the inevitable american idol post

10Mar09

There’s a lot going on in my life at the moment and since I find it difficult to blog about my professional/personal life when my thoughts are so chaotic, it’s time for a pop culture post.

Now bear with me: I know American Idol is a reality show and a moneymaking venture. But it’s also one of the very few venues for undiscovered singers to get some exposure and to start careers in the music industry. So while it shouldn’t be taken too seriously, the show has to have some credibility or else it’s pointless.

So here are my big problems this season.

I’m getting tired of the judges praising poor singers by calling them original or unique. At the end of the day, it’s a singing competition and I don’t care what kind of “unique tone” a contestant’s voice has, if they have repeated pitch problems, then that tells me they have no basic understanding of music.

The same is true, incidentally, of some of the really bad dance moves we’ve seen this year. It’s one thing if a contestant’s moves are geeky or awkward but on beat; it’s another if the contestant is unable to find the beat (i think we all know who I’m talking about here). To me, having no rhythm is perhaps the worst crime on a show like this; again, it’s a sign that the singer has no understanding of music at its most basic level. They don’t realize that beat drives music forward.

I’m also really over poor song choice. Some of the songs have been so horrible that, at one moment, I wondered if the contestant had actually chosen the song himself. I’m still not convinced that it was actually his choice.

The biggest travesty so far was the wild card nonsense. It was clear this process was going to be flawed from the beginning as producer pet favorites failed to get through their respective group nights. When these overhyped contestants didn’t get through, it was clear that some less-hyped but much better singers were going to be left by the wayside. Some of those better singers didn’t even get through to the wildcard show (Felicia and Ju’not); one didn’t even make it onto the stage (Mishavonna). Now instead of enjoying the Top 13, I can’t help but notice the poor singers who have spots they didn’t deserve and I’m left wondering about where the hell Ricky Braddy is.

Tonight’s performance show was fine, for the most part, although I don’t know why I didn’t hear more recognizable Michael Jackson songs. Sure, “Thriller” was probably off limits to any wise vocalist, as apparently was “Billie Jean” after David Cook’s performance last year. But where was “Smooth Criminal”? “Wanna Be Startin Somethin”? Even “Say Say Say”? And seriously, doing “Billie Jean” would have been a better option for some people than the songs they chose.

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3 Responses to “the inevitable american idol post”

  1. I think the show perpetuates the idea that singers are somehow less musicians than instrumentalists are, if only because many of the people who make it on the show are clearly not musicians. Not because singers aren’t but because there are singers who have no sense of musicality at all, no feeling for beat or rhythm and no sense of pitch. Drives. me. crazy.

    And seriously, instead of telling people they were pitchy tonight, I want them to say, Listen, you need to work on your intonation. Because it *is* a skill! You can be taught! OPEN YOUR EARS AND LISTEN.

    point being, I so agree with you, even though I haven’t been watching. I almost dislike that they’ve dubbed it a singing competition, where some other versions of the search for a pop star make it clearer that they’re looking for a certain body type and presentation and consumer appeal. At least those shows are honest.

  2. 2 whitheramp

    you know my feelings on adam lambert and lil’ rounds. i also like the 16 yr old rocker girl. the rest of them are all still a blur to me — decent vocals more or less so far, at least compared to other top 12s. but song choice . . . and i love dirty diana, but that performance didn’t do it for me.

  3. 3 thefrogprincess

    @whitheramp: do I know your feelings on adam lambert??? As for the field as a whole, I’d say decent vocals but nothing remotely inspiring (except for maybe adam lambert, who’s inevitably going to flame out somewhere in the middle of the competition.

    @anastasia: I’m with you on the “skill” part of the whole thing. A few years back when melinda doolittle was on, I knew people liked her but I don’t think most people understood just how well she had trained her voice to do what she did.


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