‘American Idol’: Abandon the Songwriting Contest Already

Once again, last night's season finale of American Idol featured each of the final two contestants singing two terrific songs that everyone loves — and one crappy song that no one's ever heard before and no one hopes to hear again. Just like last year, when beat-boxing finalist Blake Lewis's chances were scuttled by his inability to sell "This Is My Now," the ham-handed winner of Idol's songwriting contest, so were otherwise good-to-great evenings by Davids Cook and Archuleta soured by their performances of two fan-written songs. Cook, above, made "Dream Big" (sample lyric: "It takes one hope to make the stars worth reaching for … So reach out for something more!") into a mid-tempo rocker and almost pulled it off. Archuleta, below the jump, had no problem selling "In This Moment," in the way that Claude Monet would be able to successfully execute a paint-by-numbers picture of water lilies.

But the point isn't whether the contestants can pull off the songs. The point is, Why would we want them to? What's the point of spending a third of this finale on songs that even the judges can't bring themselves to say are any good? (Randy on "Dream Big": "The song was only okay, dude, but you sang your face off!" Simon: "You did the best with what you had." Randy on "In This Moment": "Once again I wasn't crazy about the song, but you're so in the zone you could sing the phone book and it would sound good!" Simon: "I love the egotistical lyric! Fantastically self-centered.")

The point is, it's time to ditch the songwriting contest. American Idol is not about contestants singing mediocre, schlocky pieces of shit we've never heard before. It's about contestants singing mediocre, schlocky pieces of shit we've heard a million times. We're crossing our fingers for next year.