Beaten Down by All the Hype

The events of the last week have left my head spinning.  It’s almost like God has decided to cast his own version of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.  First you had a washed up ‘B’ movie actor in David Carradine, then you had a washed up variety show sidekick in Ed McMahon, then the washed up model/actress who had not worked in twenty years unless it was on Lifetime in Farrah Fawcett, then we had the freak show that was the washed up life of Michael Jackson (see MC Hammer), and finally we have the guy who was made famous by being in commercials, Billy Mays.  Paulie Shore had better hide.

The confusing thing in all of this for me has been the extreme revisionism that has come with all of these deaths.  Suddenly, people who were fringe at best a few months ago are being hailed for their greatness.  What’s up with that?  Can’t we appropriately honor the accomplishments of these people without all of the hyperbole?

I am always brought back to the year Princess Diana died when these things come up.  Do you remember who died the same week that Diana did?  Most people do not because the press was too caught up in the hype of Diana to properly give Mother Teresa and her lifetime of service to humanity her due.  I guess the explosion of media since then has given us the ability to overhype any number of things at the same time.

It’s the hyper-revisionism that bothers me the most.  Suddenly, Michael Jackson has been elevated to a level just below that of Martin Luther King Jr.  How did this happen?  Here we have a guy that had obvious mental and emotional issues that drove him to try to appear more, for lack of a better term, ‘white’.  He married a white woman, and I don’t ever remember him taking a strong stand on racial issues unless you count his song “Black or White.”  I seem to remember allegations of molestation, but somehow a 22 million dollar broom swept them all away (and, of course he was found ‘not guilty’).  Now, there seems to be confirmation that he was gay, and did like young men.  Has that become a popular stance in the black community?  And, all of the children of his ‘baby mammas’ have turned out not to be his.  Is this the example that so many young men are following today?

Suddenly, however, everyone is rushing to praise his greatness, not just as a singer and dancer, which he was, but all other aspects of his life, and many more that have seemed to materialize after his death.  Here’s a newsflash, you can be a great singer and a great dancer, and still be a freak in the rest of your life.  It’s OK to admit it in Jackson’s case, because it’s the truth.

Unfortunately, it looks like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are going to have to have a monkey knife fight to decide who will preside over the funeral.  The self-promotion of these two guys in this case is almost as nauseating as the self-promoting of Joe Jackson (anybody need a blue-ray?).

The truth is, Michael Jackson was a great performer in the 1980s, and sadly like many people, had a hard time dealing with his fame in the years since then.  The same group of leeches that followed him during his lifetime have turned into a flock of carrion birds whose ranks have been swelled by the likes of Jackson and Sharpton.

Sadly, the exploitation of Jackson and his children is just beginning.  They say he will not be buried at Neverland.  I’ll bet the opposite.  There is money to be made if they can put the body there, so it will probably happen.  Next, you will have the Michael Jackson memorial tour in which lots of washed up singers trying to jump-start their careers will get together and sing their versions of his songs.  And, of course the tribute anthology will be released on which every artist from Whitney Houston to Jamie Foxx will sing Michael Jackson songs.  Then, in a few years when the money has stopped rolling in, and the nostalgic fervor has worn off a little, his family will sell the movie rights to his life, and back up the Brinks truck once again.

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American Idol Season 8 Finale, Tuesday May 19, 2009

What the hell is a “Guy Miner?”  Ryan Seacrest is an idiot.  I am sure he said something else, but both my wife and I heard ‘guy miner.’  I still don’t have any idea what he was saying.  Can’t we get some better writing than this on the biggest show of the season?

Adam Lambert, “Mad World”- I liked as much as I did the first time.  This is the perfect song for him.  In fact the longer version makes it much better.  His soft voice is brilliant.

The judge gushed over it except for Simon who oddly chose this song to discover that Adam is theatrical.

Kris Allen, “Ain’t No Sunshine”- The beginning of this song was simply amazing, and when it picked up, it was just as good.  I think that he looks better behind the piano than with the guitar.  This was the best that he has done, and was every bit as good as Adam’s

The judges loved this one as well.  Simon called round one for Kris.  I thought this was a little unnecessary.

Simon Fuller picked the songs for the second round.

Adam Lambert, “Change Is Gonna Come”- I thought that this was an odd choice for him, but of course, he could sing anything.  I might have thought that Aretha was singing this.  Amazing.  His emotion was incredible.

The judges practically lost it with praise.  Simon informed us that Adam was back in the game.  Really?  Was he really ‘out of the game’ in the first round.  I think Simon is drinking his own Cool-Aid.

