Lee DeWyze's win after bizarre American Idol finale highlights just how far this show has fallen
Not because his final performances were particularly stellar, mind you. Competitor Crystal Bowersox pretty much blew a shellshocked DeWyze away during Tuesday’s performance show, with a display of versatility and creative spirit which lead some who predicted a DeWyze victory earlier in doubt.
But Idol’s erratic voters came through, looking past talent and singular style to hand victory to another unassuming, generic male singer; a guy so surprised, even he couldn’t believe it when host Ryan Seacrest read his name. “I’ve never been happier in my life,” said DeWyze, wide-eyed with amazement. “There’s no words to describe this.”
That’s how I felt watching much of Wednesday’s Idol finale. Like a gamey onion, the show kept getting worse the longer it unfolded, finding new depths of weirdness and embarrassment as it strained to fill a two-hour timeslot.
No American Idol judge can ever fault another contestant for failing to sound contemporary; not after producers packed the finale with a cavalcade of artists who hadn’t had hits in this millennium, including Joe Cocker, Alice Cooper, the Bee Gees, Chicago, Michael McDonald and Hall & Oates (sans moustache, no less).
Bad as some of these musical pairings were -- a USA Today headline proclaimed "The Night Chicago Died" -- other parts of the show were so bizarre you wondered if producers planned them over a bottle of tequila and a big bag of mescaline.
“Gen.” Larry Platt croaking out his impromptu song Pants on the Ground while six backup dancers gyrated and another Idol reject, William Hung, wailed in the background? Dane Cook trying to sing and be funny at the same time – neither of which he is really equipped or talented enough to manage?
Poison singer Bret Michaels pulling himself out of a hospital bed to croak through Every Rose Has Its Thorn with Casey James? These used to be the kinds of things you only saw on acid or during a really bad Twin Peaks episode.
Thank God producers found a few real stars to provide a semblance of entertainment, most notably Janet Jackson’s smooth segue from Nothing, the kind of ballad her late brother knocked out of the park to a funky fresh take on her (admittedly older) ‘80s hit Nasty.
It’s as if producers were determined to roll out every characteristic which has made Idol such a bloated, confusing, incoherent mess, as proof to even the most ardent fans that some serious post-season surgery is needed.
Worst of all, the show spent great gobs of time feting departing judge Simon Cowell, reducing DeWyze and Bowersox to supporting players on a night which was nominally about their future as performers.
Clips of Cowell insulting auditioners blended with testimonials from friends such as Ricky Gervais and Paula Abdul. The former Idol judge did get in one good line: “after eight years of sitting between two men with bigger boobs than me, I had enough.” Snap!
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save a show that Cowell, by the bemused and occasionally confused look on his face Wednesday, knows he’s leaving just in time.Yet another masterful prediction by Idol’s most prescient judge.