For two hours tonight, time will stand still. There will be no random crime, no political debates, no chaotic weather. The planets will realign in perfect harmony. Even that giant killer asteroid hurtling towards Earth will momentarily alter its course.
Only one event could have that sort of global impact. Tonight we hold our collective breath as the fate of Blake and Jordin is revealed, and the reign of the new American Idol begins. I realize some of you may be previously committed to pressing engagements, and I know how heavily this must weigh on your shoulders. It’s okay, really.
I feel your pain. They set you up for disappointment last night, pitting the “better performer” (Blake) against the “better singer” (Jordin), as if the two were mutually exclusive terms. They billed it as a showdown, and presented it as a singing version of a WWE spectacle. And then, as if we hadn’t been battered enough, they had to offer proof that all AI contestants are winners. To prove it, they paraded the ultimate poseur, Daughtry, on stage. (I’m unclear if that’s what he calls his ~ahem~ band, or if he just got too cool to use his first name.)
It was at that moment that my damn epiphany swept over me.
For all its posturings, American Idol was never about fulfilling dreams. It’s about crushing them. Even worse, it makes us gleefully watch as the no-talents, the lesser talents, and even the really good talents are cut down like chaff. Seeing them fall makes us feel better about our own shortcomings. And when our favorites make it through the ranks, thanks to the “power” of our votes, we feel like we actually call the shots in where our world is headed.
What it gets us is a prefab version of pop culture, where “performer” and “singer” are mutually exclusive terms, and where “rockers” are transformed into manufactured charlatans, replete with choreographed guitarists and perfect eighties-era leather pants.
Once I got over my epiphany, I focused on tonight’s momentous occasion, and my mission to save would-be viewers from mass suicide. Here’s who will win. Jourdin will take it, and this is why.
As I’ve said before, I believe the voting block consists primarily of teenage girls, mainly because teenage guys don’t have that much of an attention span, and adults have more pressing matters to attend to than voting on singing competitions. The reason Blake and Jordin are the only ones left standing has less to do with their talents (as good as both of them are), and more to do with how they resonate with that block. Both performers have personalities that teenyboppers think are — well, way cool.
But it’s down to the wire now, and with the attendant publicity surrounding the finale, the voting block has shifted and expanded. That effectively seals Blake’s fate. His performances last night proved him to be a one trick pony. The beatbox vocals are cool, up to a limit, but they certainly are not enough to make a career. His Maroon Five impression is nothing more than that, and he doesn’t have the range to pull off a ballad. He’ll have a chart-topping album out of it, and then he’ll be quickly forgotten.
Jordin, on the other hand, has what the labels want. She’s young, but she sings well beyond her years. She has a well-scrubbed look, the sort that can evolve over a career (hopefully more Joss Stone than Whitney Houston), and, dammit, the girl’s got chops! She’s taken everything they’ve thrown at her, and she’s never failed to deliver a performance.
In the end, the voters will identify more with Jordin than Blake — she’s the fairytale ending they want. With all that in mind, the American Idol title this season goes to Jordin. I just hope she wears it well.