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Admitting we were powerless over ‘American Idol’

by Ogi Overman

So it’s come to this.

Last Wednesday evening was the Perfect Storm of entertainment options. It was the reason God invented digital cable and TIVO, but even those miracles of modern technology were insufficient.

I had my normal fare of ‘“Countdown with Keith Olbermann’” on MSNBC, which I tape religiously each night at 8 p.m. By far the best of the cable political talk shows. The left’s answer to Bill O’Reilly, who, incidentally, shows up on his ‘“Worst Person in the World’” segment regularly. Plus, for some reason his last name has a nice ring to it.

I had Red Sox vs. Yankees on ESPN, the rubber match of a three-game set in Fenway. Best rivalry in all of sport. Sox helped themselves immensely in off-season and really may be better than the Great Satan this year. Blank Johnny Damon.

I had Carolina Hurricanes vs. Buffalo Sabres on OLN, a remote outpost on cable that most Americans didn’t know existed until the NHL playoffs started. Being one of the nine hockey fans in Greensboro (which explains, I suppose, why the News & Record didn’t get around to actually staffing a game until the third round of the playoffs), I fully expect the Stanley Cup to be in Raleigh in a couple of weeks.

And then I had the fourth option, the final show of the season for ‘“American Idol.’” The culmination of six months worth of whittling down the tens of thousands of wannabes into one gray-haired, blue-eyed soul singer and a drop-dead gorgeous, I-wish-they-all-could-be-California girl who, incredibly, was not a bimbo.

Now, in years past, that fourth option would not have even been on the radar. Yet here I sit, the morning after, basking in the reflected afterglow of a genuine cultural phenomenon that knows no bounds. Scarier still, I do it unapologetically. Like most of the rest of the country, I’ve become an ‘“Idol’” freak.

The first year of ‘“Idol’” I watched it a grand total of zero times. The second year I tuned in the finale only to determine that it was rigged because they didn’t want a gay guy to win even though his voice was clearly superior to the big, lovable black guy. The third year I watched perhaps parts of a couple of shows and the finale, only because Fantasia was from High Point and Janet told me she should win. By the fourth year I’d come to realize that the cattle-call auditions were the best part of the season but only tuned in sporadically after that.

So what changed this year?

Well, in a nutshell, I took ownership of it. Given the fact that Greensboro was going to get a huge amount of national TV exposure by hosting one of the mass auditions, it was impossible not to tune in for that week. Besides, there’s a perverse thrill in watching the screechers, caterwaulers and howlers at the moon get lambasted by that egocentric limey that everyone loves to hate.

Then there was the matter of having one of our own, Chris Daughtry, getting the yellow slip to Hollywood, as well as two neighbors whom we could claim as our own, Bucky Covington from Rockingham and Kellie Pickler from Albemarle, joining him. I mean, Chris was so good and Kellie was so cute and Bucky was, well, Bucky, how could you not follow them week to week? By the time they made the final dozen, I had not only been sucked in but had become an authority on the order in which they should be eliminated.

And now, since I (along with 50 million other fanatics) have become the World’s Foremost ‘“Idol’” Expert, here’s what should’ve happened: Taylor Hicks should have gone home right before Ace Young, and Katharine McPhee should have been eliminated just before Paris Bennett. Chris and Ace should have been the two male finalists, Paris and Katharine the two females. It should have come down to Chris and Paris with Chris taking the crown.

Having cleared that up, I must admit that I am actually rather satisfied with the way it all shook out. It’s tough not to like Taylor and, besides, the Goddess Katharine knew she should’ve been sent packing instead of the icon Chris the night of the Final Four. Moreover, I feel bit justified in my newfound obsession by virtue of the fact that such luminaries as Prince, Mary J. Blige, Dionne Warwick, Bert Bacharach, etc. performed during the grand finale.

So now I am already looking forward to next January when the process starts all over again. In fact, I’m thinking of pitching an idea for a ‘“Seniors Idol’” to Simon. I do a helluva Roger Whitaker impersonation.

Hey, I could be the next Clay Aiken. Oh, nevermind, I forgot that slot’s already been filled.

Ogi can be reached at ogiman100@yahoo.com, heard each Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on ‘“The Dusty Dunn Show’” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on ‘“Triad Today’” Friday at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 and Sunday at 10 p.m. on UPN 48. His blog is backtothegarden-ogi.blogspot.com.

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