AMERICAN IDOL: The Final 3: L-R: Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Josh Ledet. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.
(CBS News) If you waft around the Web long enough, you will encounter all sorts of conspiracy theories about "American Idol." One that has reverberated strongly has been that, this year, the producers were desperate for a female winner - and that their selection was Jessica Sanchez.
So anyone watching Thursday's results show will have been enjoyed their version of agendas and intrigues.
But let's assume for a moment that the voters really do decide. It's clear that the majority of them are, as I may have mentioned once or twice, little girls in their pink pajamas. There is no other way of explaining that a female hasn't won since 2007 (Jordin Sparks). There is no other way of explaining Lee DeWyze, Kris Allen and a host of other pretty white boys with guitars who have been successive winners (and not stars).
The little girls vote for the boy they find most attractive. And then, perhaps, they vote for the girl who most reminds them of themselves. So if you believe that their votes were all that mattered, it was likely that Joshua Ledet might be in trouble. He might be the best singer and the best performer, but he isn't a white boy with a guitar.
Ledet was first to be invited to the light-dimmed podium. Uncle Jimmy Iovine's comments then poured forth. He hadn't been impressed with Ledet's version of Etta James "I Would Rather Go Blind."
"Would I have given it a standing ovation?" he asked, before answering, "No."
Iovine declared Ledet "the most exciting showman that we have in the competition right now." Which isn't hard, given that he's up against a very uncertain, big-voiced, immature Mariah Carey wannabe and Phillip Phillips, who makes as if he doesn't wannabe here at all.
Iovine hadn't liked Ledet's "Imagine" at all. He likened it to a Ferrari in first gear. He wasn't even happy with the song that he'd given Ledet himself - Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama."
"It didn't have enough melody," said Iovine. He still felt, though, that Ledet should be in the finale.
Naturally, Ryan Seacrest didn't tell Ledet whether he was in the finale or not. Instead, a movie was plugged, as was Lisa Marie Presley, who is yet to sing as well as her father.
Jessica Sanchez was the next to receive her Iovinesque appraisal.
Iovine didn't feel her first Mariah Carey song had come together. Her version of "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" wasn't up to much either, as far as Jimmy was concerned. Her third - a Jackson Five song also (surprise!) recorded by Carey - was something of a disappointment for Iovine, too. Having chosen the song for her, he'd forgotten that Jermaine Jackson had sung the verse and Michael Jackson the chorus.
"If she gets into the finale," Iovine said. "It's all about the songs."
As if to remind us of singers that had deserved to win and didn't, Adam Lambert performed.
Finally Phillips stepped forward to hear the Jimmy verdict. He'd liked his version of "Beggin.'" He again insisted that he's sounding less and less like Dave Matthews and more and more like Phillip Phillips. His second song, Matchbox 20's "Disease" was, Jimmy thought, "a total snoozefest."
"Phillip won the night with Bob Seger's 'We've Got Tonight,'" was Iovine's conclusion. Oddly, Iovine called it "flawless," which it most certainly hadn't been.
So if you tried to interpret Iovine's judgment, Phillips had done very well, Ledet well and Sanchez not very well at all.
And so we were surely at the moment of decision. But first we had to hear some words from the judges. Were they meaningful words? Not terribly. Jennifer Lopez, for example, felt this was a "big moment."
Then Seacrest revealed there had been 90 million votes. No one will know, however, how many voters that truly represented. No one will know for sure how they skewed demographically. But one might infer from the results.
The first to be told she would be singing next week was Sanchez. She tried to look surprised. Then, finally, Phillips and Ledet put their arms around each other. This they had been reluctant to do in previous weeks after a duet. Here, though, they stood, both heads bowed.
When Seacrest announced it would be the pretty white boy with the guitar who would compete against Sanchez, they hugged each other.
Ledet's exit still meant that he had gone further in this competition than any black male singer since Ruben Studdard won in 2003. He, in truth, looked stunned. He tried to hold himself together, but he tightened his lips with some vigor. During his wonderful encore performance of "It's a Man's World," he brought his mother up on stage.
Hopefully, he will still do very well. He provided more excitement, more power and surely moved more people than any of the other finalists. He'd had 16 standing ovations. Yes, 16.
It's just that the little girls who vote didn't find him cute enough. Such is the world we live in.