American Idol Swan Song

Maybe I’m Amazed – Paul McCartney

I have not watched this video for 2 ½ months. It is still painful – still absolutely shocking. The best review of this night is written by a TV Guide reporter who has attended all 10 seasons of Idol. He said that this elimination was unlike any other in the 10 years he has been attending:

After James’ song the audience stood in complete silence for 10-15 minutes. No one moved, no one talked, no one left. It was as if no one could believe  that  this blazingly talented rocker was really going home. Then someone began to shout his name and soon the whole room was chanting his name.

This same reporter had been asking producers and others connected to the show whom they thought would win. It was always James. No doubt that he would be in the final 2. The audience had become even more emotionally connected to James than the TV audience because they were there in person to experience his energy and soufulness, personally. The audience reaction to his elimination revealed just that. The audience had been treated to a rock concert or beautiful ballad week in and week out and suddenly that energy was leaving the building. James had been the one to set the bar each week and even those that had other favorites wanted their favorites to battle James in the final. Sadly it was not to be.

I do not believe anyone saw this coming except perhaps the haters, who worked so tirelessly for reasons I cannot comprehend to – in their own words – bring James down. I do not believe the haters would have been successful had TPTB  kept the same voting process they had been using week in and week out for 10 years. Ryan kept saying what a critical week it was for voting. TPTB for yet unexplained reasons chose to change the voting process 2 weeks before the final. Dumb, dangerous and unnecessary. It opened the door unnecessarily to confusion and cries of voter manipulation. This ridiculous change hurt James the most. He was never even in the bottom 3. People are creatures of habit and after 10 years I am sure many of them voted according to the order in which the singers sang. There is no doubt in my mind that had the normal voting process been used James would have not been eliminated so soon. The morning of the elimination James had finally passed Scotty in all categories according to the most prominent polls.

The voting system is flawed and needs to be improved for the sake of future contestants. The judges need to be involved in the elimination process as they are on DWTS and SYTYCD so that senseless results like this are less likely to happen.

James final performance is vintage James. It is raw and real. James lives in his music and holds nothing back. His vocals suffer technically because such strong emotion causes his throat to begin to close up, but it is a very heartfelt goodbye.

I was so hoping that America would get it right this time. James is the story of Rocky Balboa all over again – a different town, a different type of competition and a different set of challenges. Like Rocky, the odds were stacked against James. He had so many reasons to fail, so many challenges, some of which we are not even aware. Had he not been so blazingly talented, had he not been able to measure up to the rest of the competition, then keeping him in the competition simply because of his challenges would have been wrong. But measure up he did. He far exceeded anyone’s expectations in all phases of vocals and performance. He also met his challenges head on like a warrior in battle and won. For all of those reasons he deserved to win the title of American Idol. It would have been such a tremendous story of ultimate triumph.

Of course, in the end James HAS triumphed. He is blessed!! Thankfully we have all been the beneficiaries of his gifts and he has won the respect and admiration of the international community of viewers that have grown to love him – something a title can never guarantee – but something we see play out in every performance on tour as the crowd stands to shout and sing: “We salute you James for a job beautifully done. We heart you and can’t wait for more. Keep the faith, and rock on!!”


2 thoughts on “American Idol Swan Song

  1. I still can’t watch it. I can close my eyes, and see and hear it clearly, and my heart breaks again. My favorite part, if you can call it that, was when he sang the line “baby won’t you help me to understand,” with a rueful laugh as he embraces Heidi. I knew he’d be okay in that one split second of truth. The rest is a blur of emotion. I also decided not to look back at this, only forward.

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