Raleigh Celebrates McCreery’s Win: a New Perspective

A crowd of around 8,000 was on hand last night at the RBC Center to watch as garnernorthcarolina–native Scotty McCreery was named the American Idol for Season 10. Congratulations to Scotty! I had a chance to be in that crowd and saw the event from an unexpected perspective.

As is evident in the video, the crowd went nuts when Scotty’s name was announced. As you watch the video, however, note the general amount of noise in the room as Ryan is leading up to the pause, then notice the total silence as the Idol monotone sound effect is finally heard. With 8,000 waiting with baited breath, all it took was the “Sss” sound by Ryan Seacrest to send the room into a frenzy. We never even heard “cotty McCreery”. This was a special aspect of the evening that local news outlets have missed. Here are a few other points:


The RBC Center staff welcomed the crowd with a lower level of security than we typically see at NCSU and Hurricanes events. As the crowds filed in ushers guided people sequentially filling each lower level section in order to get the best flying camera shots on the national television production. A few concession stands were open selling basic concessions including beer, however probably 70% of the crowd was under 21 years of age.

With the hockey season over, the RBC Center floor has no ice and the hockey walls have been removed. Therefore we got the unusual view of an empty, gray arena floor that was dotted with a few chairs and a boom camera. Sections 106 thru 117 of seating were completely empty, so the empty seats and empty floor presented some odd acoustical problems for the RBC Center’s presentation on the scoreboard video screens. The audio was loud, but somewhat shrill and echoing, so the sound quality would have been much better in my den. However the crowd on hand cheered at the exact times the crowd in Los Angeles did, so it made the event unexpectedly come to life.

American Idol sent Matt Rogers, a Season 3 Idol contestant, to be the Master of Ceremonies. Matt’s banter with the crowd and crew during commercials was refreshing. One of the biggest responses of the night came when he noted that the cameraman was on the floor of The Pit the night of April 4, 1983.

The highlight of Rogers’ duties came at the end of the night. Swarming with elated fans, Matt was pictured on the video boards holding and kissing a cardboard cutout of Scotty. If only National had time to show that hilarious moment.


Rogers also alerted the crowd to times that National was possibly going to cut to Raleigh, and kept us apprised of the finale’s timing difficulties. One of the planned acts for the show was to include live interviews from both Lauren’s and Scotty’s home crowds, but these segments were cut due to overruns. During one of the TV show’s acts, the Raleigh crowd was told to be silent as Rogers and the production crew blocked a revised Raleigh cut, however that segment was cut, too.

We can’t understand how a 2 hour production runs so long that acts are cut. There were no free-form blocks in the acts outside of Ryan Seacrest’s introductions. All of the musical performances were preblocked with the lighting crews, and all of the video packages are all a finite length.

As the Raleigh segment was cut, we noticed Ryan Seacrest blowing through the introduction of performances and even wondered if the abbreviated performance of “Dream On” by Steven Tyler was a late change. It seemed to be the only act in the second hour with flexibility, as production crews could not cut Lady Gaga’s song or that dreadful Spiderman performance.

Ratings Behemoth

Early numbers are in and it appears that last night’s finale drew 29.3 million viewers, so it will likely be the #2 watched television show of 2011, falling second only to the Super Bowl. For reference, the NCAA National Championship Football and Basketball games drew 15 million and 12 million, respectively. Dancing With The Stars’ Finale drew 21 million.


It was an exceptional night for the town of Garnernorthcarolina, as Scotty calls it. The Blue Crew of Scotty’s high school friends completely filled section 119 and did a good job of cheering on the rest of the crowd. The Wave even made an appearance during one of the show’s final commercial breaks.

Choral Directors

One of the great moments of the show was the introduction of Lauren and Scotty’s most influential teachers. Not only did the two get invited to the AI Finals, they were acknowledged on international television and given new Ford cars. Garner High School choral director Meredith Clayton was stunned and elated as one of her greatest moments as a teacher got even better.

