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I No Longer Wish My Job Was Watching American Idol

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American Idol is almost work for me to watch now – even though I still look forward to it, hoping against all evidence that something entertaining might possibly happen. It’s a lot like when MTV first came out and I’d watch it for hours on the slim chance that they might play a Madness video.

If there was ever any doubt that Paula Abdul leaving meant that the show had jumped the shark, it had to have been dispelled after Lee DeWyze apparently got stoned and convinced the producers that having a bagpipe player come marching out at the end of “Hey Jude” would be really cool.

Simon: I’ve got to ask you. What do you think the bagpipe player added?

Lee [in the eyes of my imagination – still very buzzed]: Nothing, but wasn’t it rad?!

Adding the fourth judge last year was a lame idea, because it broke up the chemistry between the other three. This year it’s even worse because the only chemistry that’s left (Simon and Randy) is separated by a huge, repetitive black hole of really lame white women.

A lot of people say that Ellen doesn’t have the credentials to be a judge. I never have agreed with that and I definitely think that there is a place for a pure fan on the panel.

Sadly, Ellen continues to be what she has always been – a squeaky clean, lightweight comedian who thinks that everything she says is incredibly cute. I’ve always found her to be cloying. Rosie O’Donnell would have been a great choice. When I look at Ellen, I just keep wondering how they get her skin so clean and her eyes so blue. I sort of think she may be an android.

Note to Ellen: Carrot Top bashed his head into the wall after you "cutely" said a song with a horn section was "horny." See, not really dirty — not really clever — definitely not inspired. I'd much rather hear Rosie loudly tell Katie Stevens that she was personally responsible for 9/11.

The best part of the show this year has actually been seeing just how complacent Ryan Seacrest has become about his gig. He’s sort of like a cynical elf showing up for work really hammered because the world has finally become wise to the biggest con job in entertainment history. People rich enough to say whatever comes into their heads, no matter how offensive, are to be applauded whenever we can get them on television. Check out how he piled on poor Brian Dunkleman on last night's show.

And then there was the usual Tim Urban contempt. “Here he is showing off his romantic side singing ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ – Turban!” Did he really say that? Wait – now Ryan is waltzing off stage to the Tim ballad! Easy Seacrest, Tim Urban has some pecs and you are like 4'10", 120 on a good day.

The show would usually boast every year about “our most talented group ever!” No one has said that this year. Instead they talked about how great the women were. This didn’t look very prophetic after the first three ejections from the top 12 were all women.

The worst thing about this year’s crop is that there is almost no chance of surprise. Except for Siobhan Magnus, you know exactly what every other contestant is going to sound like every single week. They’re all hearty nice folk, but putting them next to Adam Lambert last night was a little like having The Association come by to try and follow the Jimi Hendrix Experiece.

Here are my current rankings:

Sigh, here I am just one of 10 million who think their American Idol opinion matters. That's why the criticism of Ellen's qualifications are so absurd. We all think we're qualified to be an American Idol judge.

9. Katie – Doing her best to channel Rachel from Glee; has zero charisma; and is actually really channeling Reese Witherspoon’s Tracy Flick.

8. Aaron – Can’t we let him come back in like five years? He looks like he’s 12. He’s so young and innocent that someone decided that they had to change the world “liquor” to “cider” when he chose “Blue Suede Shoes”.

You can go to Vegas and hang with Adam Lambert, but you can’t sing the word liquor or imply that you have an old fruit jar of it? I love me some Adam Lambert, and I overwhelmingly support him in his quest to live fabulously, but my kids would have to be at least 25 before I’d be comfortable having them take on Vegas with Kid Glam. The whole scene reminds me of Bill Hicks discussing a Hendrix/Debbie Gibson duet – “You said you wanted to be a rock star!”


7. Andrew – Damn kid! I really think that he could have a career, and I hope this doesn’t sound offensive, but his voice is limited and his pronunciation is so Hispanic that it makes him sound like he’s singing a foreign language.

If he was given a mellow joint to sing with a Latin bent he would sound fantastic. He could kill something like Sublime’s “Santeria” and there is a market for that sound. Instead he’s been butchering songs that require a huge voice like he did with “Gimme Shelter.” You don’t want to tell people that they have to sound according to their ethnicity, but if you are Julio Iglesias you shouldn’t sing punk.If you are Willie Nelson, synth pop may not be for you.

Andrew is sort of like Marvin Gaye. Gaye wanted so badly to be Frank Sinatra and it killed him that he was second rate at that type of music and phrasing. No one ever got it through to him that being Marvin Gaye was just as cool and artistic.

On a side note: When they go see Adam Lambert are they stuck with the song that they chose, because if they aren’t Adam should have shook the life out of Andrew for his song choice. You don’t choose “Hound Dog” unless you want to go home. In its original incarnation, the song was maybe the ten millionth best blues song of all time. Elvis turned it into something from outer space and he’s pretty much the only person who could have pulled that off. If you aren’t Paul McCartney do not sing “Yesterday.” If you aren’t Elvis Presley, do not sing “Hound Dog.” Trust me.

Last thought on Andrew: Has there ever been a more bland, cuddly guy with a gangster tattoo on his neck? 

6. Tim – I wouldn’t have a problem with him having a couple of hits. He’s over-matched and he knows it. “I’m obviously not Mick Jagger!” I was actually pretty impressed with his finger picking on “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and it came off sincere. Sincerity goes a long way.

5. Mike – Simon was right. He let them make him into a clown. Good voice if singing something in his genre, but why is he smiling so much during “In the Ghetto,” perhaps the most depressing song ever? Maybe Mike thinks that Elvis was just a proud papa like him when he was singing “another little baby child is born in the ghetto.” Did he purposefully leave out the verse where the kid dies in a street altercation? Hopefully, Mike never finds out the truth.

4. Lee – Always fine. I always know exactly what he’s going to sound like. Zero range. Eddie Vedder isn't versatile either, but it sure leaves little to be surprised about.

3. Casey – Always fine. I always know exactly what he’s going to sound like. Zero range. Casey – “I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan. You are no Stevie Ray Vaughan.” What the world needs now is not another sort of good white blues singer. There are 10,000 of them playing in bars every night in Austin, Texas.

2. Siobhan – Only this high because I love her style and personality – I hope she gets to sing “Nothing Compares 2 U” or perhaps a Sex Pistol song. She has mad potential, but sadly right now she doesn’t have any swing or any soul.

1. Crystal – Always great. Always know exactly what she’s going to sound like. Sadly, there already is a Melissa Etheridge and it’s really about being something completely different. Siobhan has a chance at that. With Crystal you know exactly what she’ll be sounding like in ten years.

What’s the point of having theme weeks when this year’s field is so filled with genre artists who absolutely refuse (smartly) to jump out of their little boxes?

See you next year with Paula and Simon on X-Factor.

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About Brad Laidman

  • Ana

    The biggest problem of the season is the loss of Paula Abdul. Idol has changed for the worse. It will never recover.

  • cmqjan

    What is the biggest problem with this season? Yawn. Last year’s show was so over-the-top dripping with talent…nothing will compare.

  • Like you mention American Idol has had many mistakes but at least it doesn’t recycle singers as the reality show that we have in Mexico “La Academia”. It is incredible that they make the program with the same formula in the last years, but it’s worse to see that they are using the same students. In the last year there have been no new contestants.