According to Randy Jackson, season 11 of American Idol is a “new beginning,” which is the sort of thing you say when the old ending saw you face down amid a pile of broken glass, plaster and somehow-congealed wine. It’s not a great metaphor, you know? It’s like if the State of the Union speech replaced the section about how the state of our union is strong with a long glance sideways, a swallowed sigh and a shrug leading into “well, can’t be worse than last year, right?”
It’s fun and occasionally useful to speculate on the ongoing dance of death that is Idol‘s season 11 ratings. Maybe talent’s like seafood, and the show can’t farm 16-year-old Idol fanatics at a rate fast enough to supplant the wild, organic sort nearing extinction. Maybe the likes of YouTube and Reverb Nation provide an even steadier stream of phenomenal-enough singers and purposeful doofuses that Idol‘s protracted audition process is just a lot of needless sunk time. (Word from Dave Holmes at Vulture: even the guy who wrote a book on Idol is sitting out the audition rounds this year. The book!) But if you give more credence to inside reports, auditioner Phong Vu had it: Idol feels the pain, and it wants to channel it back to us. Reading Idol recaps this season is like reading Lovecraft, or maybe House of Leaves: a journey that can only lead to madness, to endless keyboard salad and curse words and Steven Tyler Stockholm Syndrome, from which one cannot return.
That was really dark! Um. There were actually a lot of great singers this episode, at least until Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler consigned them to the sorry place Idol consigns awesome female belters? Somebody sang Pistol Annies? Oh, let’s just get to it.
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