Simon maintains voice of Idol’s cruel reality



ctv photo


Clockwise, from left, American Idol’s Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest and Paula Abdul.


American Idol shifted into its second act last night with the first phone-in vote show, meant to pare down the male contestants.

The night got off to a rough start with four dismal performances, the most unhappy of which was Sundance Head singing a mournful Nights In White Satin by the Moody Blues; his journey through Idol has been a steadily diminishing one — I’m guessing it’ll soon be sundown for Sundance.

Chris Richardson actually sounds like the sort of singer who sells records — hardly a technical virtuoso, but possessing something like character, perhaps even acquainted with the meaning of the words he’s singing.

Randy and Paula love him, but Simon demurs; it’s at this point that an ugly but likely fact about Idol has to be entertained.

Simon — hated Simon, the “mean” judge — is more the voice of Idol’s cruel reality than its cherished fantasies.

Perhaps it’s the byproduct of temperamental cynicism, but Simon generally spots Idol’s likely outcomes weeks before they transpire; in this harsh light, Chris probably won’t be around in a month or so.

The less said about Nicholas Pedro the better — if oatmeal had a voice, he would sing its anthem, but Simon liked him despite Paul and Randy’s misgivings; he’ll make a good test case for the Simon theory.

Blake Lewis sang a song by Keane — the poor man’s Coldplay — and was praised by Simon for being the only contemporary-sounding singer so far.

If he’s still here in two months, call me Nostradamus.

Sanjaya Malakar, one of the standouts in the audition rounds, underwhelms soundly, Chris Sligh, another highlight, doesn’t; Simon the realist can’t fault him for being off-key, but since the likelihood of pudgy, bespectacled and ringletted making it to the finals is slim, he’s forced to compare him to a Teletubby.

It’s an unnecessarily cruel joke — which Sligh sets himself up for, admittedly — but it’s hard to see Sligh as anything but this season’s epitome of an Idol underdog.

Summing up the final three — Jared Cotter: Deflated. A. J.

Tabaldo: Cloying. Phil Stacey: Adenoidal, then anthemic, then adenoidal again.

I could probably have distilled everything that came before them with equal brevity but then I’d have to fill out the rest of this column with a review of the first four Led Zeppelin records, and I might not have a job tomorrow.