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American Idol: Commentary on this Season's Winner

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Number Two is still a “Winner”

[Nyerges is the author of numerous books such as “Extreme Simplicity,” “How to Survive Anywhere,” and “Self-Sufficient Home.”  He regularly Blogs at]

If you’re not a TV watcher, you might not find any value in what I have to say today.  But perhaps you will.

I know that Game of Thrones has a lot of followers and people have been deeply moved by the twists and turns of the plot.  This, despite the fact that I have never seen a single episode and actually have no idea what it’s all about!

But I do enjoy the various talent and singing competitions on TV.  I’ve enjoyed observing amateur contestants working their way through the levels of elimination until supposedly only the best remain.  So this is not a world-shaking issue, and this doesn’t rise to the level of bringing civilization to the edge.  It’s all about entertainment and show-casing the up-and-coming singers who we presume will be starting a dynamic career.

I watched the remarkable talent on the recent series of American Idol and developed my favorites, singer-musicians who I knew were the best of the crop, who I presumed would win.  If you watched this show, you should realize that although there is just one “winner,” each of the highly-talented final contestants is going to have a great career because the show gave them unparalleled publicity.

As the most recent season came to a close, I rooted for Pomona’s Alejandro Aranda, whose occupation was listed as “dishwasher.”  As I expected, he rose to the top and was one of the final two.  His music was unique, compelling, and he performed mostly his own original songs. And then, there was the final vote.  He lost to an Elvis lookalike, who garnered more votes from the adoring public.  The Elvis lookalike was certainly good – good-looking, slick, commanding the stage, and I’m sure he would do well in Las Vegas.

But I still could not figure how he could win over the highly original, uniquely creative Alejandro, my top choice.

Then I realized, duh, this is a TV show, and the “winner” is not determined by any sort of objective criteria by which one judges the totality of musical greatness.  The winner is simply determined by whoever manages to get the most votes.  And I didn’t vote.  After all, it’s a TV show – why would I bother to vote?  And I noted that people could vote up to 10 times!   So that meant that whatever contestant could muster up the popup fan club to get out and vote, and vote often, would win.  

Popularity doesn’t necessarily mean the best musician, sadly.  Nevertheless, I cannot see how Alejandro will not have a remarkable career now that his talent is plain to see.  The show will ultimately have produced several “winners.”

While pondering this state of affairs, I recalled Andy Rooney on an old episode of “60 Minutes” when he talked about how we decide who won the Presidential debates, and thus, how we decide who will be president.  Rooney divulged all the superficial elements that determine who “won” the debate, such as, good looks, color of hair, lack of hair, color of tie, height or shortness, sweat on the forehead, voice quality, and many other highly irrelevant factors for deciding something as momentous as who will be the leader of our country. 

And then, well, after considering that our political elections have because more elaborate versions of American Idol or the Voice, I became a  bit forlorn to realize that this is – sort of, more or less – the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into by “electing” the combination class clown-class bully to be our President.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now we pay the price for an unqualified, nepotistic, sybaritic individual in the office of President who would likely flunk a course in American Government 101.   But now I’m developing indigestion thinking about this – presidential commentary will have to wait for another day. 

My point is to congratulate Pomona’s Alejandro Aranda, Mr. Segundo, on a job well done, and wishing him the best on his new career!

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