English: Mariah Carey performing live in Las Vegas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
OK. So I threw this out there two minutes before Ryan Seacrest read the results of the votes. Why? I don’t know. I’m not really a fan of American Idol. I never really cared for the concept, from the get go. Too much Pop, too much of what they – laughingly – call “R & B”, too much Country, and not enough Rock, for my tastes. I rarely miss the show though, because it’s one of those spousal participation deals. My wife loves the show. She needs to have someone as a kind of a sounding board. That’s me.
Don’t get me wrong though. I have to give the producers a lot of credit, for the set up of the show. The huge cattle-call auditions in various cities around the country, showing a decent mix of young people with legitimate potential, and those quirky, deluded oddballs who have no business opening their mouths – let alone sing – makes for compelling television. Those first few weeks is their hook. (Even my son will watch – parts of the first few weeks - for the people who either totally suck, or are there for their 60 seconds of fame/infamy. And he call the show the musical holocaust!) They throw in some heart warming stories to endear certain contestants to the viewers. They play up some early favorites and point out the difficult divas, all to build up the notion of: We gotta vote for our guy/girl! . . . and hope that the other guys don’t get enough votes. I know they’ve generated tons of revenue for AT&T, Ford and Coca Cola!
The other thing they DID well was the judging system. I say did because this year the judging was unwatchable. Initially, they had the three judges, and it was largely a good cop/bad cop set up between Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul. Paula went out of her way to be nice to anyone who was even borderline talented, and Simon was brutally honest, to the point where he he’d infuriate a large portion of the live audience. I always found his honesty to be refreshing. Randy Jackson usually played the joker. After a number of seasons Paula left, then came back, then left again, and Simon eventually grew tired of the show and left. There were some decent replacement judges over the last few years, but it’s never really been quite the same since Simon left. J-Lo and Steven Tyler were entertaining as judges, and Randy even attempted to play the heavy at times, but I thought the show lacked legitimate criticism. Now, I long for those days.
This year they went with four judges, and the show lost its focus. I don’t know if it was all honest, or at least partially contrived, but the “feud” between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj was not even remotely entertaining to me. Not in the least. And, four judges is just too many. It seemed like two thirds of the show was the judges, and only one third was performance. That might have been okay had the critiquing actually been honest criticism, but it was generally over the top fawning over mostly mediocre singing. I thought all the guys basically stunk, and only a few of the girls could sing. Not surprising that the two I liked best – from day one – made it to the finals. There were a few times where Nicki would buck the nice-nice trend, and tell people their performances were weak, but that seemed to be more early on. Keith Urban was too much the pretty boy, loving the limelight, and telling everybody how special they were. Randy went back and forth from his usual Yo Dogs and She’s innit to winnit! to the occasional I wasn’t feelin’ it and It wasn’t your strongest performance. And for me, Mariah Carey was pretty much unwatchable, as a judge. She’s beautiful and a talented singer, and all, though not my style. But as a judge, there was way too much faint praise, the occasional gutter-sniping . . . retribution(?), and she just seemed to go on forever . . . and ever. Later on you realized that the main reason Mariah and Keith were there was to promote their latest CD/tour. Maybe Steven and J-Lo did the same thing, but they were a little more subtle about it . . . and they were just better judges.
Bottom line, there really were only two strong contenders, pretty much from day one. I liked them both, but grew a little cool to Kree when I thought she disrespected Harry Connick Jr. I thought Randy disrespected him too, but I think Randy was kind of trying to defend Mariah by arguing with Harry over his comments on just singing simply and not always doing runs. Then, you had a handful of pretenders, who showed occasional flashes of talent. The rest of them likely wouldn’t have made it through auditions . . . had Simon still been on the show.
Congrats to Candice Glover, though! She is a true talent, and deserved to win!