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What The Fuck Is Going On With Idol?

Filed Under: TV Reviews

brett-loewenstern-let-it-be-01-2011-02-10-450x305

This should not be on television.

Preface: I’ve never really watched American Idol. I mean , I’ll tune in to the first few episodes for the sheer humor of watching unassuming retards belt out popular songs with absolutely no idea of how bad they are. I’ve also occasionally watched the final episode, though the drama between the last two standing is generally lost on me, having missed the season. But for the most part, Idol has been one of few instances where my love of all things pop culture doesn’t prevail (over my love of not spending three hours a week watching other people sing).

But I was swayed by the hype surrounding this year’s major changes, specifically the ousting of Simon and Paula for Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. I had always liked Simon—how could any self-respecting fan of reality television NOT like Simon—but Paula was boring, and even Simon had in the last few seasons run out of ways to say “you’re awful.” The switcheroo seemed like a good call: today’s kids know both Tyler and Lopez (let’s be honest, Paula Abdul was lost on anyone under 25) and the change paved the way for Randy to let loose with his inner hater, which for the most part he has.

But now the dust has settled and we’re on the Top 24 (which, what the shit kind of number is that?) and Idol is asking me to spend not one, not two, but FIVE hours of my time watching this week (I’ll generously round down to 3.5 when commercials are excluded). Based on the four hours I’ve already watched, I just can’t see why. Maybe it was always this weak in the beginning; maybe all the hopefuls need Week 1 to find their sea legs and wrap their minds around performing to an audience of hundreds (to say nothing of the 20+ million television viewers) instead of singing at karaoke bars, or into hairbrushes in their bedrooms. But based on the 24 performances I’ve seen, this season is incredibly weak sauce. Here’s why.

1. What’s up with all the pop music? Considering my newness to the Idol franchise, I can’t stack this season up against those of the past, but it seems like a disproportionate number of contestants chose songs from the last 12 months. In the interest of appealing to an audience primarily composed of screeching 13-year-olds, this isn’t the worst move, until you really think about the musicality of today’s Top 40. For the most part, these songs don’t require a lot of singing, or worse, don’t sound much like music when performed acoustically. Production, HEAVY production, is de rigueur at this point, and in its absence, one realizes how truly simplistic (and borderline terrible) some of today’s songs are.

2. Variety is the spice of life, not Idol. It’s become painfully obvious that the producers this year are vying for a range of talents and “types”–there are at least a handful of contestants whose Top 24 presence is baffling to me outside of the fact that they have a unique style. More than once last night, the judges babbled about the need to bring “new” genres to the marketplace. And even though I personally enjoy some of the stylistic wildcards—Luther Vandross-esque Jacob Lusk and completely awesome Casey Abrams in particular—it kind of bothers me that the judges have taken it upon themselves to decide what America needs musically. After all, the styles they’re talking about aren’t NEW, they’re simply old styles that today’s young people may not be aware of. I’m sure there’s merit in introducing old-school R&B, or classic country music, or even Judas Priest, to the masses, but let’s not pretend that American Idol hasn’t always been about finding the next great pop star. One can’t help but wonder if the emphasis on variety came at the expense of actual quality singing.

3. It’s called judging for a reason. Despite the fact that Simon was running out of steam, the man clearly knew how to deliver an insult, and didn’t hesitate to do it. By contrast, the last two days of performances have yielded at worst tepid applause from the judges, with the exception of Randy, who occasionally attempted to tell a contestant how truly off the mark they were. I get that Jennifer is the nice one, and have learned that Steven tends to follow the others’ lead, but this is still a competition right? I don’t care if they’re nervous, or that it’s their first major performance. If they want to actually be the next American Idol, at this point next year they’ll be selling out Madison Square Garden. So get the fuck used to it, guys. So many of the performances this week were hilariously muddied by singers’ flubbing notes, missing cues, making bizarre attempts to dance or “perform” on the giant stage, and so on. Yet few of these (to me at least) glaringly obvious missteps were called out by the judges. In fact, as soon as they told contestant Brett Loewenstern (pictured above), a veritable oompa loompa of a person, that he had done a good job, I pretty much stopped listening to the judging trifecta altogether. I don’t care if they’re 15 years old Jennifer, you ARE in the business of crushing dreams: 124,999 dreams. Only 1 person gets to win.

Long story short, Idol needs to get it together. Two hours is a long fucking time to watch people struggle through cover songs, particularly if those covers more often than not sound like glorified karaoke.  I’ve put in the hours so far, and I’d like to finish the season, but only if there’s less coddling, more skull-cracking.

Figuratively.

 
kira

10:35 AM on March 3rd, 2011 | 

Posted by kira

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