Like about 200 million other people around the world, my wife and I settled down to watch the American Idol Grand Finale earlier this week. With the benefit of satellite, we watched live from our tropical island home by the Sulu Sea in the Philippines. We were already happy, as our two favourites, Katherine McPhee and Taylor Hicks had, the previous evening, been where they belonged, singing in the final. Whoever won did not matter; we loved them both, but after Taylor Hicks final song, he did look the likely winner. However, they would both, as well as Chris Daughtry, have made worthy American Idols.
There were many memorable moments during the American Idol 2006 series, but for me one of the most memorable, and significant, came with the announcement of Taylor Hicks as the winner. I was delighted for him. He has been an inspirational entertainer all the way through the American Idol series, never flirting with the exit door (despite Simon Cowell's attempts to shove him there), and with a unique ability to take just about any song, turn it into his own, and bring the audience to its feet. Taylor Hicks is...well, Taylor Hicks; never afraid to do his own thing and entertain the audience. Even if Simon Cowell wrote a funeral dirge, Taylor Hicks could turn it into something special with his unique character, and have the house rocking.
Taylor Hicks being announced as the winner was, of course, the peak of the series; it was what all the contestants had been aiming for since the auditions. However, for me there was something very special about that moment, that some may not have been so aware of: the reaction of Katherine McPhee. Her reaction was one of genuine delight for Taylor's success. There were no artificial congratulations, no tears of disappointment, no sombre face because she had lost the final; just magnanimous delight for Taylor Hicks being voted American Idol 2006.
Katherine McPhee is a born star, and she will have a good singing career, a dream come true for her. Yet, despite her stunning beauty and exceptional singing talent, she remained modest even at the pinnacle of the show. In her own failure to win the contest, she simultaneously recognised with magnanimity the success of Taylor Hicks, and glowed in her own success of getting that far herself. She did not exude one iota of failure in her demeanour as the announcement was made. If anything, she epitomised success.
Seeing Katherine McPhee at that moment reminded me of how intermingled success and failure are. Even the same achievement can be viewed by one person as a success, and another as failure. No doubt there are some mean spirited people who will dismiss Katherine with a simple “oh, she was beaten, she failed.” But anyone who genuinely respects achievement of any type would appreciate what she has done to get as far as she has, and in such style.
The parents of Katherine McPhee must be very proud of what their daughter can do, has done, and will do in the future. But they should also be very proud of themselves for bringing up such a delightful young woman, who can take her moment of disappointment and turn it into a celebration of success, both for her and her conqueror, Taylor Hicks.