Hard to believe it’s been 12 years since Nikki McKibbin, Justin Guarini and another unknown named Kelly Clarkson battled it out for the right to compete in the big finale of “American Idol.” Still harder to believe, however, is that all these years and all these finales later people are still talking about two fundamental issues, relevance and song choice.
Last night’s results show proved once again that little progress has been made on either front. The show opened with a series of three montages of the semi-finalist’s triumphant returns to their respective hometowns, set to the 1967 Simon & Garfunkel hit “Homeward Bound.” Great song, but not exactly reaching out to the show’s biggest demographic.
Next up was a contestant cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1978 cover of the Beatles’ 1966 hit “Got to Get You Into My Life.” Again, great song, but these poor kids looked like they were fronting a wedding band playing to a bunch of people doing the bump at a local function hall. Nobody’s downloading that mess.
The final nail in the relevance coffin came when it was time to pay tribute to Donna Summer. The disco diva, who had appeared on the show and whose songs are absolute classics, deserved much more than a mere mention. But if that’s all you’ve got, could they have found someone other than Tom Hanks’ wife and Carol Bayer Sager to do it?
Ah well, enough filler, time to get to the business at hand. Given that they have 60 minutes to make a 30-second announcement, they actually do a nice job recapping the performances complete with color commentary from music executive Jimmy Iovine.
They should make him a judge. The three celebrities haven’t offered one critical piece of feedback all season. If they take their advice, every one of these contestants believes they’ll have a great recording career ahead of them. Someone needs to tell them the only also-rans that most people remember are Sanjaya and William Hung. Only one of them got a recording contract. If you aren’t familiar with those names from the golden age of “Idol,” simply look at those links and you’ll be able to guess which one got signed.
Joshua Ledet was the first to go under Iovine’s microscope and he failed to impress with his screechy rendition of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.” (Personally deaf seems like a better option after hearing it.) But it was his bastardization of “Imagine” that really caught the bulk of Iovine’s criticism. Bad song choices indeed, but what he did with them made it even worse.
Next up was a foolish skit featuring Jennie from the Block answering multiple phone lines in her dressing room (as if). It was supposed to be a funny plug for the newest “Ice Age” film. It wasn’t.
With nothing but time, Lisa Marie Presley got to perform her newest single “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” Hmm…heard that title before. The whole schtick looked like it was lifted from a Tim Burton movie. Not exactly appealing to the girls who do the voting (and the downloading).
Not so for contestant Jessica Sanchez who fared much better in Iovine’s opinion but still didn’t wow him. She got mad props for her rendition of a song made famous by Judge Tyler’s band “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Must be something 16-year old girls like about this song. Allison Iraheta blew the judges and the crowd away with her version of it in 2009. Coincidence? Hmm.
Speaking of 2009, next up on the filler parade was that season’s runner-up Adam Lambert. Hawking his latest album “Trespassing,” the flamboyant song bird never disappoints. His earrings, nail polish and T-shirt were all perfectly matching canary yellow. Oh yeah, and he sang some song.
Finally, the last recap of the night was Phil Phillips who Iovine believes won the night with his version of Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight.” Not sure if Bob, or any of his legions of fans, would agree, but they’re not the ones doing the voting, are they?
Finally, Seacrest breaks the news that it’s time for Josh to head back to the Big Easy. After what he did to “Imagine,” it’s hard to debate America’s choice on this one.
Next week, it’s Jessica Sanchez versus Phil Phillips. It’s looking good for Phillips as history seems to favor the cute young guy who plays guitar. Remember Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze? Nobody else does either, but they did win this thing once upon a time.