Please, stop John Stevens

John Stevens Through the last several weeks of my limited posting, there were many evenings where I felt tempted to run to the computer and post my thoughts on my new favorite show … American Idol.

This is the first season I’ve watched, and find that I do enjoy it. Simon Cowell is a really perceptive judge of talent, and it’s fun to watch these kids perform. The music isn’t always to my taste, but some of the finalist are incredibly talented and deserve a crack at stardom.

To my mind, there are four, and only four people in the final 12 who deserve a record contact. They are George Huff, LaToya London, Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson.

I got a kick out of Jon Peter Lewis, and I would cast him in a minute as a sitcom star, but not as a pop singer. Early on, I rooted for John Stevens because he was a good looking kid with a taste for old time music. But it didn’t take me long to realize he is no future Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. He isn’t even a Mel Torme. Steven’s is the next Jack Jones or Perry Como. He is a Steve Lawrence in search of and Edie Gorme. He should have been voted off the show weeks ago, yet he lingers.

Apparently, the sub-13 girls are keeping him in a sports coat and penny loafers.

If it was simply a matter of keeping John on until the final five, when the real talent is left, I would simply shrug.

But tonight, I watched this week’s shows … and was shocked to discover that not only was he NOT voted off … he wasn’t even in the bottom three.

The bottom three were the three best singers in the competition, London, Barrino and Hudson.

To put this in perspective a bit more … last week Barrino gave the best performance of the Gershwin classic “Summertime” that I’ve ever heard. It gave me chills, it was so good. My wife and I watched it three times. It was Billie Holiday or Etta James worthy. Yet, this week, even after another great performance, her she was, not only in the bottom three, but the bottom two.

The one voted out: Hudson, the one contestant who has gotten better with each performance.

It was hard not to conclude that some sort of racism was at play. How could lily white, subpar singer John Stevens beat out Jennifer Hundson? I can guarantee you that not one single idol voter who voted purely on talent considerations voted for John Stevens.

But the best explanation for what happened is those damn little girls.

Clearly, if American Idol is going to have any credibility going forward, something must be done to limit the voting and prevent clueless preteens from stuffing the ballot box. One site I read suggested requiring a fee to vote. Good idea. Frankly, I don’t have a better one, and I’m not sure it would work. But it might help.

If John Stevens wins this season, I may very well not bother with another Idol season. What would be the point?

The one saving grace is the comfort in knowing that all four of my favorites on the show will, at seasons end, have record contracts, and successful careers. They’re too good, and have gotten too much exposure from being on the show, not to move forward from here. But with so much talent, it must be galling to lose to somebody like Stevens. Even Stevens knows he doesn’t deserve to be there at this point … you can see it in his face every week after he survives another round of votes. He knows he’s not good enough to be on the Idol stage at this point. And next week, don’t be surprised if Simon doesn’t tell him that in even blunter terms.

More on the controversy here and here.

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