Daily Archives: March 10, 2010

The Emotional Void That is American Idol Season 9

This has got to be the Worst. Season. EVER!!!!  on American Idol.

Something is just so … OFF!  I mean, if this is supposed to be a “Girl’s Year,” then tonight’s performance by the Top 8 girls does not bode well for the rest of the season.  Apart from Siobhan Magnus and Crystal Bowersox, both of whom did well but who, I can tell you, would have been stomped all over by the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood if they were competing in previous seasons, I just cannot get excited by this crop of talent.  

And Paige Miles… Ugh! Oh! Groan!!!!!!!  The only black female contestant left, the ONLY ONE!! And she sounded like complete and utter crap!  If by some miracle she survives and makes it to Top 12, then she will have to thank the other white girls for taking her place for no other reason than that a number of them sound alike and, therefore, are likely to split votes (on this end, I fear for Katelyn Epperly, who I thought had a real shot at winning the whole thing, but her piss poor song choice could easily do her in this week!). 

Seriously, I know some folks made mention of the “ethnic cleansing” last week when all four contestants who were voted off happened to be people of color, but we cannot blame racial prejudice here.  We cannot protest when contestants don’t bring their A game to their performances.  I’ve even seen some folks jokingly wondering if Elton John, who famously called the voting off of Jennifer Hudson during Season 3 “incredibly racist,” is going to say the same thing if there are no contestants of color who make Top 10.  My issue with these kinds of blanket statements is:

1.  This Season and Season 3 are not even remotely comparable, and the inability to distinguish between stellar black contestants and mediocre to just plain bad black contestants is itself “incredibly racist.”

and

2.  The only reason why Elton John accused “America” of being “incredibly racist” in the first place had everything to do with Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, and Latoya London clearly being the best singers competing at the time while the contestants who beat them out, including John Stevens and Jasmine Trias, sucked horribly.  They sucked hard!  I still will swear that it is this narrative of Jennifer Hudson being unfairly robbed on AI that contributed to her Oscar win (as I already pointed out in the previous post, the emotional power of AIATYING helped, but she essentially played the same character who was dumped because her stellar vocals were overlooked for the more popular and prettier).

[As an aside, I must say, since I remember the politics of that season so vividly, that since Elton John was joined by a CHORUS of media pundits and others, including the judges and Ryan Seacrest, who essentially shamed the voting public for their unmitigated bad taste in voting for a cute but horribly voiced John Stevens over the vocal powerhouse Jennifer Hudson, I believe the perception of cute teenage weak-voiced singers on the show beating out better talent had an adverse effect on how the voting went down with David and Cook.  That certain journalists actually described Cook’s win over David as “talent beating out popularity” had less to do with David and more to do with the debacle over John Stevens lasting longer than Jennifer Hudson.  Even Don Imus was appalled that John Stevens outlasted Jennifer Hudson, okay?  Ah, this show!  And Oh! for those days when we, as a nation, were actually emotionally invested in the show’s outcome!]

If there is anyone to be blamed for the gathering of such mediocre black talent as well as across the board talent, since Paige is not the only problem this season, then it’s not the discriminating voting public.  It’s the discriminating producers and judges.  They went out of their way to select this emotionally uninspiring group of Top 24 contestants.  Why? 

My theory: the absence of Paula Abdul.  

Never had I realized how essential Paula was at scouting talent than I am this year.  She often came off as loopy and spacey and downright looney, but when it came down to it, she must have been the judge with the discerning eye.  Simon and Randy are shallow.  They look for “package” and marketability, and Kara is ten times worse because she immediately zeroes in on the same kind of commericalism.  It must have been Paula who detected the soul. I know she was the one who always responded to the emotionality of contestants, so it might explain why none of the Top 24 have had a “moment” or a “wow” factor because they just absolutely cannot EMOTE.

It’s the kind of quality the other judges would have overlooked (not even including Ellen in the line up here).  So, unfortunately, in their crass focus on “package” and marketability, they overlooked the much more important aspect: emotional connection.  How sad!  

We don’t even have a “personality” to make for good filler. I mean, if we don’t even get a David Archuleta or a Melinda Doolittle, we should at least get a Sanjaya Malakar.  

We don’t even get someone who sucks so bad they’re good!

As much as I love to hate this show, which I’ve been watching since the beginning, I must say: I hate to see it just crash and burn!

Then again, had they been willing to practice fairness along gender lines, they might have saved face.  

Paula’s revenge, or David’s?

Photo: David performing “Another Day in Paradise” during Top 16 week on AI Season 7.