The U.K. has brought the world so much great music, from the Beatles and the Stones to Brit-pop and trip-hop and every singer-songwriter active during the late ’00s to every boy band active right now. The ’60s, meanwhile, is a musical goldmine so lucrative that people have ransack the decade’s sounds hundreds of times a year since the 1970s. There is so much to pick from! The potential song choices are vast and exciting! This is an American Idol recap, though, so it will surprise no one that we will talk about “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “Bleeding Love” and such.
You do realize how big a problem this is, right? After eleven seasons of Idol, eleven seasons in which the Great American Songbook has been rummaged through and dog-eared and spine-stretched right up to its limits, the show really needs some surprises. This crop of singers especially needs them, as four of them are excellent vocalists and one’s a decent vocalist within some really specific limits. They are the sort of people who could have a huge moment with the right song–in Idol argot, who could “make the song their own”–and instead, all but one of them are choosing songs seemingly by YouTube play count, or the number of jukeboxes and grocery-store PR systems that blare the song daily. It’s stultifying. It needs to stop. But then again, it’s kind of OK compared to…
THE HOPELESS: 22-17
22. The Concept Of Praise: First, Joshua Ledet was “one of the top two best Idols of all time,” which is going to sound really silly if he doesn’t make the finals. Half an hour later, one singer was “one of the best singers [J. Lo's] heard in 50 years,” which is both impossible–even if J. Lo were 50, she’d never admit to it–and utterly ridiculous. This is what happens when you make your baseline criticism “a’ight” and your baseline mild praise “in it to win it” or “goosies.” It’s like grading on a thousand-point curve. At this rate of inflation, next week they’ll say someone’s going to be the reason God gave humans vocal cords. The week after that, she’ll be so good God realized he screwed up the first couple billion sets. By the finale, she will in fact be God, and the winner’s ceremony will actually be the Rapture. Steven Tyler will make a vaguely louche pun, and Idol‘s remaining audience will vanish into the ether.
21. Steven Tyler: This sentence, however, will never be raptured: “The only thing that gives experience a run for its money is a 16-year-old.”” We expect nothing more from Idol’s libidinous loofah. Sadly.
20. The Blues: Never quite showed up, but nevertheless, Steven Tyler thinks everybody is the blues. It’s possible that he thinks “the blues” is just a term of endearment.
19. This Quote: “If you have a beautiful girl and a beautiful melody, you can’t have a beautiful piano too!” – Jessica’s mentoring session. I guess this subverts the “girl-with-a-piano” cliche that every singer-songwriter in the ’90s dreaded? It still makes no sense.
18. The Oval: Displayed red blood cells during “Bleeding Love” and airmail envelopes during “The Letter.” Imagine if music videos were this dunderheadedly literal. There is an upside, though; if this keeps up, maybe Coldplay can do “Princess of China” tonight without a visual from the entirely wrong culture.
17. Joshua And Phillip’s Duet: The show couldn’t have sabotaged Phillip more here if they got his girlfriend (more on her later) to slash the sleepy out of his looks on stage. His weakness, which we’ll also discuss later, is melody. “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” depends entirely on melody, meaning Joshua destroyed him from note one to finish. The less said about Ryan’s gay-baiting “you should’ve been embracing! and looking into each other’s eyes! and maybe a little peck to really sell the song!” spiel, the better, although two things must be noted. One, I have no idea who was actually on board with it. Sure, Joshua literally pushed Phillip away during the song, but after Ryan explained the situation, he kept looking over at Phillip, little unreturned glances, and at one point actually licked his lips. Two, all of this is completely pointless, because J. Lo shut it all down with “Sing to the GIRLS!” Idol, as progressive as always.
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