Here are some things from 2010, 2011 and 2012, well-trod by singing competitions, that miraculously made zero appearances on American Idol‘s one-week acknowledgment of modern music: Adele. Ke$ha. “Only Girl (in the World).” Anything else by Rihanna, actually. “Fuck You.” “Moves Like Jagger.” Did we mention that we got through a 2010s week with zero Adele? Instead, we got some surprises: a track from the generally-underused-on-Idol Lady Gaga, semi-deep cuts from Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars, Gotye’s “Someone That I Used To Know,” a Jazmine Sullivan(!) track, a version of “Love the Way You Lie” that 75% of the viewers probably didn’t know, and other choices that suggest that Idol‘s coaches and contestants actually do have some imagination left and don’t just cull songs from the top of the Clear Channel playlist or end-of-year Billboard charts. Huzzah!
Now that we’ve said our huzzahs, we should note that only one of those song choices completely worked. We won’t note it too harshly, though, because that might make Idol hunker back to moldy oldies. That would be bad. After all, none of the songs we mentioned above made it to…
THE HOPELESS: 30-25
30. Personal Contestant Hashtags: #no
29. This Quote: I’m enamored of the women on this show this year… The crows may crow, but the hens deliver the goods.” And then get voted off.
28. Steven Tyler: Too many snakes died to clothe the above wit.
27. This Quote: “She’s a better singer than I am.” Phillip, on Elise. The quote is hopeless because it won’t get Elise more votes.
26. This Forced Rumor: “The romance rumors continue to fly with Colton and Skylar.” You started those romance rumors, Ryan. They’re flying because you flung them. Like Angry Birds. Amorous, angry birds.
25. Hollie Cavanagh: Hollie Cavanagh is from Texas, which makes sense, because there are probably toadstools tucked away somewhere with the cacti that could house a Seelie Court or portal to Liverpool (where she’s from, officially. And now you know.) What didn’t make sense was singing P!nk. Few singers are less like Alecia Moore, in demeanor and stage presence, than Hollie. You just don’t believe she’s ever dug her way out of blood or fire, or that her life’s silly in ways not involving stardust and baby’s breath, or that she’d ever say “the only thing I should be drinking is an ice-cold beer” or “fucking perfect”–and this is P!nk’s tamest single, from a career that also includes things like “don’t tell me you adore me, ‘cause all you’re thinking about is fucking me” or “it’s just you and your hand tonight” or “I could cut you into pieces” or “you could have called me back, you stupid fuck.” Nothing Hollie sang was believable or meaningful or even human, and that’s before you realize that “Perfect” didn’t need to be made even more of a ballad or that her pitch made a wrong turn once or twice. The judges realized all this; beneath their utter silence, you could sense them straining to find a pleasant way to say her performance wouldn’t pass a Turing test. We’ve retired the comparison for a few weeks, but now it needs saying: Hallie Day would have killed this. But that’d require the show’s audience to understand emotional complexity, particularly in female singers, and that won’t do. So instead we get ringingly hollow, faerie-dusted pap. After all, it’s what Idol asked for.
For dead dear and a deadened Gotye song (which one?!) click NEXT.