Unstoppable Teen Girl Texters
Ever wonder why betting on reality television competitions hasn't taken off the way betting on televised sports events has? Simple: The winners are all too obvious.
Anyone who didn't have their money on Lee DeWyze to beat Crystal Bowersox as the latest American Idol is a sentimental fool. Sure, Crystal has the pipes, a quirky personality and a heartstring-tugging backstory. But Lee has the secret weapon — a Y chromosome.
After three consecutive seasons of male champions, isn't it time to wonder if Idol voters are a little too boy crazy? After all, three of Idol's most successful winners are women — Jordin Sparks, Carrie Underwood and the original Idol, Kelly Clarkson. But ever since Season Five, when Chris Daughtry came in fourth and went on to sell millions of records (for someone else) while the top two — Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee — fizzled, the powers that be seem to have been more active in getting their label-ready favorites to the podium.
Since that's happened, the Idol women have had two powerful forces against them. For women to make it to the semifinals — or even to see the judges in the original audition rounds — they have to have both talent and good looks.They must already be, to use judge Kara Dioguardi's euphemism, a "package artist."
And while the contestants are being culled before the public votes, this generally leaves three categories to safely fall into: The pretty teenage girl who sings pretty pop (or sometimes country), the diva who can belt, and the pixie-ish chanteuse. Weeding the female contestants down to the young, pretty ones who happen to have talent makes them inevitably more generic — and with a few exceptions, more forgettable.
Meanwhile the guys run the gamut from country crooner to Michael Buble wannabe to R&B singer to earnest guitar-playing troubadour to whatever Adam Lambert is. And while being good looking certainly helps the men make it through the rounds, there is nowhere near the pressure or emphasis that the girls face.
Think I'm wrong? Then explain Phil Stacey, the top-five finalist of middling talent in Season Six who would do better to make his living as a Charlie Brown impersonator. I'm sure he's a lovely person but sex appeal? Not even close.
But even when the girls head out of the semifinals as a stronger unit, it doesn't translate to keeping more of them around down the stretch. This season and last had a top five with four men, and Season Seven was essentially dubbed a contest between three guys — the Davids (Cook and Archuleta) and Jason Castro — from the get-go. Why? While the viewer demographics might be all over the place, we all know who the heavy voters are — I call them the Teen Girl Squad.
Armed with giddiness, a superhuman ability to text and no discernable sense of hearing, this voting bloc is responsible for the surprising staying power of Tim Urban (who only made the top 24 when another contestant was deemed ineligible), the career of David Archuleta and the national horror that was Sanjaya.
Maybe when some of the talented women who can't get voter support start blowing up the radio, the show producers will make more of an effort to promote them, and the public votes will change accordingly.
Until then, put your money on the Lee DeWyzes every time.