Who won American Idol? Trent Harmon did, leaving one question: WTF happened?
That’s really the only question that should be asked because, under no circumstance, did Trent Harmon win American Idol. He just got more votes.
But how did America screw up so bad?
Before I get too deep into this, I should stop to say that this has nothing to do with Trent’s talent. Trent can sing. He’s got the almost-too-perfect, textbook look to be on the show. When producers get together to talk about what kind of contestants they want on the show, everything they say is a description of Trent.
Dude could sing. He proved it, although his song choices this season were, well, lacking. Take Sia’s “Chandelier” out of his playlist and did Trent do something that you’d put among the best performances in the show’s history? Trent deserved his spot in the Top 2, but let’s be honest – both he and La’Porsha Renae were playing a different game than the rest of the field and it was clearly after their Top 10 performances that they should be in the final and any other result would be a disgrace to the show.
But find me one moment where Trent beat La’Porsha? One performance, head to head, where you would say “Trent was clearly better.” This isn’t even Kris Allen over Adam Lambert; everyone forgets Allen was pretty good that entire season. Lambert was dropping bombs on everyone’s skull and Allen just did his thing, but in the final four weeks – especially the top three, when Allen did his legendary cover of “Heartless” – Allen was just as good, if not better. He went out and won the damn season.
Trent didn’t. La’Porsha beat him every week. So I ask again.
How did America screw up so bad?
La’Porsha’s fate was sealed when Dalton kept advancing through the show. Those teen girls vote in droves, like a pack of locust, and once their golden child was gone – not to mention all the MacKenzie Bourg fans – they needed someone to latch on to. Who do you think a 15-year old girl is going to want to spend time voting 500 times for? A single mom who can sing? Or a good-looking dude they imagine will be their husband some day?
It also didn’t help La’Porsha that Trent did a hell of a job eating into the cougar vote. While the teens get all the credit, the wine and martini crowd decides the show (look back at the winners list) and there was a split between the two. Women could relate to the struggle La’Porsha was going through and appreciated her talent (for whatever reason, any female who’s ever taken a chorus class in school thinks they know everything about who can sing and who can’t and they judge people like a motherfucker) but in the end, they fantasized about a fling with Trent, especially when he delivered with his Final 2 performance of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”
The numbers don’t lie, but in this case they did. It’s too bad La’Porsha didn’t win because no one in the history of American Idol has deserved it more. She would have been the perfect bookend, the perfect ending to a story Idol didn’t even know it wanted.
Instead we get Trent, a perfectly capable performer who’s going to go through the ringer. You think critics of the show aren’t going to point out his flaws? You think those who thought Idol should have died years ago aren’t going to have a field day talking about how talent never wins on Idol (even though it has almost every year)?
Trent’s a fine winner and he’ll be lumped in with Caleb Johnson and Candice Glover, staring up at Nick Fradiani, as they try and become the name Idol winners are supposed to be.
That wasn’t how the show was supposed to end. That wasn’t what Simon Fuller had in mind when Kelly Clarkson became a star, but at some point, American Idol lost what it was and tried a little to hard to be what it thought everyone wanted it to be.
And now the show can sit there, satisfied, because it got the bookend it wanted.
Even if it was the wrong choice.