715 We have, thus far, remained safe, secure and immune from the electronic drug that is American Idol; the manufactured stars it produces we don't find amusing, interesting, or particularly inspiring. In particular, we find that Taylor Hicks has a fan following strongly suggestive that Hell is full and the dead walk the earth.
But this season, we dipped our toes in. The Season Six premiere was on the big screen at the Tik Tok and the closed-captioning was on so that The Wife™ could see it, and we were really gobstopped by the people who dared to try. Now, it doesn't take an A&R genius to know that these people are, the most of them, chosen for their entertainment value; the also-rans, if sufficiently bad, are much, much more entertaining than a glowing audition show full of successes.
We love snarky bad reviews much more than happy reviews of good things. We also think David Walker is underrated, but we digress (where have you gone, D.K. Holm? Good times).
The trademark snark of Bertelsmann's A&R man Simon Cowell has become legendary. Of course, the spectacle of AI gets people tuning in, but when it gets right down to it, you'll come for the acts, but you'll stay for the insults. From our points of view it seems that it's one of the major reasons that AI is so damned popular. So one can imagine our amusement when a writer for the AP, in Saturday's Oregonian, that the Idol judges are...perish the thought...mean.
I mean, it's a true enough criticism, but isn't it a little like criticizing a tree for being green? It's kind of an obvious and pointless thing to say. And if it's true that the formerly-tender mercies of Paula and Randy have developed a jagged edge, I suppose that going down this road now six times will kind of do it to you (still, we'd trade thier problems for theirs in a second).
It's not to say that there weren't inspiring moments, such as the blond girl (we forget her name) who had the bad judgment to try a Blondie song for her audition. We've spent our time in the karaoke pit of honor and shame and if there's one truth there, it's this; Blondie songs are only good for oversinging at karaoke. Simon asked her to name a favorite singer; she said Shakira, and did a Shakira bit, and that got her the Golden Ticket (nice stealing from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, guys).
But most of the rest were truly dreadful. That fellow who Simon compared to a bush baby didn't deserve to go on, or his big friend; the voice coach who Randy savaged didn't move us either, and that red-haired fellow at the last of the Seattle auditions should really seek professional help.
The professional entertaining business, we hear, is rough. From what we've heard, those folks got it easy and got it early. They may chase their dreams of peformance, and if they do, they may look at the harsh words of the Idol judges as kindness personified. And, yes, we think they are setting themselves up for it. This show's been on for six years. How much more warning do they need?
(NB: Photo of Simon nicked from a random blog who nicked it from someone else. Words in background added by me. Credit will be gratefully acknowledged by me if I ever find out who actually created the base photo)
Tags: American Idol, Simon Cowell