American Idol outcome could have a deeper significance

by Debra McDuffee, posted May 22nd 2008 11:05AM
David CookLike Jason wrote in his reviewcap of the American Idol finale, I too think that America got it right. But more than that, I think the outcome of last night's vote has some deeper significance to AI's future.

First of all, it was not only a record-breaking number of votes, but the outcome was more distinct than in years past. That means that America really wanted David Cook to win. That's not to say David Archuletta can't belt out a good tune, but for America to pick the more original contestant who brought a unique style to everything he sang is notable.

The relevance to future Idols is this: If America actually picked the more talented contestant, the singer most likely to have a bang-up career, the hipper, cooler dude who should have had more appeal, then the future is bright for AI.

In a season that showed dwindling viewership and got lots of criticism for being boring and hokey (um, yeah, but hasn't AI always been such?), this is exactly what AI needed. This outcome will help attract more viewership; the people who thought AI was all a big farce may just tune in and let their votes count next year.

Maybe I am placing more significance on the voting than is reality. It could just be that David Cook's fans are wiser and more internet savvy, and they know how to use Gizmo, while Archie's fans struggled with the buttons on their glittery pink cell phones, texting in desperation.

How do you think the finale outcome of this season's Idol will effect future AI seasons?

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May 23 2008 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jon

Just because a song uses a guitar, doesn't mean everything was the same. Cook was able to slow things down, speed things up, play an edgy song with loud electric guitars and drums, and play a slow song with nothing but acoustic guitars in the background. He even went completely out of the box when he sang "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera without anything going on in the background. Cook was much more challenged than any of the other contestants. Andrew Lloyd Weber, Dolly Parton, and Mariah Carey are about as far away from the alternative rock genre as you can find, and yet Cook was able to make it work.

Archuletta has a terrific voice but no versatility. All of his songs were slow ballads, and he was grilled every time he looked outside the box (like when he did Chris Brown and the Stevie Wonder version of "We can work it out") He had a bunch of genres/themes that fit right into his wheelhouse and was never challenged to move outside of that "ballad" box. Can you even imagine how he would've done if there was, say, a Metallica or a Bon Jovi theme?
So to say a guy who can only sing one type of song is more versatile than a guy who switched styles virtually every week, I just don't get it.

May 23 2008 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JKay

I completely agree with everything Neal said.

Dawn, you have got to be kidding me.

Sure, Cook can rearrange a song... into something that will sound EXACTLY like all the other modern rock on the radio today! Now that's originality, right? How many 17-year-old male singers are out there with an amazing voice like Archuleta's? None that I know of. But no... the people would rather hear more of the shitty rock that is currently around. Way to go America... not picking the better contestant to be the AI winner once again.

May 22 2008 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JKay's comment
calli

I'm sure there are plenty of great voices out there that most of us will never hear. Having a great voice isn't being original.

David Cook's style may be modern rock, nothing wrong with that if you like it. I understand that you don't. No problem. I'm sure there are those who think you have shitty taste too. It doesn't make you or them right or wrong.

The point is that David Cook does have a style, which is appealing. He knows who he is and knows how to bring that to his music. Like him or not, Jason Castro had a similar sense of identity that I also respected.

Archuleta, on the other hand, is still maturing and trying to define his style. At least, that how it seems from my point of view.

May 23 2008 at 5:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Mc

I hope it means finding a winner who's more than just the best karaoke singer.

May 22 2008 at 5:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1iPete

I think it's too early to gauge what Cook winning means in the scope of the show. On the face of it, 97M votes is a lot, but until Idol tells us how many unique voters there are it's really hard to know whether America is making the decision or a much smaller number like 10M voters or less.

I think Idol really knows how to put on an entertaining show but are flailing about trying to figure which contestant gives them the best shot at making money in the rapidly changing music business. Idol is also confronted with the factor that the young viewers are abandoning the show with this season's median viewer age being over 35, the highest it's been. Idol's audience is getting older, which is not the large music buying demographic the show really desires.

Idol the show continues to be a money machine, but Idol the post-contest music business has had a pretty rough record and it has to be frustrating them to have winners or runners-up who struggle to sell 1M units considering they draw 30 to 35M viewers each week which is the kind of mass promotion you kill for.

