How David Changed the AI Game
I had an epiphany tonight watching Idol’s Top 3 performances. It wasn’t just my usual flashback to David’s Top 3 performance of Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes.”
You know, the performance that officially transformed me from a regular fan of David to an outright Obsessive-Disorder-David fan. 🙂
Unlike that moment, when I was moved beyond all comprehension, no one really did it for me tonight for this Top 3 night. Yes, I was impressed with Joshua’s Fantasia-like gospel take of Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama” and was relieved that he neither ruined nor outshone David on “Imagine.” And while Jessica Sanchez impressed on “I’ll Be There,” she had no “moment.” Neither did Phillip Phillips to be honest, but then, being the WGWG, he does what he does well, and that’s all that’s needed.
Without any fanfare, I can predict that he will win Idol this year… unless voters really surprise us.
So, all this is to say: I had an epiphany. All this time when complaining about the WGWG winner on Idol ever since David’s season, which gave us a David Cook win, I had been thinking that the other David is responsible for this slate of generic winners. Now I realize that it is David Archuleta himself who might be responsible for this trend.
Who was looking at David Cook when all anyone could talk about was this phenomenal teenaged singer with the magical voice by the name of David Archuleta? Heck, after singing “Imagine,” that’s all anyone could talk about. David Archuleta gave us the watercooler moment on Idol. Had David not been so damn good, his main competitor David Cook would never have stepped up his game. Moreover, he would be doing the exact same thing Phillip Phillips has been doing this season, but doing so would have guaranteed that he got voted off early in the competition, rather than winning the whole shebang. Cook had to surprise us all by rocking out some pop/R&B hits; it was the only way he could wrest control of the competition and steal David’s shine.
In the wake of Cook’s win, it seems like AI voters have now gotten caught up in a certain style of musical performer: the WGWG. And we have to really thank David for causing the archetypal WGWG to step up his game just to win. Because of Cook, the others – especially someone like PP – can now simply coast.
Something else. Before David, the soul-singing power-belters used to dominate the vocal stylings on this show. But David changed that game too. During his season, David added nuance, emotional delivery,vocal control, and an uncanny sense of when to let loose and when to rein it in. He demonstrated vocal subtleties and melodrama when needed. He gave us melisma and beauty. Granted, Melinda Doolittle demonstrated some of the same vocal mastery during her season the previous year, but with David, he took the vocal gift beyond just soul, jazz, and R&B. He brought it to pop music and standards. He showed us what true vocal genius was.
After David (or what I will simply call American Idol A.D.), the other vocalists simply don’t measure up. They don’t know how to do vocal subtlety, or they oversing (like Joshua tends to do at times) or fail to dig deep emotionally (a flaw of Jessica’s). When the singers can’t “wow” us in the wake of A.D., what do we end up with?
You guessed it: WGWG.
We always have the alternative in the guitar-playing performer with okay vocals who offers us something else.
So, I’m kind of resigned to another WGWG winner this year. I’m hoping that Joshua demonstrated just enough vocal talent to overcome, and I’m feeling like Jessica got thrown under a bus tonight, but at least with this epiphany, I get why the winners have looked the way they have these past years.
Obviously, we need a real Game Changer in the next season if we’re not going to go for “diversity.”