Till My Head Falls Off 01.22.03: Why Do I Even Bother?

For Your Listening Pleasure

Bjork – Bjork’s Greatest Hits

News to You

First of all, 411 music columnist Cody Webster has apparently forgiven me, and thrown me a plug, so I’ll return the favor (along with a little special something for him at the end of this week’s column). Make sure you send him your thoughts on what the caption should be for that J-Lo picture. My vote? “If only Ben could figure out what to do with this…”

Can you believe that Lisa Marie has an album coming out? While I’m filing this one under “I’ll believe it when I see it,” I can’t help but wonder if this will be a bust, or if she actually has any of her father’s talent. Or of ex-husband Michael Jackson’s. Shit, I think we’ll be lucky if she has any of ex-husband Nic Cage’s…

Thanks to everyone for the great feedback on last week’s column on Maurice Gibb. I definitely appreciate it… and Bobby Brown appreciates it, too.

Why Do I Even Bother?

So with nothing but re-runs on television this week, I decided to tune in to the season premiere of Fox’ very successful reality series American Idol and do a running diary… I figured, what the hell, right? Millions of Americans watched this show last summer, so it can’t be THAT bad (or any worse than the other reality shows I find myself watching more and more, including High School Reunion, Celebrity Mole, Surreal Life and that Real World/Road Rules gameshow thing that’s been all over MTV lately). If nothing else, I was hoping to see some jerks make fools of themselves…

8:00 — It’s Ryan Seacrest without his annoying, useless co-host! There’s hope for this show yet!

8:05 — As they reflect on last season, they finally show Kelly Clarkson, the 2002 winner. I’ll admit to watching the finals last year, for lack of anything better on TV (and no desire to fight over the remote control), and she really seems like a sweet, sweet girl. But there are a lot of sweet, sweet girls — most of them have dumped me. That being said, HER career really took off, didn’t it? Sure they played “A Moment Like This” enough to cause many of us to contemplate suicide by hari-kiri, but where’s she been? Or Justin for that matter? I do hear that Tamyra’s gonna be on Boston Public this season…

8:06 — Early line of the night candidate (and frankly, the only reason to watch this show) is from a bored Simon, when he tells Paula Abdul that yes, even if she was naked right there in front of him, he wouldn’t be excited.

8:12 — The New York segment of the auditions looked like a complete BUST, with some bizarre shit going on (one horrible contestant telling Simon “at least I’m from a country where people brush their teeth twice a day”, another wearing some sort of arrow-through-his-head hat, and Nathaniel Gordon, Jr. — from now on, the only one I’ll name… there are just too many this year — doing his worst impression of an upset Hollywood from Manequin), but at least the pair of blonde twins gave me a bit of faith in my New York brethren.

8:18 — The rejects get funnier and funnier, as they voice their dismay for getting cut… This guy really stood out: “I was robbed. Me and my teddy bear was robbed!”

8:23 — Only in New York: they focus on a blonde girl, whose voice isn’t half-bad, but who is going out with another, brunette, contestant’s ex-boyfriend. And, of course, they both make it to the next round. The funny part of this is Seacrest or some other guy (he’s so generic looking that it’s hard to tell if it’s just him, or multiple interviewers that look alike) egging them on, trying to get them to talk shit about each other, as they deny that there’s any bad blood (an obvious lie).

8:27 — “If you won and released an album, you could kill the American record industry,” says Simon, as he dares a contestant to “find a worse singer in NYC.” What do they do? The logical thing, of course — they hit the streets, trying to find a worse singer! One-third through the show, and this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be… But there’s time. They still haven’t found any decent male contestants from NY.

8:30 — The Nike commercial with the naked guy (wearing only a scarf and Nikes) running around the soccer field is utterly hilarious. I can’t remember the last time a naked Brit held my attention for longer than 30 seconds…

8:36 — “That wasn’t dreadful, and it wasn’t horrible. It was absolutely ghastly.” Simon, on a contestant from Massapequa Park. Dammit. That’s basically my hometown. Not even Paula or Randy liked her, and they’re EASY compared to Simon.

