Daniels American Idol Thoughts

Back in November, Grutman and I had one of our debate columns over on 411music and it was based on American Idol and the question posed was Is American Idol Good or Bad for the Music Industry.

Well, to make a long story short, I thought it was bad for the music industry because I thought it was embarrassing for the music industry just to parade out an assembly line of stars. Basically, they are just showing they can take any John or Jane Schmuckatelli from the street and, regardless of talent involved, make a platinum star out of them. So I closed my mind to the show and never gave it a second thought.

Then, Clay Aiken’s CD came out. At which point I discovered that the American Idol judges can actually find people with talent, regardless of how they look, and give people who wouldn’t normally have gotten past a record company’s receptionist, much less into a record exec’s office, a shot at making it big. Clay has one of the most powerful voices I’ve heard and the fact that he LOST the competition to the less talented Ruben Studdard is one of the worst crimes I’ve witnessed since Felicity cut her hair off (likely soon to be replaced with Joey, but that’s besides the point).

But, Karma has a way of working out since Clay has consistently outsold Ruben in both singles and full albums.

That’s neither here nor there, though.

My girlfriend is a huge Idol fan, and usually I shooed her upstairs to watch. After all, 8:00-9:00 was my time to catch up on All My Children for the day. When I happened to have seen today’s AMC already, I sat and watched it. It was the actual first week, when all the riff-raff had been filtered out and they were down to the final 12. Even though she’s difficult to watch the show with, I still enjoyed it and I continue to enjoy it from week to week.

As an aside, she’s difficult to watch the show with because, as tough as you may thing Simon Cowell is, he’s nothing compared to a girl who spent 15 years playing the violin and a year in music school. She has dealt with real music teachers who, apparently, have no problem with bluntness.

As a second aside, I’m hoping someone will assassinate Randy Jackson. I may do it myself if I have to sit through another season of overuse of the word “pitchy,” but that’s beside the point.

Back to the story I have watched this season’s competition all the way through. I have to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Many of the kids singing on this show have more talent in their little finger than Britney Spears has ever had, or ever hoped to have. They can sing, they can hit notes, and they don’t need to either be naked or have an army of backup singers behind them to sound good.

Of course, nothing can be without its controversy. Two weeks ago, the girl who I picked as an early favorite to win got eliminated after previously having had the highest number of votes. When she got eliminated, I took it as 2 people who had very similar styles (her and Latoya London) splitting the votes and a third girl (Fantasia Barrino) having put on a performance that, while good, was very much too gospelly and church-choirlike to connect with the American public. While people might say they like to see different genre’s represented, I don’t think at the end of the day, people are going to vote for a gospel/Baptist singer with a backup choir. Especially not the 13-year old girls who watch this show and vote 1000 times in a day.

American’s aren’t deep. American Idol’s target audience less so. It’s probably one of the few competitions in America where the hottest girl doesn’t just win because she has the benefit of being hot. And, as much as Seacrest tries to communicate that Idol is a talent show, not a popularity contest, at the end of the day, it’s a freakin popularity contest. 13-year-old girls don’t know talent, they know who’s cute and who they like.

So, Fantasia and Jennifer wound up in the bottom two, with Jennifer getting punted and Fantasia, much to my chagrin, sticking around to assault my eardrums with more gospel for another few weeks.

And thus the backlash began.

Charges of vote fixing (again) came to the forefront through the Idol message boards along with massive conspiracy theories. Then, the biggest bomb came from Elton John who, the week before, had enjoyed a night of “The Songs of Elton John.” He said:

They have great voices. The fact that they’re constantly in the bottom three–and I don’t want to set myself up here–but I find it incredibly racist

Which, to my irritatingly logical mind, is possibly the stupidest thing ever to come out of the guy’s mouth. I love Elton John I love his music I have his greatest hits CD I want(ed) to go see his Vegas show and this is the stupidest thing I ever heard in my life. First of all, it helps if one WATCHES THE FUCKING SHOW before you make sweeping judgments about it and its viewers. He doesn’t. Why? Because the week in question was the first time Latoya and Fantasia had been in the bottom three and Jennifer hadn’t visited the bottom 3 since the first week, despite Simon’s consistent insistence that she was not good enough.

