So, we're getting down to the home stretch on American Idol. I'm sitting in my favorite chair in the living room with my laptop on my lap (where else?) watching this week's show and blogging at the same time. American Idol and I go way back.
But not all the way back. We didn't watch it the first year, and there's kind of a funny reason why. I'd heard all the buzz about this new show called American Idol....I had no idea what it was about, but because it had the word "Idol" in the title, I just assumed it was bad. Certainly not something any self-respecting Christian would watch. Idols? Not for me, thank you.
By the time the second season came around, Hannah was wanting to watch it. I told her my concerns, and she just looked at me like I was crazy. "Mom...It's a singing competition!" So, I sat down to watch an episode with her, and I was hooked. And while I was hooked, she had swallowed the hook, line, and sinker. From that day on, she never missed an episode...Thank goodness for VCRs, and eventually DVRs!
Finally, it came down to Ruben and Clay. Hannah was a Ruben fan, surprisingly, and was thrilled when he won that year. The next year, it was Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo. Hannah was CRAZY about Diana, and voted for two solid hours every Tuesday night after the show. Diana didn't win, but the American Idol tour came to Little Rock that year, and we were on the 11th row. At one point, Fantasia threw her "sweat rag" into the crowd, and the guy next to us caught it. What a thrill, huh? Hannah wrote a really sweet fan letter to Diana, and we were able to hand deliver it to Diana's mom that night. Precious memories.
Season Four brought us Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice. Hannah loved Carrie and I'm sure her votes helped put her over the top. She always loved her music, and often listened to her CD's while she was getting her radiation treatments. There were lots of favorites in Season Five, but Elliott Yamin won Hannah's heart. He came in third that year, leaving Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee to battle it out. Once Elliott was gone, Hannah's votes went to Taylor, and sure enough, he won. That year, we went to the American Idol concert in St. Louis. Hannah and Bethany were thrilled to get to meet Ace Young and Chris Daughtry. Ace was very kind and spent lots of time with them...Chris, not so much.
Season Six brought 17-year-old Jordin Sparks and beat-boxing Blake Lewis. A Civil War was brewing in our house...we had a Jordin fan (Hannah) and a Blake fan (Bethany). We talked about those two people so much in our house, that we took to calling them "Blordin." I'm not kidding. I guess Hannah was a more dedicated voter than Bethany, because Jordin won that year. The tour came to Little Rock again, and we were there. We didn't get to meet Jordin, but we met Blake, Chris Richardson, Phil Stacey, LaKisha Jones and Gina Glocksen. (If you're still reading this, and you know who these people are...you are a true AI fan!) Phil Stacey has actually put out a good contemporary Christian album. As I said, we did not meet Jordin that day, but less than two years later we spoke to her on the phone, when she called the hospice center to talk to and encourage Hannah. Hannah was no longer able to talk to her at that point, but Jordin was incredibly poised and gracious...She even sang one of her songs for Hannah over the phone.
About midway through Season Seven, Hannah was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had surgery on a Tuesday, and that was probably the only episode she ever missed. She watched Wednesday's episode with her hospital bed turned at a funny angle so she could see it. The surgery left her without the ability to raise her eyes to see the TV mounted on the wall. I doubt that she remembered much of that episode. David Cook was the winner that year, and if you're a fan, you probably remember that his brother was battling brain cancer. So, of course, we were David Cook fans...although I thought David Archuleta was great, too.
As the build-up to Season Eight began, Hannah was excitedly looking forward to it, as always. But by the time it started in January of 2009, the cumulative effects of cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation had taken their toll. She watched each episode, but couldn't remember from week to week who the contestants were. And she just couldn't seem to fully grasp that there was an Arkansan in the competition. Hannah went to Heaven before the season was complete, but I think she would have been thrilled to see Kris Allen win.
I barely even remember Season Nine. I really planned not to watch it...I just thought it would be too hard. But when that time of year came around...I couldn't help but tune in. It sounds strange, I know...but I felt like I just had to watch it on Hannah's behalf. And the whole season is a blur. I didn't even remember who won until he came back to perform on this season's Idol...Lee DeWyze.
So that brings us to the current incarnation of American Idol. Two new judges, and a whole new slate of contestants. I've enjoyed watching it this year. It seems to be more positive...none of those scathing criticisms by Simon that used to make me cringe. I find myself wondering what Hannah would have thought of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. And I wonder who she would have been voting for this year. Would it be Scotty, like all the other teenage girls? Or maybe Lauren? Or Haley? And then I remember that she would be 19 1/2 now. What would her musical tastes be now? Would she even be interested in American Idol anymore? Or would she have grown out of it? She certainly would not be the same little girl who wrote a fan letter to Diana DeGarmo.
Well, the show has long since been over for the evening, and I'm still in the same chair with my laptop on my lap. The dryer has stopped, and I've got clothes to fold. Casey has been sent packing, and the judges couldn't save him this time. Bethany's favorite, Haley, is still in it. In a few more weeks, AI will crown its tenth winner, and life will go on. And most of these contestants will return to relative obscurity. In the broad scheme of things, American Idol is so incredibly insignificant...not even worth mentioning. But I'd just like to say...American Idol -- Thanks for the memories.