May 22 2008 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andrew Flynn

I disagree with Neal above. Archuleta, while very impressive vocally, doesn't have a lot of range in style or genre. Ballads. Slow soulful songs - that's it. Minimal stage presence. He absolutely "won" Tuesday's competition (head-to-head), but AI voters didn't take that into consideration - they seem to have looked at the entire body of work.

Sure, Cook's voice is too similar to other rock and alt-rockers, but gained respect (in my opinion) as someone who artfully re-arranges a tune, is an actual musician (with guitar), has some knowledge about music before he was born (always a plus) and had a better "story" (brother's cancer, didn't even plan on auditioning). Lastly, I'd actually pay money to see/hear Cook (or at least download something - let's not get ahead of ourselves).

Like the classic ESPN SportsCenter commercial - I think Archuleta came out too early. A baseball analogy - Cook is major-league ready, while Archuleta needs some seasoning in the minors to work on parts of his game (genre, stage presence, turning 18 and getting out from under his stage father, etc.).

May 22 2008 at 3:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dawn50

David Archuleta has a rasp? David Cook is a singer who sings the same style as other mainstream singers?

Neal, you gotta be kidding me.

IIf Cook is cookie cutter, what does that make Ballad Boy? An American original?

Please, don't take as gospel what some third rate music critic from the Daily News says. America got it right this year, thank goodness.

As for you, Neal, when I count to three and snap my fingers, you will emerge from your ridiculous trance.

May 22 2008 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe stalin

Oreo and other daft typers, put aside your pink cells phones and take a look around. Its a big world and not everyone agrees with you that Archuleta is the bee's knees. Cook may sound similar to other rockers out there but he is UNIQUE in that he takes a song and makes it his own. Baby Elmo really didn't do that, he doesn't appear to know HOW to do that. Now stop pouting you hosers! There'll be plenty of time to whine when Cook's ablum outsells Archuleta's by 7 to 1.

May 22 2008 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Neal

It truely shows the sad state of American musical taste when I hear people say that David Cook was the more original and talented vocalist. It goes to show you that America has been programmed to accept cookie cutter for original and easily acceptable for creative. David Cook is basically the same singer with the same vocal stylings as any of the these interchangeable modern rock sinegers today. The kind of singer that sounds like they are constipadted and straining very hard while singing. Modern Rock is a joke with one band sounding like another and one cookie cutter lead singer adfter another. Chad Kroeger, Chris Daughtry, etc all wanna be grunge singers. David Cook is just another in a long line of these boring, lame singer.

I'll quote Daily News Music Critic Jim Farber who I think put it perfectly.

"David Cook sounds like any number of mainstream rock singers in bands that wish they were Nirvana - from Nickelback to Daughtry. However, Archuleta owns the more individual voice. Archuleta boasts a subtle rasp that shades his more boyish tones and gives him a hint of soul. Archuleta also connects to his material in a more probing way, taping into the darker well of feeling his doll-like visage obscures. In the end, he's both a better, and a rarer, singer than Cook."

I just think main stream music fans in America have had their listening dictated to them for so long by Mtv, VH1, modern rock radio , etc that their ability to distinguish good music from mediocre music has dwindled beyond recognition, and this is just another example.

May 22 2008 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Neal's comment
Ryan

As much as I get and share in your frustrations, I also like to tell myself that maybe these people are just narrowing themselves to American Idol contestants/winners. In terms of that, he IS different and unique and somewhat original.

But yeah I never got the whole "diss Archuleta to put Cook on a pedestal" mentality. They're both great.

May 22 2008 at 2:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
calli

Have to agree that Archuleta has a beautiful voice, and I hope he goes far and has a terrific career. There are times when he'll hit and carry a note so lovely it nearly makes me cry.

That being said, I disagree with Mr. Farber when he says that Archuleta connects to his material. He only seemed truly connected to songs he was already familiar with. His version of "Imagine", for instance, was beautiful and stirring. But, when given unfamiliar material, it didn't feel to me like he connected at all. Just goes to show that different people see and feel different things.

Personally, I felt more of a connection to the music when Cook sang.

May 23 2008 at 5:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

Yeah, you're definitely overthinking this bit. Cook won because more people voted for him. That has always been the case since season 1. It really is just as simple as that sometimes.

And 44% of 97 million is still 47.7 million votes. Archuleta is no chopped liver. Both individually will probably sell more than Studdard and Hicks combined. Season 7 FTW.

May 22 2008 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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