Saturday, February 19, 2011

Looking for Jews on American Idol

The other night during American Idol, my favorite Jewish Idol pundit, Daniel Feinberg at hitfix.com, tweeted "Based only on names, this is an MoT-heavy "American Idol" Top 100. I'm intrigued..." I had sort of noticed the same thing, and now that we're down to the Top 50 and can actually see all the names of who's left on the American Idol website, there may be at least seven MOTs in the running.

Now of course, Idol does have a history of Jewish singers doing well. There's Elliott Yamin finishing third in year five, Adam Lambert (who no one knew was Jewish until a video turned up of him singing a song in Hebrew and his mother turned up on screen and looked, well, very Jewish) as the runner-up in season eight, and I believe Anthony Federov, who finished fourth in year four, was Jewish, but no one really cared or noticed at the time. And of course, Paula Abdul is Jewish. But this many in the competition at one time (even if all of them could be gone by this time next week?) Got to be unprecedented.

Let's break them down, in alphabetical order, judging either by name or other things I've noticed (bearing in mind that we're really guessing on some of these, and that this post likely ends up linked on a neo-Nazi site to tell people who to root against):

Brett Loewenstern of Boca Raton, FL: This is the guy who was featured in the audition round as getting picked on a lot. He's got a nice voice, although I'm not sure it's good enough to get him anywhere near the top 5 or anything. Would say he's likely to make the top 20 (apparently that's the next cutdown number) just because of all the screen time he's recived.

Brittany Mazur of Tucson, AZ: I have no recollection of hearing her perform at any point in the show so far, but she's kind of pretty. That's all I got.

Casey Abrams of Idylwild, CA: This is the Seth Rogen-looking guy who started scat singing and stuff at the Austin audition, and then did a really wild and really good performance of Georgia on My Mind with a "stand-up bass." The audience and judges could tire of his quirkiness quickly, but I think he's genuinely good and will be a top contender.

Casey Schuber of Toms River, NJ: No idea who this person is, but Schuber sounds like it could be a Jewish name.

Rachel Zevita of New York, NY: She wore a Hamsa necklace on her initial audition, so I'm putting her in the MOT group. I don't remember her being all that good on that initial audition (she was the one that Jennifer Lopez somehow remembered having auditioned a couple years ago), but she's made it this far.

Robbie Rosen of Merrick, NY: I think if we can depend on anything, we can count on the fact that a guy named Robbie Rosen from Merrick, Long Island is Jewish. I don't think we can count on him winning, though. Personally, every time I see him sing on the show, he sounds like he has a good voice, but not quite that good--and just seems a little annoying and too dramatic. Then again, I thought Adam Lambert was too dramatic and kind of annoying in his first performance of the semifinals--and I did a 180 on that a week later. So who knows?

Tim Halperin of Fort Worth, TX: Once again, a Jewish sounding last name, but I know nothing about him.

I promise to follow up on this after the Vegas round. And if anyone is wondering about my opinion of the show with the new judging panel, the jury is still out. Last year, everyone raved about Ellen in the Hollywood round and then we got to the live shows and she was hugging bad singers and refusing to critique people. But I think J.Lo is a little better than expected (she does seem willing to be critical sometimes, even if she is taking on the Paula role of cheerleader) and Steven Tyler is entertaining. As for the show, the audition shows were way too formulaic, but this week's Hollywood round shows, especially the group show on Wednesday night, were pretty entertaining. Randy's comment that they've never had more talent on the show before is ridiculous, but I can still see the makings of a decent season.

Fingerhut out!

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