Kris Allen, “What’s Going On?”- This song was cool, but it definitely paled in comparison with the last song by Adam.  That being said, there was really nothing to criticize about the performance.

Randy described it well as a song that was a little ‘light’.  Kara and Paula loved it.  Simon did not like it very well.  These criticisms are why I do not think someone else should be allowed to pick songs for the contestants at this point.

Simon informed us that Adam won round two.

Adam, “No Boundaries”- I hate the idea of Idol (and Kara) using this point of the show for self-promotion.  That being said, Adam turned this into a pretty respectable rock anthem even if it the lyrics were a little sappy.

Randy thought it was a little pitchy.  Kara and Paula loved it.  Simon simply congratulated him.

Kris, “No Boundaries”- His version was little more traditional.  It was very good until he forgot the lyrics… twice.  I don’t think you get to do that it this point in the competition.  The song was also a little too high for him.  His voice just sounded tired.

Suddenly, the judges did not want to judge him on this song.  What?  Isn’t that what this show is all about?  They seemed to have a decent time judging Adam’s performance of the song.  I have an Idea.  LET THE CONTESTANTS PICK THEIR OWN MUSIC!!!!  Then we don’t have to worry about this nonsense.

I like Kris and I wish him well, but I choose Adam from the first to the last.

American Idol Top 3 Results Show, Season 8, Wednesday May 13, 2009

I am really worried about tonight’s results show.  Everywhere I look, I see more and more Adam haters.  Please, please let him go through.

The Night At The Museum intro was one of the worst examples of unfunny cross-promotion ever to be foisted on the television medium.  So, so unnecessary.

Someone needs to introduce Alicia Keys to a wonderful new invention, the bra.  She might as well have been naked (Hmmmm.).  Her job was to introduce us to one of the strangest performances ever seen on Idol.  She explained that he, Noah, had learned the song ‘in English’ this week, and it was obvious that the producers’ strategy was to put a lot of singers around him and keep him way, way down in the mix.  He definitely exuded some sort of confidence, but you would have thought the Idol producers and choreographers might have assisted him a little with his stage performance.  Then again, I could be very conspiratorial and assume that the Idol producers and chorographers did assist him with his performance, and that was what they thought would have the most audience impact.  I truly hope that they would know better than to do that.

Danny was brought out onto the stage first, and all we got was ‘blah, blah, blah’ from Ryan.  Kris came out to more of the same.  Apparently Ryan thought that no one in the viewing audience watched the show last night.

I was sort of worried about the Jordan Sparks performance because I haven’t liked anything she has done since she was a contestant.  I did not care for this song either, but for the most part she sang it well.  I find that I spend a lot of time every season criticizing female Idol contestants for choosing songs that are too low for them.  This criticism rises to a whole new level when the song that you choose to sing is off your own album, and it is too low for you.  This, unfortunately, was the case for Jordan.  She also screamed much of the song.

We, then were treated to the same thing for Adam that we got for Danny and Kris.  “Blah, blah, blah.”  Couldn’t this have been a 30 minute show, and allowed me more time to watch Lost?  He deserves extra points for being smart enough to sing the national anthem straight up without tricking it up at all.  Greatness.

Nice production having Katie Perry’s mic turned down when she started to sing.  You would think that they would get better at this after 8 seasons.  As far as Katie Perry went, she also sang a song that was too low for her that was hers.  She looked hot, if also slutty, and her song was the equivalent of vocal nihilism.  Does anyone worry about writing a lyric at all anymore?  There may only be seven different notes in music, but there are millions of words and phrases in the English language.  This is where you can get very creative in a song.  She was also very pitchy.  At least she did not use a voice harmonizer.

Kris was named in the first spot next week, and my stomach got a knot in it.  Adam went through, and my faith in America was once again restored.  Good bye Danny.  He was really very good.

American Idol Top 3, Season 8, Tuesday May 12, 2009

Tonight the contestants are singing two songs.  I like it when the contestants get to pick their own songs without a bit being involved.  It allows them to perform at their best with no excuses.  However, I hate it when the judges pick songs for the contestants.  Someone always picks something stupid, or one of the songs is much better suited that the others.  There is something inherently unfair about this.  Fortunately or unfortunately we are getting one of each tonight.  I just hope the judges do not criticize the song choices that the contestants did not get to make as they usually do.

Danny Gokey, (Paula’s Choice) “Dance Little Sister”– I wondered why Paula would pick this obscure song for him.  The vocal was mostly good, but he screamed a lot.  It was also fairly manic.  There was very little range in the notes so it did not show off his vocals.

