I haven’t watched American Idol in about 5 years and have certainly missed out on the new reincarnation of the show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. I’m virtually unfamiliar with these contestants so as the show goes on I am going to give my impressions of them as someone who is laying eyes on them for the first time.
This kid reminds me a bit of a tough guy version of season 1’s Justin Guarini. The diff being that he has a little more edge to him but the kind of edge that just screams ‘Idol’; he’s the gold standard of male singers on this franchise: smooth, soulful R&B pop. I can picture him making exactly that kind of record; he’d be wearing some sort of zoot suit on the cover and smiling into the camera with his new straight, white teeth. The kid does have this impressively sky-high falsetto. That being said, he sang some song by De Barge that I’ve never heard before. I guess because my mom never listened to soul/pop from the 1980s, it is a genre that is completely lost on me. I’d better brush up so that I don’t lose my Name that Tune edge.
Gwen Stefani and her No Doubt sidekicks are the guest mentors on this week’s show and I have to make a comment that Gwen NEVER AGES! How does she do it?! Does she sleep in a cryogenic chamber at night? Or does she wear fake skin? Anyways, back to “Elise Testone”. Dressed up like Stevie Nicks and singing Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is”, you can tell she’s going for the Fleetwood Mac thing; too bad no one told her this was 80s night and she’s about ten years too early, look-wise… She’s wavering back and forth but she emotes well; not so much in her face, but in her voice. Uh-oh though… some choir just chimed in and the audience is waving their arms around. I guarantee that most of these people watching have never heard this song before; it came out when they were just a twinkle in their dad’s eye. So thanks to them, and the lame-o choir, I was reminded that despite the mature sounds of this blonde rock singer and all her bar band imperfections, this is STILL Idol. All I can say is, I’m glad she did Foreigner and not her original choice: Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
The poor kid, with a name like that. He sure is cute, though. He has that ‘legit’ musician feel to him but… now that he’s been on the cash cow of primetime reality television, no one will take him too seriously. Too bad. I’m digging this; it’s kind of like sexy Joe Cocker plays one of my favourite Genesis songs; it’s something I haven’t really seen on this show before. The weird name kid is really delivering this down-home art rock. On an unrelated topic, why on earth are there so many commercial breaks throughout? That’s the only thing that’s filling the second hour. I can’t believe I’m stuck with this for another hour and 40. I’m exhausted. You know when I said before that this kid is cute? He’s more than cute. I melted at his smile a bit.
It’s time for SIMPLY RED! And it’s a lot to handle. Even Gwen “B-A-N-A-N-A-S” Stefani said his voice was a bit much. They just had to add the choir again, too. I really hate when they do that. What is this – church? Does it always have to feel religious? I like this kid though. I think he toned down the performance as per Gwen’s advice, and he ended up being pretty great. And I like this song. At least, I like it enough that if it comes on the radio I won’t change the station. How the hell did they ever even know to invent the concept of ‘radio’ anyways? How did they know it would work? Science is amazing.
What kind of fucking weirdo proudly announces their alter-ego and talks about it by name in the third person? She’s 16 for heaven’s sakes. This fact makes me not like this girl at all. I mean, she’s perfectly fine and all. But… an alter-ego? Really? Really. Come on now. When she goes into her upper range shits gets really real and she’s got the look. But a superstar, she is not. Actually, none of these people are superstars, really. I wish they were. After all, isn’t that why people watch this show in the first place?
Flashdance… ohhh , boy. This song is so totally lame. Not that I don’t love it, but… it’s super lame. As is this performance. I figured I was going to be wowed as balls for this girl after seeing her duet the Pointer Sisters. Instead, she ain’t hitting the highs and her voice shakes like a leaf when she’s heading down. Actually as I’m watching this, I’m focused more on her shoes than the performance. She’s doing a skippy walk across the stage and I’m so worried she’s going to fall. Those are some mega heels. Also… wow. She looks really different with makeup than without. J Lo gave some pretty serious advice to this girl. Woman knows what’s up. Way more than Paula Abdul ever did.
No one told him trucker hats are over! Awkward….. anyways, this guy is attractive, and he’s alright. He’s a bit Jacob Hoggard c. Canadian Idol season 2. I’m wondering if his version of Time After Time is ripped from one of those compilations where pop/punk bands cover 1980s songs and I feel as though I’m onto something there.
Are we done yet? Anyways, here comes Skylar; she’s singing Wind Beneath My Wings – a corny song, made a little different with some country twang. The girl is doing a pretty lovely job with this, actually. I’m decently impressed. Alright, I’m actually really impressed. Who knew there was all this in that corny, corny song? You’d have to be a piece of lead to not be moved by that. I’ll even forgive her for going on about how much she misses her guns.
Duets?! Really? The first time there was one, I had no idea what was going on; plust it was Islands in the Stream. Repulsive karaoke rehash time. And then with the Pointer Sisters one, Hollie was bloody brilliant vocally but she makes that DeAndre guy look not-so-good. The only reason for these duets is to fill up more TV time with commercial breaks. I guess they’re trying to make the show a little more fun but I’m kinda… on the fence about the idea.
The judges are pretty good; they’re a lot more ‘in the background’ than Paul and Simon Cowell and their constant bickering making them into the stars of the show. And it’s ironic because these new judges are technically bigger “celebrities”. It goes back to that odd reality TV phenom of reality stars becoming celebrities and celebrities going on reality shows to try and appear like ‘normal people’. Steven Tyler has the worst plastic surgery ever, whereas J Lo’s is AMAZING. Randy is the same as always but I think he’s been name-dropping just a little less than he did before. Maybe he’s finally used to his megastar co-judges and feels less of a need to try and impress them with all the people and all the music shit that he knows; or rather, thinks he knows.
All in all, this is at the end of the day, still Idol to the core. It has the same cheese factor, the same sardonic comments from Seacrest that feel like they’re intentionally unintentionally intentional. There’s still a great deal of adverts all over the place. At least they’re getting celebrity mentors and they are allowed to brandish instruments on stage. Gee, I wonder where they got that idea from? *cough* Canadian Idol *cough*.
I don’t think I’d watch this again. I don’t feel any particular attachment to these people and popular culture history tells me it’s tough to be a star from this show and only 2 or 3 out of… God, how many contestants on how many seasons? have ever even touched fame before. There’s no point in anyone winning. They’ll just end up on The Surreal Life or Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. That’s how they’re going to get their fifteen minutes in the end…
Oh, one more thought: I said Elise was going for the Stevie Nicks thing before the Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around duet came into play. I know my shit, apparently.