Thursday, March 3, 2011

American Idol: TV's Juggernaut Hits Season 10

Although it’s unprecedented, I believe I have to post twice in a single day. Don’t get used to it. Depending on how it shows up, I might even reverse time stamp my last post so as not to create any expectations that I'll follow through with blogging to this degree ever again. But it’s that IDOL time of year, and I do have to take stock of my addiction to all things Idol despite how it makes me die a little inside every year. Then I remember that when Idol returns, so do Jacob’s TwoP recaps, which are simply to die for and all is right with the world again. (Seriously, if you haven’t read them, and have any kind of snarky humor about TV, you should check them out).

So – big news this year, format changes and panel changes. The judging changes have actually been kind of fun. I’ve been enjoying Steven and Jennifer’s additions, at the same time wondering how Randy has suddenly become the Simon of this season. It’s clear, however, that the panel has two new judges when you put through double the number of people to Hollywood that you did in previous years. And thus, the auditions went on FOREVER and I was actually mostly bored. There’s only so many times Steven can creepily hit on under-aged girls before it’s simply not amusing anymore.
This is the second time in this 10-year process where I “know” one of the contestants that made it to the Top 24. [I use the term “know” loosely since there’s a difference between talking/acquainting with someone and being friends with them – so yeah. The only reason I made it through the audition rounds watching all of the footage was to see what happened to Tim Halperin. Go Nebraska! Represent!]

Now that we’re getting to the competition part, I’m excited again. And I kind of like this new format where they just cut people and get to the real stuff. I hated the painful weeks when it was clear that there was a top half/bottom half and people stuck around week after week. This way we can just cut to the chase. I’m interested to see how this online voting thing will play out – though I’m pretty sure it’s not REALLY going to change the voting demographic all that much.

Which brings me to my observations/predictions about tonight’s first elimination show. As I mentioned last year, I am constantly amazed at how many contestants fail to see the industry politics of Idol once the performances roll around. You’ve got one shot. The whole point is to give me a song that will convince me to buy an entire album of your music, or at least the single on iTunes. What was painfully obvious to me, but perhaps not to most viewers, is that through the production of the audition rounds, it seemed like they were picking individuals who were musicians rather than just singers. A bunch of the outtakes had contestants playing instruments, yet in this first round, my guess is they weren’t allowed to have them. This made it all the more awkward when people were criticized for “not being themselves” – if you’re a singer/songwriter type (like Tim or Paul), just singing a song doesn’t really show me what you can do.

That said, PREDICTIONS! Given what I know of this show’s history, what I think of the public’s ability to judge musical talent, and a variety of other industry audience factors (not the least of which includes the gendered, racialized politics of this show), I think there was a pretty clear top-half/bottom-half on both nights.

For the guys, I think James, Casey, Jacob and Scotty will sail through to the next round. I feel mixed about this because of those four, I can really only conceptualize one of them making an album produced by Idol that will make any money (I’ll let you guess which one). In the fifth spot, it’s a toss up. While I’d like it to be Tim, I think we’ll see Paul – though I wouldn’t count Brett out given the disproportionate number of tween girls who vote on this show and the large number of fans who enjoy voting for the worst contestant in an attempt to see more train-wreck reality TV.

For the gals, the performances were far more lackluster. That said, I think Pia, Thia, and Lauren A. are locked in to the next round. Personally, I thought Haley was the best of the night though the judges beat up on her, and I think she’ll make it through. In the fifth spot, I’m kind of hoping Lauren T. pulls it out because I like her voice, but if I know this audience at all, it will probably be Naima instead. I suppose I can also say not to count Karen out for a spot. If history is any indication, Latino performers never do well on this show – but with the addition of Jennifer on the judging panel, the viewing demographic might have changed slightly from previous years.

And that's it for this week. More on Idol in coming weeks, for sure.

1 comment:

  1. can tell you watch this show a bunch. You got most of the top 10 right on.