Thursday, January 26, 2006

Have we seen the next American Idol?

Tuesday night gave us both the best and the worst of American Idol. First the worst--that full-of-herself Rhonetta Johnson.Actually, though, my problem was less with Rhonetta than with the way the producers of the show elevated her--with their little montage before her appearance--to the classic heights of crazy auditioners in the past like William Hung and that Keith guy in season two who sang "Like A Virgin." Look, William Hung, although his 15 minutes have gone on way too long, was funny because he was so naive--the thing that elevated him to classic status was his line "that's all without professional training" line after he finished. Keith was just so disturbingly bizarre, he was memorable. There was nothing particularly memorable about Rhonetta's audition except it just wasn't very good. Then she got mad and started yelling afterwards, but who cares? She wasn't really that funny (half of it was bleeped out), and since the show had run something like eight teases for her appearance over the first 90 minutes of the show, I think we had actually seen her entire curse-filled jag in bits and pieces before they formally showed it on the program. On the bright side, she didn't seem mentally ill like, for instance, that nutty Mary Roach last year--just angry and full of herself.

The best of American Idol--the reason fans watch it--is someone like Kelly Pickler. Maybe I'm a sap, but after listening to her talk about how her mother left when she was 2, and her father's been in jail her whole life, how can you not be moved when she comes out, sings well, and breaks down when she realizes she's going to Hollywood? Or when she said she had to write her dad to tell him the good news? Some people say snottily that they don't watch "reality TV" or "American Idol" because--well, they never actually have any good reasons, they just think they're better than you and I. They're the ones missing out on great human drama like that.

Does Kelly Pickler have a shot to go far in the competition? Hard to say at this point, but I thought her speaking voice sounded somewhat like Kelly Clarkson's, she had somewhat of a facial resemblance to the first American Idol, and then she came out and sang "Since You've Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson. So I don't know what that means (although I'm not saying she's as good as the best American Idol ever, just that she had some similarities.)

Of course, the next American Idol could very well be Paris Bennett. While she seemed a little too overwhelmed that the judges liked her (considering her grandmother or aunt or however she was related is, according to Randy Jackson, one of the greatest singers ever, it's not exactly a miracle that she has some talent), I like it when people cry when they get sent to Hollywood and she was really good.

As for Wednesday, what exactly was going on with Simon and the other judges in San Francisco? They both seemed crazy at times--Simon didn't seem to really like anyone, but Randy was acting like everyone that came in the door was Aretha Franklin. Even stranger, though, was what set Simon off--Paula saying that Simon had once said he needed to close his eyes to listen to Clay Aiken? Why exactly was this even an issue? What did that have to do with the woman auditioning with all the hair,who, let's be hones, was somewhat odd looking. I thought she might have been good enough to go to Hollywood, but it's not like she was good enough to win, so I'm not going to worry much more about it--or try to dissect what exactly was going on.

The only other important matter of discussion was the girl whose mom was a vocal coach, Katharine McPhee. She had a good voice and was cute, but was she really worthy of praise as the greatest voice they had heard this year or this decade or whatever they said (and didn't they say that about Paris Bennett one night before)? She sang the Billie Holliday song "God Bless the Child," which I'm not particularly familiar with. But last year during the semifinals, Mikalah Gordon sang "God Bless the Child" and the judges raved over her (me, I thought it was kind of boring). As we all know, about a month later, Mikalah Gordon had trouble singing a Taylor Dayne song and was deservedly sent home. I guess what I'm saying is, maybe "God Bless the Child" isn't quite the tough song to sing that the judges think it is (and I apologize if I've offended Billie Holliday or her fans--that's not my intention and I know she's considered one of the great singers of all time. I'm just pointing something out.)

Finally, with the "all the bad singers doing bad versions of 'Fame'" montage on Tuesday night, I think it's obvious that the producers actually were asking bad auditioners to sing "Fame"--since most of the people they showed singing were actually people we had seen singing completely different songs earlier in the evening. As I said last week to the American Idol producers, we have enough bad singing, without you creating bad singing. As I said, we got the best and worst of American Idol Tuesday night.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finger please tell me you have gone to Man its classic this freak has gotten some serious love from the web already!

1/27/06, 12:06 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Great write-up, now I just have to watch the recordings.

Um, God Bless the Child: I don't think it's that tough of a song to sing, and perhaps it could be considered boring. Billie Holliday's recording is great because of the emotion that she brings to it. Actually, that's probably the whole deal with all of her songs I've heard: her voice is very specifically hers and she can tear your heart out.

Rhonetta was one of the few things I did see of the night and she was awful. And her revings weren't even interesting. Seeing her on Channel 5 News last night telling that same stupid "bubbly water" story was even worse.

1/27/06, 1:34 PM  

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