It made all the sense in the world that former paint store clerk Lee DeWyze would be crowned the ultimate winner on this year's American Idol.
Not because his final performances were particularly stellar, mind you. Competitor Crystal Bowersox pretty much blew a shell-shocked DeWyze away during Tuesday's performance show, with a display of versatility and creative spirit that left some who predicted a DeWyze victory in doubt.
But Idol's erratic voters came through Wednesday, 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-plus time slot.
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 and Hall & Oates. (sans moustache, even!)
Bad as some of these musical pairings were — even St. Petersburg's Michael Lynche sounded a bit off dueting with ex-Doobie Brother Michael McDonald — 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.
Rejected auditioner "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? Former judge Paula Abdul sashaying on stage, only to attempt an awkward bit of stand-up comedy in her typically incoherent style?
Poison singer Bret Michaels pulling himself out of a hospital bed to croak through Every Rose Has Its Thorn? These used to be things you saw only on acid or during a really bad Twin Peaks episode. (Fortunately, Janet Jackson was on hand to provide an unexpected dash of entertainment.)
It's as if producers were determined to roll out every characteristic that has made Idol such a bloated, confusing, incoherent mess, as proof to even the most ardent fans that some serious postseason 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 that was nominally about their future.
Clips of Cowell insulting auditioners blended with testimonials from friends such as Ricky Gervais and 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!
Still, Cowell's bemused, sometimes distracted attitude (one camera shot caught him schmoozing with Abdul while nearly every past Idol winner serenaded him from the stage) proved he knew leaving after nine years was the smart move.
Given Wednesday's display, I doubt Idol producers — expected to huddle this summer revamping the show and choosing Cowell's replacement — can prove him wrong.