American Idol crowned its newest WGWG (“white guy with guitar”) as the winner on the May 23 season finale. After five months filled with clever guitar-strumming twists on popular songs, Phillip Phillips once again demonstrated the power of female voters and their desire to see the continued male domination of Fox’s No. 1 show. Even if this so called “desire” to see their Hollywood crush come out on top is a subconscious thing, it has me wondering if a girl will ever be able to win this show again.
The last female to nab the Idol title was Jordin Sparks way back in 2007. Yes, that was five years ago, and since her win, a carbon copy of the same guitar-wielding male prototype has won ever since. (Have I said guitar enough, yet?) That isn’t to discredit these five males that have won; they are all talented in their own right. David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery, and now Phillip Phillips, are all generally the same kind of performer.
(Side note: There have been four female winners in 11 seasons. All still have record deals. Out of the six previous male winners, four have been dropped by their labels.)
Is there something wrong with this picture? Plus, how is it that the girls continue to be quite successful, while the guys flounder?
I have an “iron-clad” theory (and call me crazy if you like) about the current WGWG-winning trend: I call it “The Kristy Lee Cook Curse”
If you recall, Kristy Lee was the resident country singer of Season seven who proved to be a non-contender for the title that year (2008). After a bumpy and lackluster journey, she finished in seventh place. David Cook went on to become the victor that year, and despite the two sharing the same last name, no one thought any different. Then, in 2009, Kris Allen surged from indie-underdog to Idol champ — ousting producer and judge favorite Adam Lambert. It was then that a pattern began to emerge among the show’s winners:
Season 7 winner David Cook shares her last name
Season 8 winner Kris Allen shares part of her first name
Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze shares her middle name
Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery shares part of her first name, and his middle name is Cooke.
Season 11 began with the hope that this curse had finally been lifted, and that the show could regain some of its excitement and unpredictability. However, as the competition progressed, talented girls and non-guitar-holding guys began to land in the bottom two or three and eventually saw their demise. During the top three’s hometown visits, something hit me smack in the face. I do not know how I failed to see Phillips’ connection to Kristy Lee!
With no name-game connection, the curse seemed to be irrelevant, but I quickly realized I was mistaken. As I watched footage of his hometown, I came to realize he hails from Leesburg, Ga., which is in Lee County, and he attended Lee County High School. After a little more digging, I discovered that Kristy Lee had auditioned for the show in Philadelphia. Creepy, right?
I predicted during Top 13 week (after Phillip performed “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder) that he would become the next link in the undying WGWG chain. He never once hit the bottom three. Even though 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez sang circles around her counterpart, it didn’t prove as almighty as this curse.
We’ve now been gifted with five WGWGs in a row. When Idol needed a contemporary girl (or guy) winner the most, America spoke up and decided that the familiar is the better option. Scotty is certainly the exception here, as his debut album Clear As Day has been certified platinum — but his specific country niche helps him tremendously).
Next year, I advise producers to only audition white guys with guitars. That way, the outcome might actually be unpredictable. Right?
Hollywoodlifers, what do you think? Can a girl ever win this show again? Or are we destined for WGWG every year? Sound off in the comments.— Jason Scott