Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Frivolous Idol

Let's talk something completely frivolous. American Idol. Season 12. I watched most of them. I didn't watch the year Carrie Underwood won, but that was it. The rest of them I watched from the auditions to the end. So I've seen the whole metamorphosis.

This morning I decided I wanted to talk about why American Idol sucks now. And why The Voice is so much better. The judges have been saying for years some version of "Be who you are", "Don't be someone you're not", "We don't know who you are as an artist", "Who ARE you?". Well, guess what- American Idol doesn't know who it is anymore. They got a few breakout stars over the years, but not even necessarily the winners. Some of the winners flopped- Reuben, Kris Allen- I don't even know who the rest of the winners are and I don't feel like looking them up. But you have Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, Constantine Maroulis, Kellie Pickler, Katherine McPhee...Ok, some of them aren't double platinum selling music artists, but they've achieve some success, some fame, and have been able to make the move into acting of some sort. So it was worth it. But the point is that some of the ones who went on to be the most successful were NOT the winners. Not the safe bet like they seem to want.

I feel like they pick people because they think they look different or they have a story but they still sing the same boring music. Like Curtis Finch Jr- he sang Luther Vandross I think- yeah, he has a good, ok- great, voice but I didn't listen to Luther when he was alive. I don't care- it's boring. It's NOT CURRENT. If it came on the radio I'd turn it in a hot second. They make sure they have the United Colors of Benetton- one black, one white, one Hispanic, one asian. Or a country, a pop, a gospel, a rock, an R&B. It's ridiculous. Because what they're really looking for is someone who is already prepackaged pop that they just have to tweak a little with a better hairdresser and more expensive clothes. Maybe a dietitian.

I hate when the first comment is how the contestant looks like a star, looks beautiful, has a great outfit on. There first mistake is focusing on that, unlike The Voice. Aubrey is without a doubt stunningly gorgeous. But continuously saying that cheapens what she does and sets her up to just have to prove she's more than exceptionally attractive. I feel like screaming- "AND IF SHE WAS UGLY? What then? Would you be loving her so much?". Yes, she does have a nice voice. I'm not so interested in her music because it's nothing really unique- I'm more into the Phillip Phillips, Crystal Bowersox, Brooke White, Angela Miller, singer/songwriter vibe thing. I have news for the American Idol brass. ANYtime you're singing someone else's song, unless you change up the arrangement and really do something totally different, it's ALL karaoke. I think that's the DEFINITION of karaoke.

I don't CARE what they look like. Although, I do think if they're going to be fair and represent everyone, they are missing the typical white hunky heartthrob guy. They swapped out Johnny Keyser for drippy Paul Jolley. I liked him initially but all his crying, country and whining turned me off. I would've like that piano playing voice coach guy Josh Holiday but these guys are all coming off as eunuchs. Like Ken dolls. No genitals. The only guy who had that real Metro but Manly quality was Johnny. He looks like he'd take you out on a first date for dinner & drinks in a fast, hot car, and you'd end up doing the walk of shame the next day not even knowing what hit you. And you'd be anxious to do it again.

I'm also WAY over "takin' it to CHURCH!". When did American Idol become a worship leader competition? Yeah, yeah. Everyone loves the church. Any church. I get that maybe it's a middle America or southern thing. A lot of them have great voices. But I don't want to know anything about their religion up there. I don't want to hear about their praying or thanking the Lord. I don't want to know how they try to infuse a little God into every song. Have a Christian Idol then. I originally loved Coltin something when he was on the last season. Then I followed him on Twitter. Big mistake. It was non-stop Bible/Scripture quoting. I got totally turned off, stopped voting for him, and unfollowed him. He didn't win. I'm not saying it was because *I* didn't vote anymore, but....there HAVE to be people who felt alienated by all his religion spewing.

As far as having separate Idol for different music genres....I feel like country shouldn't even be in American Idol as it was designed as more of a pop thing. They had or have country music competitions. It's like a whole other planet. And it's HUGE. But not everywhere. So while Middle America or the south may be voting for those people, I'm watching a Scotty McCreery not even understanding wtf he's doing there. It's awful. I KNOW Country is the biggest or most popular genre of music today- or something like that. That's what I'm told. But NASCAR is also considered the biggest sport in the country. I know TWO people who watch NASCAR and that's only in my extended Facebook circle out of over 1000 people. I don't get NASCAR or Country but Country could legitimately have it's own American Idol show. It could totally get the ratings. It just doesn't seem fair to have them in the regular AI competition. I feel like it's just not on the same level musically for the most part. Maybe I'm just biased by what it represents to me. I don't know.

