Joshua Ledet, the 20-year-old black soul singer from Westlake, La., was voted off American Idol this week, despite the judges who overwhelmed him with standing ovations throughout the competition, and hailed his uncanny ability to channel James Brown and other greats. Ledet's exit was depressingly predictable for some, who note that Idol voters haven't crowned a non-white (or female) winner since 2007. The demographic makeup of Idol's largely tween fan base almost ensures that "humble Caucasian heartthrobs" — or white guys with guitars (WGWGs) — will prevail, says Derrik Lang at The Associated Press, and even a superior talent like Ledet was always handicapped against Phillip Phillips, the archetypal WGWG who's the favorite going into next week's final. Was Ledet robbed?
Yes. Ledet is far and away a better singer: Ledet is a "powerhouse singer" with "far more stage dynamism" than the "vocally limited" Phillips and the other finalist, Jessica Sanchez, says Misha Berson at The Seattle Times. Ledet's main disadvantage is that Phillips has the "market cornered" on the "legion of pre-teen viewers who vote for their crushes rather than the singer with the most vocal prowess." But Ledet also faced the prejudice that old-school soul has no place in contemporary American music. It's telling that Adele got her start in her native England, musically a more open-minded country.
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Ledet only has himself to blame: Ledet crashed out because his performance of Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama" before the final round of voting was terrible, says Craig Berman at MSNBC's Today. "In a final three as close as this one appears to be, any little mistake hurts, and his over-the-top crashing about the stage... didn't do much to win the tender loving care of the audience." While he growled, shouted, and spastically hopped in place, "it looks like the viewers plugged up their ears instead of picking up the phones for him."
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And teen girls aside, Phillips was great: Phillips' version of Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight" was so romantic "that I think anything bad he did before just didn't goddarn count," says Richard Lawson at The Atlantic. "Everyone fell back in love" with Phillips, and that left Ledet "out in the cold." It wasn't just the teen girls with their "whims and frothy pheromone urges."
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