The “American Idol” final is set.
Unlike last year there will not be a huge rift socially or musically as there was between Adam Lambert and Kris Allen.
Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze in many ways are cut from the same cloth. Both are young Midwesterners who have come out of the depths of obscurity to get their moments in the sun. Both work well with a guitar on stage and both have emotional connections to soulful elements of classic rock. All of that is very appealing.
As for the inevitable questions of: “Who wins?”, clearly Lee has the momentum on his side. That being said, because there won’t be a huge disparity in styles, the vote is sure to be close. Of course the final will have many guest appearances – Adam performing with Kiss last year was downright hilarious – one of which will undoubtedly be the “Pants on the Ground” guy General Larry Platt.
The larger question that looms is who will replace Simon Cowell and will it ultimately mean the beginning of the end – perhaps swiftly – for the show? It will be a huge void to fill and a Catch-22 for whomever replaces him. If his replacement is hypercritical they’ll always be measured up against Simon, and if they don’t hit it out the park, it will be deemed a failure. A course correction could be chosen with someone for someone who isn’t as cutting, but then there’s a risk of what originally made the show unique.
In many ways, however, it is time for a change. Cowell has wanted to put together the show “X-Factor” he will bring to American TV for years. Also, at first the show ballooned its popularity in large part to Cowell’s acerbic wit. Americans expect their game show hosts to be laughing cajoling softies. After nearly a decade the acidic personality has gone from novelty to normal.
Will Bowersox or DeWyze emerge from this to become a true star along the lines of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood or Jennifer Hudson? It’s certainly not a guarantee.
How long can “Idol” last past 2011 without Simon? That future is even more uncertain.