As we reach the end of an era I am reminded of an old saying; “All good things must come an end”.
But I suppose so long as we can look back on something through our rose tinted glasses and let loose a gleaming smile and a soft sigh of satisfaction, then it truly has been a good thing.
As the curtain closes on it’s long day in the sun we can say “farewell old friend” to American Idol and in usual proud fashion we can celebrate some of it’s Blonde finalists.
Picture this! The unknown, the suspense, could it all be true? A regular Joe could be made the next superstar??
American Idol! It had the subtitle “The Search for a Superstar”.
Enter Kelly Clarkson. If it had ended after Kelly Clarkson’s coronation in September 2002, the world could have sat back in awe and whispered, “They did it!”
As can be expected, Clarkson wasn’t perfect; she could be pitchy and, sometimes, a bit too excited. But that made it all exciting to watch; the rise from a diamond in the rough to a gleaming superstar. Idol’s viewership fell in love with her boisterous performances and with good reason. She was, no joke, a cocktail waitress from Texas who had been goaded by her friends to try out on a lark, and she could sing her face off. Idol couldn’t have had a better original victor. Clarkson was, and is, charming and bright, a true up-from-below success story made even sweeter by its protagonist’s effervescent charm and formidable pipes.
Oklahoma-born Carrie Underwood wowed American audiences with an early-season cover of Tiffany, and quickly found her country-rock niche, belting out Heart’s “Alone” like a seasoned pro and proving herself able to hang with Roy Orbison, the Dixie Chicks, even purveyors-of-schmaltz Air Supply. Her smoothly confident performances and powerhouse voice helped Idol expand into the country space, and established her as a future Nashville hit-maker.
Idol was merely a promotional vehicle for this radio-ready strummer, who might as well have been dubbed the winner when he auditioned. His victory-lap single “Home” was the epitome of WGWG tracks, and it went on to outsell even Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This.”
Starting off one’s Idol season strong can be a difficult proposition. Keeping up momentum isn’t just a personal thing; the construct of the show means that a singer has to, week after week, convince the audience that he or she might be in peril, that voter turnout is necessary in order for this person to stay in the competition. This, in a nutshell, was the problem with season nine’s Earth Mother, who turned in solid-to-spectacular performances during most weeks, yet was rewarded at the end with the second-place trophy. Maybe this is a metaphor about life and peaking early, or maybe it’s just a sign that the voters at this point were yearning for a male winner. Either way, her runner-up finish turned the end of season nine into one of Idol’s most dissatisfying finales.
Aiken began his rise to fame placing second on the second season of the television program American Idol in 2003. He and the 2003 Winner Ruben Studdard were both offered recording contracts by RCA Records, and his multi-platinum debut album Measure of a Man was released in October 2003.
Post American Idol, Clay has managed to become an over achiever.
Aiken has launched eleven tours, authored a New York Times best-selling book and was the executive producer for a 2004 televised Christmas special, A Clay Aiken Christmas and his televised live concert special in 2010 on PBS Tried & True Live!
He was the “UNICEF Ambassador of Education for All Children Worldwide”; he traveled extensively on their behalf in this role. In 2006 was appointed for a two-year term to the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities
He was sunk in the finale with a sappy coronation song that was way, way far afield from his blue-eyed soul wheelhouse, but his versatility and cherubic charm were a consistent highlight of season 14.
Whether the judges’ decision to have JAX sing Paramore’s octave-leaping “Misery Business” during the top-three episode was a put-up-or-shut-up gesture, or a way to gracefully set up Yet Another All-Dude Finale will be lost to history. Either way, her choice to switch it up with a softer take on the emo favorite ultimately gave her the bronze. Still, her all-caps rocker-girl run on season 13 punched up the season admirably.
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