It’s always interesting to watch the people who run billion dollar enterprises completely trip all over themselves by making insanely boneheaded decisions. American Idol, the express train that supposedly can’t be stopped, just made a huge one.
Paula Abdul never once said anything particularly relevant on American Idol. She often appeared drunk or at best on pain killers. She once critiqued a song by Jason Castro that he hadn’t sung yet, and she quite possibly had an off-air romance with a really creepy contestant named Corey Clark, but you know what? She was completely essential to that show.
On its face, the producers will try their best to make Abdul look greedy for not being happy to receive two million dollars a year to sit around and smile vapidly, but to someone who watches these things closely, it’s readily apparent that “Straight Up,” Paula was pushed out by a crew that found her to be an embarrassment rather than a guilty pleasure.
Last year’s stunningly uncomfortable introduction of fourth judge (obvious future Paula substitute) Kara DioGuardi told everyone with a brain that Paula’s ouster was plainly written on the wall. It’s a huge mistake. DioGuardi is barely likable, and despite her more solid industry credentials she provided next to nothing to the show last year.
Sure, Kara can sing and Paula can’t, but it’s Paula who has all the hit records, and it’s Paula that America really loves. We won’t have Paula to kick around any more, and that’s a damn shame. In hard economic times, not many people will have much sympathy for someone, who was unhappy with making two million a year to sit around and be vapid, but those people don’t understand that the world is relative, especially one where Satan negotiated a fifteen million dollar a year deal for his worthless, preening spawn, Ryan Seacrest.
The cognoscenti will tell you that Simon Cowell is the lone essential cog in the American Idol machine, and to an extent it’s true. Cowell is without a doubt the show’s MVP, but even MVPs need an appropriate supporting cast.
I debated in high school. I was loud, abrasive, and cut-throat. On the face of things, my partner could appear vapid, overly cheerful, and airheaded. Opponents would marvel at the fact that her twelve minutes of speaking time often had very little to do with the real issues of the debates. Together we won the state championship, and she was essential to our success. She blunted my attack and made it and me palatable. As a team, we were likable and ruthlessly effective. Without her, I was just another obnoxious kid acting like he knew everything in the world at 17.
Thus it is with Cowell. He and Abdul had intense chemistry. The sheer joy of watching Paula blather on incoherently was watching Cowell sit next to her dumbfound, eyes rolling with fire into the back of his head, dying to let loose on his flightier comrade.
Paula never met an American Idol contestant that she didn’t appear to want to mother. Her idea of a vicious piece of criticism was usually, “You look stunning tonight,” but mark my words — without her, Simon Cowell will stop appearing to be the voice of reason and come off unnecessarily mean. They were a great team. Paula fostered the dreamer within us all and Cowell let us know whose dreams were achievable and whose were mere delusion. Paula Abdul was essential to the chemistry of that show and she will be hugely missed.