American Idol’ Still A Boys Club: Lee DeWyze Wins

“American Idol” premiered in January this year amid hype that Season 9 would be a “girls’ season.” But when that didn’t quite pan out — all of the female front-runners, except for Crystal Bowersox, were voted off early — the judges (especially Simon Cowell) changed their tune and started blatantly throwing their support behind Lee DeWyze. Their favoritism couldn’t have more obvious on the night the top three performed, when Lee got a big “Hallelujah moment,” complete with an eight-member choir. Well, apparently the judges’ and producers’ tactics worked: Despite delivering drastically worse performances than Crystal on Tuesday, Lee DeWyze won Season 9 on Wednesday night.

Actually, the show pushed Lee hard all season long, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure why. I mean, Lee was one of the more promising males this season (his pre-“Idol” indie albums and interesting acoustic cover of Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” are evidence of this), but he wasn’t exactly a major personality — he always seemed more like a band dude to me, never a solo star. (Maybe that’s why he needed that choir!) And more importantly, “Idol’s” parent company, 19 Entertainment, already has three mainstream-rock male Idols (Chris Daughtry, David Cook, and Kris Allen), the latter two being the past two seasons’ champs. So why did 19 Entertaiment honchos want more of the same — a third consecutive winner in this crowded genre? If they started to believe that a male was more likely to prevail yet again this season, why didn’t they push for something a little different, like R&B (Michael Lynche) or country-blues (Casey James)?

Well, maybe that’s too much responsibility to place entirely on the “Idol” powers-that-be. In the end, this was America’s decision, and sadly, America didn’t seem to want an Etheridge-loving, dreadheaded hippie chick with a penchant for relatively obscure acoustic Patty Griffin covers over a Springsteenian everyman with a fondness for U2. In the end, it was America that apparently wanted more of the same.

And so, Lee DeWyze is the new American Idol. Did America get it wrong? Based on Tuesday’s performances, I say: YES. Yes, they sure did. But we’ll have to wait for Lee’s album later this year to find out how he will really prove himself and differentiate himself from the ever-expanding “Idol” boys’ club.

However, it’s going to be hard for Lee to stand on his own, when his first single is “Beautiful Day,” a song once sung by the incomparable Bono. Maybe he’ll need to hire more bagpipers?

Posted in American Idol.

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