Friday, April 11, 2008

Dashboard Jesus Idol (Idol 7 round of 8)

Did they really have this year’s Idols sing Shout for the Lord twice this week? Last night, they were all dressed in white with Syesha Mercado in shorts for some still obscure reason. The effect was more or less like they were wearing leftover wardrobe from Warren Beatty and Julie Christie’s Heaven Can Wait. You would think that someone over at Idol central might have told the producers that large parts of Africa aren’t Christian. In fact, large numbers of Americans aren’t Christian. There’s even a rumor somewhere that not all Idol watchers are Christian. I wouldn’t say that an opening line like “My Jesus, my saviour…” is necessarily offensive, but given the context it implied that Jesus has some sort of religious monopoly on charitable acts.
I had to check the channel to see if the satellite dish hadn’t shifted to the 700 Club instead of Fox.

Whlle I’m at it, I do understand that focuses on Africa, but they do have poverty in Asia and South and Central America. That said, I think Idol Gives Back 2 did fix some of the problems with last year’s exstarveaganza. Last year’s multi-site marathon was heavy on Idol promoting itself, repeated mention of corporate sponsors who bear some guilt in the current state of Africa, and constant talk of the exact amount of money being raised for the various worthy causes. (the recession might have made them a bit lower key about the this year’s money totals) It felt like the whole notion of raising awareness about the plight of children in poverty in both Africa and America fell by the wayside. The ultimate was probably when they actually had a fake elimination at the end of the telethon, then said “just kidding”, thus more or less equating getting voted off Idol with having your entire family die from malaria.

This year, they brought all the performances to the Kodak theater, spent more of the time on the narrated film clips (not all of which worked) but overall it came across as more sincere. This is not to say that it all worked. I imagine that Mariah Carey’s ultra sonic wanderings were very hard on any number of dogs. Robin Williams dusted off his proto-Borat Moscow on Hudson character without somehow bothering to update the material to include the fall of the Soviet Union. I have no idea why Miley Cyrus got to sing two songs. Even though she wears more clothes, her writhing music numbers, her limited voice, and that failed exchange with Billy Crystal (guy did not look good), I got this uneasy feeling that she’s going to have a hard time avoiding whatever happened to Britney, Lyndsay, and the Olsons. There really ought to be a rule that celebrity families are limited to one reality show. Dad Billy Ray did Dancing with the Stars last year, Miley should have to stay off Idol for at least three years. We can be thankful though that it wasn’t the Bachelor.

Miley Cyrus did help me understand why Idol probably sees so many dollar signs with David Archeleta. He sings better and is as “cute”, though I sometimes wonder if they should just proclaim him Mini-American Idol to go with last year’s Plus-Sized Seventeen year old Idol, Jordin Sparks who just wasn’t all that convincing singing her romantic duet with Chris Brown. Also, it wasn’t that Fergie sounded bad, but it felt oddly disrespectful that they let her jump into the middle of Anne Wilson’s time onstage just so they could have a skinnier woman in skintight clothing doing handstands to distract from the fact that Heart’s gotten a bit bigger since back when they were Almost Famous. Why did they dress Bradd Pitt as Bruce Willis? Is Bruce trying to talk Brad and Angelina into adopting Ashton Kutcher?

On the good end. Annie Lennox (guess she and Bono are Idol Gives Back regulars now) really was moving in her film segment and that paired well with her musical performance. Real emotion and singing can be pretty darn effective, something the Idols should have figured out for Songs of Inspiration week. Carrie Underwood sounded good doing George Michael. I liked Forest Whittaker’s film clip and it was nice to see Gordon Brown send mosquito nets to Africa instead of whatever Tony Blair might have done as George Bush’s pet prime minister.

There was also something subtly subversive about the American portions of this year’s Idol Gives Back. Simon mentioned that fifty million Americans don’t have health insurance. The show also openly acknowledged that we haven’t gotten very far in rebuilding post-Katrina New Orleans in the same month when much of America seems more committed to rebuilding Iraq than looking after the poor in our own country. The show didn’t say anything, but the two segments had their own kind of eloquence. Do we seriously think we’ll fix either problem just with telethons? Small point, but consider the fact that a month of Iraq would pay for a mosquito net for every person in Africa or that all the money raised for Idol Cares pays for maybe a couple weeks in the Green Zone. I think it also reminded the Idol audience that real children and families were involved with both.

Last year, there was an odd segment towards the end with the President and the First Lady (mostly because they seemed so stiff together). This year, they let all three remaining candidates do their bit. Obama revealed that his kids are big fans. McCain tried to crack partisan jokes (kind of iffy taste given the ecumenical context of Idol Gives Back but this is the guy who once called Chelsea Clinton ugly because he thought it would get him a laugh with donors) Hillary Clinton reminded America that she has experience working with these very causes (give her credit for staying on message).
My guess is that it was a trial balloon for some dramatic revision to the November election. Instead of voting the old-fashioned way, my guess is they’re going to have the remaining two candidates sing three songs then post 888 numbers. It’s faster and America apparently has more confidence in the results. Sadly, America also follows it a bit more closely.

