April 8, 2009

Top 8: And that's why I love you....

Guest commentary from She-Who-Used-to-be-Idol-Fan-Numero-Uno.

Am I alone in questioning whether or not I want to dedicate so much of my time and energy to this show anymore? As I lay restless in bed last night, I was unable to figure out why I wasn’t falling asleep easily, why the hour-long (oh wait, it was actually longer if you wanted to see Adam’s performance!) show didn’t leave me satisfied and happy with the future of these select contestants and the often annoying, mostly ridiculous fools that we call judges. Like in the old days, where Chris Richardson crooning with a slight Southern twang could float me away on a dreamy cloudy pillow for 8+ hours of contentment, knowing that I could count on him being there to entertain me again the next week. Anyway, the result-- I have used last night’s show as a testing ground for my new theory: that American Idol is becoming a complete waste of time.


All the judges have no idea who they are supposed to be, so I can no longer take them seriously as judges of someone else’s talent and image.

  • Last night Randy told Kris, “YOU are in the competition, not the SONG.” SINCE WHEN?!!?! As far as I have been tracking, song choice has been everyone’s biggest point of debate this season, and suddenly we are supposed to disregard it.
  • I’m sure almost all of you have joined me in questioning Kara’s credibility and opinion on virtually everything. Her recent behavior has led to a confrontation with Megan’s brother, and from last night’s show, the strange discussion of Anoop’s supposed attitude that yielded an apology (which Simon did not approve of). She is getting under everyone’s skin, and not because she is providing criticism that people don’t agree with, but because she adds nothing to the show, which is sad as she could have become the resident expert on what makes a good recording artist.
  • Paula has become the most reasonable judge. This should never be. She is throwing around terms like chord substitution. Something is cosmically altered. I knew I was feeling slightly off-kilter as I brushed my teeth last night.
  • Simon. Has. Completely. Checked. Out.
  • Please drop the use of the following terms: “singing competition”, “package artist”, “vocals”, and “standing ovation”. (The latter should never be said, just done?)
  • Go back to down the line judging—start with Randy and end with Simon.
  • Don’t continue spending so much camera time on the judges—no more watching them walk in, asking who’s going home, talking about the Judges’ Save—focus on the contestants. I am still shocked about how little I know about each of them! My total knowledge: Anoop is an only child. Adam’s dad is super cute. Danny is the ham of his family. Allison’s family was unfairly subtitled in the past, but not last night. Kris wanted to be a cab driver. That’s it. I should be forming permanent relationships with people’s moms and knowing the patterns of their couches by the top 8!
In addition to my hypothesis that explains the slow downturn of the show, I created a pro and con list to help me better explore my feelings.

Pros/Cons of watching AI Season 8:
  • Pro: I look forward to fresh performances of songs
  • Con: Blind-y keeps singing power ballads that absolutely suck, and America keeps pitying him and voting for him despite the true lack of pleasing notes sung
  • Pro: It’s amusing to watch the group numbers and see them pulverize pop music
  • Con: Song choice is constantly criticized yet greatly out of the contestant’s control
  • Pro: Phil Stacey returned in last night’s audience—maybe you saw the robotic bald man in the beginning?
  • Con: Matt Giraud (crowned by Melissa, Aimee, Robin and I as a Typical Boston Asshole [even though he’s not from here, he fits the part and would normally be the type that approaches you after the Sox game at Game On! after too many Jaeger-bombs]) seems like he may be around for awhile, despite his tight pants and so-so performing.
  • Pro: The first useful criticism of the year came last night regarding Lil—all the judges actually warned her in a way that could prove useful. Maybe there will be more of that as we move into the top contestants?
  • Con: The judges or producers have their favorites: Adam, Danny, and Matt, and are leaving little room for Allison and Kris to succeed by KILLING them with weird arrangements and comments about being only “likeable” or “cute” or “good” and not “AMAZING”, “AWESOME”, or “two words, STANDING OVATION” like their faves.
  • Pro: Paula saying, “magical” and “rainbow” repeatedly
  • Con: Anything Kara or Randy says anymore
  • Pro: I still think it’s a great platform for an emerging artist
  • Con: Sadly, the show is becoming not at all about the singers
It’s sad. I want to be in love with it. On Monday night, I was wishing Idol was on. I want to love them all! I want to be moved to vote for everyone! Let’s hope that things take a turn for the better soon, starting with a surprise reversal of the decision to send Alexis home. That would also help.

In closing, it is my theory that soon enough most Americans will join me in disdain of celebrity hogging, overpaid jerks that don’t really mold or shape future Idols (not artists or talents, we’re talking about POP STARS) through their critique. It’s time to take a step back, RKPS, and allow the contestants to speak for themselves. I’m going to give you one more week to improve, if I see no change, expect an angry letter in this forum.

A Fan Since Season 5 and Someone That Really Likes To Share Her Feelings About “Singing Competitions”


Carrie said...

Jessica, I totally feel you on the whole wondering whether to watch each week but still being hypnotically drawn back. I enjoy the thrill of the competition but have definitely been demoralized as my faves get voted off (NO, NOT ALEXIS, NOOOOOO) and as cheaters like already-a-successful-broadway-performer Adam cruise by week after week. Sorry, but I hate that guy. And I almost quit the show completely when Randy compared his Johnny Cash to Jeff Buckley. Blasphemy!!!!!! I digress.

I'm similarly confused by the judges this year. Paula waxing poetic about the contestants' technique (chord substitution?! WTF?!) and sounding so composed all the time totally throws me for a loop. I don't, however, have as much of a problem with Kara as you. I find her kind of entertaining and I think she adds some youthfulness and a dose of music-business reality to the panel. Let's face it, these kids ARE going to be wrapped up as neat little tied-with-a-bow package artists when they're done on Idol. Even (sadly) Allison, who could have easily become a star without this show, will likely succumb to a Kelly Clarkson-esque career. Which isn't so bad I guess. Gotta love Kelly.

The thing I find strange though, is that at the same time they are talking about "package artists," they're also demanding sensational artistry from the contestants, something that most pop stars lack completely. Not that they need it - Kara and her ilk write all the songs anyway! How much say do you really think Kelly Clarkson had in the song "My Life Would Suck Without You"? She freely admitted on the show a few weeks ago that the song isn't about anyone in particular, much less based on an actual personal experience.

Anyway, you probably won't agree with my Adam-hate and Kara-like, but at least we agree on one thing: this season is confusing and feels different. Last night, Rich and I were contemplating how much longer the show will go on. I think the Idol has many good years ahead of it if they just keep the judges engaged and sane, and try to find a way to keep the hideous Robert Pattinson/Fall Out Boy hybrids out of the competition in the future. I really hate that guy.