The judges liked the vocal and did not like the dance.  Simon criticized Paula’s song choice.

Kris Allen, (Kara and Randy’s Choice) “Apologize”– I did not really know this song either, but I liked the tune much better than the first song.  His vocal was great, and he emoted very well.  It sort of reminded me a little of Cold Play in a good way.

Kara is simply an idiot.  I have no idea what she meant with her criticism.  Simon criticized Kara for finding fault with the song that she chose, and the blow up was great  The review was mixed at best.

Adam Lambert, (Simon’s Choice) “One”– Simon’s choice was great.  A great song, a singers song, and popular song.  The start of the song was beautiful.  The soft tone to his voice was amazing.  Then, the song took off, and became the regular Adam Lambert show where he routinely shows how much better he is than the other competitors.  He made it his own, and changed it up a lot, but it was still great.

Danny Gokey, (Danny’s Choice) “You Are So Beautiful”– This song is the perfect choice for him.  The instrumentation at the beginning of the song was weird.  The soft tone was a little strange, and it was pitchy in the early verses.  The backup singers were way out of place, but the big note was very good.

The judges loved it with Simon saying that the vocal was ‘master class’.

Kris Allen, (Kris’s Choice) “Heartless”– It reminded me more of Santana than Kanye West.  It was cool and upbeat, but I would not call this a singer’s song.  I thought it was a very different choice for him, and the acoustic guitar was good, but I expected much more of a vocal performance.

The judges loved this performance also as much as Danny’s.

Adam Lambert, (Adam’s Choice) “Crying”– I said last week that he should be able to sing Aerosmith, and I was right.  The background vocal was way too loud, but his vocal was perfect once again.  I am trying to think of a time this season when they criticized his vocal, but I cannot think of one.

They loved his performance once again.

These three guys are all great.  I picked Danny and Adam at the beginning of the season, but now I will have to choose Kris and Adam for the final.  Kris is simply a better vocalist than Danny.

American Idol Top 4 Results Show, Season 8, Wednesday May 6, 2009 Rock Week!

Oh No!  Paula is going to sing.  Please say it isn’t so.  I thought Paula sang last year, but my wife reminded me that it was just a video.  Ryan told us this has never happened before.  No Doubt may not be my favorite group ever, but Idol has definitely had worse, and Gwen Stefani is hot when she is not looking weird.  I’m really looking forward to being able to hear another serious Idol recording artist in Chris Daughtry this evening.

The group song was good again, and I thought it was cool that Slash played with them, and did not try complete self promotion like most guests on the results show.  Good for him.

Paula started singing, or maybe I should say her computer started singing, and she somehow took credit for it.  I hate, hate, hate the voice harmonizer.  It is the worst thing to happen to music since Tiny Tim.  I am convinced that she did not sing one note of that live, and even recorded, it was a terrible song.

No Doubt sang “Just a Girl.”  I have always found this song a little irritating, but I respect the fact that they sang one of their hits.  I would have preferred “Don’t Speak.”  Gwen Stefani is so irritating.  I know that she is a true hottie when she wants to be, but she chooses to dress like a 12 year old who wants to be Cyndi Lauper.  The guy with the tutu was ludicrous.  That statement may be redundant.

I hate recaps in general, but do we really need to recap other seasons?

I was surprised to see that Kris was immediately safe, and I was suddenly worried about Adam.  Then, of course, we went to commercial break.  Afterward, Ryan made me even more nervous by making the allusion to Daughtry’s early exit a few seasons ago.

Daughtry’s performance was great.  Thanks for that Taylor Hicks pick America.

Thank goodness Adam was safe.  It was Danny and Allison alone, and Allison was sent home after delivering her best performance.

American Idol Top 4, Season 8, Tuesday May 5, 2009 Rock Week!

It seems like they waited a long time to roll out ‘rock week’ this season.  This should help Allison, Adam and Danny more than Kris.  I just hope Adam does not go too over-the-top with this.

The first thing that Ryan told us was that the stage had partially collapsed, and the contestants were not able to have a run-through before the show.  He also informed us that they would be paired up in duets.  I don’t think that I like this at all.

Slash is the perfect mentor for rock week.  I hope Idol is able to get more mentors of this caliber.

Adam Lambert, “Whole Lot of Love”– Hearing Adam sing a rock song is like hearing Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address.  It is simply great, and as it should be.  I’ve given up trying to find faults with his vocals.  There are none.

The judges completely gushed over it.  Simon said that it could not be topped.