Why is it different from other musical genres? Because it has it's whole own scene and it's BIG. Big enough to have enormous selling albums, singles, etc. To me it's like porn. It doesn't even have to be good. The standards seem like they are lower (sorry- they do), there are a lot of different kinds even under the Country umbrella. They can sing about guns, cigarettes and bashing someone's car into oblivion and that's perfectly acceptable. Porn has the AVN Awards. They take them very seriously. But it's their own scene. Unless you're a Sasha Grey or Traci Lords making a crossover, you stay in your scene, are awarded accordingly and everyone gets a chance. Because that's the thing- the Country people DO get a chance. Like Kellie Pickler, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Josh Gracin, Bucky Covington, etc- they aren't on Z100 or WKTU, but they're probably somewhere, with a fan base, with singles out and people somewhere like it. But for the more mainstream people or the ones who are more singer/songwriter, more "Coffee House" if you're listening to Sirius, they need that AI win. Because there is no "scene" like a Nashville for them.

The problem is that AI doesn't even know what to DO with those more interesting people. They give them these STUPID themes, these C-list established singing/celebrity collaborators or even a few really big named talent but it's someone different from week to week. Even if it's Jon Bon Jovi- he doesn't "know" Zoanette and I guarantee that as much as I love JBJ, he wouldn't even know what to do with her. And he shouldn't. She should also not have to be forced to sing a Bon Jovi tune if that's not her wheelhouse. I don't even know how they judge that when you stick poor Kree with Disco theme week. You tell them to be who they are, then you stick them with a theme and a mentor they'd never be emulating if they were a real artist. I get wanting to take them out of their comfort zone here and there but there are way more productive ways to do it. Don't let them sing the same song they've already sung. Make them pick something in THEIR genre that they don't know yet. But don't make Lazaro do Elvis. That's ridiculous and doesn't show who they are at all.

The reason The Voice does so well is for two reasons. One is because there is something organic about not being able to see the singer and just go on voice. Two, they're being mentored on a team by the same ONE person, and being worked with constantly. The coaches get to KNOW all of their team, their strengths and weaknesses, and no one is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. All the contestants are really talented & can look weird or just not the norm. Nevermind not caring if they have equal male and female contestants, but in this last season, they didn't even make it so each team had equal people eliminated. I found it so interesting that by the last four contestants standing, there were only two judges still in it to win it (stealing Randy Jackson's line). Adam and X-tina got knocked out and it was fine because the best talent was up there. It was three guys and one girl. But it was the BEST of singers, regardless of gender and that's how it should be. I'm POSITIVE that if they had just gone with the best singers on AI, it wouldn't be equal number male and female. If people can get kicked off with no regard to gender then I don't know how it's pertinent for the judges to pick them to move on based solely on filling a number requirement.

The judges on The Voice all seem to care about all the contestants- not just the ones on their own team and it isn't about the drama of fighting with each other. They have their snarky moments but at the end of the day, they all seem to be about the growth of all the contestants, as actual artists. AI has become all about the judges and their drama. And how the contestants look. Half the comments about the contestants last week and so far on this week's AI were about how they look like the total package. They would've never picked JDA because they don't know what to do with him. If the person doesn't fit into a specific box they're clueless. That's why I LOVED Phillip Phillips. Because he just refused to be packaged pop. It irked the living hell out of Jimmy Iovine. Jimmy kept saying the PP needs to listen to their suggestions or he's going to be in trouble with the public. PP stuck to his guns and won anyway. In a henley and a flannel.

I noticed AI this year had hardly any delusional crappy singers. They usually show more bad than good from the auditions. But since The Voice no one wants to see a bunch of trainwrecks. They want real people to root for. But AI doesn't really know how to do that. So they did it all wrong. It's become really weird. And Nicki Minaj is baffling. Not in a good way. And mean for no reason. I'm not even sure if Nicki Minaj can sing. She's an entertainer, but it's not like she's belting out Mariah quality notes. Or not that I've heard. One minute she loves someone, then she's ripping them a new one without even a hint of gentleness. I also think we're hearing two totally different things half the time. The only positive I have on her is that she does like the misfits. I like the misfits. I want someone to LOOK FORWARD to seeing and hearing. I didn't love Casey Abrams but I looked forward to what he was going to do or how he was going to change a song. When Phillip Phillips did his version of Billy Joel's "Movin' Out", I was mesmerized. I'd long grown bored of that song as it was but I listen to the PP version in my car all the time.

