The Shameful Joy of 'American Idol' Spoilers
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
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By Susan Young,

If Barack Obama can apologize for errors in judgment, then perhaps it's time to confess my own: I peeked.

It was just so tempting when a reputable web site offered that link right before American Idol shifted the show to Hollywood. All you needed to do was to tap that key, and you were on your way to learning who the top 36 would be.

Really, I thought of it as research. After all, could this site, VotefortheWorst, really know who those finalists were? Apparently they did.

At first it was kind of exciting. Everyone likes being an insider, but the truth about being an insider is that you often ruin a good thing for yourself. Yes, I watched the season premiere of Lost and the two subsequent episodes well before the rest of the world. But then you have to sit on that. You can't reveal plot points you are simply dying to talk about with your friends.

Then there's the ultimate error: you think an episode has already aired, and in the conversation you say something like, "Wow. And who knew Charles Widmore was a young military guy on the island years ago, and Richard was older than Widmore at the time. Why did Charles age and Richard never did? Maybe it's the time travel thing…"

And that's when your pals turn on you and say, "That hasn't happened yet!"


So it was with clicking on the tainted apple that revealed the American Idol final 36. Of course, you wondered if the list could be accurate. But as the shows started airing, it became painfully obvious that the list was incredibly accurate.

I sat, list in hand, while my husband told me, "Do NOT say anything to me about what's going to happen."

That attitude slowly dissolved into, "OK, who made it?" The not telling can strain a marriage, let me tell you.

Meanwhile, I desperately hoped the list was going to be wrong. Would the judges really pass on sweet Laneshe Young, the promising songwriter/singer with the painful past? Oh, yeah.

Yet they opted to keep the two Sanjaya's – irritating Tatiana Del Toro and Nick Whatever-He's-Calling-Himself-These-Days.

In fact, Nick caused a little trouble in theVotefortheWorst list. They called him Nick Western, adding the info "the only one not listed on the AI site – possibly could be Nick Hendrix from Orlando."

It was actually Nick "Normund Gentle" Mitchell, who uses a comedy persona instead of his true identity. It's this kind of shtick Simon Cowell hates, yet the other judges seem to think he's needed for some comic relief. Maybe they are right, but I wish they would have given a more promising singer a shot instead.

Like Jamar Rogers.

My frontrunner for the American Idol title is Danny Gokey, someone Paula would call an authentic voice. He's got it, and he's got that sad story about becoming a young widower. Danny and Jamal were best buddies. In my mind they were destined to become American Idol finalists. Until the judges opted for the wacky factor over skills.

Simon, Paula, Kara and Randy could have made that right by bringing Jamal back when pro Joanna Pacitti – and really, who beyond the judges didn't see that coming after her background was revealed? – got the boot for having inside ties to the show. Guess that would have upset the delicate girl-boy ratio.

So we move forward with a format I'm not crazy about. For the next three weeks, different groups of 12 singers will perform, with the top three vote getters advancing to become one of American Idol's top 12 finalists.

That means that if they lump top singers into one group, and less stellar talents in another, you could knock out some strong contenders.

The producers would counter that's why there are only three groups of 12. After the first nine finalists are selected by viewer votes, the judges jump in to bring on the final three. What's to say they don't rescue Tatiana Del Toro?

Yes, there's room for error. We know about errors.

All I know is that this time around, I'm not going to download any more spoiler lists. The ride is so much sweeter when you don't know the destination.

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