Allison Iraheta, “Cry Baby”– Her voice suited this song perfectly.  It may have been a little screechy, but the style of the song absorbed it well.  I thought it was the best song she has sung in the entire competition.  The vocal was also perfect.

The judges were mixed at best.  I thought their critiques were pretty confusing, and I’ll be surprised if she gets anything useful out of them.

Duet: Kris Allen and Danny Gokey, “Renegade”– This duet put all the group songs in the history of the show to shame.  The harmonies were great.  I thought they were both very good, and I just hope the judges do not split hairs to try to determine which one was the better of the two.

The judges were generally positive.  Simon had to pick Danny over Kris.

Kris Allen, “Come Together”– I thought it was a very passable version of this song.  It was another vocal that I did not have one problem with.  Once again, we are splitting hairs at this point.  The question is which song is greater, and I liked the first two better

Randy liked it.  Kara and Simon did not like it and were overly critical.  Simon was right in comparing it to a jam.

Danny Gokey, “Dream On”– The scream in practice was simply bad.  In the performance, he brought the key so far down that it seemed to suck a lot of the life out of the song.  It was OK for most of the song, but the scream at the end was horrendous.  He should have sang a straight-up rock and roll song.  Aerosmith is way, way out of his league.  Adam can sing Aerosmith, and he is the only one up there that can.

The judges did not like it, but were sort of apologetic.  Simon saying, “I think you are going to be safe,” and Paula calling for a shout out from Danny’s fans seemed a little inappropriate.  How many Kris fans do we have in the house?  I guess we’ll never know because that question was never asked.

Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta, “Slow Ride”– This was another good duet, but I did not hear near as much harmony as I did in the other duet.  For that reason, I thought the first one was better than the second one.

The judges liked this one better.

I hope Danny goes home because he was simply not as good as the rest tonight.  I’ll probably be wrong about that.

American Idol Top 5 Results Show, Season 8, Wednesday April 29, 2009 Rat Pack Night!

Wow! The show started with us being informed that the spareness of Taylor Hicks, ‘The Most Failed Idol Ever’, would be on display tonight.  I should have taken a valium before trying to watch his frantic stage presentation.  Natalie Cole should be good though.

The group song seemed unusually good tonight now that we have gotten rid of the chaff.  I wonder if they are performing live now that all the contestants are very good singers or if they are still lip-syncing.

I felt like Idol was wasting my time, once again, when they showed the contrived cake baking segment.  I just don’t care about this stuff at all.  It’s like putting Lil’s baby on stage early in the competition.  There’s nothing real about it, and in a competition that falls somewhere between a talent show and a popularity contest, it comes seems like it gives some of the contestants an unfair opportunity to pick up popularity votes..

When Ryan started separating the contestants, I knew he would put Adam on the spot.  However, I was blown away by the bottom three when I saw it was Adam, Kris and Matt.  I was also a little disappointed, and fearful that Adam might be another Chris Daughtry.  I did have one question.  Why have a bottom three at this point?  Wouldn’t a bottom two be a lot more appropriate.  Also, Ryan is an ass.  Period.

I swear that I heard Natalie Cole was at death’s door with hepatitis C a couple of weeks ago.  If that was the case, she recovers quickly.  It was not the best performance I’ve every seen on the show, but compared with a lot of the tripe they have rolled out on Wednesday night this season, it was great.  I like it when she sings her father’s stuff.

I sort of owe Taylor Hicks a little bit of an apology.  He was not bad at all, and his song was very listenable.  I am not sure what his target audience is with that song.  I guess he is a country artist now, maybe.  I also guess being in Grease means he is not as failed as I thought either.  But, let’s face it, he was no real pop idol.

Kris got to sit down next, and I began to have some real fear that Adam would go home.  Oh,my!  Daughtry…Melinda…Jennifer Hudson…Adam Lambert?  Please say it isn’t so.  Matt, I like you, but you just do not compare to Adam (neither do the others for that matter).

Jamie Foxx proved that anyone can sound like an idiot with a voice harmonizer.  The voice harmonizer is simply a musical abortion.  Please, please stop using them.  There is nothing good or cool about it.  It ruined “Crimson and Clover” and nothing good has been done with it since then.  If you like that, why don’t you give a Grammy to Jamie Foxx’s computer?

Matt looked defeated as they came back from the commercial break, and in the end, it was Matt that went home.  I guess it’s time for the Adam fans to actually pick up the phone and vote.  I usually don’t, but I will from now on.  Breathe a sigh of relief, and vote next week.