Anyway, after three nights and four and half plus hours of Idol, it’s kind of hard for me to remember the singing competition part. My problem with the Idols doing songs of inspiration is that the most inspirational singing I’ve seen comes with passion and a measure of courage. The most inspirational music makes some sort of stand which is why I usually think of Paul Robeson as the real American Idol. How do you do that in the politically denatured realm of American Idol? I’m not sure you really can. In the meantime, did any of the Idols consider dedicating their song to someone or some cause? Maybe the show wouldn’t let them.

Randy and Simon beat up on Michael Johns for singing Dream On instead of being truly inspirational, but they really could have made the same criticism of all the idols. Whatever they chose, all of them were really singing about “being nice” more than making any kind of statement that would move anyone else to feel or do anything.
I wasn’t expecting Michael Johns to get voted off though. As he did his sing off, my wife was kind enough to remind me that she’ll miss looking at him. You’d think if nothing else that would translate into votes. I mean good god, Constantine stayed on the show longer as that year’s version of a male sex symbol on a show where most of the voters are female. There’s the other small matter that Michael Johns also really could sing, but sadly he got caught in the year of the “song choice”. That meant that the judges could care less about voice and look and would gush instead about Jason Castro singing Over the Rainbow with a ukelele.

Kristie Lee Cook’s been compared by a lot of people to Carmen Rasmussen, but I’m thinking Jasmine Trias. She was actually pretty good with the Martina Mcbride song, but shse’s now outlasted Michael Johns and is threatening to go to the couches one more time than Carly Smithson. What were the odds of that? I’d say they were about the same as Jasmine Trias beating both Jennifer Hudson and Latoya London. In the meantime, the cameraman seems to be obsessed with her in the group sings. I did notice that she’s stopped that weird eye-widening thing she was doing mid song.

Jason Castro spent six hundred dollars on that ukelele? Who was he inspiring? Judy Garland fans. I’d mentioned the Tiny Tim resemblance early in the season. I really liked the fact that he didn’t back off of it, though he probably has no idea who Tiny Tim is.
Also impressive, the judges made no mention whatsoever of Katharine Mcphee.

David Cook. I thought the Miami Vice look was just odd and actually they all dressed like that for the group sing the next night. He’s actually done very well in the talks with the judges. He lets the tv audience know that he’s not going to let the judges get to him and I think the voters like that.

David Archuleta: wow, who knew? The guy can sing a generically inspiring ballad. Well he did play the piano this time.

Syesha Mercado: I’m kind of at a loss. Much of the time she sings fine, but it’s like she chooses her songs from a recipe for Instant Diva, just add Whitney and sing. She’s also getting close to a tie with Kristie Lee for trips to the bottom three.

Carly Smithson: Simon might be right about “angry”. The camera just doesn’t seem to like her. She’s a bit like the Idol equivalent of Hillary Clinton. No one works harder. No one seems to have better chops for the job, but something about her on tv makes you want to resist.

Brooke White: Okay, say she won. Would they sell her CD’s at Starbucks? I actually love the whole Laura Nyro Carole King thing. Tori Amos and Norah Jones both found ways to expand that vibe. I’m just not sure that Brooke White can expand it nor is she the musician that Tori Amos is. I realize that Carole King/Carly Simon is on the more angst free end of that tradition as is Brooke White, but I’m not convinced that she has any place to go with it. Fwiw, Carole King and Carly Simon never found a place to go with it? Their careers would be exactly the same if they both stopped working in the late seventies. I know this is just Idol, but can you imagine Brooke White evolving into anything like Joni Mitchell?

Okay, my wife’s telling me that if I’m going to blog the show for three years, I’d better give something to Idol gives back. I probably should or she’ll start thinking about Michael Johns having all this free time all of a sudden.

Other Chancelucky Idol Reviews

Sir Linksalot American Idol articles

Buddy TV AMerican Idol Page



At 4/11/2008 05:16:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

Nice assessment and the use of 'exstarveaganza' automatically gets you voted to the next round for me Chancelucky.

My theory about Brooke's renewed staying power after her crappy Carole King tribute is that the poor polygamist children have now found the magic talking stick with unlimited 'anytime minutes' and are dialing in to save the poor Mormon girl.

Okay, that was clunky and awful but it ain't easy when you, Beckeye and Coaster Punchman have much more thoughtful and funny insights into the whole Idol cabal!

At 4/11/2008 07:01:00 AM, Blogger Mr. E said...

Seems that they did not sing "My Jesus" least on Wed. night I know for sure. They sang..."My Shepherd". I know this because it surprised me they changed the words. They tried to de-Jesus it...and make it a more universal unitarian type of song.

At 4/11/2008 07:10:00 AM, Blogger Buzz Stephens said...

