I hate to break it to you, fellow members of Bowersox Nation, but our girl isn’t going to win “American Idol.”
It pains me to write that, as I love Crystal and all that she stands for (shoot, I feel like I know her ), and I really want her to win, but it’s just not in the cards. Not with Lee Dewyze still shrugging in the background, anyway.
See, no matter how much Simon Cowell wants to shout it, “American Idol” is not “a singing competition”; it’s a popularity contest. If the show were based on vocal ability, producers would have just ended the competition last week, after Bowersox leveled the room with her tearful take on “People Get Ready,” or last month, when she lapped the field with “Me And Bobby McGee,” or, well, you catch my drift. At this point, the questions about her “marketability” or “relevancy” are moot: Her voice is timeless. She has proven that she can sing anything, anytime, anywhere, and she can do it better than anyone else on the show. So of course, she will still end up losing.
Because “Idol” isn’t based on talent (I mean, it is up to a certain point — usually about the time we reach the top 10, then things tend to get all high-schooly). It’s based on intangible stuff like “familiarity” and “likability.” And those are the two categories in which Bowersox doesn’t dominate. For better or worse, viewers tend to vote for the contestant they feel they have the most in common with, the one they feel is a nice person, the one they already feel like they hear four times an hour on the radio. And more often than not, that contestant happens to be a slightly scruffy, well-proportioned, slightly hunky, kinda underdoggy, totally inoffensive guy.
And this year, that guy is Lee Dewyze.
Let me stop here for a second and say that I don’t dislike Dewyze in any way. I actually don’t have any kind of opinion of him (and I don’t think I’m in the minority by saying that), which doesn’t exactly bode well for his post-“Idol” career. After thinking about it for a full five minutes, here’s about all I can come up with to say about him: He seems like a pretty nice guy. He has good teeth. He is probably nice to animals and children and the elderly. Sometimes he wears a goofy knit cap. He plays the kind of bland, radio-ready sorta-rock that continues to mystify me. Of course, none of this makes him interesting — and, frankly, when he speaks, I tend to lose consciousness — but it makes him a shoo-in to win season nine of “American Idol.”
“Idol” voters don’t want “interesting”; they want “nice,” “dependable,” “relatable.” This doesn’t change — or, at least, it hasn’t for the past three seasons. Just look at last year, when everyone was rushing to crown Adam Lambert the champion. I argued that Kris Allen would win “Idol” because “he seems like a solid, trustworthy guy — like a combination cowboy/firefighter, or a youth minister (which I think he actually is). If you think about it for a few seconds, you’ll probably realize that you know someone exactly like him — and you are not alone. Everyone in America knows someone like Kris Allen. Or, at least, more people know someone like him than they do Adam Lambert.”
As it turns out, I was right.
So with something like four weeks left in the competition, I’m calling it for Lee Dewyze. He reminds me too much of Allen in every possible way, right down to the fact that most of the media that covers “Idol” seems hell-bent on making him the “underdog,” despite all evidence to the contrary. Plus, to be honest, it’s not like Crystal has really salted this one away, either, what with the whole “I-quit, no-wait-I-don’t” drama surrounding her last week. There are too many holes in her story. She is considered too weird by the people who actually vote on this thing, and eventually — probably in the finale — her luck will run out.
I am not alone in thinking this, either. Just Tuesday, I spoke to a pair of “Idol” experts for a piece I was working on called “Can Crystal Bowersox Lose ‘American Idol’?” Sadly, they both agreed that, yes, she could, and it would probably be to Dewyze. Of course, I’m willing to be proven wrong — I just don’t think I will be. America will go for Lee Dewyze, because they’ve gone for him in season seven (David Cook) and eight (Allen). They will go for him because he’s the safe, familiar choice, and because he seems nice. But most of all, they will go for him because he’s not Crystal Bowersox.
That’s a shame, but it’s not exactly shocking. America likes things safe, and this is “American Idol,” after all.
Questions? Concerns? Hit me up at BTTS@MTVStaff.com.