Ellen Gray | Jordin's old enough to be the new 'Idol'

Posted: May 24, 2007

'WELL, SHE was just 17," and last night she became the youngest winner ever of Fox's "American Idol."

Following an announcement that was pushed several minutes past the show's usual 10 p.m. deadline on the last night of May sweeps, a tearful-but-beaming Jordin Sparks performed for the first time as an "Idol."

But even before Jordin and fellow finalist, Blake Lewis, 25, opened the show with the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There," and its prescient lyrics, another song had put the Arizona teen ahead of her beat-boxing rival.

Blake no doubt knew from the moment he first heard the song destined to be the winner's first single, "This Is My Now," that the fix was in, and that this was going to be Jordin's now, not his.

Putting aside the question of how a national songwriting competition managed to produce exactly the same level of feel-good drivel we've come to expect from "Idol" winner's first singles, Jordin, in nailing that performance Tuesday, demonstrated that she has what it takes to be the sixth "American Idol."

Because singing just about any song that comes their way is Job No. 1 for "Idol" winners, who only get to defy ├╝ber-producer Clive Davis - the way Kelly Clarkson reportedly has - after selling millions and millions of albums.

And maybe not even then.

Davis, in one of the more heavy-handed moments of a promotion-packed show, presented former "Idol" winner Carrie Underwood with an award marking her 6 million U.S. sales, but not before stressing that her success required "the right producer, the right arranger, the right songs."

Was Kelly, who'd earlier given us the full Alanis Morissette with "Never Again," listening backstage?

Davis is also apparently very pleased with last year's finalist, Chris Daughtry, who may not have made it to the winner's circle but whose album has left Taylor Hicks' in the dust this year. For that, he apparently got a pass from the finale, which included four of the five previous "Idol" winners, but not successful also-rans like Daughtry and Clay Aiken. (Ex-"Idol" Fantasia Barrino, the no-show, is currently starring in Broadway's "The Color Purple.")

Though someone reminds us at least once or twice each episode that "American Idol" is a singing competition and that judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell are really looking for a recording star, after six seasons most of us know better.

"American Idol" is, first and foremost, a TV show. The best singers don't always win, but the show goes on because "the journey," as they like to say in "reality' TV, is often such a compelling one.

So, OK, maybe just a bit less compelling in the show's sixth incarnation, which saw Melinda Doolittle, a backup singer stepping into the spotlight, sharing that spotlight not only with Jordin and LaKisha Jones, but with a sideshow act known as Sanjaya Malakar.

But at least we won't have to hear Sanjaya sing "This Is My Now." *

Send e-mail to graye@phillynews.com

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