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May 5, 2010

Oh Dismal Idol.....

So I don't watch American Idol start to finish. My wife and daughter follow the show, and our family joke is that I always wander through at the worst possible times, when the singers are particularly adrift and earnestly butchering whatever song.

Last night, though, something different happened. I turned up just as Crystal Bowersox was beginning "Summer Wind." It was "Sinatra" night, with Harry Connick Jr. leading the remaining five singers through the great one's songbook. There was reason to be worried, as Sinatra's art is about subtlety and Idol is decidedly lacking in that department.

Bowersox, whose wheelhouse is Janis Joplinish rock, went gamely about her task. Even though the tempo was a bit brisk, she took her time and attempted something in the vicinity of "sultry." Which, of course, is a setting well beyond the capabilities of most Idol contestants. She suffered for it: Judge Randy called it "sleepy." Judge Ellen -- who spends most of her time babbling in seemingly reasonable made-for-TV bursts that amount to absolutely nothing -- was not moved. Judge Kara apologized for not liking the performance -- as though the two were friends and she simply hated saying anything unkind. If the show has devolved into meaninglessness this season, surely one factor has been the lame, overly general, decidedly personal "reactions" from the judging table. How on earth is a singer supposed to grow when all they're told is "I wasn't feeling you this week"?

And then came Simon Cowell, the judge whose comments are usually at least aimed at helping arm the contestant with ideas for next time. He, too, was underwhelmed: He noted that the first verse didn't work at all, prompting howls from the studio audience. He explained that it was all "jazzy" -- guess that's a no-no, better tell Frank's estate -- and then added that as it went along, the performance "got better." Which is to say showier, more Idol-like, more bombastic.

Bowersox, bless her soul, stood her ground. During the ritual post-judging interview, she noted that her intention was to honor the song -- and the song demanded a lighter touch. "I don't think I should sing really big notes just because I'm on American Idol."

Exactly.

May 5, 2010 8:25 AM | | Comments (0)

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