American Idol is NOT a Singing Contest

Last night on this highly popular American television show, the stage was graced with the likes of many powerful celebrities, Janet Jackson, Alanis Morissette, Chicago, and even Joe Cocker.  The show vacillated between being a results show and being a farewell to the only valid judge on the panel, Simon Cowell.  Even if many people dislike Simon, he has an ear and he’s usually right.  After a high strung Paula Abdul gave praise to Simon and he said his thank you’s, the time arrived to see who America voted for.  The winner:

Lee Dewyze

Admittedly, I did not watch American Idol much this season, however many friends urged me to listen to Crystal Bowersox.  I began watching at the point when four singers (or non-singers) remained, including Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox.  The first performance I heard was actually a duet between the two, and I was appalled at the inconsistency of tuning that Mr. Dewyze exhibited.  Of course, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought, “Maybe it’s because it’s a duet and he can’t hear himself well enough in his ear monitors.”  NOPE!!!!  It continued throughout the remainder of his performances.  Thus, the new American Idol is the “pitchiest” of the “pitchy.”  He is either sharp or flat and even last night, and granted while singing through the emotion of winning, he was extraordinarily out of tune.  Yet, out of thousands he is chosen as America’s Idol.  WHAT GIVES?

Crystal Bowersox

So, let’s talk about singing for just ONE second because this contest is, from what is publicized, supposed to be about singing. But is it, really?  It is ABSOLUTELY NOT about singing.  If it were about singing, the clear winner would have been the lady pictured above, but guess what?  SHE’S DIFFERENT!  And, as progressive as we are as a public body, we are totally uncomfortable with different.  Frankly, and after having listened to thousands of voices in my life time, it takes 20 seconds to hear a voice and know whether it has potential.  This girl has potential.  Not only that, she has that indeterminate something, what I call the “X-factor” that producers and agents look for, that would deem her interesting, marketable, and OH GUESS WHAT?  SHE CAN ACTUALLY SING!!!!

Although four judges and a stream of vocal coaches (or so they call themselves) work for American Idol and voice their opinion about the various voices, the show is nothing but a grand popularity contest and the majority of votes are made by teens and teeny-boppers who vote for the cutest face on the show.  Consequently, Crystal is the type of artist who might intimidate a teenage girl because she is “different” and so it is hardly surprising that she was not chosen; instead, they voted for the cute but out of tune, Lee Dewyze.  So, what will happen to Crystal and her rocker-edged voice (which I really like)?  Just like her predecessors, Adam Lambert and Clay Aiken, etc…she will have the better career.  Some producer will snap her up; in fact, this probably already happened yesterday.

This show is becoming predictable and frankly it gives young aspiring performers the WRONG impression.  What have we learned about hitting the big-time? That it’s ok to be out of tune as long as you’re cute.  COME ON PEOPLE!  American Idol ought to make some drastic changes to their format if they want to remain a viable talent program.  It seems to me that the judges have no power at all, so why are they there?  Simply to influence the teenage audience of America?  Since the “Ear-Man” is leaving, perhaps they should change the rules or change the name of the program….except that the name of the program fails to have the word “Talent” or “Singing” in it, so maybe it’s all justified in the end.  Regardless, what became the national talent of America last night is not a singer.  I’ve heard more elaborate talent and voices in bars, and I’m not saying that to be mean.  Mr. Dewyze has obviously improved and has gone from selling paint to becoming a teen star.  For that, I am proud of him and happy for him, but the clear singer is Crystal and only time will prove once again who will have the lasting career.

Bowersox has the “X-Factor”