After Tuesday night's sing-off/smackdown, viewers voted Jordin Sparks the winner of Season 6 of "American Idol." Wednesday night, viewers spent almost two-hours waiting for that verdict, which was like waiting all night for the official results of the Reagan/Mondale landslide in 1984. A no-brainer.
Blake Lewis was trying to become the first barely mediocre singer to win this competition, but even the mainstream TV-watching populace has standards, and he did not meet them. Ultimately, the show met its purpose: A very good singer has been given the chance to succeed in the wildly speculative and unpredictable marketplace that is pop music. Jordin Sparks, welcome to Deadwood.
For some wildly speculative ruminations on what lies ahead for both finalists and for some observations on the two-hour finale, see below.
What's next: She has to define her niche and pick a song that will get played on more than one radio format (and one of them probably should not be adult/contemporary, which is where Taylor Hicks has disappeared to). She'd be better off being daring than safe. She easily handled a big Martina McBride song, twice; it'd be real interesting to see if she could get a ballad on country radio -- not a banjo and fiddle tune, but a country-diva thing, like Martina or Faith Hill. Sheryl Crow did it with "First Cut is the Deepest"; Carrie Underwood did the reverse, crossing over to Top 40 with a country song. How would country radio welcome a bi-racial teenage girl with a voice good enough to handle a Martina hit? Maybe we'll see.
Otherwise, she should avoid taking the R&B/soul diva path, which is over-populated with ladies about her age with more talent.
Hello, I'm Blake, and I'm addicted to the beat-box. Dude will sell some records, but he needs to act fast, before his base gets through puberty.
What's next: He should re-record, release and sell whatever original material he already has prepared as soon as he can. He should market posters of himself on Seventeen.com. or during "Gilmore Girls" reruns. He should go on "Oprah" under any pretense and solidify his position among the females 24-38 years old who think he's hot and who aren't jiggy with John Mayer's recent affair with the blues. He should do something other than just toss out a generic album and hope his celebrity sells it.
The voice is average, but so are a lot of others out there. The Maroon 5/Rob Thomas route seems most likely; if he tries to pretend he's hip-hop worthy, he'll get fried and destroyed. That crowd won't accept him.
Things we learned and witnessed during the finale (and the pre-game show):
Paula Abdul confessed she had trouble learning all the contestants' names this year. So much to remember, so few cells to retain it.
Tayor Hicks has written a book about his first year as an "Idol" winner. Finally, a sleeping aid without side-effects.
All of this year's male "Idol" losers were in the Kodak Theatre to perform a Smokey Robinson medley. It was like a gathering of every losing vice-presidential candidate over the past 20 years. (That makes you James Stockdale, Sanjaya.)
Even today, Smokey Robinson has a better voice and more soul than Blake Lewis and Taylor Hicks combined.
Blake did some beat-boxing with guest Doug E. Fresh. Not since "Blazing Saddles" have so many people cheered so long and loud for the sound of simulated farts. We have seen the future, and that has not been it for a long time.
Figuring it's better to ridicule someone more than once as long as you hold rights to the footage, Fox and "Idol" handed out awards to the people who most disgraced themselves during the audition, including the enormous older woman dressed like a canary (who molested Ryan Seacrest). And we wonder why India and China are kicking our ass in education and technology.
The lady losers from this season joined Jordin for a medley of Gladys Knight songs. Haley Scarnato reprised the legs that kept her on life-support for several weeks; Stephanie Edwards reminded everyone how good she is/was; and LaKisha Jones sang joyously, as if Bon Jovi had never been born.
Even today, Gladys Knight has more gospel-funk and soul in her bones than Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks combined.
Melinda Doolittle performed "Hold Up the Light" with the Winans -- and killed it -- and sounded like she'd already won this year's "Idol." Maybe she had.
Carrie Underwood performed and took a trophy from Clive Davis for managing to sell about 6 million copies of her first album in less than 18 months. She typifies where "singers" like Jordin Sparks need to go: to a place where their looks, personalities and voices can be used to turn songs into big hits. Back in the 1960s that place was Motown. Now, it's a matter of her finding the right tutor, the right mentor, the right stylist, the right songwriter, the right producer.
Sanjaya Malakar returned to reprise his abuse of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me." Except this time he brought a gunslinger to a gunfight: Joe Perry of Aerosmith played lead guitar for the kid who can't sing straight.
Green Day performed its contribution to a CD that benefits refugees of Darfur: "Working Class Hero," a John Lennon song.
Bette Midler sang and made Jerry Springer cry. He was seated next to Jeff Foxworthy, which proves how star-studded this event has become, especially for people whose fame is about out of flicker. The numbers: About 74 million votes were cast for this year's final show. Those kind of numbers will get attention from people like Joe Perry, Bette Midler and even mega-star Carrie Underwood, who was invented by this show.