I’m here to say that any male at Garner High School who isn’t in that woman’s program is a complete idiot. She is adorable and added to the fantastic presentation of this area. Oh, and she’s probably a pretty good choral teacher; it’s in her pedigree. (Clayton’s mother was Clay Aiken’s choral teacher.)

Something In The Water?

Raleigh native and Broadway star Lauren Kennedy was ecstatic watching the American Idols finale. She even went to Twitter wondering if there is something in the water in North Carolina given, yet another, American Idol impact performer. Clay Aiken, Fantasia Barrino, Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Bucky Covington, and Anoop Desai were all sensational on the show, but Scotty is the area’s first champion. Kennedy’s point makes one wonder if the area has even more to give in future seasons…

I Saw It Coming

2011-05-25_22-06-14_731The reason I took my family to the RBC Center last night is because I had a strong inclination that Scotty was going to win. Scotty never gave me “WOW” moments like other contestants did, however winning Idol depends on getting votes, and getting them from the people who vote. A lot more goes into this equation that simply soaring vocals. One of the interesting facets to Dentistry is getting a sense of the buzz in the general population. After the last 5 seasons, I think that American Idol has become something that is largely determined by middle-aged, strong Christian women who would like to lose 20-50 pounds. This demographic has been right on par with who wins in each of the last 5 seasons. The result is a clean-cut, somewhat talented singer who doesn’t show off. Let’s look at those last 5 seasons:

Jordin Sparks vs. Blake Lewis – Jordin Sparks is an All-American type woman with a great voice. Blake Lewis is a good singer, but his beat-boxing, rap-leaning music did not resonate with the demographic. Had Lewis been a more of a smiling pop singer, he could have won.

David Cook vs. David Archuletta – At first one would think that the devout Christianity of Archuletta would excite the demographic, but that isn’t what totally excites them. They actually like rock-leaning pop music over vanilla pop.

Kris Allen vs. Adam Lambert – No one will argue that Adam Lambert doesn’t have a phenomenal voice, however he was too flamboyant and screamed too much to overcome that smile that the demographic loves.

Lee Dewyze vs. Crystal Bowersox – Crystal was the one that blew everyone’s doors off in Season 9. However when it came down to two, the grunginess of Crystal didn’t excite the demographic as much as Lee’s moderate pop and smiling eyes.

Scotty McCreery vs. Lauren “Alaina” – (Lauren’s last name is not Alaina, btw) Season 10 featured an accurate singer with low, but narrow range winning over a beautiful voice that needs more seasoning. That’s not what swayed the vote at all, though. Genre was a wash as both singers exclusively sang Country songs. Scotty has a big smile and never projected a cocky demeanor. That’s difficult to overcome, even for a really good voice. Lauren was my family’s early pick based on who would get the cascading loser votes, however that was based on Scotty finishing around 5th. In the end it appears that Scotty is the only person that Lauren could not beat. Match Lauren against any of the other 11 final contestants, and The Demographic picks her every single time.

The Judges

So, the demographic I mentioned seems to be the set that is most likely to pick the winner, but they are swayable each year, and this was no exception. In each of the last 4 finals, the judges have unofficially anointed the better voice as the winner. However in each of those nights, we’ve seen a huge backlash. This season the backlash was exacerbated by the show’s emphasis on Lauren’s vocal injury in rehearsal.  The result was: people who would have voted for Scotty 10X voted 150X. This is exactly the case with someone I know, and I’ll venture to say those numbers were repeated throughout The Demographic.

Lauren’s Future

We did some digging and found where Lauren Alaina lives. It’s at the dead end of a country road near Chattanooga. Sounds like the beginning of a country song, doesn’t it. Lauren’s family has obviously struggled financially and it is great to see Lauren get this chance. She has been gifted with an excellent voice and has noticeably improved as a performer over the last 3 months. Lauren had serious confidence issues in the first half of the competition, and learning more about her background helped to explain this. She still needs to perform past the first two rows of the auditorium and she still needs to work on hitting the climax of a song correctly. I have complete confidence this will come with more training and maturity, and fully see Lauren Alaina having an excellent career in Nashville along the lines of Lee Ann Womack or LeAnn Rimes.

