Thursday, March 11, 2010

American Idol: Bowersox Wins




Cancel the season, the contest is over.

Give the prize to Crystal Bowersox and let us go back to our Netflix queues. Her performances on American Idol are so much better than everyone else’s, it’s like Shawn White at the Olympics – amazing and bizarre and finally exhilarating. You sit up the first time you hear her and think “Oh yeah – this is a talent contest!” Someone with actual talent is so rare you almost don’t recognize it. She has a gorgeous voice, she can really play guitar and her innate musicality makes the karaoke singers around her look puny and forlorn. She sings Fogerty better than Fogerty; she sings Tracy Chapman and it sounds like she wrote the song herself. Apparently she writes her own songs. I hope she gets to sing one.

Early in the season, Simon disparagingly called her a ‘busker’ – he should pay attention to those buskers, strumming outside the tube stations. A lot of them are good, some of them are great and apparently one of them was Crystal Bowersox.

During season 7, Carrie Underwood was so far ahead of everyone else in the voting that the producers were terrified that the numbers would leak and the suspense would fizzle. I suspect the same thing may happen this year, but I’m not sure. Bowersox is too odd – a little over weight, messy, with a missing tooth. And yet she’s beautiful in a strange way and mysterious, she doesn’t preen for the camera or play to it. She accepts the judge’s praise quietly. She keeps her thoughts to herself. Her attitude of calm self-certainty might alienate the fourteen-year-old girls in Boise and Dubuque, but I like it. She doesn’t really seem a part of the show: she’s from a different, tougher world. David Cook had something like this distance two years ago, but he was a humble fellow, in his talent and his personality – he tried out by accident, after tagging along with his brother, and never seemed convinced by his own success. He was charmingly small. Bowersox is big – a commanding presence, Janis Joplin with a guitar and by now her career is assured no matter what happens in the next month or two.

I’ve already downloaded two songs, which I’ve never done before. I may even cross over to the dark side this season and vote.

I just have to learn how to text first.

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