Hi Gang.. I hope this finds all of you well. Last spring I wrote about the last half of AI here at the farm and it was suggested I do it again. This time from the start. I intend to do just that and I hope you’ll all come along for the ride. This is more of an opinion piece so I’ll save you some time. If you’re hoping for a recap, check back in next Friday.
For those of you who don’t know, I sometimes fancy myself a singer. An amateur one but a singer / player none the less. I guess that’s why I watch these singing competitions. When I first started watching American Idol, it was more for the judges comments, particularly from Simon Cowell, in the early days. No one can deny that he has a unique way of putting things and I don’t think anyone can deny, he was usually right. Even when the show first aired, I was too old to be any part of it anyway but I know that Simon would have had a few choice words for me. That is to say, I have no delusions that I would fare any better than any of the other rejects and especially better than any of those who make it through to the live shows. I’m telling you this to let you all know where I’m coming from when I make comments on individual contestants. I may not be any better than any of them and in fact, as far as singing skill don’t measure up to any of them but, I do know garbage when I hear it.
These audition processes are all the results of screening. I don’t believe for one second that the thousands of people who show up actually get to stand in front of the judges and sing their hearts out, or at least try to. The ‘judges’ are there for TV purposes and I have to think that after the first one hundred or so, they would be deaf to anything further happening around them, including the contestants. I say this because of the past two nights of auditioning. More than once, I heard the judges talk of reading about these contestants. No way possible to get through as many as show up with that in depth of detail. That said, the ones who do find their way on to our television screens are the lucky few. During each week typically 40-50 will get that golden ticket to Hollywood hell. Each will believe that he or she, is the Next, American Idol. Even though they all know, that out of all of them, only one can win. The way the show has been presented in past seasons, the contestants are shown into the judges room (the one with the TV cameras) cold. That is, no one has heard them sing yet nor do they know anything about the contestants. This season, that BS veil has been lifted. Each contestant featured has some sort of story. They always did but this time, we are let in on the ‘secret’ that the judges know about it. You know the stories I mean.. The Hallmark Moments. The ‘my grandmother died last night and mom kicked me to the curb’ stories. It seems as though the Hallmark moments (which I hate) have become a prerequisite for being on the show at all. No moment, no air time. Forget about whether they can actually sing (which half that I’ve Seen, cannot).
Also added to the audition process is a nominee contestant where a friend or family member will nominate a friend or relative to be invited to audition. Once that nomination has been accepted, one of the judges shows up as a ‘surprise’ to inform the contestant that s/he has been invited to the venue to try out. One young lady that was chosen this time around, didn’t fare so well. She came with her guitar, it wasn’t a very good guitar btw, and she seemed to have trouble finding her singing key even while playing the guitar. I question whether the guitar was even in tune. However, she gave it a shot and her grandmother thinks the world of her. She didn’t make it through. I mention the guitar because one that isn’t properly set up can really mess up a person’s playing. What I mean by that is I can pick up one of my guitars and play perfectly. I have everything set up the best possible way for my playing style. Each note rings loud and clear. Soon after, I can pick up a different guitar, and won’t be able to play a clear note to save my own life. Nerves can do the same thing and I think this girl was just a bundle of them. They told her to practice some more and come back next year or the year after. I think she was 18 or 19. They saw potential but not for this show, this time around. They did the same thing with a few other contestants. There were a few that I thought would be picked on the Hallmark moments alone. After all, they need about 180 or so in Hollywood to send home so they can pick the final 12 to make the live show (there will also likely be a wildcard 13th spot available 🙄 ). That is, they had a good sob story turned triumph but they weren’t very good at the singing part of it. They too were invited to try again at a later date.
Let’s get to the part of the show that many tune in to watch. Every couple years for the past few seasons, they’ve recycled the judges. For the last two, we’ve had a panel of 3. Randy ‘Yo Dawg’ Jackson, Jenni ‘I’ve been goosed on the block’ Lopez, and Steven ‘help I’m drunk, fallen, and can’t get up’ Tyler. Two of them have been replaced. Jenni and Steven have left to persue other endevors, whatever they may be and have been replaced by Mariah ‘5 octave’ Carry, Nicki ‘I can’t pick a hair color’ Minaj, and Keith ‘help me pick an accent’ Urban.
Ummm, Why is Randy still there? Everyone has recognized they’ve overstayed their welcome or have moved on to other things on this show except him. Even Ellen D didn’t drag her time out forever. Granted, she has her own successful show so she doesn’t need Idol but still (and I liked Ellen as a judge). She also said she didn’t feel right ‘judging’ people. Paula Abdul was just a hot mess and either she or the producers recognized it may not have been a good fit any longer. Here is my issue with Randy Jackson. He is constantly trying to pigeon hole these contestants. Telling them they sound like such and such (usually dead) artist and they should try and be more that style. Janis Joplin is a favorite of his to do this with. Then when they do it, he trashes them for it. Two that immediately come to mind, happen to be my all time favorites, Crystal Bowersox (season 9, I think) and Haley Reinhart (season 10). Second and third place finishes respectively. Haley, especially, could never do anything right with The Dawg, even when it was right. I personally think the winners of both seasons (Lee Dewise, and Scotty McCreapy) were pre chosen bullshit. Season 8, Kris Allen over Adam Lambert? Really? Are you Kidding Me? Not only was Adam a better performer but he can span a range of genres like very few others can. Anyway, point is, I spend most seasons thinking these judges are stoned on something as they attempt to direct, the tweenies on how to vote.
