(just because I’m wrong about who wins, doesn’t mean I don’t stand by everything else I say here)
I watch American Idol because my wife watches American Idol. There was a time when I enjoyed watching the auditions…those pathetic people getting their dreams crushed on public television. Ya, sorry…I was more in it for the humor than I was the actual talent. But after a couple seasons even the humor seemed staged. These people didn’t really think they had any talent; they were just looking for their 5 minutes of fame, and it just got lame.
This year there were a couple young singer-songwriters that actually peaked my attention. They were the few that would actually cause me to look up from my laptop (I do work while we watch the show) and and say ‘damn, they’re good’. Lilly Scott was one of these people. For my money there was no way she was going to win, but then again, there was no way Crystal Bowersox would win either. They were just too good, original and different for the masses.
Well, I was right about Lilly and I was wrong about Crystal. The show ends in a few hours and I’m pretty sure Lilly will be in the audience watching Crystal win.
But is it such a bad thing to lose on American Idol? Is it such a good thing to win? I would venure to say the answer is no to both questions. The stastics and history of the show speak volumes to my point.
So what is Lilly doing now? Well, I can tell you what she’s been doing a few of the nights. She was outside Hi-Dive trying to get into the Cymbal’s Eat Guitars show and pretty damned bummed she missed Bear in Heaven. She was at The Tallest Man on Earth show at the Bluebird being blown away by Kristian Matsson‘s guitar skills and she was at Larimer Lounge last Friday night Local Natives. Not the type of shows you would expect from the #13 on 2010’s American Idol. But she’s not your typical Idol candidate. Talking to her at these shows I realized she can’t say much about Idol, but what she does say about her own life and career make her that much more interesting and non-Idol-like.
She is unique in a way that Bowersox could never be…but that’s why Bowersox is going to win and Lilly came home to Denver. Bowersox has that huge stage presence to her. She’s got that thing it takes…that ‘it’ that Simon always talks about. Lilly has the ‘it’ that Pitchfork or Stereogum talks about. I think both girls kept their integrity throughout the show and never strayed from who they were…it’s just that Crystal is more mainstream that we all thought.
So Crystal will win and I doubt she will go very far. She’s not a Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood. People will lose interest when she can’t perform those arena shows like they can. And because she won Idol, she will have no street cred in the indie or small venue world. I think she’s going to have a hard time stuck in the places between.
But Lilly was sent home. She came just one spot from being in that Top 12, but she’s going to do well because of that. She won’t be playing stadiums or singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl; but because she didn’t win, because she will be able to shed that Idol stigma, she will be able establish a career for herself. Instead of being the next Kelly Clarkson, she could be the next Lucinda Williams, the next Jenny Lewis, the next Aimee Mann…she will be able to take the exposure she received and do whatever she wants with it.
I don’t believe winning American Idol will be the worst thing that happened to Crystal, but I do think being #13 might have been the best thing to happen to Lilly.