Pop Culture

Win for Blake would restore ‘Idol’ as hitmaker

Who can start a performance of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name" by channeling Michael Winslow? Who wears cool pants and hip, quasi-retro clothes? Who really is from Seattle and not a ringer flown in from Arizona to audition in the Northwest?

Who wasn't rejected by both "Star Search" and "American Juniors," the kid version of "American Idol"? Who isn't embarrassed to reveal their embarrassing alter-ego/character to 30 million people? Who avoided choking up while singing the nauseating ballad "This is My Now"?

Not Jordin Sparks.

The answer to all of those questions is Blake Lewis, and he's also the answer to one of "American Idol"'s most significant problems. While Carrie Underwood has become a country music star, the show hasn't had a winner who has become a mainstream, top-40 artist since first-season winner Kelly Clarkson.

The show that's often accused of being a karaoke contest needs something to re-legitimize it as a true hitmaker, and that's another commercially successful, hot adult contemporary pop star.

Blake Lewis is that pop star, and he will and should win for exactly the reason the judges pointed out during the finale: He's the better performer. He is a pop idol, not just a strong singer.

The final "American Idol 6" performance show began with what Simon Cowell called "the best individual performance of the night," which was Blake's take on Bon Jovi. He proved himself again to be more contemporary and edgier than Jordin, moving around the stage with ease.

In that song and in many others, Blake's beatboxing and inventive stylizing allowed him to truly interpret others' music and make songs his own, even while the other finalists were just doing pale imitations of the original versions. He may over-rely on  beatboxing, but there's nothing wrong with sticking to what he does best.

Jordin may be able to out-sing Blake, but so could Melinda Doolittle, and where is she right now? Like it or not, America doesn't judge on , even though the judges tried to pretend that it does after Jordin performed her final song.

If Blake loses, it will be because of that last song. He struggled with the song that won the songwriting contest and will be the winner's first single, but other winners have suffered through similarly awful songs.

Plus, Blake doesn't appeal to viewers and voters who would actually buy an album full of badly written ballads that even Celine Dion wouldn't perform. His style — and he has a definite, developed style, while Jordin just has raw singing talent — makes his music stand out.

If America betrays him and he doesn't win, he'll be far more commercially successful than Jordin without being a complete sell-out, even if he does cite 311 as his greatest influence.

Blake is the finalist who can deliver on tour, on the radio, and in record stores without being a complete sell-out, manufactured, neutered Ken doll of a pop artist. For that, he should win.

is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality TV news.

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