We’ve all heard by now about this feud between Nicki and Mariah. Idol producers claim this isn’t so but the info was leaked to the likes of TMZ and other gossip outlets about some ‘argument’ or something that the two had. I suspect it’s much ado about nothing but here is what Wikipedia says about it.
“A video was leaked to TMZ in October which showed Nicki Minaj erupting in a tirade against Mariah Carey during the audition in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was also claimed that Minaj was heard saying off-camera, “If I had a gun, I would shoot that bitch.” Minaj however denied that she had made the threat. Ryan Seacrest said that the dispute “went a little too far”, while Keith Urban jokingly said “I was the UN“, and the feud elicited a comment from President Barack Obama that Carey and Minaj will “sort it out”. In an interview with Barbara Walters on The View aired on January 7, 2013, Mariah Carey said that Minaj’s threats made it “felt like an unsafe work environment,” and claimed that she had boosted her personal security. Carey also said that she has since made up with Minaj. Carey’s husband Nick Cannon claimed that the feud was used by American Idol producers to generate interest and ratings. Producer Nigel Lythgoe however denied that he was responsible for leaking the video or that it was a publicity stunt, and said that he has no plans to use the footage in advance of or during the season. Fox exec Mike Darnell described the buzz due to the feud as being great, but later said that ‘”a rogue crew member probably took the video and sent it to TMZ. We did not encourage it.””
Nigel, not leaking info or claiming nothing like it was done to boost ratings? Oh Please, Spare me. We all know that these ‘leaks’ are the quickest way to ensure people will watch and are the best advertisement money can’t buy (that’s right, I said Can’t buy). Don’t believe me? Look at Bravo and the Housewives. Enough said. The episode with this supposed feud will air on the 23rd, next week (Fox, 8 – 10 pm EST). We’ll see.
The Votes. Those of you who followed along with me last season saw that I think this voting process is another crock. I’m not saying people don’t vote but I don’t believe either the counts, nor the results. I think when ratings are slipping, they put the top contestants in danger to promote the use of the Judges Save. Things of that nature. If you watched and paid attention last season, you will have noticed that each week, as there were fewer contestants, the vote counts increase doubled each week. In fact, near the end, I predicted, accurately, the vote count for the next week. Let’s see if I can do it again. This like most other stuff on the air, the producers think the viewing public are a bunch of fools. I’m convinced of that (but I still watch 😉 ).
The contestants. You notice I’m getting to them last because before them, what really matters is what the judges are saying and wearing each given week, the astronomical vote counts, of course the Ford commercials (that I’ll get to at a later date), the ‘stars’ promoting their own crappy new singles (Including the judges), Ryan Seacrest (another fossil that needs to leave the show), and whatever else I can come up with this season. The Contestants. The hopeful souls that sing for your votes (I don’t vote anymore). About half that make it to the live shows, I will like. The rest, I won’t. Half of my picks will be gone within the first week, and my favorite to win will be gone at 4th or 3rd place at the latest. Now, my favorites are picked by certain criteria. First, it’s the type of music they sing. I Hate Pop music so that’s why half of these people, I won’t like. I especially hate Pop Ballads. Next I don’t like anyone who is kept around based on looks alone. You know the types, they really can’t sing very well but they look good. The eye candy. Not that I have anything against a pretty or handsome face but there better be some good singing chops within before I’ll get behind them. I don’t go for the cutesie thirteen year old type contestants either. Typically, I want to puke because they are so nauseatingly cute (or at least I’m supposed to think so).
What Do I like? Glad you asked 😉 You’ll be able to easily spot my favorites. I like a singer with soul. I don’t want a copycat but they don’t have to be completely original either. Let’s face it. With few exceptions, every performance on this show is some sort of cover of someone else’s work. One that can really deliver a song like Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Going To Come”? I’m there. Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”? I’m there. I like rockers too. Especially those who can do the classics. If it’s a girl or woman that can do it? OMG, I’m in love, pretty face or not. I like country too but not most of what they call country these days. I prefer the true lyin dyin cryin music. Give me George Jones and Tammy Wynette over a Garth Brooks type any day. Motown. Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, and yes, even the original Jackson 5. James Brown but, only when it was done by James Brown. Blue Eyed soul. That sort of stuff. Pick the first 6 pop power ballads you hear and you’ll know I hate them (I wasn’t the LEAST bit sad to see Pia Toscanno in season 9 get eliminated).
So there it is. The what I think of American Idol (and other shows like it). I’ll begin getting into the contestants next week including those who performed this week. I’ll point out my favorites so far and we’ll see if we agree because I’ll have a few things to say about a few of them. See you then.