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American Idle

2010-05-25 16:02

American Idol is a talent show, but first, it's a television show. Bob Dylan is talented, but I certainly don't want to spend two hours each week watching him on the box. Talent does not necessarily equal entertainment.

For many South Africans, this is the first time we've been able to actively follow the show without DStv (it previously only aired on M-Net Series), and I'm so disappointed with the offering after last year's phenomenal contenders like Adam Lambert and Kris Allen. I was hoping to see amazing transformations, and instead I've seen obstinate, brooding musicians being 'self-indulgent' (thanks for that one, Simon).

Before the stoning begins, let me reiterate that I acknowledge their talents. Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox, our finalists, are amazing musicians. But just how much have they developed over the last 12 weeks? Not much. Lee still moves away from his mic too quickly at the end of a song and Crystal's best performance, for me, was Natural Woman back in the Hollywood round. Then the question is: What was the point of this competition for them? It's just one massive marketing opportunity. Lucky for them. Not so lucky for us. We basically got to watch what would be their first live DVD spread over 12 weeks with way too many ad breaks.

So who's to blame? Well, let's start with the most obvious change of the season – judge Ellen Degeneres. Everyone is just so darn adorable, why would they change a single thing about their performance? Ellen mollycoddled this bunch and now they're just bratty, over-confident (but talented) musicians.

Simon Cowell was also not his usual acidic self this year. His disapproval seemed to be aimed at fellow judges, especially Kara (I can't blame him) rather than at the contestants. How are you ever going to get better if you don't at least get one "You suck" comment from Simon? These contestants were short-changed. Simon had mentally disengaged from the show at the beginning of the year already (when he announced this would be his last season), and it was visible in his critique and yawns.

Song choice is the real death-row convict this season. If I have to hear "I really just love the song" one more time, I'm going to feed the remote to my dog. It's the dumbest reason for choosing a song! Why was no one brave enough to say "Well, I can't really sing that high, so this song was easier" or "It was the only one I knew all the lyrics to"? We'd understand. Everyone watching has practised their own audition song in the mirror with a hairbrush already. If their love of the song truly was their motivation, then their understanding of good music made for TV sucks. No one can relate to the old, obscure songs.  

In the end though, two of these self-indulgent musicians had to make it through to the final. It was indeed a fair choice, just not a very imaginative one.

Here's hoping next season manages to crank up the excitement again. Wrist-slitting ballads should be saved for breakups and the end of really good TV shows.

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