Sunday, June 08, 2014

American Idol Season 13 Finale Results

Who should have won American Idol: Caleb Johnson
Who I predicted would win American Idol: Caleb Johnson
Who won American Idol: Caleb Johnson

I guess it is time for me to put this post together and wrap up the season.

Caleb certainly deserved to win after being the strongest competitor all year in my view. I felt the same way last season in regards to Candice Glover. Both of the most recent winners were both part of (and cut) during Hollywood Week in Season 11, which means that they, along with Phillp Phillips, were all future American Idols, competing during the same Hollywood week. I just find that interesting. It might also be worth mentioning that neither Candice nor Caleb fit the stereotypical view, size-wise, of what an "Idol" might look like, but they both won their seasons based on vocal merit, and that is a good thing. Finding significant Billboard chart success may prove to be more difficult for both though.

In the season before that, Caleb had been featured as a bit of a joke contestant in Hollywood week, but as I mentioned before, he clearly worked hard at his craft and made improvements. It is sometimes hard to believe that he was only 23 years old. He came across as a good deal older. Certainly, he was not ready for the latter stages of the competition when he first auditioned and the same can be said for Candice, who also had auditioned previous times. It remains to be seen whether their paths to victory will be a new common way for future Idols. The show will of course have to extend for several more years to test that theory.

Before the season started, I made note on here that I was likely to find Caleb my favorite singer of the season but I never thought he could actually win. In past seasons, his appearance, and style of music would have hurt him, but he was talented enough, and built up enough of an older fanbase (much in the way that Taylor Hicks once did) to win.

Before getting back to Caleb, let me just take a moment to note the second place finish of young Jena Irene Ascuitto. She did very well to get from a wildcard to the runner-up. She clearly has talent and while I liked some of her performances and did not like others, she will have a chance to make it in the current pop world. Someone as young as her though may be subject to the career direction advice of a plethora of record executives. Hopefully, she will be able to stay at least somewhat true to herself in the process.

Transitioning back to the winner, while some may make the case for David Cook, I think Caleb is the first "Rocker" to ever win American Idol. Someone like him certainly would not have probably even tried out for the show in the first season, but has reached this point after the efforts of past singers such as Bo Bice, Chris Daughtry. I would love to think the kind of southern rock/hair metal that Caleb did at times on the show this past season would make a mainstream comeback, but I know that will not be the case. Likely, Caleb himself will be singing a different, more modern type of rock music.

While the voting patterns and habits of Idol fans this season were drastically different than what we have seen at the past, I believe Caleb owes his victory to more than just consistently strong performances. The initial reaction of a lot of Idol viewers, based on how he was presented during auditions and Hollywood week (not to mention previous season) would be that he was a bit of an arrogant loudmouth, sort of like a Jack Black character. I remember my mother telling me that she did not expect to like him, but during the Rush Week round, she liked how excited and supportive he was for all the other guys who got a chance to sing and how he congratulated and embraced them after they sang.

Perhaps that was just Caleb being his natural self, but he may also have shrewdly figured out a way to appeal personally to Idol's overwhelmingly female older fanbase. While he sometimes had a look on his face of being smug or dismissive during judges's comments, he never argued back at them on the air. The fact that unlike the contestants who would finish second and third, he voted to not send anybody home one week, probably earned him some goodwill as well from the fans of the departed contestants and also casual viewers. I have even heard it said that people found themselves won over by him by the way he placed a kiss on the forehead of Grumpy Cat.

All this shows that little things might mean a lot on American Idol, and while in an earlier round there was a bit of a weird apology from Caleb about a peanut allergy joke, the kerfuffle about him using the term "retards" in relation his fans picking a certain song for her were never mentioned on the air. He survived what could have been a significant Idol "scandal", had it received mainstream attention. People even thought that his snarky comment about "making some old ladies cry" could harm his standing in the competition, but it clearly never did. I happened to have found that comment both funny and prescient.

So, that is about it. I enjoyed Caleb's run this season, but was happy for it to end and delayed making this post for a while. I hope my faults were not too rambling or disjointed. When Idol comes around for a 14th season, I will try my best to do it all once again. Hopefully, like the past two seasons, the person who deserves to win the season will once again do so. Unlike the past two years, I hope the overall season turns out to be stronger.

Now, anything else I write on here (beyond NFL picks of what teams I want to win)  for the rest of the year is likely to be about the 2010 midterm elections.