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Thursday, January 20, 2011

American Idol--January 19th review

General thoughts on the show
One of us isn’t a huge Idol fan. She admits that half of this show is awesome, but the other half is nauseating, too commercial, cheesy, infuriating, unfair, stupid, overblown, too PC, and contrived. (The long opening introducing the new judges and having them walk in slow motion fell in that latter half). Most of the show doesn’t feel real. Some of the judgings are real, and that’s why that is such a popular part. We all saw the performances, so the judges fool no one if they don’t offer to-the-point, honest critiques. Also, some of the performances are real. It depends on the emotion, the talent, and the person performing. We have to think that most people are so nervous up there that we don’t get the full effect of what they would really be like if they were just performing from the heart. To be on national TV, on such a popular reality show, would take the legs out from under a lot of sensitive, intuitive artists. (Case-in-point: Rachel, the first audition that went through. Shockingly gorgeous tone almost ruined by goat vibrato that probably comes from nerves. She looked like she was about to pass out.) Also, they aren’t performing their own songs. Throw in the makeovers, at it can start feeling a little packaged. Idol goes for youth and looks over talent most of the time too. What’s with the age limit? Give old people a chance! But one of us swallowed the bile and sat down to watch this (long) premiere episode, and after the initial hyping of season 10, it settled down and became watchable. The show has calmed down. Even the segments where they show contestant sob stories seemed more down-to-earth. And it must be doing something right, because the ratings are insane (down this season so far, but still huge). Even one of Ern's law professors mentioned this episode in class today. He thinks that it's too nice now. We disagree with him.

The judges
First, let’s talk about the new judges. Steven Tyler is CRAZY. In a good way (sometimes). Leeard didn’t like the way he sometimes would sing with and over the people auditioning though, and the way he's a total creeper. Leeard has never liked J-Lo, and Ern has never had an opinion on J-Lo. But Ern thought that J-Lo was great so far on Idol. She was sweet, but not wishy-washy. She gave some solid advice. She was like a sane version of Paula. She was also the fan favorite. Most of the people auditioning were star-struck being in her presence. We were disappointed that she wasn’t the mean judge (we guess that's Steven Tyler now), and she even gave one girl a hug before her audition, because the girl was freaking out. But the niceness seemed genuine. Ern thought that both of these two judges brought some fun and life back into the show. Also, Steven Tyler literally BARKED at Randy because Randy says “dawg” so much. Win. The judges may not be mean enough for those who miss Simon, but they are FUNNY. No one was going to replace Simon and no one should try to copy him.

Some remarks on the singers so far:
The third girl, Kensie, sounded like she was imitating other singers, rather than having her own sound, which is something we know Simon hated. We really liked the Puerto Rican girl from New Jersey. We were stunned that she was able to sing that well after crying over J-Lo. We loved the confidence she had in her curvy body too. Robbie (the guy that spent some of his childhood in a wheelchair) had one of the biggest mouths we have ever seen. By the sound of his decent-but-not-amazing voice, he should be doing the singing voices for male leads in Disney cartoons. That’s not a diss, that’s just how he sounded. Like Aladdin. We loved the girl that sang like a Broadway star. Showtune popstar? Liza Minelli meets pop? That would work! No joke, Leeard wants to be friends with her. We thought she wasn’t going to get in, because J-Lo was so adamant about her not being right for pop when she was begging. We can’t wait to see Steven Tyler “personally work her into something good,” if he doesn’t go do some drugs and forget about his promise to mold her…Oh come on, you know that man’s done some drugs. He's admitted it. Leeard really liked the girl with the throat cancer dad, but Ern thought her voice was harsh and not beautiful, just loud and on-key. A lot of the girls went for power over beauty. Most of the white girls tried to sound like they were black. But hey, they’ve been watching ten years of American Idol, and that’s what makes it in the initial auditions for females. Then, once they get to Hollywood, it’s the people with character in their sounds who make it.

The Freaks
It was nice to see the “freaks” not embarrassed. While Simon’s shutting them down was sometimes funny, it gave the show a biting vibe that sometimes seemed too cruel. We miss him, but the new judges are polite and to-the-point when they dismiss people. It’s classier. But a lot of the freaks aren’t serious, you know? For instance, remember Mary Roach from years past? She was a comedian. We think (and hope) the burping guy and the Asian guy who sang Miley Cyrus were joking. A lot of people just roll down there to have some fun and check things out (believe me, this blogger knows). The worst singer had to be the girl with the accent, from the Ivory Coast. We couldn't even look at her.

One girl we don’t know about yet:
The positive Pollyanna 16-year-old near the end, wearing pink with flowers, and dressing like a lady. Very good voice, but can that personality be for real? If it is, we dig it, but we wonder if, after a while, it would get annoying.

We think we’ve discovered the formula for anyone who wants to make it to Hollywood. Obviously, you need to be about to carry a tune and sing on-key. If you are a guy, you need to have a nice tone. That’s not necessary for girls as long as you’re LOUD. So, you need a good song in your belting range. Also, you have to have THE LOOK. This is not always true, but in general, yes. Be young and pretty and pick a style box and dress for it. You can dress slutty, play the nerd card, look like a rocker, look cute/innocent/wholesome, whatever. When in doubt, go with a costume or something flashy. Also, the show is looking for you to have a story. Because, let’s face it, you know someone in your town who sings better than Lee DeWyze or Ruben Studdard. This is not an honest talent search; it’s a reality show and it’s looking for ratings and to entertain.

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