Sunday, May 18, 2008

American Idol Finale Anticipation

I didn't manage to get hooked by Idol's seventh season. Many times, I simply forgot to watch it (having to catch it on tape delay is an enthusiasm-buster if there ever was one), and news about its bad reviews and sinking ratings obviously didn't do much to motivate me either. I didn't see much star potential at the end of Hollywood week, and the early stages of the top 24 did nothing for me, so I more or less fell off the Idol wagon and just kept up with the weekly results.

However, Star World has been showing an Idol marathon this weekend, allowing me to do some catching up at my leisure. The March 25th and 26th episodes (singing songs from the year of your birth, Chikeze eliminated) was a jewel of an episode that featured a handful of standout performances. This should be the episode to show to nonbelievers in a few years time when they claim that season seven was the worst ever and the one where the show definitively jumped the shark (wrong on both counts in any case -- season three was the worst, and the show jumped the shark last season at the exact moment that Sanjaya Malakar went home and the ratings tanked).

Syesha's success is reminiscent of Nikki McKibbin's from season one -- her place in the top three doesn't make any sense now, and will make less sense in a few years time when nobody has the slightest memory about her or anything that she sang. She is far and away the least deserving top three contestant the show has ever had. Every other top nine finalist from this year is more interesting and unique than her "female R&B diva with a passable voice" persona, which is a style that AI has beaten into the ground and no longer represents what viewers want to see based on the talents of the rest of this year's field. Sure, Jason Castro sucks but at least with him I get his crusty dorm room freakshow appeal. David Archuleta is a Disney doll who was essentially deemed as the Anointed One from the start of the competition even though he has limited appeal to anyone over the age of fifteen. But again, with him, I "get it". Syesha is completely forgettable, and I'll never understand how she survived so many trips to the bottom three.

The March 25th episode had a bit of everything, from Kristy Lee Cook's blonde country girl patriotism, to Simon Cowell's eerily prescient comment re: Archuleta's svengali dad when he said that he had trouble believing that David picked the song because it simply "wasn't him" (although "You're the Voice" is a brilliant song that I've always felt was madly underrated), to Michael Johns pwning Queen and possibly guaranteeing himself a Constantine Maroulis Career in the process, to Brooke White's simpleton Joni Mitchell act (a more consistent performer who didn't screw up at the start of every song could have won the competition). David Cook's jaw-dropping version (of Chris Cornell's arrangement -- the spirit of Chris Daughtry lives on and lives well) of "Billie Jean" made me a believer out of me and there's no justice in the world of Idol string-pullers if that version doesn't see release as a single.

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