Saturday, March 16, 2013

My snarky history with AMERICAN IDOL

I reviewed AMERICAN IDOL this week and mentioned it would be my last of the season.  The show has gotten stale and routine.  But for several years I had great fun writing snarky re-caps.  So for those new readers who never saw them or blog regulars who want to remember the good time, here's essentially a highlight reel of some of my AMERICAN IDOL reviews. (For current IDOL recaps if you're so inclined, I suggest Dave Holmes at

Adam Lambert is the illegitimate love child of Freddy Mercury and Liza Minelli. He sang “Ring of Fire” but in the more traditional pre-Hitler Berlin cabaret style.

Allison Irahets is a 40-year-old divorced mother of Mickey Rourke’s twins living in the body of a 16-year-old. When all her friends are watching High School Musical she must be watching Hud.

Danny Noriega is the contestant most likely to become one of Bette Midler’s Harlettes. He sang “Superstar” for 70s week but who are we kidding? He should have sung “My Girl Bill”.

Is there one part of Diana Ross’ face and body that she has not had redone… at least twice? She is now officially the world’s weirdest Chia Pet. And when she was hugging Sanjaya I could swear she whispered, “I love you, Michael.” The ick meter was pegging the red.

Who knew? Amanda Overmyer is a “book worm”. What does she read? English literature? Russian novels? No. Rock star biographies. That still makes her the intellectual of this bunch. With the wild streaks in her hair and zebra slacks I thought she was joining the cast of CATS.

Could they pad the show any more? Christ! It was so long Paula’s drugs were wearing off.

Then came Jason Castro. Imagine Lisa Edelstein with dreadlocks.

In the getting-to-know-you segment with Jason Castro we learned that he’s an idiot and takes pride in it. Bullwinkle could have done a better job answering simple questions. Maybe after the show he and Paula can collect string.

Paris Bennett will play Gary Coleman in the touring company of AVENUE Q.

Megan Joy sported a Connie Stevens hairdo and bludgeoned “For Once In My Life”. I imagine she made the same sounds when they were burning the tattoos into her arm.

Michael Sarver sang “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” all the while pickin’ and a-grinnin’. I guess when a boy from Jasper, Texas pleads to a girl to not dump him he smiles because if she doesn’t comply he can just tie her ankles and throw her in a sack.

Phil Stacey could easily win AMERICAN SERIAL KILLER.

As always, they saved the best for last. David Archuleta sang a fabulous interpretation of “Imagine’. The judges were knocked out by the originality. And they should be. When Eva Cassidy first sang it that way years ago on one of her albums it was quite extraordinary. Much better than Archuleta’s original cover.

Now that the kids not attractive enough for FOX have been weeded out we can get down to business. This was Country Night and the guest mentor was Randy Travis (or, for you non Country fans: Thomas Hayden Church).

I would LOVE to see Bob Dylan as the guest star one week. He would coach the kids and they would all say, “What?” “Huh?” “Could you repeat that?” “What did he say?”

And since Paula can only parrot what the guest says, it would be fun to hear her say to a finalist, “Like Bob said I think, you were either great or terrible.”

When the judges were telling Haley they thought her song was safe what they were really saying was, “Go back to the halter top!!!”

Of all the bizarre looking contestants that have tried out for AMERICAN IDOL this season none have even come close to guest judge Carole Bayer Sager. Yikes! She looked like a trampoline with eyes.

Last week the guest dead weight was Jewel. She could not have looked more uncomfortable if she were sitting with the Menendez Brothers and O.J. Simpson. Favorite moment: when she mumbled to a contestant that he had no personality.

Now that Sanjaya has been voted off, AMERICAN IDOL turned to another charity, the fight against poverty. It was AMERICAN IDOL GIVES BACK week. Similar to the Jerry Lewis telethon except it only lasted one hour not nineteen, and Paula had all the jewelry not Wayne Newton. It was a worthy cause and a lovely gesture but an “historic event in television?” I don't think so. That would be the night Randy had an original thought. We’re still waiting for that historic night.

And while we’re on the subject of overstatement – Ryan asking viewers to vote saying “it’s the most important call you could ever make.” Let’s see? 911 emergency or voting for Jordin so Newscorp will donate ten cents?

Please please please Fox, don’t look at the huge ratings Wednesday and decide the Africa footage could be a great spin off.

It was a tough night for the judges because how do you tell someone singing a “life anthem” that he sucked?

Unlike the Chabad telethon, at least they didn’t have a running crawl -- Morris Fishbine, Brentwood, $18 in memory of Sophie Fishbine… Nosh n’ Lox Deli, Encino, $18, in honor of pastrami month where all sandwiches come with soup…


This is AMERICAN IDOL not DARK VICTORY. This is not a Meredith Baxter Birney Lifetime MOW where she comes down with whatever disease killed the last patient on HOUSE. This is not LOVE STORY. This is not OLD YELLER!!

