Last week, as I watched Siobhan Magnus
, one of my picks to make it to the top 4, if not top 3, sing her American Idol
swan song, I felt a whole lot of…nothing. I’ve experienced many emotions over the years as an avid Idol
viewer, but never has that range included apathy. As I watched Siobhan absolutely kick ass on “Think” in that gorgeous two-tone pink dress, I couldn’t help but think that maybe the naysayers are right. Maybe season 9 is the worst season so far, although one could make a compelling argument in favor of the snooze-worthy season 5, with the Blake/Jordin finale, but that’s a topic for another time. The five contestants left standing elicit nothing more than mild enthusiasm from me, yet by this point in other seasons I was already (illegally) downloading performances and anxiously awaiting the day Idols Live tickets went on sale. If I miss an episode of Idol
this season, eh, I move on.
So where did American Idol go wrong? How did Ken Warwick and Co. reach this plateau and turn a watercooler show into a defeated shell of its former self? Let’s face it, when you’re being beaten out in ratings by a cheesy (albeit delightfully so) dancing competition made up of minor celebrities, it’s time to panic a little. There are numerous reasons why Idol is slipping this year: the loss of Paula and subsequent addition of Ellen, losing favorite contestants before the top 12, Simon’s last season, etc., but most of the blame can be placed on the contestants themselves. You could have the best recipe in the world, but if the ingredients you use are subpar, the end product isn’t going to taste so great. Clunky metaphors aside, here’s my take on the top 5:
Call Aaron Kelly the Little Engine that Is Trying So Damn Hard. You can almost hear, “I think I can! I think I can!” running through his mind as he makes an earnest face and hits a glory note. His naivety and innocence are refreshing amidst backtalk and egos, and the country tone to his voice is great, but Aaron hasn’t had a true “wow!” moment to make him a legitimate contender. He’s too much like Archuleta 2.0; we’ve already gone down the precociously talented teen guy route before.) I do think he’ll have success in the country industry, but I hope he finishes high school and maybe considers college before taking on the entertainment industry. (Am I really giving out parental advice? In that case…get off my lawn, turn your music down, pull up your pants, etc.)
I take back my earlier comment about feeling nothing during last week’s results show. I felt deep-seated rage that we could have been done with Big Mike and his ridiculous behavior back in the top 9. He represents everything annoying about Idol. “Check me out on iTunes!” Um, no. “I’m doing it for my people!” You don’t have people. You’re a contestant on American Idol. Then there’s the lip licking, the facial mugging, the arm flexing, the weeping, eye-glitter fanatic wife, the need to pick up all lightweight contestants and mentors…I could go on and on. Maybe it’s just my musical taste, but I don’t find his R&B stylings to be anything new and different, nor anything I would download/listen to.
Casey James is the epitome of vanilla: semi-decent to look at, marginally talented, but oh-so-boring. I’m not saying I want my Idols brimming with personality, because hello, I want to sucker punch Big Mike every time he appears on my TV, but I think Casey was born without the personality gene. The goat vibrato slips into his voice far too much for my liking, and the John Mayer-ish faces he makes while playing guitar are frightening. He could make the top 4, barring any shocking eliminations, but his complacency is not going to win him the competition.
I confess that I usually join in on the backlash that comes from a contestant being too heavily pimped by the judges/producers, and this season I bought my round-trip ticket on the anti-Bowersox express. I’ve always criticized Crystal for sticking too close to her “wheelhouse,” as Randy would say. We get it; she likes girls with guitars and soulful jams. Yet when she tried something different-ish, a Shania Twain cover, it was lethargic, half-assed and a bit pitchy. I think tonight’s Sinatra night is literally do or die for Crystal; no instruments and no rearranging of songs allowed. How is she going to fit her crunchy granola hippie style into that box? I wasn’t too keen on her comment on last week’s results show that she “didn’t think” she’d ever been in the bottom 3. Really? You can’t remember? Maybe the judges have been blowing smoke up her butt for so long that she has selective amnesia. I know Crystal is favored to win, but I’ll be shocked if she does….
…Because I think Lee DeWyze is going to come from behind and take the crown right off Crystal’s head. We could have a repeat of last year on our hands: an overhyped favorite and a dark horse in the finale, with the dark horse ultimately victorious. Lee is by no means the most consistent person ever to grace the Idol stage, because he does suffer from pitch problems every week and he’s yet to really command the stage. That being said, he’s the only remaining contestant whose album I would be interested in buying, although if he were competing in any season other than the current one, he’d be a mid-pack player at best.
Tonight’s show should be very interesting…