Worse, it turned out the second- lowest scorer was Fantasia Barrino, or “Team Fantasia” in my household. Remember that name. This girl’s a superstar. An unmarried teen mother with something wired screwy up top — in a good way — she favors men’s songs and, as my Idol buddy Debbie pointed out, Fantasia uses her voice exactly like a great jazz saxophonist. Wow. Good luck, ladybug.
I’m not sure it’s significant that last week’s bottom three vote-getters were the black girls — and also the best girls. Idol isn’t always that simple. Maybe people didn’t think the divas three needed any help. Maybe people want to defend the underdog. Or maybe we’re a nation of tone-deaf, racist, sexist player-haters.
All I know is that last week American Idol let me down. I watch the show for the creative cracks in the gloss — a sista singing Willie Nelson; Quentin Tarantino’s un-ironic appearance as a guest judge; Simon Cowell’s nic-fit impatience with the idiot audience. I long for the day Neil Diamond appears, and the great Jeff Barry, and Brian Wilson. Those moments, when we get to dive into the heart of our collective songbook, and feel how good it is to love a sentimental pop song, and notice how strange the best songs, and performers, are — that’s the sweetest part of being American, for my money.
The thing is, the Idol is such a crafty beast, next week it could totally turn around and renew my faith in everything. There’s a ghost in this machine that its British creators couldn’t have foreseen. Like I said, it’s the Golem, a man-made monster with a life force way beyond its maker, capable of beauty or violence when least expected.
Anyway, against all odds, there are still a couple true freaks in the running. To them I say tenderly: Hang on to your egos. Stay gold. Go down dancing, babies.