Monthly Archives: May 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

An oldie but goodie (video by Soundscene):

David on the Red Carpet

Thanks for uploading this, Jackryan4DA! :)

Chords of Strength: No Spoilers!

I have yet to get my copy of Chords of Strength, but I do know it’s-a-coming! Still, I am just a tad bit envious that some of you have already gotten a hand on it and have already finished (not just started reading) David’s first memoir.  So, while I deal with my impatience, I would like some kind of general feeling about it (please: no spoilers).

By that, I mean: what was the overall impression of the book?  Is it well written? Does David’s humor (which comes across his twitter, blogs, and vlogs) ring out? Are there any parts that make you cry? Does he get “preachy” in any parts? And, last but not least, does he address #manincap in any way (perhaps the only spoilerish question I’m putting out there)?

Would love to know without having the full plotline (“This is my life up to being 19”) revealed! :)

Who’s Going to Replace Paula?

To me, that’s the better question than “who’s going to replace Simon” for subsequent Idol seasons.  It was evident to me, watching this playback (and David – GAH! – looking adorable) how Paula really was so central to anchoring this show.  Yes, Simon is the flamboyant one (in the sense of being the most outrageous with his biting criticism and the one who both contestants wanted to please and audiences listened to).  However, did anyone else notice that Simon generally looked bored with the finale performances and the various “tributes” … until Paula showed up on stage? His frown immediately melted into a smile (the first time that night).

Crazy, loopy Paula brought a lot to this show and made it palatable.  Let’s be real here.  Her absence was immediately felt as soon as America recognized that the Top 24 contestants selected by the “judges” were so subpar to previous seasons.  Verdict: Paula was the primary judge scouting the talent.

The reason why the female and contestants of color failed to do so well this season? Paula wasn’t there to 1)appreciate the soul, 2) paint contestants in a positive light, and 3) offer criticism from the perspective of a PERFORMER.  Ellen may be a stand-up comedian, but she’s no music artist – this makes a difference in what she could offer in terms of criticism.  Kara-the-songwriter can only talk about “marketability,” which means nothing because the show is about transforming average Jane and Joe into “marketable pop stars.”  And, most importantly, neither gal has Paula’s heart.

And that really came through when she spontaneously joined the judges panel and sat on Simon’s lap.  Only Paula could do something so random, she immediately got into the Idols’ tribute, pointing out to Simon the various memorable Idol alumni (my interpretation of that moment: “Oh look Simon! There goes David Archuleta! I still want his head dangling from my rearview mirror! Woohoo!”), and she then did what Paula does best: she gave them an enthusiastic standing ovation!

We did not see anyone from the judges panel do that all season long.

Man, what Paula would have done to improve the confidence levels of Siobhan, Paige, and Aaron Kelly!

(And I still wanted her to join Janet on stage to do the “Nasty” dance she choreographed!)

So, as far as I’m concerned, that really needs to be the question: who’s going to replace Paula? Because, anyone who tried to replace Simon would immediately become a Simon caricature … unless they picked someone who was confident enough in his own persona to do his own schtick.

I still vote for Whitney Houston to fill Paula’s shoes. heh.

Welcome to the Runners-Up Circle!

So, once again, three years in a row, the best singer is relegated to second place on American Idol.

Congratulations, Crystal! You are genuinely part of an illustrious circle! :)

And, while I don’t need to give Crystal a Thank You, Adam Lambert tribute, I at least want to say: thanks for playing! And remember: research a show before you appear on it! I had some awesome strategies you could have used to win the game, girlfriend!

Of course, watching that Parade of Idols last night sending Simon (and Paula) all the love just highlighted the downward spiral the show is heading.  Seriously, without the heart (Paula), soul (Simon), and the voices of memorable contestants (see among that parade David, Melinda, and all the great Idol winners, including Kelly, Ruben, Fantasia, Carrie, and Jordin), this show is done.  As many others have said, last night felt less like a season finale and more like a series finale.  After Season 10, I don’t think they have the legs to keep running … unless they do something to break the pattern of mediocre to good-not-great white guys winning the whole shebang. And I’m not just talking white guys in general. I’m talking “generic” white guys.

And I’m not being biased.  Look at the statistics:

Season 7: David Cook (generic white guy with guitar) beats out David Archuleta (anything but generic white boy with hints of Hispanic with the unforgettable one-of-a-kind voice)
Season 8: Kris Allen (generic white guy with guitar) beats out Adam Lambert (anything but generic flamboyant and openly gay white guy with the “unforgettable” voice – in a different way)
Season 9: Lee Dewyze (generic white guy with guitar) beats out Crystal Bowersox (anything but generic white girl with tattoos, piercings, less-than-svelte figure, dreadlocks, and a child out of wedlock but who killed her competition, wiped the floor with him on the night of the finale)

Get the picture?

