Thursday, March 14, 2013
I eventually stopped critiquing IDOL because it became so formulaic and predictable that I stopped giving a shit. Apparently, so has America. Although the ratings are still good they’re a shadow of what they once were and actually winning and becoming an AMERICAN IDOL now only guarantees you’ll be asked to sing the National Anthem at spring training games. I think the only way people would pay to see Taylor Hicks is if their ticket would also include admission to the rides and other attractions at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
And then the big blow – Simon Cowell left. Yes, he’s still around, doing the same act on another show, but that’s like Lucille Ball leaving I LOVE LUCY to do HERE’S LUCY. Replacement judges have come and gone and the franchise has trudged on.
So I decided last night to check back in and see how the show is faring. It’s the first time I’ve seen it this year. The open auditions are tedious and Hollywood week is an exercise in making Millennials cry so I waited until the live show and the contestants had been whittled down to ten. New judges, new format, new excitement is what the producers and Fox promised. How’d they do?
Same old same old.
AMERICAN IDOL is now completely by-the-numbers. There’s only one new bright spot, which I’ll get to later. The Top Ten were just faint carbons of previous contestants. They can all sing, or, to be more accurate, BELT. But no one stands out. No one is original. No one is a star. So who cares? It’s like voting for State Treasurer.
The musical theme was songs once sung by former American Idols. In other words: songs we've already gotten clearance on.
The judges have been swept out save for Randy Jackson. That’s like the final episode of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW when everyone at WJM got fired except Ted Baxter. This year’s panel includes Keith Urban, who’s engaging and handsome and likes everything (even his wife’s last seven terrible movies), Mariah Carey who fulfils the Paul Abdul role of being a complete vapid idiot (one of her critiques last night: “Hashtag: Pow!”), and then that one bright spot I was talking about – rapper Nicki Minaj.
And Ryan is… Ryan. Just biding his time until he can oust Matt Lauer.
The show was two hours, which included the usual amount of padding. The first contestant didn’t begin singing until seven minutes into the program. Those seven minutes were filled with introductions, screaming applause, and pleas to download the new IDOL app. Do the math: ten singers, each singing for two minutes. That’s twenty minutes of performance in one-hundred-and-twenty minutes of airtime.
The contestants were all central casting versions of past hopefuls.
There is Curtis, the fat African-American gay guy. Janelle, the blond dumb Kellie Pickler. You’ll notice that half these kids have weird names. That’s become an IDOL staple. If you can sing and your name is Mary, you’re toast. Change it to Maribelliah.
Devin is the sensitive gay kid who looks like Tin Tin. Angie is the All-American cheerleader with big hair and voice. Gotta have one of those. And at some point she’ll lose out to an African-American contestant to prove that the show isn’t biased. (Nine black ex-contestants are suing the show claiming racism.) This was Nicki’s critique of Angie’s singing: “I love the way you walk in heels.” Bravo!
Paul is the gay Clay Aikens kid who claims he’s not influenced by Broadway but if he were singing "Anarchy in the UK" it would sound like a show tune.
Candice is this year’s Jennifer Hudson. A heavy-set African-American with powerful pipes. Am I the only one who is reminded of “The Crying Game” when I watch her on stage?
Lazaro (unusual name? Check) is the obligatory challenged contestant. He stutters. There’s usually one who has some physical or emotional disability to draw the sympathy vote.
Also there’s Kree (unusual name? Check) the white belter. Instead of critiquing her, Nicki explained how she makes buttermilk waffles in the morning, when to put butter on, when to microwave them, etc. and then said that’s what Kree’s performance reminded her of – making waffles. Okay, it makes zero sense, but can you honestly say you saw that one coming?
Burnell (unusual name? Check) was the hip R&B dude. And finally, Amber, the gorgeous black contestant who can belt loudest of all. Mariah commented on the theatrics of her performance. She liked “the wind in the dress flowing. I know someone else who does that. I can’t think of her name.” How about Marilyn Monroe? Ever hear of her? Even the studio audience laughed at how stupid that remark was. Nicki said, "I would pay to see you wear pink lipstick." Ellen wasn't this funny once.
A couple of times the judges gave singers standing ovations – all except Mariah who admitted that her dress was too tight. She was stuffed into it like a sausage casing, and let’s just say Randy Jackson could have gotten into that dress with less effort.
Time was I’d review AMERICAN IDOL every week. This concludes my AMERICAN IDOL review for the season. It's tired, it's over, it's time for Ryan to anchor the NBC Nightly News. If Nicki says something really goofy, please let me know.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM