I have a confession to make: I am slightly obsessed with American Idol. While I didn't jump on the bandwagon until the beginning of season two, I have been a faithful follower for the past five years and have continued that streak into this new season. After watching last night's performances, however, I cannot help but wonder: Where have all the divas gone?
Perhaps I have not given this year's ladies enough time yet. Perhaps I am simply blind and deaf. But looking back on seasons past, there has always been at least one girl that can simply "blow" (to quote the too-often-repetitious Randy Jackson). This group seems just barely lacking, though.
Allow me to prove my point. Season one displayed the vocal chops on both the eventual winner, Kelly Clarkson and Tamyra Gray. I need to spend no more time defending Clarkson's vocal ability and diva label, so allow me to discuss Tamyra a little bit further. Though she finished fourth, many Idol "experts" presume that was a result of her fans assuming her safety, and instead choosing to vote for their second favorites. See Tamyra sing "A House is Not a Home" below.
On season two, there were two ladies to get excited about: Kimberly Locke and Trenyce. Locke finished third to Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. I much preferred Locke to Trenyce, but that is most likely my bias due to the fact that she hailed from Nashville. My favorite Locke performance, though, was this version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".
When season three of Idol came around, there was so much girl-power I could hardly stand it. Not only were the top four finishers all women (the only time one gender has dominated Idol in that manner), but this was also the same season that brought the world the lovely Jennifer Hudson.
While it is still beyond me why Hudson finished 7th amongst that competition, I can only be happy that it allowed her the freedom to do Dreamgirls. Finishing at the top that year was Fantasia Barrino. Her performance of Summertime, which is fairly widely regarded as the best performance on Idol, ever, still gives me goosebumps.
Also in the top four were Diana DeGarmo, Jasmine Trias, and LaToya London.
Season four was another good one for the ladies in the form of Carrie Underwood. While "diva" is probably too strong of a word for her voice, her talent was apparent from her very first audition. The third place finisher that year (and one of my favorites!) was the often-forgotten Vonzell Solomon, seen below rocking out the Dreamgirls classic, "I Have Nothing".
You gotta give that girl some credit.
Season five of American Idol was probably one of my favorite seasons thus far. Katherine McPhee is not only gorgeous, but also super fun and girl could sing. It also brought us the adorable Paris Bennett and Mandisa. Mandisa is probably the queen of Idol divas in my book. She had me at "Fallen".
(This is probably the only time I would ever say this: I wish I was Paula so I could have beaten up Simon, too.)
Bringing us up to last season, one of the most memorable diva-battles took place. With winner Jordin Sparks coming out the ultimate diva, Melinda Doolittle and LaKisha Jones both easily could hold claims to that title. This video shows Jordin just after being crowned the winner. Though the song, "This is My Now" completely sucks, Jordin sings it absolutely beautifully, even through tears.
Hard to believe she just turned eighteen.
After all those videos, I find it incredibly difficult to fully get behind any of the "divas" of the current season. Don't make the mistake of assuming that I don't like any of the female contestants. Brooke White, for one, seems to get better every week. Last night's performance of "Love is a Battlefield" has easily worked its way into my top five favorite Idol performances ever.
But, no matter how good Brooke is, she is no "diva". Some would classify Asia'h Epperson and Syesha Mercado as this year's new crop of divas. Of course, they have beautiful voices, but I have yet to hear the power behind their vocals that these other women have had. I'm afraid I will miss that dynamic on this year's show.