This is a bunch of cute looking kids who all sound like Aretha Franklin or Michael Bolton vying for a chance to be on television every week. It’s not, “Ohmygod, I can walk. I CAN WALK!”

The worst was this boy who lives in his car and looks like Kellie Pickler. Jesus! I’m sooo glad he was finally eliminated. He cries so much he probably needs windshield wipers on the inside of that car.

First up was Kristy Lee Cook. She sold her horse to fly from Portland to Philadelphia to audition for the show. There were also auditions in San Diego, which is closer. She could have just sold her cat.

Alaina Whittaker followed. She’s 16, blond, and has that Lauren Hutton space between her two front teeth that make her seem wise beyond her years.

Listening to Chris Richardson sing through his nose I thought this guy could do his number while drinking a glass of water. He may have to do that next week if he even survives this one.

New Coke cups this week. Cut to little girl crying.

I’m still having nightmares over Carole Bayer Sager. Imagine a slingshot that’s been stretched for four blocks.

Ann Marie Boskovich was the 247th contestant to sing “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman”. She came in 200th.

Tatiana Nicole Del Toro – Completely nuts. Easily the most annoying contestant ever. The only time I want to see Tatiana on Fox is when Jack Bauer is torturing her. And even if she tells him what he wants to know he still doesn’t stop.

Matt Breitzke – Welder. Some contestants play their own instruments. He builds his own sets.


RJ Hope said...

Lol! Carol Bayer Sager looking like a trampoline with eyes is what made me spit up my coffee.

The Indian Bustard said...


Do you watch Duck Dynasty? If yes, a Friday question: What do you think of the show?

Also, who picked out this 'The Best of Ken Levine's American Idol Snark'? Was it Annie?

So funny. I'm surprised there's been only comment so far.

Where's Johny Walker? Is he asleep?
(Just joking, JW. I always read - and enjoy - your comments.)

Sorry Ken. Just providing some filler in the somewhat lean comments section...

The Indian Bustard said...

...only ONE comment so far...

YEKIMI said...

Hey, it's Saint Patrick's Day weekend.....I assume people are too busy getting obliterated to post comments till the Guinness runs out!

The Indian Bustard said...

This is where an international fan base helps.

Anonymous said...

I like the version of this where the judges turn their backs on the contestants so they don't have to look at them. That says it all.....

jbryant said...

As hilarious as this compilation of Ken's IDOL critiques is, I can't say I'm disappointed that he's not getting many comments on it. This is because the one drawback to any IDOL column is that half the comments tend to be the same old "I'm proud to say I've never watched this crap" or "I don't see how such a smart guy can watch this crap." Reeeeally boring.

Mary Stella said...

Ahh, those were the days, Ken, when even though the show sucked, I still got a laugh from reading your comments.

David said...

"The Best of Ken's American Idol Snarks." Hmmm. First time I've seen the blogging equivalent of a clip show.

Johnny Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johnny Walker said...

Haha, I've been very busy this week :)

Even so, I don't have much to say about American Idol -- I don't even watch the UK version, never mind its American off-shoot!

The only thing it brings to mind is is an interview I was listening to (can't remember with who, annoyingly) where they made the point that "reality" shows are just as written as traditional TV these days. Whatever reality they initially captured is now sculpted by pre-scripting, editing, and self-awareness. Even if it's just to engineer emotional beats: E.g. Look, it's the terrible singer with a huge ego -- let's act awkward! Even the performer is aware of what's going on these days.

A friend of mine was on "Undercover Boss" here in the UK (another reality show that started on these shores -- I apologise on behalf of my nation). The episode had a fairy-tale ending (as I'm sure they all do), with my friend being recognised for his intelligence and being promised a more suitable job higher up. It also had the deeply depressed employee on the poverty line being promised a vacation for his family -- paid for by the company -- to make up for how the company had let him down. This was something he'd always been too poor to afford, and he started to cry when he was told about it.

The bitter reality was that head office had no idea what to do with my friend -- he was just an inconvenience dumped on them, with no pre-set job, and he soon found himself back where he was to begin with. (Although he's now working in a much better job in a different company, so that had a happy ending, at least.)

And the poor family's "holiday" was nothing more than tickets to a theme park for the day. A very bitter pill to swallow after seeing how it was presented in the show (the implication was a proper vacation -- I doubt he would have burst into tears if he'd just been presented with tickets to Lego Land).

My friend said of the filming experience that the director always got what he wanted. So much for "reality". (Although it must be tough to try and craft a new story each week -- it's no wonder they try to control things.)