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As the season winds down, there are some lessons that still have not been learned. The judges don't get that their comments do have some effect - they tend to swing the voters away from anything that they say. That means that the praise that they gave Lauren could set Scotty up to be the winner. Next, the temperature from last week seemed to indicate that people were not impressed by Haley's guitar-playing father. In fact it may have hurt her. I'm not sure how you can be an "Idol" and at the same time appear to be apron-string tied to your parents. Finally...ballads, ballads, ballads. Ballads are the key to winning American Idol. I'm joking about all the above...but not completely.

I completely did not like Scotty at the beginning of the season because of his attitude and his style. Having said that, I think he has come a long way and had matured over the past few months. He is beginning to stand on his own as a person and a performer. While I am still not a country fan, he is good at what he does with plenty of time to grow and get better. Good job.

Likewise with Lauren. She, too, demonstrated some growth in recent weeks. But last night she seemed to take a step backwards. I can appreciate Lauren straining her voice because she was trying hard to win. However, I think bringing the doctor on stage during the show was not cool. It seemed just a little dramatic and pandered to the sympathy vote. As talented as she is she doesn't need that and it seems to harken back to of her earlier days of making excuses for not performing up to par. Also, singing to her mom was cute and nice but seemed just a little gimmicky, and the time to do that was earlier in the season. I tend to agree, however, that the judges’ comments seemed slightly biased towards Lauren. Steven's comments were funny but completely off the wall. In the final analysis, I don't think that any of the judges can call it honestly or accurately because Lauren and Scotty are too evenly matched. But the things surrounding Lauren for me were more of a turn off and diminished her somewhat.

I had to chuckle when I realized that several of the earlier contestants caught some grief from the judges for singing ballads, yet both finalists sang mostly ballads last night and both have already recorded ballads as their "first" release as the winner. Just a little ironic...

By the way Idol producers - Lauren straining her voce demonstrates that while these kids are talented, they are not pros. Singing, in some ways, is like sports. Even when you have natural gifts you have to train and practice and build yourself up and avoid injury where possible to get your best performance and extend your career. Spend a little less time pimping them for Ford and Coke, and spend more time giving them real critiques and some vocal technique instruction and training so that they don't injure themselves trying to please and make money for you.

Final note - This was my first season watching the show. I watched it from the first night of auditions and I don't think I missed a show. It was interesting and entertaining. However, with the way the voting is done, with the lack of value and quality of the judging and critiquing, with the overselling and over involvement of the sponsors with the competitors during the season - especially with the weekly productions and videos, and without really understand ding what the show is really after in terms of their definition of "American Idol," I feel a little let down as this season ends. It is a bit anticlimactic. While my favorites were voted off, the process is what it is. But it is hard to stay interested when the talent is just okay and the personalities are not distinguishable from the people next door or down the street. Are the remaining two really the most talented, most versatile, most popular and most likable? Only time will tell. But now that my experiment and foray with American Idol is coming to an end, I can't say that I'll be back.

Good luck to both.

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