8:40 — And now, the reason I can’t watch this show past today: after listening to a very nice rendition of James Ingram’s “Just Once”, Simon rips a contestant on not having the look of an “American Idol”. I guess talent only matters as far as your looks can take you, eh?

8:49 — They’re apparently now in Miami, and let me just say that my BROTHER sings better than these men…

8:50 — Now it’s time for a woman that claims she sounds “just like Mariah Carey.” Or maybe she said Jim Carrey. I wasn’t really paying attention. Watching Paula squirm trying to let this girl down easy, only to have Simon tell her that her voice is horrendous… it’s hard not to stop yourself from cracking up at her expense here.

8:55 — They recap all the girls chosen to move on to the next round (and all of their incessant screaming when told the good news). Why aren’t there any good male singers anymore? I was thinking about this back when they were having all of those “Divas” specials on VH-1. You have all these women with outstanding voices, whether you like the style of their music or not… Mariah, Whitney, Aretha, Celine, Gloria, Shania, and even Xtina. But where are the male “Divas”? I don’t mean Elton John. I mean men who can SING, whose voice is distinct and unique, who could belt out any song and make it sound good. I don’t think pop music has had many great male singers since the day of the crooners like Sinatra and Bennett. You can make an argument for the Luther Vandrosses and James Ingrams of the world, or even Chris Isaac and Harry Connick, Jr., but are there any men around, especially young men, with really powerful voices? Let me know, ’cause now I’m curious. But if you say Justin, Enrique or Marc Anthony, I will ignore you. If you say Michael Bolton, I will laugh my ass off.

9:05 — Randy makes a great point here, about how none of today’s great pop stars are good singers (when a very charismatic contestant, who’s a much better dancing and with the human beatbox than singing, shows his stuff). When’s that new Britney album coming out again?

9:07 — Edgar (okay, fine, I’ve named another contestant, but he’s just so horrible, I don’t think it’s possible to forget him) apparently refuses to admit he wasn’t invited to Hollywood for the next round. He proceeds to get kicked out of the audition room and then the building. What does he say to the cameras as he’s leaving? “See you in Hollywood!” Man, I hope he keeps his word and just keeps showing up, refusing to leave. Do you think any of these guys actually know they’re crappy singers, but show up just to get on TV? Is 15 seconds of fame really worth looking like such a schmuck?

9:16 — Simon and this pimped out dude (you remember him if you saw the show: yellow suit, from Kansas) get into an argument (“you’re not good enough” / “yes I am” / “no you’re not” / “yes I am… no backsies!” or something like that) and things heat up! I don’t really feel bad for him, despite his tears… his voice just wasn’t that good. As Randy said: “sorry dawg.”

9:23 — The soon-to-be father who sang “Lately”, despite what Simon thought, was the first man on this show to really have a great voice. Great look, too. And he was followed by another great male, who sang one of my favorite songs from 11th grade: “If I Ever Fall in Love” by Shai. Like you don’t know the words…

9:29 — The TX portion of the auditions are over, with Los Angeles, Detroit and the rest tomorrow… While this was definitely entertaining, I think I have my American Idol fill… maybe I’ll come back for the finals, but tomorrow? Most likely I’ll be watching Ed and a West Wing rerun.

A Triumphant Return

No, I’m not talking about Jessica Simpson’s return to That 70s Show…

Let’s just say that I’ve been talked into bringing it back… yes, it has been greatly missed: Fun With Spellchecker~!

This week, Spellchecker gave me a great one… too good to be true, if you ask me:

What I typed: Clarkson (as in Kelly Clarkson, winner of the first American Idol)

Spellchecker’s suggestion: Claxon (according to dictionary.com, a noun meaning “a kind of loud horn formerly used on motor vehicles”)

Need I say more?

See you next week, when I’ll be spewing more random thoughts about the world of music, and featuring “Funky Songs To Fuck To”, a perspective on music’s place in the art of making sweet love. Send me your thoughts on this, and I’ll be sure to include them here.

peace. love. moe.

– Matt

Till My Head Falls Off can be found weekly on 411 Music (old columns are archived in the pull-down menu below). Already hit everything on 411? You can find more from Matthew Michaels at moodspins and 1-42.