Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"American Idol" Breakdown

You know, I try not to be like other bloggers too much, especially the gay ones. And one thing I notice on nearly every gay blog I come across is posts about "American Idol." And I get the urge to invent yet another gay stereotype, i.e. we love us some AI. But a lot of people love that show, and I can no longer hold off on discussing this season.

AI Season 6 General Comments
I hated this season when it first started. I wondered why this show keeps coming back. They already have the best they're going to get in Kelly Clarkson (arguably). No one else they produce is going to be as big as her (and I can already hear the gays, especially the girly gay guys, scrambling to point J-Hud out to me). Now I think this season is tragic-ly talented, as I will explain more as I go along through this post. I think they made a few mistakes in who they let through to the top 24, but I am betting a lot of the people they mistakenly left out would be gone by now anyways had they made the show...

Front Runners
I've got to be my usually un-PC self and just break it down: the black people are runnin' it this season. There are a couple white people who are starting to step up, and I think that's great. But I still think the blacks smoke them all. Even the black guys who got sent packing were better vocalists than the white dudes left standing. Jared Cotter just happened to be this annoying pretty boy who didn't have the good fortune of being featured a lot prior to the top 24. Brandon Rogers wasn't featured a lot, either, plus didn't really have anything particularly memorable about him to help him out. I think not being played up by the AI crew has quite a bit to do with who gets cut early on--I think this was AJ Tabaldo's problem, despite being really good.

That said, AI always has one major surprise elimination around 4th place. So I'm looking at LaKisha Jones, Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle and--just for good measure--Blake Lewis. Who oh who could end up our surprise elimination? Well, possibly two of them, because usually the 3rd place honor goes to someone who is not worthy (not true with Season 4 when Carrie Underwood won and Vonzell Solomon ended up in 3rd place), which all four of these people totally would be. I would bet on, with the way things are going right now, LaKisha and/or Blake going home before their time. I just hope 3rd place doesn't end up Haley Scarnato or Sanjaya Malakar. Then again, the finale would look weird without a male/female showdown...not that it hasn't happened before (Ruben Studdard/Clay Aiken and Fantasia Barrino/Diana DeGarmo).

Melinda Doolittle is going to win. I feel completely confident saying that. To me, the only real difference between her and LaKisha is that Melinda is being played up for this modesty thing that everyone finds so adorable. That's what's carrying her straight to the top. Otherwise, they are both equally...well, vocally talented, no question, but boring performers. They don't bring the all-around package like someone like Blake does. They are singers who would never get the time of day from a major record label without this show, because there's nothing mainstream about them...not really even their voices (they sing too well for the mainstream). Blake and Chris Richardson would be getting signed, and will be even when they don't win this show.

In case you want to fight me on this...I used to work in the music industry. I know quite a bit about how it goes. ;) I think that's the downfall of people who tend to do well on this show, though...they are so talented, but they aren't the total package. That's one of the reasons why they will never achieve Kelly Clarkson status. I see people like Melinda and LaKisha as singers who would have done well in R&B in the 70s and especially the 80s. For some reason, Melinda really reminds me of Stephanie Mills...not that I should really even be considered old enough to be "reminded" of her, but...yeah, I am. I was a kid, but I remember her.

Song Selections
Bad song choices all over the place throughout this season. I just don't know what people are thinking. I can't tell you off the top of my head what a lot of these people have sang, and, you know...I think that's part of the problem. If you're going on AI, you have to pick songs people know--it makes the performance more exciting and, for your sake as someone wanting people to vote for you, more memorable. Pick songs that require actually being able to sing well...but not too well. I don't know why these chicks haven't learned this, but you don't need to go on AI singing Celine/Whitney/Mariah and other diva songs. It's kind of arrogant to think you can even pull those songs off the way they need to be, not that some AI contestants haven't done it. More often than not, AI contestants can't do it. Finally, males don't need to sing songs that are originally sang by just never works out on AI. The judges always hate that. Phil Stacey covering LeAnn Rimes? What...the...freak? And I vaguely remember Anwar Robinson getting scolded for doing, I think it was, a Chaka song.

And now to cover specific contestants...

