It’s down to Jordin and Blake now, and America appears to be collectively aghast about Melinda going home. I’m hardly aghast, but I am a bit surprised so few people saw it coming.
There was no way Melinda Dolittle was going to be the next American Idol. Sure, she can sing, but as much as Simon likes to refer to the show as a “singing competition”, it’s hardly that cut and dried. Video killed the radio star over 25 years ago, and from a visual standpoint, Melinda was… well, mundane. No matter how she belted out the vocals, she was never able to project a visual presence. Had she thrown her shoulders back a bit and ditched that “I’m not worthy” facial expression, she might have had a chance. But I doubt it. AI is all about the youth factor, and at 29, she was, sadly, too old for the 18-24 demographic.
It’s that demographic, coupled with my sneaking suspicion that the voting audience is largely female, that made it obvious to me that Melinda would be leaving. Chicks dig Blake. His beatbox style resonates with teenyboppers. He has that bad boy aura, but he’s a guy they could take home to mom. The problem is, a ‘hood ‘tude quickly wears thin without something to back it up. Suburban white boys rarely have it. On the other hand, Sir Mix-A-Lot has given Blake his blessing. And when a one hit wonder from the early nineties endorses you, that has to be a good sign, right?
Not necessarily. Seventeen-year-old Jordin has a certain post-adolescent gawkiness that’s endearing to the audience, and especially endearing to that teenage voting block I mentioned earlier. Plus, she can actually sing. Despite Simon’s occasional admonitions that she’s choosing songs “too old” for her age, the fact remains she pulls them off by virtue of her phrasings and the sheer power of her voice. More importantly, she knows how to emanate a presence. Add to that equation the fact that she’s young enough to be molded into whatever persona the labels desire at any given whim, and she has to be the odds on favorite.
That said, it’s still anybody’s guess. No matter how it goes down, nobody really loses on American Idol — except perhaps the viewers who thought they held the future course of pop culture in their hands by virtue of their vote. It will all be forgotten by the time next season rolls around. Ask Taylor Hicks.
The truth is, American Idol has always been a sleight of hand con game. Melinda, Jordin, and Blake will all have their moment in the sun. So will the almost-rans. They’ll all have a nice little run on VH1 (aka the American Idols Rejects channel), but they’ll add nothing of substance to the fabric of pop culture.
It doesn’t matter. We’ll be back next season for another round of bread and circuses. So will Simon, Randy, and Paula, all looking even more disinterested than they did this season. And once more, the viewing audience will choose yet another American Idol.
God help us all.