Finally, a victory for the frumpy guys.
I'm not really a fan of "American Idol" - I've watched maybe 15 minutes of the show, total, since it started five years ago - but I can't help but feel cheered by Taylor Hicks' victory last week, in "Idol's" latest edition.
This has nothing to do with his singing. I've never heard him sing.
But thanks to the muted TV tuned to CNN in the office, I've seen him sing plenty of times. And what I see looks nothing like a 21st-century pop star.
Yeah, there's the gray hair that everybody talks about. But that's not the end of it. He holds his body kind of funny when he sings - a little hunched over, like it's hurting him to perform, or like he's Gollum trying to protect "his precious" ring. His face does something similar: He appears to be belting ballads at gunpoint, like a hostage trying to send secret signals with his face in a ransom video.
And he's not graceful. I've seen his failed wannabe-rock-star effort to kick over a microphone stand.
Let's face it: He's not polished, smooth or pretty-boy good looking, the way we expect our chart-toppers to be these days. The Britneys and Justins of the world have come to us pre-packaged from their Mickey Mouse Club childhoods, equipped with all the right dance moves and all the best-looking body parts.
Even Clay Aiken, who started out geeky looking in Season Two, ended that year with contacts, better clothes and much better hair. He looked like a star.
But Taylor Hicks doesn't look like a star. He looks like, well, somebody I'd hang out with. Or be related to.
The closest comparison I've heard, in fact, is that Hicks seems a lot like Joe Cocker, whose onstage tics are legendary. Does anybody think that Cocker could've become a star in the MTV era?
So I have to make one of two conclusions about the "American Idol" voters who gave him the victory:
¢ They really thought he was the most talented singer and were unconcerned with his image.
¢ They actively rebelled against the star-making machinery to give the uncoolest-looking guy the victory.
Either way, I'm happy. Maybe this isn't a victory of substance over style - maybe it's just a victory of anti-style over style - but in either case, style lost. That happens rarely in our country; it's healthier for all of us that it happens now and again.
Of course, I'm probably not actually going to buy his CD. I've got my cash saved up for that Shakira album. She's totally hot.