Speaking of Judy Garland, there is an exciting group on Yahoo called The Judy Garland Experience that all Judy fans should visit.
The group features ultra rare files, photo’s, magazine articles, lively discussions, and the rarest Garland audio recordings to be found anywhere!
The membership includes fans of all levels, authors, filmakers, Garland family members, people who knew and worked with Judy, other celebrities, and more!
The only one missing is you.
This weeks featured audio includes a never released Garland concert from the mid sixties, rare studio session outtakes, a plethora of radio performances including Judy’s take on It Had To Be You, Confess, They Didn’t Believe Me, and many others.
On the Where Judy Played segment they are featuring ten years worth of Louis Armstrong performances from The Ed Sullivan Show, and this weeks song interpretations focusses on Long Ago And Far Away with rare recordings of the song by Judy and Barbra Streisand, as well as Bev Kelly and Johnny Hartman.
There are tons of other audio treasures posted as well, and the great thing is they change every week!
Please stop by our little Judyville and check it out. I promise you, you may never want to leave!

At 4/11/2008 07:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't David A also play the piano the night he sang Imagine?

At 4/11/2008 09:00:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I don't think the Mormon fundamentelists have televisions. For some reason though Reality TV has taken a very Mormon turn. David Archuleta, Brooke White, Julianne and Derek Hough from Dancing with the Stars. Makes me wonder why Mitt Romney couldn't get anyone to vote for him.

Dale, I've seen your idol comments on American Idolatry and they're maybe not at the level of the Korean Bagel Lady, but they're plenty funny and sharp enough.

Yeah, it seemed like the first night they neutralized some of the more overt lines (though the whole song is pretty drenched in Jesus) then the second night they didn't bother to tone it down which made it doubly strange.

thanks for the Judy Garland link. Here I thought she looked and sounded like Rufus Wainwright :}.

He did play piano one other time at least , probably on Imagine. I think though that time he just did the intro on the piano then got up and wandered the stage.

At 4/11/2008 09:27:00 AM, Blogger Gifted Typist said...

Sing Michael Johns get the boot and seeing Kristy Lee, Syesha and Jason go to the coach has made me lose faith in the whole enterprise.

Could it be a case of the Tweens voting off the old guy?

At 4/11/2008 09:47:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Taylor HIcks was the same age as Michael as was Bo Bice. I'm inclined to think that once in a while people just forget to vote.

At 4/11/2008 10:12:00 AM, Blogger BeckEye said...

People didn't forget to vote. Even I, who never votes, voted for Michael. The internet is going crazy today. I got more hits on my blog yesterday than EVER. My Stat Counter keyword searches ALL were some version of "michael johns eliminated american idol." No one will ever make me believe that Michael's entire HUGE fanbase just forgot to vote, while Syesha's seemingly nonexistent fanbase saved her. This is all the work of the producers who know that controversy = ratings.

At 4/11/2008 10:55:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

It was awfully dramatic. What was the bit with Ryan extending the torture? Had Michael rebuffed him in some way?

You might be right and the producers are that clever. It did seem that Carly really was fond of Michael, perhpas she'll offer him free tatoos and drinks at the pub after they both get voted off.

At 4/11/2008 01:05:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

Oh, and nice job posting "Q." I love that song. I left a comment on it at YouTube that I always crack up at 1:48 when he makes that face and gesture to the weird hippie groupie girl trying to dance behind him. She did get one nice feel in though. Lucky bitch.

At 4/11/2008 06:00:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

which guy in that video was Michael though?

At 4/12/2008 01:03:00 AM, Blogger BeckEye said...


He's the singer! I know he has shorter hair, more clean cut looking...he was probably about 21 so it was a while ago.

At 4/12/2008 08:28:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Just testing :}

At 4/12/2008 11:11:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I meant the 400 + polygamist children who were removed from the compound in Texas. :-)

As I told Beckeye, I'm not worried about Micheal Johns, Bindy Irwin needs new backup singers all the time!

At 4/13/2008 08:13:00 PM, Blogger Gifted Typist said...

Sorry Chance, I'm not a complete illiterate, she said having re-read her comment with the typo.
sing should be seeing :)

Gifted Typo-ist

At 4/13/2008 09:26:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

It is pretty mind boggling. They break up the polygamist community, then they have to figure out how to deal with hundreds of children who've known no other home.

I think Michael will do fine, apparently Dolly Parton offered to do a duet with him (Beckeye's going to be putting on a blonde wig and fake boobs soon) and Keith Urban/Nicole Kidman sound like they want to help him out.

If I apologized for all my own typos either here or on other peoples' blogs, I'd be doing nothing but apologizing. Your post was still perfectly understandable.

At 4/14/2008 02:15:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

I don't need fake boobs. I could give Dolly a run for her money.

At 4/14/2008 04:50:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

You'd probably be a better "mentor" than Dolly was....mmmmm....

At 4/18/2008 07:36:00 AM, Blogger Sunny said...

Your "Heaven Can Wait" observation similar to mine. Why always on their specials the all white? Are they going for purity? It just looks ridiculous.

Apparently Ryan has a little VFTW-er in him regarding his treatment of Johns. Man, brutal send off for a week supposedly devoted to 'pure' and altruistic ideals. Whatevs.

At 4/18/2008 01:50:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

yeah that was a strange way to torture Michael Johns...
My take is that the mix is off and Ryan's getting too much on camera time and getting too many little routines. They need to remember he's just the host...


Post a Comment

<< Home