What a difference decent finalists and better judges make. Wednesday's American Idol Season 10 finale topped last season's finale by four million viewers, a rise of 17 percent in total viewers and up 9 percent in the young demographic networks lust after.
The Scotty-Lauren pairing drew 28.2 million viewers compared to the subpar Lee-Crystal showing last year which garnered 24.2 million viewers (practically none of whom found any reason to buy the resulting albums). Lee DeWyze was not invited back to perform last night, only the second time an Idol winner failed to return to the subsequent finale show (Season 3 winner Fantasia was not on the Season 4 finale but has since performed on Idol.)
This 10th season, with its new judges panel and new label support from Jimmy Iovine's Interscope, reversed the trend of Idol's declining audience. Not since 2006 has the young demo grown year-to-year for Idol.
So much for people complaining they wouldn't tune into a country finale. Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina promise to be the most mass appeal finalists Idol has found since Carrie Underwood. With another year's seasoning and the building of her confidence (which flourished on the two finale shows this week) Lauren could be formidable. Scotty has been ready for his debut album from the minute he auditioned.
Here's a Billboard.Com piece from backstage at the finals, with a Lauren interview. She knew Scotty was going to win, she says, but is thrilled anyway. Singing with her idol, Carrie Underwood, she says, made it all worth it.
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