Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What's wrong with Idol? What's wrong with me?

Every year, people (myself included) invariably complain about Idol. Whether it's our favourite singer getting dumped or the voting not working out the way we like or even the crappy mentors they bring on the show. It always seems that somethings "wrong".

So what is it this year?

The judges are nicer than they've been, which is something I've been wanting every since Simon stopped offering refreshingly honest critiques and started phoning it in.

They've largely done away with the theme weeks that introduced an artist who is there solely to push their latest project.

So why am I less enthused about this year's crop of singers than I have been for a while?

I think part of it is that the show has become bland and predictable, just like DWTS. The singers are self-aware and rather than trying to win, they mostly try to be inoffensive. Despite the promises of a singing "competition", which I truly believe Idol was for about two seasons, it has become a blatant popularity contest, which is ruled by the texting powers of 12 year old girls.

Before I pile on Idol, let's talk about what they've done right:

The new judges panel is generally credible and has moved away from the caustic, attention-whoring quartet that occupied those seats before. I wish Ellen had stuck around because I think she would have fit in much better with J-Lo and Steven and she did when Simon was still on the panel. It seems that they show is trying to be more about the singers than entertaining Simon Cowell or providing a forum for he and Paula to "quarrel". Returning to the 3 person table dropped two points off the Meter O'Suckitude™.

The quality of the singing is generally better. Each year, I say it, and each year it's usually true: the field keeps getting deeper. The 10th singer would have been about 5th back in season 3. That's not to say the winner this year is necessarily better than say Kelly, Carrie or Rueben, but that the overall level of quality of the singers is higher.

The emphasis of the show is back on the music. For about four years, the show seemed to be more about the spectacle and less about the songs. I think this year, with Nigel returning as producer, the emphasis is back on the singers and the stage.

Of course, the show still has its problems, most of which should be very familiar to my eight faithful readers (plus my mom). I'll get to some of those later on.

For tonight's show, each of the kids is singing two songs, one which inspires them and the other from the Leiber and Stoller songbook.

Leading off is T/AG who is going to take a song with way too many glory notes and add some more. Maybe because this song seems to have received a lot of extra airplay lately, James comes off as more cheesy then inspirational. Plus, he was sharp for most of it. Have I mentioned that one of my roommates from college looked just like Journey's new lead singer, Arnel Pineda? In fact, I don't think I've ever seen Arnel and Blobbo in the same room . . . hmmmmmmmmm . . .

Haley is inspired by Michael Jackson and wouldn't you know it; it's not "Man in the Mirror"! Yay! That gets her points right there. Did they sack Jimmy because he gave such crappy advice to Haley and Jacob last week? I'm no Haley fan because her voice annoys me. Why does she get swaying back up singers sitting on the steps? J-Lo chastises her for crappy song selection. Randy follows along because she doesn't fit into the little box he wants to put her in. I didn't like it. I didn't hate it. Meh.

Can you believe Fox canceled "Breaking In"? WTF? The show was just getting good. Plus, it had plenty of nerd humour (last week's episode was centered around Comic Con). I hate that Fox will pull the plug on a good show after five episode just because it doesn't shoot out of the gate with as high a number as they'd like, but then they'll just replace it with something just as crappy, when maybe the first show would have done better if the word-of-mouth got around. Look at a show like The Big Bang Theory, which is probably the funniest sit-com on the air right now: if the Fox suits had followed their usual MO, it would have gone away after four weeks. If I were pitching a show, there's no way I'd ever take it to Fox because they'd cancel it without giving it a chance (Firefly, Fastlane, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, etc.).

OTP Scotty is next, and I'll bet he's inspired by a country song. His fiddle player is smokin' hawt. And he's singing about 9/11, in what I cynically believe to be a blatant move expressly designed to pander for votes. Whoever was in charge of lighting him needs to be fired. As a performance, it's actually pretty good. It's not a stretch for him vocally, but it plays to his strengths and lets him do what he does best. I think at this point, he would have to attack Lauren with a five pound sledgehammer on stage to not make it to the finale. Also, because he was sitting down and playing the guitar, we don't have to watch him hold the microphone like a burrito.