Not to mention the fact: let’s look at the final 12 for a second, shall we?

Fantasia, Jennifer, George, Latoya: Black
Jasmine, Camille: Hawaiian
Jon, John, Matt, Diana, Amy: White
Leah: Hispanic (I think)

Now let’s take a look at the final 6.

Fantasia, George, Latoya: Black
Jasmine: Hawaiian
Diana: White

Yeah, Elton these results, thus far, look seriously racist. Not only was Jennifer the first black girl to get voted off the show this season, but has been thus far the ONLY black person to get voted off the show this season. How this makes the format of the show racist I would love to f*cking hear.

Hey, newsflash folks. NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO DO WITH RACE. If you don’t like the votes that were put in, vote. Don’t bitch about it. I’m sure there are other people out there who feel the same way Elton did but, guess what, if you all voted for Jennifer, chances are she’d still be in it.

NOT TO MENTION the fact: if they were fixing votes, Fantasia would have been out, NOT Jennifer. Fantasia seems like a talented girl, but a CD from her is not going to make money. Sorry. It’s just not.

It comes down to two things.

  1. The three girls had been doing so well up to this point that their fans decided they would be safe whether or not they voted
  2. The ones who did vote split their votes amongst the three

As for the charge of vote fixing, allow me to let you in on a little secret. There is no f*cking point for them to fix the votes. At the end of the day, American Idol is still about making money. If they allow people to win who won’t sell albums, the record producer sponsoring this show doesn’t make money. If the record producer doesn’t make money, there’s no point for them to help produce the show. If they fixed the votes to keep people on the show who people aren’t voting for, then no one is going to buy their friggin album. 95% of American’s could give a shit if the person can sing, they will buy the album anyway (see also: Spears, Brittney). Whoever MTV tells these people to buy, they will buy and, failing MTV, whoever FOX tells them to buy, they will buy. MTV boycotts Idol because they don’t like FOX getting in on their gig. For the last 20 years, MTV has controlled what is and isn’t cool. Now that someone else has their fingers in the pot, they aren’t happy. This is the exact reason the president of MTV came out and shoved his foot in his mouth when he said TV shouldn’t generate musical talent, or something to that effect.

After Jennifer Hudson’s elimination, the brunt of the attacks were absorbed by Jon “Lightning Rod” Stevens who, while possibly being the worst remaining singer on the show, survived Jennifer. Jon is a 16-year-old dude from Buffalo who has a voice reminiscent of Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin while having the personality of sand. However, what people fail to realize is he’s getting the Clay Aiken vote. The same girls who voted for Clay’s elf-like attractiveness were voting for him.

Unfortunately for him, this past week it ugly, culminating in Stevens, somehow, being accused of being racist (for not volunteering to step down, I guess) and, to top it off, a Buffalo-Market DJ encouraging his listeners to ‘take care of’ Stevens during the upcoming Idol tour.

I think this is just another example of how race is becoming such a ridiculously touchy issue in this country that someone can’t even VOTE ON A TV SHOW THAT MEANS NOTHING IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS without being called a racist. I guess in the eyes of some, if a white dude votes for a white person, that’s racist.

And to top it all off, he got eliminated the week before the show will be based on his genre big band.

People need to take a step back every now and again and think about what they are getting fired up over. It’s a f*cking TV Show, people. Regardless of who wins, you’ll hear about them as much in 10 years as you hear about the New Kids on the Block in the present day. And if people didn’t care enough about someone to get off their ass and vote for them, it’s not John’s fault, it’s all of theirs.

Including Sir Elton.

Daniels . Out.