By Gibson Johns, Daily Online Arts Editor
Published March 12, 2013
Listen, “Idol.” I’ve been watching you since your first season aired the summer before fourth grade and, for the most part, I’ve loved you. Your proven formula has churned out 12 and a half seasons of top-notch performances, shocking eliminations and everything else in between. Because of you, I have a soft spot in my heart for Paula Abdul, I know that Jimmy Iovine is an unheralded genius and I’ve teared up during, like, 45 cover performances of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” All of which have caused me to (almost) forget about your numerous missteps (see: thinking Ellen DeGeneres would make a good judge and hiring Brian Dunkleman as a host). But there’s one gaffe of yours that, because it’s still going on, I can’t forgive until it’s fixed: Not since Jordin Sparks won six years ago have you had a female winner. Six years ago.
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In the last five seasons, every winner of your show has been a white dude who plays the guitar. It’s not that some of them weren’t deserving of the “Idol” crown — Phillip Phillips and Scotty McCreery were both solid champs who outperformed their competitors. But this trend you’ve been following for six years has made you predictable, occasionally boring and somewhat less credible. I mean, last time I checked, it’s “American Idol” not “Teenage Girls and Their Middle-Aged Mothers’ Idol.” After all, that seems to be the only group of people whose votes are being heard.
I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t I just vote 5,000 times a night to keep my favorite female contestants in? Because, as Sweet Brown would say, ain’t nobody got time for that. With the inclusion of voting via texting and the official website, it’s become much easier for young girls to vote for the contestants that they think are the cutest. You’ve quietly become a singing competition based almost exclusively on looks and not, well, singing.
If you can honestly tell me that you think Lee DeWyze deserved to win over Crystal Bowersox in season nine, then I question your integrity. By anybody’s standards that result was, quite frankly, ridiculous and embarrassing for you.
Now, if these guys were all going on to become successful recording artists, I would back off. But David Cook, Kris Allen and DeWyze were all dropped from their initial record labels because they were either initially successful and then faded (Cook) or never sold enough records to begin with (Allen). McCreery and Phillips have both been genuinely successful on mainstream charts, but even they don’t come close to equaling the success of female winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
I would ask you to change the voting system (e.g. by limiting the voting per household or letting the judges have some sort of say), but I have a good feeling about the girls’ chances this season. There’s one girl in particular that not only could I see winning this year, but also that I could see go on to become a commercial success. And that’s Angie Miller.
She has a voice to be reckoned with, the looks of a pop star and the songwriting chops that more than legitimize her other talents. And she knows it. She can win … I think.
“Idol,” I know you’re slowly losing viewers, but did you ever think that, maybe, that’s because of the homogeneity of your recent winners? You need a female winner. Badly. Having a female winner will prove that your competition hasn’t lost its ability to surprise and that it isn’t just one note.
This season of “Idol” has been a pleasure to watch so far — you’ve reinvented yourself with captivating new judges, a new format and a renewed sense of self. Gone are the days of J.Lo’s coddling, Steven Tyler’s aloofness and an overall outdated outlook on the workings of your competition. So, kick off this new era with a kind of winner you’ve gotten away from: a girl.