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Idol Thoughts

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David Cook won American Idol! My guy won! Woo-hoo!

Wait a second. Did I just say that?

I used to scoff at American Idol. I didn't much like the style of most of the singers, and I thought the bits in between the songs were often cheesy and tedious. Tuning in for the last five minutes before House was plenty; I could keep up well enough with the recaps to have a conversation about it at the water cooler.

This year, however, I did something I never thought I'd do. Not only did I watch, I voted. For the finale, which I TiVo-ed, I voted over and over (the lines were open by the time I sat down to view it, so I just hit redial as I watched). I did not want that Star Search junior winner David Archuleta to win. His "gee-whiz" persona is sweet and he has a good voice, but he sings like a robot and has an awful stage dad. I genuinely thought David Cook was the best throughout the season, and he has the better story. A bartender who came to the audition to support his brother, good looking and humble, his American Idol journey is the stuff of the American dream.

But how the heck did I get to the point of even thinking about David Cook? Perhaps the biggest reason is the writers' strike. A friend and I always watch House, and when we found our favorite show unavailable, we started watching American Idol.

I guess I wasn't alone; other adults have also been tuning in. The average age of the show's viewers this year was 42, and some pundits attribute Cook's landslide win to the age factor. Forget the screaming thirteen-year-olds who always seemed to be at David Archuleta's feet, we middle-aged viewers wanted to see a rocker win.

Now I even find the idea of going to an Idol concert appealing. When a friend got hooked in season five and rooted for eventual winner, Taylor Hicks, she went to a concert and loved it. I thought it was going a bit overboard. Could I actually go so far as to pay to participate in the franchise?

It'd be a bit much to swallow. After all, the show is as much a commercial as it is a contest. The judges have the Coca-Cola cups on display, every "guest artist" is there to promote a new album, and this year the contestants made Ford commercials that were shown as a part of the show. At least with Star Search you could tell the difference between the program and the commercials.

If the premise weren't compelling, though, American Idol would not be as popular as it is. Not only is it a chance at stardom for the contestants, it has that staple of reality TV fare — competition. Best of all, the audience gets to choose the winner. Aside from the Super Bowl, it's probably the most far-reaching cultural activity in America today. People of all ages watch it, all the major news outlets cover it, the winners are even getting their pictures on postage stamps, for goodness sake.

And people vote, in the millions. One can vote as many times as one wishes, which is a difference from the electoral system the size of Mount Everest. But isn't it interesting that a television show can figure out how to get people involved and leave them feeling like they can make a difference by voting? If the American Idol producers wanted to change to a one person/one vote format, they would find a way to make that work, too. Meanwhile, back in Florida (and the rest of the country), people are still being disenfranchised when it comes to voting for the elected officials.

Like in government, getting elected America's Idol is not a guarantee of success. So good luck, David Cook. I hope your album kicks butt and goes platinum (or whatever metal is best). As for me, I'm going back to watching House. (Unless there is an actors' strike!)

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About Nancy Fontaine

Nancy Fontaine is a librarian and freelance writer living in New Hampshire with her husband, two cats, and every four years during presidential primary season, the national press.
  • Tracy

    I am not an American Idol fan, but I am a fan of Taylor Hicks. I went to season five’s AI concert just to see him, but I will not go to another concert run by the people of American Idol. Too cheesy for me. I went to two of Taylor’s solo concerts, and they were wonderful and fun! AI is only a place for these talented people to get noticed, and I prefer them once they are separated from the AI picture.

  • Great article…I, too, was mesmerized by Taylor Hicks…but I think most of us who still adore Mr. Hicks didn’t swallow the American Idol Kool-Aid, we swallowed the Taylor Hicks Kool-Aid!

    However, I think some of us also took a big gulp of the David Cook Kool-Aid this year, too.

    When I read your words “Participate in the franchise.” I wanted to throw up for all it implies…that’s certainly not to diss your article…it was just a jolting way to think about it because technically it’s what so many of us have done, primarily in Season Five.
    ~Bon in ‘Bama

  • joseph

    There were many voters who voted for Cook with the same reason that you have. They just can’t stand this little boy beating out a grown-up. Archuleta is the best talent ever in the history of Idol. At age 17, he has mature sense of music. After Idol, his contract with Jive scored more money than Cook, and now so far 6 other recording companies are competing against each other to get him. If you are a fair critic, give up your ego and check the reality. The boy is a super star in the making. He proved at the final competition of the show and singing with “One Rebpublic”, that he will go far in this business.

  • To find facts and videos of David search thru the site http://www.treehoo.com that plants trees for most of its profit. This way you can easily help to fight global warming and climate change for free! Can any other webportal beat that helping you to find David as well?

  • Nancy

    Um, I am going to participate in the franchise and go see the top Idolists perform. My Taylor-Hicks-fan friend wants to take her kids, and I jumped at the chance to go along. So much for my high-brow sniffing at AI!

    For the record, I think David A. is very talented and going to have a fabulous career. He’s just not my cup of tea.

  • Toni

    Joseph, if you read the title of Nancy’s article, you’ll see that she isn’t a critic and this isn’t a review. It’s an opinion piece. The competition is over. There’s no need to badmouth David Cook just because your favorite didn’t win.

  • Nancy – I was like you in Season 5. I had never watched the show before, but I got really into Taylor Hicks that year. I even went to one of the AI shows, but I only thought it was okay. I liked seeing Taylor better when he was on his own.

    I watched last year, but wasn’t into it, and never voted. I definitely got into it this year primarily because of David Cook. And I voted for him in the finale too. I really wanted him to win. Not because I couldn’t stand the thought of a seventeen year old winning, but because I thought Cook was the more talented contestant.

    I think there are a lot of people who are not really interested in American Idol itself, but get into a contestant for one reason or another.

  • Nancy — hello from another middle-aged New Hampshire fan of David Cook. I also got interested in Taylor Hicks during season 5, and attended the Manchester concert. It was great cheesy fun. The AI machine is diabolical, but the fact remains that in order to succeed on American Idol, the kids have to be immensely talented. This week’s Final 2 contest proves that America gets it right more often than Simon Cowell.

    Both Taylor and Cook were hard working musicians who said that they would be happy going back to playing music in bars and making self-produced CDs, but also happy to have more opportunities as a result of Idol. Cook has the poise, smarts, talent and mainstream appeal to be huge, if that’s what he wants.

    If you feel the need to explore your obsession with like-minded New Englanders, we have a friendly space which is primarily a Taylor Hicks site, but we’ve just opened a David Cook section because some of us just need to keep talking..


  • Tim

    Nancy your comments about David A are moronic. First, what factual basis do you have that David A’s father is the stage father from hell? You are just passing along gossip from TMZ.com and all the other rags—–so your “opinion” is just another piece of trash based on nothing.

    Does it make you feel good to trash a 17-year-old kid? Does it make you feel better about yourself?

    If you would use some common sense and look at how David A has first rejected the stage dad from hell comments, and second came off as gracious in losing to David Cook, humble, respectful and an overall good kid. Seems like David’s parents did a good job to me. Maybe you would have liked it better if David A came across as an egotistical a-hole? Buth then you would have trashed him for that too.