AI: From Stellar Season to Snoozefest



American Idol season nineteen crowned Chayce Beckham as the season 19 winner last night. For those who haven’t been paying attention (which is most everyone), it was between mediocre-at-best country crooner, Chayce Beckham, the morbidly obese token black gay boy, Willie Spence, and not quite as obese and painfully cinched token screaming white chick, Grace Kinstler.


The finale was a three hour long snooze fest which subjected us to a whole slew of performances from former season 19 contestants paired with pros , Chaka Khan, Lindsey Buckingham, and Sheryl Crow, each of whom looked (and sounded like) they were forced at gunpoint to perform on AI. The entire three hour ordeal felt “off” to me, but more on that in a minute.


As per every AI finale, the judges each picked two songs for each of the final three. Grace is assigned Celine Dion’s Eric Carman's All By Myself, which despite the judge’s raves, doesn’t even close to the Canadian loon’s version. Willie is assigned Georgia On My Mind (because he’s from Georgia) adding nothing whatsoever to the Ray Charles classic. Chayce performs the moldy oldie Blackbird, a lesser known Beatles song that AI has been trying to make happen since season 1 (cheap royalties).


Round two was all about the final three's respective homecomings and the  usual handfuls of adoring home towns people gathered in high school gymnasiums, places of employment, and churches. The finalists then performed "home town inspired" songs. Grace does the tired Whitney Houston lessor hit from The Bodyguard, “I Have Nothing (we came soo close to NOT having to hear it this season). Willie does “Change is Gonna Come”, which suddenly makes me realize that all of his performances sound exactly the same. Chayce wraps up the hometown round with some unknown snoozer called Fire Away.  What I just wrote about Willie goes double for Chayce.


After Ryan Seacreature’s usual attempt to build suspense via the phony “audience voting results” jargon, Grace Kinstler is eliminated! A few audible boos are heard as Katie puts her head down on the judges desk in utter disbelief. So much for the “Will & Grace” finale that I expected from the first episode . . . well I almost got it right!.


We are then treated to few more mostly forgettable performances including duets with the three judges and a few chosen top ten favorites of the season, althought I actually kind of dug Katy Perry and Hunter Metts’s duet.  Still, I'm looking at the clock and wondering how they are going to feel ANOTHER ninety minutes! BTW, Perry’s production company had already signed Metts.


Finally, after three hours of a few decent performances, but mostly filler, the big moment arrives, and to virtually everyone in the audience and at home’s surprise  horror, Chayce Beckham is crowned the winner. Nothing against this kid, but as one who spent an entire decade in Nashville, TN, I can tell you first hand that there are at least a hundred 20-something good ol’ boys in any random downtown Nashville saloon doing what Chayce does (but better), probably as we speak.



Speaking of good ol’ boys, it felt to me that there was something “off” about this finale, and the following two incidents most likely explain it.  It was just revealed that  Chayce’s “country crooning” competition, Caleb Kennedy, was kicked off the show for being filmed at an honest to goodbadness old fashioned KKK meeting.  Yes, we're talking those those scary effers in white pointy hats with cut outs for eyes. In the video is saying "bow" to the presumed "grand dragon".  Personally, I never could stand the pouty lil’ punk, but I have to say, this is a mic drop moment if there ever was one.



This next incident pales in comparison, but here goes. It turns out that last season’s finalist, that Somalian? dude, Arthur Gunn, walked off the show just as he was to perform with guest Sheryl Crow.  Exactly why he bolted remains unclear. But luckily, one of this season’s other finalists, Graham DeFranco, was there to cheer on his buds Hunter and Chayce, and graciously stepped in and performed with Crow.