Scotty’s Future

The one overriding question in the American Idol aftermath is whether Scotty can overcome the Idol Curse. Of the nine Idols, only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have been able to advance their career’s beyond “Idol Winner” status. Scotty has a very decent chance of being the third, not because of his talents per se, but rather because of the market.

Country music used to be only popular in rural areas and the South. However since Garth Brooks’ breakthrough, the genre has steadily seen growth in other areas of the country and social strata. With Rock being as dead as it has ever been and stations like G105 forcing Lady Gaga and Kanye West into pop radio, a very serious backlash is about to occur. Teens are quickly turning toward Country music in droves, and there really is no end in sight.

Scotty’s new single, “I Love You This Big” was released this morning, and the producers have done a sensational job of capturing the powerful portions of his voice. The song will be a hit this Summer in Country radio. Scotty is hitting the wave at the perfect time, as there aren’t any big teen country singers right now. Paired with good songs (and that has been a problem for so many Idols), Scotty can be the next Idol to break through.

The Others

This year’s show produced an extremely good group of finalist. James Durbin is quite likely to have success in the dormant Rock realm, Pia is likely to be a hit in Adult Contemporary, and the sky is the limit for Casey and Haley. Casey is enormously talented and keeping him focused will be a key while Haley showed with her version of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” that she doesn’t have to shout to be outstanding. Paul McDonald and Jacob Lusk are a couple of others who, if matched with the right songwriters, could also see good careers. We’ll see.

* * *

It’s crazy that we are even talking about this. Two months ago many of us thought we had an versatile, typical young country voice on our hands. Now here we are talking about Scotty McCreery being the next in a long list of Springtime major, national successes in the Triangle area. The Idols tour comes to the RBC Center on July 27, and you can expect one of the longest ovations in that building’s impressive history when McCreery takes the stage.


Make A Comment
  • Subway Scoundrel Said:

    His parents seemed grounded and nice but I hope they don’t get too much in the way. They need to keep him grounded but his father said “going to college is non-negotiable.” He may change his mind at signing the first non-idol agreement. Understand taking some classes but I hope they realize fame is fleeting and a window only stays open for a short while. Winning Idol is big, but the music biz is much bigger. Not sure how much leverage an Idol winner has outside of the Idol business plan Now that said, I think he needs to work toward widening the gap of his current fan base. One can only live on young girls who could move to the next GAGA in a moments notice and Grandma’s who will watch you on TV, but may not pay. Need to push to get to the real paying country fans and win them over and there are tons of them, but like true music fans, you do not win them over easily.

    Again, big decisions ahead and hope they make the right choices, even if it changes the life plan Scotty’s parents had for him before Idol. Get it while you can because there is rarely a 2nd chance in music, fame and fortune.

  • OTB & lovin' it! Said:

    Scotty’s life & that of his parents & sister will be entwined for several years because he is so young. The first thing that will have to be considered, as a family, is a gated community, for safety & security. Their lives, as they knew it, ended last night.
    Last Night’s AI should have been a real family show. The inappropriateness of Lady GagGag’s song/act with the studmuffin was staggering! I had a flashback to Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake and another “family show”.

  • Dana Said:

    +1, both of y’all.

    I kept telling my daughter that that guy was getting ready to do CPR on Lady Gaga. Not too sure my daughter bought it…

  • Arthurb3 Said:

    Oh! “I think that American Idol has become something that is largely determined by middle-aged, strong Christian women who would like to lose 20-50 pounds. ”

    This made me laugh!

  • Subway Scoundrel Said:

    For Lady GaGa, I kept saying to myself, “She is going to jump, she is going to jump”. Note that when the studdude came up behind her, they panned back. I did not think it was that bad, but glad they panned back. And of course, Ms GAGA jumped. All I could watch is the last 20 minutes so enough idol for the next 4 years for me.

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