The next time we see Javier Colon, he probably won't be singing a duet with Stevie Nicks or snatching America's heart from a pretty competitor. That kind of perfect storm isn't replicable, any more than the time Javier got married, or became a dad, or threw his hat off on national TV. The real question is whether last night will launch him toward another perfect storm. We've done our share of knocking grandaddy Idol against the new franchise in town – probably too much of it, considering how inevitable it is for the new kid to eventually pick his nose and lose all mystique. So it seems only right to turn the tables. When it's down to champion vs. champion, is Javier even orbiting the same planet as Kelly Clarkson?
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For one thing, we've barely seen the guy. Kelly had about 18 episodes to catch our eye, and Javier's had ten, all of which collapsed, entirely it seemed, into the two-minute montage Carson showed us at the start of last night. It was all there: shots of Javier's family, Adam calling Javier's voice one of the best he's ever heard, Javier abandoning his hat. The Voice didn't offer anything close to the narrative pull of Idol, which milks its contestants' stories like a field of very sad Holsteins. There wasn't a scene where Javier broke out of the song to cry, or a first contrasting glimpse of him at the season's start, when he could have been anybody. There certainly isn't a movie due out co-starring Beverly McClellan (From Bev to Jav). The sloppiness that makes Idol so easy to mock and guarantees fierce followings for its alums – for better or worse, it wasn't there.
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Is that a handicap for Javier, who has to count on the past two months as his foot-in-the-door? The Voice did not invite us to love him, or really anyone, intimately. The momentum and the rules seemed to get rewritten each episode, with some competitors sitting out entire hours. Couple that with a short season – really, next to American Idol, an anemic one – and being a fan was a constant sense of disorientation, like getting blackout drunk at the same time every week for ten weeks. One moment there were Dr. Claw chairs, the next a boxing ring. Even Carson Daly looked confused about the fact that he was on the show towards the end.
And yet, the briskness, the talented competitors and judges, the brief injections of product plugs (no Ford music videos just yet) lifted NBC above the network pack ratings-wise, and cemented a second season, and the payout on a promise. When confronted with a great voice (Javier) versus a good voice and a great face (Dia), the country opted for the voice.
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Last night capped off the preview of this brave new world. Compared with Idol's grandiose two-hour star-studded bacchanalia, this was practically Victorian. Each of the four contestants sang with a pro: Vicci with Patrick Monahan, lead singer of Train (remember Train?), Bev with OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, Dia with Miranda Lambert, and Javier with Stevie Nicks. These were stars and half-stars, with only Stevie commanding real power from the stage with her rep and her voice. The strings guiding Blake's wife Miranda there were totally visible, and Blake remarked that Dia looked just right standing next to her, because Dia is family now. This wasn't Idol intimacy; it was gentler and cleaner, a shiny Twitter dream that's contingent on the success of its alums. Javier might still end up faded into the background, like so many So You Think You Can Dance champs or Biggest Losers. Or he might go platinum. As far as the crowning of the franchise is concerned though, it's not Scotty McCreery he's up against – it's Kelly.