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American Idol 2009 -- If I'm Being Honest

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Wow! What an upset! Kris Allen won. The All-American fresh-faced boy next door beat a theatrical guy who wore leather and eyeliner. Who knew??? This country is not yet ready to crown a young man who looks like Liza Minnelli their next American Idol. Not that Kris didn't deserve it but clearly Adam was the more interesting, original choice. And I suspect will have the greater career (whatever that means). They could both be stars or in five years one could open for the other at Magic Mountain.

Still, it was Adam who jump-started the series. He's the one everybody was talking about, he's the reason you watched every week. My guess is all those tweenage girls who were so shattered last year when David Archeletta lost vowed they would never let that happen again. Hell hath no fury like a middle schooler with a Twitter account!

Of course the real winner here is American Idol. People will be talking about this for days.

I felt bad for both of them on the final performance night having to sing that insipid song co-written by Kara DioGuardi.

Go farther and deeper and don't give up your dreams, there are no boundaries, climb every mountain, spread your wings, reach for the stars.

Those lyrics might inspire Mike Tyson to bite someone's ear off but otherwise they're nothing but a string of tired clichés. And the person who co-wrote that drivel is telling other people they're not artists?? Mark my words: after this week you'll hear "Letter to my Teenage Son" by Victor Lundberg on the radio before you ever hear "No Boundaries." More on Kara later.

Here are my overall thoughts on this season. And please understand that I'm a fan of the show. At one time I loved it. It was the perfect blend of music, controversy, and stupidity all wrapped into one highly entertaining hour of live cheese. I just think they've gotten off the track.

American Idol has become American Airlines. You get far less for your money and it takes much longer to get to your destination.

In a Fox effort to get as much as they can out of their one cash cow (Sit Down, Shut Up never panned out as the national phenomenon they expected) I'm sure they put pressure on Idol to expand as much as they could. Y'know, a half hour here, fourteen hours there. But with no real new program content what we were left with was cocaine cut so thin it would pass a Major League Baseball drug test.

All of the "improvements" this season were designed to pump more air into the already stretched balloon. Adding a fourth judge. Good God, why? Two of the ones they already had were as useless as highway signs in Braille. Then, to compound matters, they hire a woman so annoying, so whiny that I find myself preferring the sound of a car alarm. And she's still a better judge than songwriter.

Another "improvement" was to expand Hollywood week. They took 300 hours of Hollywood auditions and edited them down to 298 hours of airtime. Topped off by an entire night of kids stepping into an elevator that led to their doom. So much for follow your dreams, reach for the sky, etc. There may be no boundaries for Kris, but for the other 99,999 there definitely are and the sign at the border read KEEP OUT.

Once the live broadcasts began the show started to show some life. We were treated to actual performances. 90 second snippets that passed for songs but still! Of course we were now two months into the season already. (Compare that to 24 where by week eight more people had died than in World War I.)

This is the "psychopaths and opportunists on parade" portion of the festivities. Topping this year's crop of loons was Tatiana Del Toro who was so off-the-charts obnoxious that Kara was tolerable. It's like when your face is on fire you tend to forget that your tooth aches.

Here again, the producers' "improvements" allowed whackjobs like Tatiana to just keep coming back, much like the Terminator or floods. The problem is after eight seasons we've become so conditioned to the freaks and losers that there's nothing surprising or even entertaining about them anymore. So Tatiana on her knees wailing and groveling for one more chance is now as heart wrenching as the TV Guide program crawl.

Finally the Top 13 was selected (in previous years it was the Top 10). This gave producers the opportunity to stretch the show to two hours or more for weeks. Mentors were once again enlisted. Vocal advice from such noted singers as guitarist Slash, film director Quentin Tarentino, and actor (with a movie conveniently just opening) Jaime Foxx. Were fellow crooners Dick Cheney and Roseanne unavailable?

When they finally had to limit the performance shows to an hour it was like squeezing a Minnesota Viking into Nicole Richie's leotards. First the judges had to team up and that was a disaster. Silence Simon so Kara could question everyone's "artistry". The cardinal rule of show business: You never replace Curly with Shemp if Curly is still alive.

Results shows that used to be a half hour swelled to sixty minutes. So there were now 58 minutes of shoe leather rather than 28. The rest of these hours were filled with former American Idols hawking their new singles (a Taylor Hicks pity booking), Ford commercials (they're zany these kids!), recaps of recaps, Up With People production numbers that transformed the tattooed contestants into Osmonds, and plugs for iTunes, tours, video downloads, their website -- pretty much everything short of Paula's jewelry line and bottles of Mighty Mendit.

But unlike past years, the caliber of contestants (once you weeded out "Bikini Girl" and the future Mickey Rourkes) was much higher this season. Adam, Danny, or Allison could have easily beaten the "Soul Patrol", Jordin Sparks, or ",the Velvet Teddy Bear (Ruben Studdard -- see how fast we forget?). All the more reason to be frustrated when performances were truncated so Randy had time to say "mad vocals" fifteen times a show instead of nine.

So congratulations to Kris. And Adam, who will probably get even more notoriety for losing. Most of the others from this year's crop will fade into the mist although Tatiana will surely resurface if they ever do a remake of SYBIL.

There's a rumor that next year Fox plans to expand the show even more. This ranks up there in hubris with ticket prices at the new Yankee Stadium. I hope it's not true and I'll just conclude by reminding you of that one great truism of Broadway.

"Cut out twenty minutes and the show will run for two more years."

Tryouts for next season begin soon. Eagle scouts only need apply. It's been fun reviewing Idol for HuffPost. See you in January.

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