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American Idol: Kelly Clarkson vs. Kree Harrison [Video]

(from AmericanIdol.com/Kelly Clarkson’s Facebook page)

Seven contestants remain on American Idol and odds are looking more and more like this is most definitely a girl’s year to win.  Of the seven contestants remaining, five of them are female and just two are male.  And, let’s be honest, Idol has had far more success with its female winners than it has its male champs anyway.  Is any Idol out there putting up the sales numbers and topping the charts like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.  The answer is a resounding, “No!”  And, last Wednesday, during Motown Week, I was reminded of just how different Idol is these days.  It seems the true standouts, the true phenoms, have already been on the show and won it.  And it was never more apparent than when Kree Harrison, one of this year’s frontrunners, took on Aretha Franklin’s “Don’t Play That Song.”  It was the same song Kelly Clarkson sang in the same theme week way back in Season One.  And, if you ask me, there is just no comparison.  WATCH!

Here’s Kree’s version . . .

And, now, here’s Kelly’s . . .

To me, there is just simply no comparison here.  And, I must say, I don’t make this comparison between the two to disparage Kree and her efforts on the show.  She is one of my favorites in this year’s crop of talent . . . undeniably.  That said, I make this comparison (though WBKR’s Idol expert, Steve Thompson, tells me its unfair) to illustrate the dilemma Idol faces.

This is a show that, by design and to be taken seriously, has to produce an American Idol.  It has to give us a champion who will top charts, sell records and rest on the tips of our tongues in the music conversation.  And, for years, Idol has struggled and labored to produce that champion.  In fact, for all practical purposes, Carrie Underwood (from way back in Season 4) is the last champion to truly check all those boxes.  Sure, the case can be made that Scotty McCreery has made a name for himself and he most defnitely has,  but he is not enjoying chart success . . . at all.  And his footprint doesn’t come close to matching Carrie’s or Kelly’s.

Idol NEEDS, desperately, a new megastar!  It has found itself in the same boat as NBC’s The Voice.  While The Voice does well in the ratings everyone knows the truth about it.  That particular show is less about finding a new star and much more about milking ratings from the already established stars that sit in its judges’ chairs.

It’s been a long time since a female contestant has won American Idol.  We have to go way back to Season 6 when Jordin Sparks took the title.  And I agree that it’s high time that a female win this show.  In fact, one senses, by tuning in this season, that everyone is rowing the same boat.  It’s like the notion that the United States is ready for its first female president.   Momentum and public opinion are steering us that way.

But Idol MUST produce a star . . . and a big one.  Whoever wins this season MUST become a true American Idol.  The show simply needs it for credibilty, which it has been losing, steadily since Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze were showered with confetti.  Is Kree the next Idol?  Don’t know.  Is Angie the next Idol?  Not feeling it.  Janelle?  Candice?  Amber?  Burnelle?  Lazaro?  I honestly don’t know.   But the real question is this.  Is any of the seven capable of doing what an Idol is supposed to do?  Top the charts, sell the records and be in the conversation.  I honestly don’t know that either, but I do I know I am not being convinced.

When you compare performances like this one of Aretha’s “Don’t Play That Song,” you get the sense that the true American Idol’s have already been chosen and that this year’s champ is just going to have a hard time following in those footsteps.  It was George Jones who asked, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”  I am afraid the Idol answer may simply be, “Nobody.”

American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays on WEVV Fox 44.

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