I can't believe that Ralph didn't get eliminated from DWTS last night. Obviously, there are way too many people voting for him. Let's just hope he doesn't do irreparable harm to his leg next week.

Landing in the Pimp Spot this week is Lauren, who is making up for missing prom by wearing a dress that probably cost more than Mrs. High Lord's wedding dress. I wish they'd bring Martina back to be the mentor again; she was one of the better ones. Where Scotty sounds the same every week, Lauren runs the gamut of country music and I like that. I think she's probably the best pure vocalist left, and I think there's a good chance that she could sneak into the finale. However, I think the judges are spot on when they say that she's holds herself back sometimes.

I think I'm developing a Pavlovian urge to punch someone every time Randy says "in it to win it."

The second round starts and Lady Gaga drops by to help the singers out. I watched her concert the other night on HBO and it wasn't half bad. Sure, she's very reminiscent of Madonna from back in the day, but I like that she seems to have Madonna's same single-minded dedication to success, rather than being all about the party, which is what some pop stars are about.

They do a shake up of the order and Haley is next. She's also dressed for prom, even though she's too old. She's very shouty, but that's her thing. It's much better than her first song. The performance part of it is also much better, but I think she's fighting against the current at this point in the season.

Scotty is up next and I don't know if he can be Gagafied. I think he'd probably be a funny guy after about four beers. The burrito is back, but I like that he's not afraid to embrace the Velveeta of the song he picked. I think this is him sandbagging.

If these are the songs of Leiber and Stoller, why are Gaga and Jimmy the mentors?

Lauren is next, meaning they're giving James the real Pimp Spot. She traded her prom dress for sparklies in her hair. She goes Elvis on us, and I think it's a good move. I like that Scotty and Lauren both are trying something other than easy ballad.

Wrapping up the show is T/AG and I'm sure he'll be shouting his way all the way into the finale. Have you figured out that he annoys me? Jimmy annoys me, too, just not as much. I think part of my problem with James is that like Scotty, he sounds basically the same every time he sings, and while that isn't necessarily bad, I just like Scotty better. It also doesn't help that he comes off as a less talented, derivative, not gay Adam Lambert wannabe. He's an energetic performer, but I'm not sure he deserves to be the American Idol. Of course, it would absolutely make the Vote for the Worst crowd's day if he won.

The Good
Lauren, "Do It Anyway"

The Bad
Scotty, "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning"
Lauren, "Trouble"
Haley, "I, Who Have Nothing"
James, "Love Potion #9"
Scotty, "Young Blood"
James, "Don't Stop Believing"
Haley, "Earth Song"

The Ugly

At this point, I think Scotty and James are shoo-ins to get to next week. Lauren will probably also make it because she had a strong night. I think Haley, will be eliminated tomorrow night, and that's probably the right call. Of course, we could also be in for a Daughtery-level shocker, too.

Let's assume for a second that James, Lauren and Scotty are next week's singers. Who will move on? James and Scotty were both handed a gazillion votes in the audition and Hollywood rounds with the massive face time they got. But are they picking up new voters? I don't think so.

I did an unofficial poll at my place of employment and no one there really likes either of the two guys who are left. They're kept around right now solely due to the power of 12 year old girls. I think Jacob and Casey's voters are going to Haley and Lauren.

That means that Lauren could be the silent assassin who sneaks into the finale, especially if she gets almost all of Haley's voters after tomorrow. I guess speculating about stuff like this is the fun of the show with four singers left.

Who should go home: Haley
Who will go home: Haley

I'm going to watch the last few episodes of Breaking In, then either send hate mail to Fox or try and level up my champion in the lone-lands.

High Lord. Grave Digger. Out.

1 comment:

BeckEye said...

I'd love to see Lauren go home, just for the colossal breakdown.