I don't know what to say about Keith Urban. He seemed kind of hardcore in the auditions. I was like- wow, he isn't even nice. I didn't really know anything about him before except that he's Mr Nicole Kidman. He just doesn't have much personality. I didn't know Blake Shelton from a hole in the wall before I started watching The Voice. I was disappointed he was the other coach. Now I love him. Because he's so funny, open and genuine. He has a ton of personality that translates to the public. With Keith, we got to Vegas and the live shows and all he really says is "Great job baby" or something like that. He's cute, he smiles a lot and he seems happy to be there. I guess the positive for him if I had to come up with one, it's that if Country has to be so prevalent, then there might as well be someone that knows country on the panel. Janelle and Kree are really talented so someone judging them should know what they're talking about in giving critique and advice.

Mariah. Mariah is an example of someone that shouldn't have done a reality show. She doesn't make eye contact when she's talking, she seems to try to hard to be the diva everything thinks she is and I guess the one she fancies herself. The "Dahhhling" is getting old already. She just doesn't translate well to real people. Steven Tyler was funny, JLo became endearing and sort of cute in a weird way, but Mariah "isn't connecting with the audience". I find her to be awkward. Her positive is that she's gone through starting out in the music biz as a young kid and she has some solid critiques and advice. If the contestants are going to listen to anyone's critique's, they should probably pick hers. I may find her odd but her talent is undisputed.

Randy is just well past his prime. I never know what he's talking about. I know he produces current stuff but he totally confuses the singers. One minute he tells them to do them, then he wants them to emulate someone else, then it's karaoke. Out of all the judges, he seems so Simon trained in mostly zeroing in on the superficial.

I know Zoanette messed up pitifully with the Tina Turner song. I was on the treadmill and couldn't even watch. I was watching the treadmill timer go down. BUT- I would rather watch Zoanette than all the country and gospel singers put together. I'd like a "Misfit Idol"- Zoanette, Charlie Askew, JDA, the chubby gay one they cut right before Vegas, and some of the others. Even Kezban. Good voices, great performers. I don't need another Celine, Whitney or Mariah. Or Luther. You could even add in some of the hot guys that got cut. The pretty black guy with the afro who wore the giant scarfy things in his hair and the denim with grommets on it. The kid with cystic fibrosis. The really short guy who wasn't a dwarf. Where is Stern and America's Got Talent when you need him? He would totally rock the judge table at the American Idol: Wack Pack Singing Edition.

I'm still going to watch. I didn't finish the girls from last night. I got about halfway through. I'm looking forward to Kree, but not even so much for the singing, because you obviously can see how I feel about country, but just because I'm fascinated by her. She has a great sad story for the background but she's not your typical Carrie Underwood sexy thing. And that's what the judges say they like about her. But everything is so much overprocessed, manufactured, auto-tuned crap in tiny clothes these days- from the look to the sound, to their public persona. Kree can actually sing and I finding myself wanting to see her go through to see if they're going to try to change her and if she's going to fall victim to it.

The only boy I'm looking forward to now is Charlie. He's as unpredictable as Zoanette. I think if he doesn't take it down just a hair though, he's going to fall over the fence into annoying. I LOVED his "Someone that I used to know" rendition but his last performance was getting a little like how my four year old acts when he knows people are watching. Over the top. I usually like over the top but he also has a humility like Aubrey that is appealing. He can lose that if he gets cocky over being "the weird one".

I will, however, be bummed if Zoanette gets cut. No one does Circle of Life like that girl did. I couldn't look away. I know Gurpreet sucked the night he got cut but he would've been interesting to watch. Nick Boddington is like the next Barry Manilow and Clay Aiken if they had a love child. It's pretty bad that I just watched two AI's back to back and part of last night's and I can hardly think of any of their names without looking them up. I picked Phillip Phillips as my winner from the auditions. I LOVED him. I looked forward to seeing him. Right now, beyond Zoanette, Angela, Kree, Lazaro, Burnell and Charlie, they're all pretty boring to me.

That's my long winded Idol review for this new season of American Idol so far. Feel free to add your thoughts.

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