I have a confession to make, I am the reason Chris Daughtry was voted off of American Idol during the 5th season of the show. At least, that is what I thought as a somewhat narcissistic high school senior who was an avid Daughtry voter all season long. You see, I can be deeply superstitious and the week my idol favorite went home I was busy emceeing the local charity pageant, Mr. BHHS. I wasn’t able to watch the show or vote because we were doing a dress rehearsal. This was the first time all season I hadn’t voted. Even though I got a little nervous about breaking my voting streak, I thought he was safe, he was just so good. So I went about my business, making dumb jokes on stage and ignoring my duty to Daughtry. When the pageant was over, I opened our family van door and my mom said, “Whitney, I have to tell you something, Chris Daughtry got voted off American Idol.” At first I didn’t believe it, then I cried. I really thought Chris Daughtry lost because I didn’t watch or vote. I tried to make it up to him by going to the Idols Live concert tour after the season finished and by seeing his shows whenever possible, but it just doesn’t feel like enough….
Why am I confessing this now? Well, last night the final episode of American Idol, as we know it, aired. I have been watching the show consistently since season 5 and have only missed a few seasons do to lack of cable TV during college. For me, the finale was a huge end of an era, and brought back a lot of memories. I have always liked the show because talent is so appealing me, probably because I don’t have any show biz skills. But what is even better than people that can actually sing is feeling like you get to know those same people as Fox films their “journey” and edits it up all nice for you! Really, I like watching people work hard for the same thing and seeing the best succeed, whether they win or lose.
While Anthony and I were watching the special “American Idol: American Dream” episode from this season it dawned on me that why American Idol resonates and why I really like the show is that it demonstrates American Capitalism and the spirit to create and succeed. This show has been a huge job creator and has always been very innovative. As technology changed, American Idol showed people how to use it (texting anyone?). One of the first things I bought on iTunes was an American Idol single (don’t judge) because Idol and Apple teamed up to make money. It is very impressive how this show has shaped American culture in the last 15 years. I mean, there have been some pretty successful artists and a lot of money made because of this show. Pretty crazy.
President Obama appeared before the final show started to congratulate American Idol on its success. He mentioned that the success Idol had came from Americans being invested in voting. He reminded every American that voting for our elected representatives is the greatest freedom we have. I don’t always agree with our president, but on this I could not agree more. If people can vote by the millions for a music superstar, they should get to the polls! President Obama said, “Not all of us can sing like Kelly Clarkson, but all of our voices matter.” If you don’t care about American Idol that’s fine, but please watch this video of our president and share it with everyone you know, because he is right, voting matters.
Not only did this show inspire millions to vote for their favorite, it helps shed light on the hard-to-tell stories that are happening around us everyday. From the “Idol Gives Back” charity campaign, to showcasing the hardships the contestants themselves have gone through before making it to the Idol stage, Idol has inspired many people to tell their stories and to make the necessary changes in their life to better their situations. It also allowed contestants to talk about their faith, thank God for their gifts and sing Christian songs on national television. Awesome.
This season alone has showcased tremendous talent with great personal stories. From mental illness, life threatening heat conditions, to loss and domestic abuse, these Idols shared their hearts. These people cannot only sing, they can inspire. The shows gives them a platform and reinvigorates the American Dream for people with stories like the ones they shared. Idol season 1 winner, Kelly Clarkson gave an emotional performance of her new song, “Piece by Piece” with the lyrics, “Piece by piece, He restored my faith, That a man can be kind, And a father could stay” written about her relationships with her father and her husband. If you haven’t watched it you should click here (warning I have seen it 5+ times and still cry every time). I am so blessed to have a father that always put his family first, but many Americans and people I know related strongly to these lyrics. It was beautiful and inspiring to see her share this personal song. It felt even more personal because Kelly’s journey as an artist has been watched by millions for 15 years! The fact that she is still making waves 15 years after she won a televised singing competition is powerful.
I know there are other singing shows out there, and that many people like them better than Idol. But American Idol will always be my #1. I am sad to see it go (yes I cried during the whole finale) but after watching the last few episodes, I am not sure this is the last we will see of Idol. There have been too many great stories, too many Grammy’s, an Academy Award and millions of albums sold for this to go away forever. I can’t wait to see what is in store. I have one more Idol confession before I put this to rest, I unashamedly love Ryan Seacrest.
Until Next Time,
I love you more than Idol goodbyes and emotional song cries,