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And with a final gasp of confetti and Ryan Seacrest, American Idol has been expunged from our living rooms for another six months. Sensing that this was some sort of collective moment, the TVgasm editors attempted to tune into Fox’s karaoke act for tonight’s big finale. J-Unit lasted all of one minute. S-Lo fled the apartment after thirty seconds. But I lasted a cumulative ten minutes. I say cumulative because there was no way I could sit and watch any of this high school talent show for more than two or three minutes at a time.I tuned in to hear the first of what I assume were many schmaltzy numbers I expect to have a long life at The Flamingo’s musical revue in Las Vegas. Former winners Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard flanked finalists Fantasia Barrino and Diana Degarmo in an antisepctic version of “The Impossible Dream”, which in this case was the promise of some explosive musical fireworks. Somewhere in here, I mined my Tivo for something else to watch.
Here’s what I don’t understand about American Idol. I get that it appeals to a wide demographic, and I get that the producers don’t want to offend anyone. But why must the show be reduced to a schlockfest cum lounge act (Although, I guess they’re one and the same)? Why must we hear cheesy ass songs that ask if we’ve ever found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? No, we haven’t! And we haven’t flown without wings, and we’ve never had a moment like this! It was cool the first season when these hopefuls were pushed out of their comfort zones and forced to sing Big Band etc. You see, even though Big Band is old fashioned and generally shunned by youth culture, it’s still respectable music. Barry Manilow on the other hand is old fashioned and fairly unrespectable. Additionally, the occasional quality song that makes it to the American Idol stage is usually so bastardized with cheap, cheesy arrangements that any musical integrity it had is gone. The rare exception: Fantasia’s performance of “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess was truly impressive (again – classy, respectable song). In case you’re wondering why I can reference Fantasia’s performance, I was one of the many who tuned in to see Quentin Tarrantino as a guest judge. For all his promises about being honest and crazy, Quentin wound up being just a louder, talkier version of Paula Abdul. Nevertheless, during this episode, I witnessed the aforementioned Fantasia showstopper.
At around 9:20, I checked in on the show to see what Ryan Seacrest et. al could possibly be doing to fill time. Not much apparently. Ruben Studdard was singing, and I had a chance to marvel at Randy’s much publicized weight loss, Paula’s newly plumped breasts, and Simon’s attempt to rival Seacrest as the show’s dominant metrosexual (did anyone notice his shirt’s completely unbottoned state?). Apparently, no one was American Idol yet, so I watched a lunatic karate-chop an insane amount of wooden boards on a Tivoed Letterman. After an NBA Legend Top Ten List, I returned to the kiddies to find Diana crooning to some gospel choir.
Diana is very young. In fact, most of this season’s contestants have been very young. Does Fox realize that there’s a reason why we don’t watch the Disney Channel? In fact, does Fox realize that it’s Fox? The same network that showed us Kiefer Sutherland chopping off a man’s hand last night and Nicole Ritchie sticking her arm up a cow’s arse is trying to peddle us the Good Times High School Variety Hour. Next year, raise the application age. These kids are too undeveloped in too many ways.
I passed a few minutes enjoying the exploits of Celebrities Uncensored on E! before returning one last time to Fox for the climax of the show. Fantasia and Diana gave a shout out to Boystown by squawking a forgettable rendition of Aretha Franklin and George Michael’s duet “I Knew You Were Waiting”, and they were right. We were waiting. I didn’t know how long I could endure more of Diana’s grating “Come on, y’all”‘s. Ryan Seacrest read some comments from the judges and then finally announced Fantasia – or Bobo as purists call her – to be this year’s American Idol.
Fantasia had an ineloquent acceptance speech whose highlight was an unnecessary footware update. There were some tears and an encore of that “I Believe” song (which is just about as sucky as the Blessed Union of Souls song of the same name). Some fireworks went off and some confetti fell, and Paula provided us with a clapping display that would make seals across the country proud. J-Unit (who had returned at this point) and I noted that clearly her implants were new and sore, therefore reducing Paula to a strange Frankenstein clap.
At the end of the day, I won’t begrudge Fantasia her moment in the spotlight. She actually has a terrific, natural voice that doesn’t strain for melismas like her competitors. That being said, I hope she gets a weave and some dental work. Who knows? Maybe she’ll be The Swan too.