Stephanie Edwards
I saw on a sidebar on Keith Boykin's blog how surprised he was that Stephanie didn't receive enough votes to remain on AI. But, really, it wasn't surprising. I loved, loved Stephanie...personally, probably more than Melinda and LaKisha. But...same problem Sabrina Sloan ran into--too many talented black women, too many people splitting the black vote. I think I preferred Stephanie because she's just "younger" to me than Melinda and LaKisha are. Some people called Stephanie boring on other blogs I saw, or something to that effect...didn't stand out, or whatever. And Stephanie had started becoming a tad disappointing. But I'm still not over her performance of Beyonce's "Dangerously In Love."

Another reason I wasn't surprised that Stephanie went home was because I cheat. Every week, I check AOL's AI poll to see how people voted and who has the least amount of votes. I noticed ever since the top 12 had been assembled that Stephanie was near the bottom consistently. It was ridiculous to me, but then Jordin Sparks started getting better and...along with LaKisha and Melinda...there are just not enough people in the country who are going to vote for all of them.

I think it's a shame, because there's no such thing as a "white vote," really. Black people will notice good white singers and vote for them. I certainly voted for Carrie Underwood and Katharine McPhee (no matter how disappointing Katharine was in many of her performances...the talent was there, and I knew she had more mainstream appeal than Taylor Hicks). This is not to say there aren't non-blacks voting for some of these black women, but I don't think they (on the whole) open-mindedly support black contestants like many blacks will support white ones, kind of like with politics. And out of those five black women, Sabrina and Stephanie were the least memorable. Jordin has that annoyingly sweet personality, LaKisha and Melinda the big vocals. Any other season, they would have gotten farther, but this is what I mean about this season being tragic-ly talented...

Chris Richardson someone please phone that boy and let him know he is not Justin Timberlake?! I mean, damn! Having one Justin is bad enough...we really don't need him, too! And this one dude was on TVGuide's "Idol Chat" last night--come to think of it, I think the guy writes AI reviews for TVGuide--and he called Chris Justin Timberfake. I am so stealing that. You have no idea how passionately I hate Justin, so Chris just makes me want to hurt somebody, particularly when he sings. Nothing drives me crazier than guys who think they are so sexy, and his voice is just so trying-too-hard-ish. I mean, when he came on to sing No Doubt's "Don't Speak," I was like, "Oh, great--'Don't Speak,' the Justin Timberlake version." As my mother would say, "Lord, deliver me!"

Chris Sligh
Because I cheated by looking at the AOL poll, I knew he was going home tonight. I like Chris Sligh...I think he's very talented. But he messed up many a good song and potentially very good performance by not having his timing down with the track. All I could think last night was, "How white of him--he has absolutely no rhythm!" Not that I buy into that, you understand. But he had become a letdown, and he paid for it tonight.

Phil Stacey
I have been seeing a lot of people put Phil in the same category with Haley and Sanjaya. He doesn't belong there, and I think last night he showed some people why not. He is a great singer. I just think he has been coasting, as well as making incredibly bad song choices. Last night was the perfect song choice for him (The Police's "Every Breath You Take"), and he sang it perfectly.

Haley Scarnato
She can sing. But she doesn't compare to the other females in the competition.

Gina Glocksen
Honestly, she has become my favorite female of all the ones whom I know have no chance of winning. She might even be my female favorite, period. I think she was a tad overrated last night on The Pretenders "I Stand By You" performance. Someone on AfterEllen actually said she thinks Gina did as well as Melinda did last night. Um, no. But she is definitely the best white chick this season.

Blake Lewis
And this has become my favorite male and might just be my favorite, period. Like I said, total package--no one else this season has it, no one. He's completely original, and he could go into a studio right now and come out with something commercial, creative and unique that many of us would like to buy. He looks white as crap, but he has some R&B for you. He's the best performer, and there have been a few performances that I wish he would release on a CD. I think he was unfairly chastised for his rendition of Diana Ross's "You Keep Me Hangin' On", anyone remember (or know about) Kim Wilde's cheesy dancepop version? Blake's was a thousand times better, and he needs to put that on a CD for me just the way he arranged it. I first thought Blake was so overrated, but that performance, as well as the Beatles "Time of the Season" performance, totally turned me on to him.

He could stand to step back on the beatboxing thing, which, apparently, some of you white people don't understand (eh-hmmm, points at Justin Timberlake, as well as Blake) is so two decades ago. But hey, we, as black people, have our things that we'll never catch up to whitey in (oh, like education, employment, housing, just generally being considered human beings)...and, apparently, white people have their things they'll never catch up to us in. ;)