AMERICAN IDOL RECAP: Who Needs Charisma Anyway?


If you’re like me, you sat and plodded patiently through this past, awful season of American Idol knowing that at the very least we’d receive some sort of consolation in knowing that Crystal, the immensely talented busker from Ohio, would win it all and thus preserve the one thing this franchise had left: a thread of legitimacy. But alas, it was not meant to be. Lee DeWyze took the crown on last night’s show, thus serving up yet another upset in the hallowed history of American Idol. I wasn’t feeling the choice, but was I tremendously upset? Nah. Not really. Like many other people, I just didn’t really care who won ultimately. I was pushing for Crystal, but eh, Lee’s fine too, I suppose. Granted, he can’t quite hit any notes, and granted, he looks overwhelmed by the mere sight of a tulip, but hey, if there’s anything we learned about the reappearance of Taylor Hicks last night, it’s that star power isn’t necessary to win Idol. All you need is a strong blue-collar fan base, and you’re golden.

How else to explain Lee’s victory? It certainly wasn’t because of musicality or talent or any semblance of a dynamic personality. Clearly his Everyman from Chicago persona resonated a bit more strongly than Crystal’s Earth mother, feathers-in-the-hair, coffeeshop look. Besides, she lacked Lee’s humble nature (and perhaps some decent quality toothpaste), and that can work against you.

Continue reading



Start spreading the news: Frank Sinatra night on American Idol sort of sucked. It’s not Frank Sinatra’s fault. And it’s not guest mentor/composer Harry Connick Jr.’s fault. Really, it’s the producers’ fault. I know people love their standards, and I know they love their Sinatra (my mom excluded), but on a show that’s about finding a current, radio-friendly music star, this seemed like a step in the wrong direction. Some might argue that a night of old fashioned crooning is actually the sort of high-level challenge that the contestants should face this late in the season, and some might also reference that Tony Bennett week from a few seasons back where all the singers did magnificently; however, I’m not buying it. This was a poor choice, and it makes me wonder if the producers have any interest in reaching a young demographic anymore.

Another poor choice by the producers: selecting this crop of contestants. Yeah, I know the responsibility falls squarely on the judges for the top 24, but consider this: first, the producers weed out choices before sending them through to the judges during the first round of auditions. Second, let’s not act as if Ken Warwick & Co. don’t have ANY say in the top 24 selections whatsoever. The point is, this cast has totally failed to capture America’s imagination, and the decline in ratings proves it. A reality show lives and dies by the casting, and this bunch overall lacks impressive talent, charisma, or both. Now, at this point of the game, all the singers left have good voices, and many of them have talent too (Crystal Bowersox, for starters). The charisma factor, however, is still missing. This was evident on Rolling Stones night, Elvis night, and now with Sinatra. There’s just a general lack of swagger with this bunch. Sure, there’s preening (Big Mike) and feistiness (Crystal) and sex appeal (Casey), but no swagger. As a result, Sinatra night was something of a bore, saved only by occasional funny outbursts from Harry Connick, Jr.. Let’s just put this bad boy to sleep and move on to next season. Continue reading



I took a week off from American Idol coverage last week because of deadlines elsewhere in my life, but that’s okay because really all we missed was the lame “inspirational” week, which somehow left us hearing Casey James singing theme-inappropriate Fleetwood Mac and Tim Urban taking on a forgettable Goo Goo Dolls song. Sure, there were standout moments, such as when Crystal Bowersox broke down in tears at the end of her performance, but ultimately, the night was more noteworthy for the duds, such as Big Mike’s horrendous cover of the already horrendous tune, “Hero,” from Spider-Man. Simon maligned him for choosing a song about the webby superhero, but let’s not forget that Siobahn’s tune came from The Prince of Egypt, and of course Aaron Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” is from the one and only Space Jam. Sounds like those two got off the hook easy.
Point is, the week was kind of lame, and it was made lamer by the Idol Gives Back bonanza, which was really only notable for the hilarious skewering Wanda Sykes gave the show midway through. When the dust settled and the poor kids shuttled back to Appalachia, it was Tim Urban who got the boot, thus bringing an end to a charitable week by destroying one person’s dreams. Way to go.
Idol got back on track last night, however, with an evening of Shania Twain’s music. I can’t say I was terribly enthused by this theme, but I did thoroughly enjoy Shania as a guest judge earlier this season, and as such, I felt she would serve as a solid mentor. Turns out I was right. Unlike others (cough, Miley Cyrus) who gave generic advice, Shania seemed both enthusiastic and well-informed in her interactions with the contestants. She’s definitely television-ready, and had the producers not already settled on Ellen as a permanent guest judge, I would advocate strongly for Shania to be on the panel. At least Shania wouldn’t make repeatedly dumb puns about her last name (“All aboard the Shania Twain,” was one of Ellen’s not so wonderful nuggets).

Continue reading