Sunday, 29 April 2012

Idol's Final Five: What Needs to Happen, What Probably Will, and What We Can Do About It (Nothing!)

We're finally down to the final five, that austere moment in the Idolverse where we start widdling down the really great contestants to get to the okay contestant that will win the show. I kid, I kid. (But seriously, let's be honest with ourselves about the quality of the last couple of winners of this show!) With Elise's unceremonious departure following two of her better performances, Skylar's SHOCKING appearance in the bottom three after one of her very best, and Phillip's amazing ability to skate by on sub-par jam band songs with a wink and a smile I'm starting to feel a little nervous about where we're heading. I really don't know who that second person in the finale is going to be for the first time in a while, and I don't think anyone can beat Phillip.

Don't get me wrong: I rag on Phillip/Dave, but I like him okay. I'd probably buy his record if he proves astute in song-writing, but how depressing would it be to see another cute white guy with a guitar win the show and sell 150,000 copies of his debut record? For singing reality shows to continue (and there are some of us that still like them!), shows like Idol and The Voice need to produce popstars with radio-friendly potential. I genuinely love a lot of the singer-songwriters that Idol has produced (I'm thinking of the underrated post-Idol efforts of Crystal Bowersox, Brooke White, Michael Johns, Katelyn Epperly, Tim Halperin, and even David Cook and Kris Allen), and I look forward to future releases from the likes of Elise Testone, Colton Dixon, and Phillip Phillips, but I want someone with pop potential like Skylar, Hollie, or Jessica to win the show. Scotty McCreery, in spite of the boring way he played Idol, has been good for business; David Cook, Kris Allen, and Lee Dewyze have not. Idol needs another Jordin Sparks, pronto. (Btw, is anyone else REALLY excited about Jordin's new movie remake, Sparkle? Seriously, watch the trailer! "Why would the Lord give me this gift if I wasn't supposed to use it?" Get it, Jordin! I digress.)

I would never leave you without a solution to the problem of this season's deserved Idol winner, though, now would I? As I see it, that solution is Skylar Laine. No matter what happens in the next four weeks of this show, it seems almost a sure thing that Skylar's going to have a music career, post-Idol. Frankly, she's the kind of artist 19 has been looking for. She's only (just) 18 (as the show likes to remind us), but she's a more mature singer/performer/show-woman (not a word in my computer's dictionary, although "showman" is. Hmmm) than many Idol teens that have come before her, and according to Jimmy, she writes, too. She hasn't had a bad performance in weeks, and her performance of Queen's "The Show Must Go On" last week was kind of legend. As J-Lo pointed out last week (and I pointed out six weeks ago. Just sayin'), she's a great storyteller, which is 90% of why she's believable as a country singer. Plus, anyone that can make me like/download "Wind Beneath My Wings" must be an evil genius.

I shouldn't have to sell Skylar to you at this point in the competition, though. If you're like me, you've probably already chosen your favorite, and it either includes the country vixen or it doesn't. These kids aren't earning more fans at this point: they're simply trying to keep their fanbases from getting apathetic. I'm just saying that Skylar is crazy-marketable and she's going to have a huge career no matter what the speed-dialling teens do this season. According to Billboard, Kellie Pickler is the fourteenth best-selling Idol artist ever, and she finished in sixth place.*** Also, lest we forget, Miranda Lambert got started on a reality show, too. On the USA Network. And she was third. (If you haven't seen Miranda's Nashville Star performances before, this one is fab.) It probably won't happen, but my point is that it would just be awesome to see a winner in the Skylar mould. Dare to dream. Fangirl rant over.

Before I wrap up this little soapbox (and if you're still reading, good for you!), I also wanted to add a little word about the other three contestants, any of which would be fabulous winners this season, as well. I'm still waiting for Joshua to sing something I want to listen to over and over again, although that India.Arie song was lovely. I can't really fault him for being himself, though. He's undoubtedly a great singer, and I look forward to seeing what he can do with it next.

Jessica is definitely getting better, post-elimination/save, showing (probably!) real emotion with that wonky "Dance with My Father" song (the horrible silhouette behind her did no one any favors). Whether you like her, find her robotic, or both (I think that's where I am with her), you can't deny how special her voice is. With the right songs, she could have a huge career after this thing is done.

I saved Hollie for last because she's become a little bit of a loveable underdog for me lately. I think her "Rollin' in the Deep" performance last week was shockingly good, and I actually loved both of her performances this week. "The Climb" is the PERFECT (pehr-fehct?) song choice for her because she can sing over it rather than up to it. She's finally starting to show some of her adorable personality in her performances (even though her wardrobe situation is still a strange mix of business casual and pageant-wear), she no longer looks terrified onstage, and she's singing really well. It's likely too little too late to compete with the others, but I wouldn't be upset to see her stay a couple more weeks. She should be right at home with this week's British Invasion theme, in any case.

Sorry for the essay, you guys! I get a little carried away sometimes. I take my Idol-watching a little too seriously :) I'm also really bad at conclusions, so, the end.

***Btw, you guys, Kellie Pickler's new record 100 Proof is so good! I finally caved and downloaded it, and it's been on non-stop iPod rotation since. Her voice is smoother and lovelier than I've ever heard before from her, and the songs have that great Pickler-esque blend of hillbilly spunk and heart. Instant classic.

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