It’s like what someone said on Television Without Pity.  Last night, Justin Guarini beat out Kelly Clarkson.  Vocally, I get the point, but given the racial patterns of the past few seasons, that still would not happen in this new era of Idol.  But the argument is essentially: Cute boy (for you, for me, because I don’t think Lee is all that) beat out the vocally superior Girl.  And if that had happened during Season 1, I could tell you now: There would be no American Idol series.  It would have ended right there after one season!

To me, the better statement is to say: Last night, Blake Lewis beat out Jordin Sparks.  And if that had happened during Season 6, well… let’s just say TPTB would have already tried to fix the formula, because the racial difference (when Jordin clearly stomped all over Blake during her season in the finale) would have made them try to change voting rules.  Alas, when it’s just a gender imbalance, they’re not going to try.

So, naturally, folks who disagree with last night’s outcome in which Lee Dewyze took the top prize are blaming the “tweens” for their over-the-top text votes.  Honestly, I do not think the tweens are the problem.  Seriously, people: if the tweens were running this joint, Tim Urban would be this year’s American Idol, not Lee Dewyze, and if they were controlling things, David would have won his season.  Let’s get real.

Rather, Crystal’s inability to take the top prize finally gave a point to that LA Times article on American Idol and Religion, which I linked to in a post a few threads back.  That’s the real issue here. The evangelical Christian voting bloc has taken over the “popular voting” on American Idol, the way they had learned to take over the “popular votes” that matter in general presidential and congressional elections.  Only that voting bloc would care enough to invest in the outcome of a popular TV talent contest, but there you have it.  The Dial Idol site that predicted Lee’s win also showed the region where Crystal didn’t fare well – the “red states” as we like to call them, which sadly is the region that still invests in voting for American Idol.  That’s what’s going on here, not tweens and teens gone wild (I believe, among their age group, Idol is now completely irrelevant).

Although I use the Jordin Sparks comparison, one could easily argue that perhaps the evangelicals got invested in the show because of someone like her.  While Melinda Doolittle is every bit as Christian as Jordin, her brand of Christianity is the “black church” kind (and I don’t need to tell you good folks that hardcore Christians in this country don’t mix it up: Sunday is still the most segregated day in the week); whereas Jordin is coming from that mega-church strain with her purity rings and attendances at pro-life rallies (something, curiously, that Idol hid from mainstream audiences but which an evangelical subculture group would be in the know about).  Yes, Idol winners definitely come from a church background – think Ruben, Fantasia, Carrie, and Taylor in quick succession.  But, even then, I don’t think their win reflected an organized voting bloc invested in their crowns.  That seemed to have come later.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say Cook won on the strength of this evangelical voting bloc (he certainly doesn’t represent this strain), but as someone (Desertrat, I believe?) mentioned, Chris Daughtry comes from a Christian rock band background, and many Idol watchers loved that Cook reminded them of Daughtry. I’m sure it helped.  It also helps that many evangelicals regard the LDS church to which David belongs as a “cult.”

But, the prospect of openly gay Adam Lambert winning is the turning point, I think, when they really started organizing around picking the “best Idol role model,” as opposed to the “best singer” or even the “best performer.” Having someone like Kris Allen be a church leader galvanized their efforts.  I don’t think that kind of voting has let up.

So, it definitely explains, I think, the kind of winners we’ve been receiving of late.  It also explains why these Idol winners are also not burning up the pop charts.  Because, while evangelicals might be driving the voting on Idol, they most certainly do not drive the sales in pop music.  Why else are they up in arms, proclaiming that a bunch of “devil worshipping” Illuminati secret society folks are behind the music industry?

However, it seems to me, if Idol wants to be relevant, they need to nurture a different kind of audience.  Or, at least to encourage a wider group of voters to invest in the show again.  Otherwise, they will be plagued with a niche voting audience selecting Idols who cannot and will not be “mainstream,” not in a sea of Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Jay-Z, and Rhianna.

If, like Carrie, these latest Idol winners were turned over to country, they would have a shot.  But definitely not in pop music.  I mean, they might as well try out the Christian music scene, because that music does sell well, albeit it’s a niche market.

My biggest issue, with this latest voting pattern, is how that particular voting bloc is obviously biased.  At least the previous “Christian” Idols – Ruben, Fantasia, Carrie, Taylor, Jordin – can sing and were clearly in the top tier of talents their season.  There is no excuse with this voting for Lee (who I don’t even know if he’s “Christian”) just because he seemed “more role model” material than Crystal Bowersox. Great, he’s a nice guy, but when an Idol winner, prior to his crowning moment, has to croon (or try to) to his audience, “What would you do if I sang out of tune,” that’s not good enough.

But, in the previous Idol era, it would never have been enough.