamasox this time around.