American Idol finale: Caleb wins Idol, doesn’t call anyone a retard again, nearly saves the brand

"I can't believe I called voters retards and still won."

“I can’t believe I called voters retards and still won.”

American Idol isn’t back, but it’s damn close.

Let’s forget about last season. It’s not a knock on Candice Glover, an infinitely talented singer who won’t ever sell the records she was promised, because last season was the producers trying to change the brand.

With Caleb Johnson earning the Idol Season 13 title over Geena Gina Jena Irene, it’s clear that Idol has a chance to be around much longer than a lot of people thought. No, it’s not the ratings powerhouse that it was in the first five or six seasons, but it is appointment viewing. The SamSpiracy aside, the producers did a great job giving us Idol for what it is – a singing competition show. This season was the first time I thought it’s audition process was better than The Voice, it’s NBC counterpart that I hate more than its judges (sans Shakira of course).

Caleb isn’t the protypical Idol. That’s Sam Woolf. That’s Alex Preston. Hell, that’s Jena. Caleb was a rocker, through and through. He didn’t try and make songs his own. He just rocked. He’s the first pure showman to win the show since who? Taylor Hicks? Caleb was Caleb since his audition and it was impressive to see him avoid the mistakes that cost his opponents.

Did Caleb deserve to win? Yes. And that’s tough to admit for me, a stickler for Idols making songs their own and doing things we haven’t seen before. Caleb did stuff we hadn’t seen; he melted faces, made us want to do cocaine, called fans retards and was about as apologetic as a 2-year old that steals pudding out of the fridge.

Jena really didn’t have a chance. I had her as the favorite after the Top 4 performance and that was her mistake; her masterpiece, where she slowly tickled the ivories in her rendition of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” came one week too early. Week 3 is where winners are crowned. Future Idols – looking at you Savion Wright and Alyssa Siebken and Kenzie Hall – take note.

Looking back at my pre-top 13 picks, I obviously regret picking Ben Briley. I don’t regret having Caleb finish eighth or Jena finish 12th. In fact, Jena was fucking close to being gone in Week 2; Caleb’s asencion was kind of a surprise to me because I didn’t think America would take to Caleb the way they did. From what we were shown, the judges were annoyed that all he did was rawk; they wanted a variety, he just wanted to get bitches pregnant from the stage.

What Caleb did best was not varying from what he did. He avoided doing a cheesy ballad that was out of his range or trying to do a genre that didn’t fit what he wanted to be. That’s how you be an artist; you do others while you’re doing you.

Now I’m going to be shocked if Caleb surpasses Lee DeWyze’s record sales. It’s abundently clear Alex is going to be the best-selling artist from this season and Jena will be No. 2 (her voice is terrific; I think what killed her was song choice. Had she picked intelligently early, she would have been the favorite early and often) with CJ Harris – yes, CJ Harris – as the No. 3.

So where does Caleb rank among Idol winners? Hmm.

Quick ranks, not a lot of thought being put behind this:
1) Underwood; 2) Clarkson; 3) Phillip Phillips; 4) David Cook; 5) Jordin Sparks; 6) Taylor Hicks; 7) Caleb Johnson; 8) Fantasia Barrino; 9) Candice Glover; 10) Scotty McCreery; 11) Ruben Studdard; 12) Kris Allen; 13) Lee DeWyze.

Top 2 are no-brainers. Next two are by default. Ditto the next two. I think 7 is solid for Caleb, but he could drop to 8 depending on how Candice ends up, although I see her regressing before she progresses.

Bottom line, Caleb isn’t one of the American Idol greats – and in all honesty, only the top 4 and a select few who didn’t win should be considered as such – but he’s far from a bum.

He’s just a guy who wants to rock.

And it took him all the way to a title.