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American Idol: It's a Southern Thang

Posted: Mar 15, 2007 Half way through last night’s American Idol results show, I found myself asking the same question I ask myself every single time I am lured into this capitalistic charade of pop culture – “Why do I watch this?”

Well, truth be told, it’s all about the South.

Way back when the first season came on, I was hooked. I was in the hospital for a month during the competition, and I can honestly say, American Idol was the only thing that I looked forward to during that nightmare.

From the outset, I was all about Texas girl Kelly Clarkson. Let’s face it, none of the others had a chance. She was a natural from the get-go. I still maintain that she was the best singer ever to come out of American Idol.

But let’s have a look at the other past winners.

Season two: Ruben Studdard, Birmingham, Alabama wins. Clay Aiken, Raleigh, NC places second. Third place is Kimberley Locke from Nashville

Season three: Fantasia Barrino from High Point, NC wins. Diana DeGarmo from Snellville, Georgia places second. (As a side note, this is the season where Jennifer Hudson was voted off and told by Simon that she was too fat. Now she owns an Oscar for Dreamgirls only three years later.)

Season four: Current country superstar Carrie Underwood wins. Where’s she hail from? Checotah, Oklahoma. Second place is the Southern rocking Bo Bice of Helena, Alabama.

Season five: Birmingham, Alabama has its second Idol winner in Taylor Hicks! While the season spawns several new stars from the top 12, including North Carolinians Bucky Covington, now a country star, and Chris Daughtry, a rocking and rolling hit, as well as Elliott Yamin from Virginia, Kellie Pickler from North Carolina, Melissa McGhee from Florida and who can forget Mandisa from Antioch, Tennessee? 

Now, six of this season’s remaining eleven are Southerners, and I have already decided which two will be the finalists. It will come down to Melinda Doolittle (Brentwood, Tennessee) and Chris Sligh (from my hometown here in Greenville, SC).

The only genuine threat is non-Southerner Lakisha "KiKi" Jones (Michigan), a lady with a lot of soul. She’s the bomb, for sure, but my inner talent detector says Melinda as winner, Chris in second.

As for the current competition, there are a few folks in the top twelve that baffle me. Haley Scarnato, for example, who, not unlike the forgettable guy that was voted off last night, forgot the words to “Missing You” and also butchered Diana Ross’ song big time, melted down in front of the judges. It was odd that the big bad wolf himself, Simon, comforted the beauty by telling her it “wasn’t that bad.”  Of course, Simon has a thing for pretty brunettes. We found that out last season.

It was a kind of weird week for the show all around, with Diana Ross pulling a Barry Manilow and “mentoring” the singers one at a time. Diana looked fresher than she has in years, and when the diva of all divas came out to sing on the results show, she even made her way over to the contestants and allowed a couple of them to sing with her. Pretty cool.

Diana is great and all that, but since basically every Idol winner has come out of the beautiful South, I suggest some new mentors.

How about Gregg Allman? All of the contestants have to sing an Allman Brothers song, and Haley can do a “torch” version of “Whipping Post,” which will drive Simon from the judge’s bench straight into the arms of the nubile young pretty thing. At least in his dreams.

Better yet, Charlie Daniels. Imagine Melinda singing "The South’s Gonna Do It” or Chris doing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” I think it could work. Yeah. It could work.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.

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michaelbuffalo says...

Okay, so I was wrong. I can't believe America voted Chris off the show, but that little grinning kid with the mohawk stays on, and cannot even sing!!! In the immortal words of Charlie Brown- "ARGH!"

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