Judging dramaFor Season 12, "American Idol" hoped to jump-start interest in the show by putting the reality show on the "Desperate Housewives" path. Before auditions even began, we were getting news of the heated fights between dueling diva judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. While the explosiveness mostly simmered down to tension "you can cut with a knife" during the season, by May the cat-fighting was still going on. Carey made passive-aggressive barbs on the show itself; Minaj got more confrontational with her remarks on Twitter.
When you're trying to promote the "next big thing" in music with your competition show, it's not wise to have your judges make more news than your contestants. Aside from the tabloid drama stealing focus, the four judges took a lot of time away from the singers on "American Idol." Often by the time we got through another of Mariah's rambling critiques, we'd forgotten what the gal on stage had actually sung.
Contestant tamperingIt was impossible not to notice this year that "American Idol" stacked the deck in favor of the ladies. With five male winners in a row, the powers-that-be were desperate to break that streak, especially considering that Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are still their two biggest success stories. To ensure an all-female final, the show chose some of the blandest, underwhelming male contestants they could find. As TVLine's Michael Slezak points out, "Their work on that Frankie Valli medley [on the finale] didn't do much to turn that perception around."
Sleepy song choicesNever has a season of "American Idol" inspired so much fast-forwarding. Every week, the perpetual selection of ancient ballads were TV's answer to Ambien. It didn't help that despite admirable vocal skills, the contestants often didn't seem able to bring any emotional depth to the tunes. Former judge Simon Cowell would have been ranting like crazy about feeling like he was on the entertainment deck of a cruise ship.
Who are we left with?At Top 10, for sure (and possibly before that), it seemed obvious that Candice Glover should just step up and get the confetti shower right then. It was already a crime she hadn't moved ahead farther in Season 11, especially after this trio with Jessica Sanchez and Deandre Brackensick, and Season 12 gave us an even more confident and polished singer. The judges continually praised the effortless way that notes just poured from her, soaring high or low without faltering, creating drama with her voice without overdoing it and killing the melody.
While her superior vocal ability was never in doubt, sometimes her old-fashioned, jazzy song styles and low-key personality got outshone by some of the flashier "American Idol" contestants like Angie Miller. But as we neared the end of the season, it seemed that seeing the finish line allowed Candice to relax in a way she hadn't been able to before. By the time she let loose in the finale with a jaw-droppingly good, emotionally powerful, vocally flawless performance of "I (Who Have Nothing)," it was crystal clear who the winner would and should be.
Even Jennifer Hudson looked impressed when the two dueted on the final "American Idol" results night. Anyone who could rise above all the judging drama, the poor song choices, and producer manipulation -- and dive in with no fear to harmonize with an award-winning diva -- certainly deserves the crown. Whatever we feel about the way the show was run this year, Candice Glover is a winner, with no asterisks needed.
More from this contributor:If a Girl Wins 'American Idol' by Total Producer Manipulation, Is She Still a Winner?
- Arts & Entertainment
- Candice Glover
- American Idol
- Mariah Carey
- Nicki Minaj