Was Cook's Idol win more about hating Simon?
I had all my cynical barbs ready -- prepared to lambaste American Idol for the cardinal sin of choosing moon-eyed savant David Archuleta as the top winner in TV's biggest talent competition.
Then Idol voters turned around and chose the more creative guy after all. (Check out our wacky, post-Idol podcast here. See the story the Big Giant Music Head Sean Daly and I pulled together for the newspaper here)
To be honest, they shouldn't have picked David Cook to win based on this week's performances. On Tuesday, Cook was offhand and nonchalant, well aware that, no matter what happened tonight, he'd be in the winner's circle with a record deal and lots of national publicity.
Every hopeful deals with the stress of clinging to the freight train of attention that is American Idol in different ways; for Cook, it was all about acting as if he could care less who won.
And for some reason, despite Archuleta nailing a litany of Idol-perfect, big-voiced pop tunes, viewers decided it was time for the scruffier, artistic dude to walk home with the big prize (maybe it had something to do with the way archly arrogant judge Simon Cowell pronounced Archuleta's victory on Tuesday).
I've already gotten a call from an anonymous viewer who said he tried to call Archuleta's numbers for a half hour on Tuesday and found only one of the three numbers worked. Looking at the surprising, 12-million vote gap between the two, he deduced there was some telephone hanky panky going on. Let me know, dear blog readers, if any of you experienced similar problems.
Of course, viewers tonight had to wade through a regrettable collection of production numbers that felt like castoff parodies from a Simpsons episode. Whoever got the bright idea that the young music fans parked in front of TV's biggest show would love to party with ZZ Top, Crosby Stills and Nash and an increasingly haggard-looking George Michael, should lose their job, like, yesterday.
For me,this was the second big reality TV contest I got wrong this week (did I mention how unwise it is to try predicting these things?). The cynical critic in me wants to think that producers succeeded in manipulating the show enough to throw off expectations, especially in Idol's case, where Archuleta was favored from the beginning.
But maybe I just got it wrong because I underestimated voters' capacity to do the right thing. Or how much Idol fans hate it when Cowell tries to tell them how to vote.