America voted on ABC’s updated version of “American Idol,” and chose Season 16’s Maddie Poppe and Season 17’s Laine Hardy fairly and squarely. But the show was definitely stingy promoting ukulele-strumming indie popster Maddie when she and her runner-up beau Caleb Lee Hutchinson, briefly sang a duet of “Part of Your World” from “Aladdin” on Disney night. She was supposed to give an on-air plug for her upcoming album “Whirlwind,” but the show quickly cut to a commercial instead.
Now, the premiere episode of Season 18 last Sunday started with a voiceover recap by host Ryan Seacrest reminding viewers about what went down last season when country singer Laine Hardy — who was previously eliminated from the show — staged an amazing comeback and won it all. As Ryan said, “The bayou boy became the latest of ‘Idol’s’ rich legacy of stars with a career that has taken off.”
Then he swiftly switched gears and started extolling the talents of Alejandro Aranda, who finished second. He proclaimed the Pomona, California, dishwasher’s audition as “a once in a lifetime moment” and that “it set a course for an irreversible trajectory.” We then saw clips of the runner-up taking her show on the road for a series of sold-out concerts and performing an original song on Jimmy Kimmel‘s late-night show.
Ryan then proclaims that Alejandro’s impact on the new season is a “game changer” and says he has opened a whole other level of talent coming through and trying out. Now there is nothing wrong with artists with their own catalog of original songs who also play multiple instruments and have their own distinctive sound. I assuming that Laine will show up at some point this season but let’s hope they do better by him than they did Maddie.
But I don’t have much hope right now and neither do the 49% of “Idol” fans who griped Maddie’s treatment this year and how Ryan’s intro unfairly gushed over the impact of the runner-up instead of boosting Laine, last year’s actual winner.
Then again, 26% don’t agree that the intro was unfair since Alejandro, who is 25, came on board as a fully formed artist while easy-on-the-eyes Laine, who is just 19, grew as a musician and entertainer during the course of the season. But the 14% who like to party with a Hardy will likely revolt if “American Idol” gives Laine the Maddie Poppe treatment and barely promotes him and his songs this season.
Meanwhile, 11% basically don’t care who eventually wins. They just like watching the auditioners, hearing their back stories and enjoying fresh talent. Tune in to ABC on Sunday night at 8 ET/PT and see if the next Alejandro — or Laine — is out there.