Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reality Show Round-up: How did American Idol and Dancing with the Stars End?

I never knew going into the week that I was in for such surprises as I tuned in to the finales of American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

At the end of Tuesday's performance show, there was no clear cut winner for American Idol. Jessica Sanchez threw down with spot on powerhouse vocals, but an odd final song. Phillip Phillips, well, he was Phillip Phillips. He turned in two so-so performances, but his final song was stellar. I thought that about evened things out, maybe even gave Jessica Sanchez the edge. At the start of Season 11, the judges had proclaimed that it was the year of the girl, and after listening to the talent, I genuinely believed it to be true. I admit, in these past few years, I've been all about the boys, but I really thought in the back of my mind that Jessica Sanchez was going to take this, even if only by a narrow margin. It's funny, when Ryan Seacrest announced the winner, he didn't even say it was close. Did Phillip Phillips win by a landslide? I don't think young teenage girls were the only ones who called up and voted for Phillip, I bet a lot of grandmas did too. But, did no majority of any female demographic out there pick up the phone and vote for Jessica Sanchez?

This win begs the question, will a young lady ever win American Idol again? The last time a lady won was in 2007 Season 6 of Idol when a young Jordin Sparks beat Blake Lewis in the final (thank goodness!). Out of eleven seasons of the show, only four females have won, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, and Jordin Sparks. I think we can rightfully say that Jessica Sanchez belongs or belonged in that company of females singers. Her performances of The Prayer, I Will Always Love You, Sweet Dreams, and I Have Nothing were four of the single best performances, not just of this season, but arguably throughout all the seasons of Idol. Let's not forget that the judges said she could complete with the current popular female singers of today, like Beyonce. There's no question; at the age of 16, Sanchez has poise, power vocals, confidence, swagger, and humility, all qualities tough to find in most artists.

I think this is deeper than who called up to vote for who. I think this is a gender war in a way, but not in the way you think. I think women, generally, find it difficult to route for one another. Our first inclinations many times is to compete, to feel jealous, or to envy; I am woman enough to admit it. For the most part, I have no problem admitting that Jessica Sanchez was hands down deserving of this win. I also have no issue saying that Phillip Phillips worked hard, struggled with a bum kidney, and pushed his way to the end.

Jessica said in an interview, following the finale, that she knew Phillip would win, and that he deserved it, that he had worked so hard. I agree, but I would like to make the argument that the majority of the top finalists worked hard. What about Joshua Ledet? He worked the stage every week, like he had been there his entire life; he worked hard. Skylar Laine was a pro, like a young Reba who got up there every week with a fierceness that was impossible to deny; she worked hard. And what about young Jessica Sanchez, at the age of 16, she probably had more to prove than most. She got up there every week, humble, turning in not one bad performance. The judges used their "save" on her and she was shocked! I think the only person who was shocked that Jessica was saved, was Jessica. Jessica worked hard. Maybe at the end there are no winners and losers. If they worked hard, they won, and now they're going on tour. After the tour is over, some contestants will go back to their lives, and some will start new lives. Some will receive recording contracts and some will not. The experience is special, it shapes you, and maybe it's what you do with that experience that makes you a winner. If not, what was all the hard work for?

I was pleasantly surprised with Dancing with the Stars but I have felt that way the entire season. This was, by far, the best cast that they have ever had, and I went into thinking who are these people? They're superstars. The top three was exactly as it should be, William Levy and Cheryl Burke were the second runners up, Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas were the first runners up, and Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd were crowned as Ballroom Champions. Rightfully so, Donald worked his tush off and was underscored for most of the season. He took bigger risks than anyone else, and those risks paid off because they were executed so well. Peta went from being voted off first to winning the entire competition. Kudos to her for listening to her partner, finding out the styles and dances that fit him well, and choreographing to those strengths. Early talk of the upcoming season of the show is that it will be an All Star cast of past contestants. Donald has already said he won't come back, but let's not count out Gilles Marini! Congratulations to all the amazing celebrities and pros from Season 14. A friend of mine who has never watched the show before even became a fan, and that's a huge feat, trust me.

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