Idol Finale

The American Idol finale is tonight, and I got my long since disipated wish of seeing Katherine McPhee in the finale 2. Though she was one of my early favorites about halfway through the top twelve I became a big Paris fan. As expected this year there were big upsets around the top 4 and 5 positions. That's about the time when as my own theory goes, many people start voting for their second favorite person or perhaps favorite who they think is perhaps not as good as someone else but that they do not want to see knocked out of the competition just yet. Tamyra Gray and Constantine Maroulis come to mind as contestants that got booted at that point.

So the theory goes like this "Everyone will vote for Tamyra cuz she's the favorite, but not everyone's going to vote for Nikki, she needs my vote more..." Anyhow its just a guess but it would explain why so many favorites/sure things seem to disappear just shy of the bottom 3. As for the current finale, I've always been a fan of both Taylor and Katherine, though I was suprised Taylor made it as far as he did. I expected his less polished performance style would get him booted previous to the top 6. However he's gotten significantly better, enough so that I actual think he's got a better shot of winning tonight than Katherine.

I was hoping for a Paris/Chris finale as of a few weeks ago. As of last week I was hoping to see Eliot and Taylor play it out. It's not that I don't like Katherine anymore, I certainly do, however Katherine cannot seem to pull off a sad performance. Her default expression in most performances is a big, very pretty smile. She even "sang the blues" last week with a big smile. Elliot on the other hand has come a long way in that particular department. Aside from that I've always been disappointed with past finale's that paired one guy to one girl. In both previous occurrences the contestants sang songs that sounded remarkably better with a female singer. Last years was particularly bad. Make someone sing a slow country song who has gotten this far on classic rock, with vocals designed for a Lee Ann Rimes type voice and what do you know it sounded like crap.

The same thing happened to Justin Guarini in season 1. "A Moment like this" just was not interesting coming from his vocal range and style. I'm not saying they should have specifically tailored a song to his style, but seeing as they had two singles to work with it would have been nice to see something a little less female-tailored out there.

Now obviously the contestants should do their best with what they are given, however, there is something to be said for the vocal range and content of a song. Imagine for example if tonight both contestants had to pick 3 Whitney Houston songs to sing, or if both contestants were required to sing "I will always love you." Sure Taylor could do the original country version or put a bluesy spin on it, but Katherine would still have a clear advantage.

On the other hand the best finale by far I think was the Clay-Reuben stand-off (the winner of which I still contend is undecided :wink: ). Both sang an original song which later became a single. Both of those songs were well written for the voice singing them. Both also picked one other song of their choice and a Beatles song of their choice.

So we didn't have to hear the same thing repeated over and over, we got a clear demonstration of the different strengths of both contestants, a clear idea of the different performance styles, and it was actually a good show. Last year was horrid, talk about ending the show on a boring note... yikes.

At this point I don't really care who wins, both contestants have been great, and both have come a long way. But I don't want to have to watch Taylor sing the American Idol equivalent of "I'm every woman." Nor do I want to watch Katherine sing some cheesy flop tune written for a male vocalist, and designed to pull at the heartstrings of a demographic she's not likely to appeal to.

In the end I doubt it will be as bad as when they tried to cram Justin Guarini into a little R&B box that turned out mysteriously pretentious and uninteresting (if you ever saw him perform works from the album he did following the show you know what I'm talking about). Still after last year my expectations for tonight's show are rather low. Will it be a rehash of a song performed earlier in the season, followed by a few new songs, at least one of which no one will remember a year from now? I guess we'll see.

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The trade prediction markets

The trade prediction markets all have Taylor winning as well, favored in the 60% or better range. I perfer Katherine but my money is on him.

Actually that's exactly what

Actually that's exactly what my theory is for the Clay/Reuben stand off. Both of them only had one phone line each and they were only several thousandths of a percentage off of each other, though they gave us several figures during the show (first a difference of 113,000 then 13,000, then 1300). Subsequent years they added additional phone lines.

In any case American Idol doesn't seem to have any standards or means for dealing with a "tie," nor what a "tie" might entail. I would suggest anything below a percentage point difference is a tie, its well below margin of error standards but close enough so that it doesn't look like an unfair decision is being handed to the marginally higher vote-getter.

Have you seen John

Have you seen John Podhoretz' column on the Daughtry vote-off? Interesting theory, in that the reason Chris got voted off is that he never picked up votes from the people who were getting voted off in previous weeks...

Heck, do you think the folks voting for Kellie Pickler were ever going to vote for Chris? Those votes went straight to Elliott & McPhee. Which is why I'm worried, because it was close last week, and I think Elliott's votes will be more likely to go to McPhee than Taylor. I'm still pulling for Taylor though...

First, I would like to state

First, I would like to state for the record that Katherine McPhee is crazy ridiculously hot.

With that out of the way, I think another interesting theory is about what happened during last week's vote. Results were as follows:

Taylor 33.68
Kat 33.26
Elliot 33.06

What does this tell me? That the vote was really close? Maybe. But just as likely, the phone lines for each contestant were swamped and had "maximum fill" to capacity. It could be that of all people trying to vote, Taylor crushed the other two 60-20-20, but that due to swamped phone lines, only 20 of Taylor's 60 go through. Thus, we essentially get a 3-way tie with the loser determined by statistical insignificance.

Heck, maybe Elliot really crushed the other two but due to limited bandwidth, got booted by bad luck.

Once again, for the record, I told my friend at work during the audition shows that Kat was the best singer of the bunch and would win. And I think she's more talented than Taylor.

Lastly, I gotta give props to Taylor for getting through the season without resorting to singing "Ya mo be there".

Looks like it's going to be

Taylor may not eventually be

Taylor may not eventually be the mega-seller that Kelly C and Carrie U have become. But Taylor winning is a pleasant surprise for the show and the music world in general. He's odd, doesn't have a very pure voice, gets his kicks in honky-tonk bars, and has the quirkiest, spastic moves this side of Joe Cocker. And this is a good thing.

I think Katharine is very talented, has a wonderful voice (most of the time) and - of course - killer good looks and F-me eye seductions that help melt the polar ice cap. That said, did the world really need another melisma-belting sugary pop princess straight out of a Disney movie? The airwaves are already saturated with it, and while this image certainly fits "American Idol" to a T, Taylor's raw soul-blast-from-the-past is a welcome change.

Taylor has been particularly polarizing because he is the true alternative on the show. Let's face it, harmonica-driven blues rock ain't exactly the mainstream radio sound in 2006, and hasn't been for a while. Taylor is the Outsider, delivering heart n' soul badly missing from the MTV TRL playlists.

Now the trick is, AI needs to let Hicks do his own thing. That means once the typically horrible first AI-penned single has faded away, the man's got to let loose. His album sales might, or might not, eclipse the mediocre sales of Ruben Studdard. But who cares? Musical quality has never really been about 'Who Sold The Most CDs' anyway.