Posts Tagged Carrie Underwood

What’s Wrong With ‘American Idol’? Maybe Its Viewers

Casey Abrams, American Idol, Smells Like Teen Spirit

Casey Abrams avoided an early exit when Idol judges saved him.

Ryan Seacrest hinted during the American Idol results show last night that there was a shocker on the way. And he was right. Haley Reinhart didn’t get sent home — wasn’t even in the Bottom Three. Shocking!

Who almost got sent home was Casey Abrams, the scruffy-breaded, sometimes wild-eyed growler. I’m not saying Casey could win, or should win. But an exit this early? Hardly just.

And the judges agreed, using their lone “save” to keep Casey in the competition.

Some of the water cooler talk surrounding Idol the last few seasons has been this basic question: “What’s wrong with American Idol?” I say, maybe it’s the people watching the show.

American Idol has developed a huge credibility problem over the last five seasons. An Idol winner hasn’t become a bonafide superstar since Carrie Underwood (Season 4). My theory goes like this. As the show got higher and higher ratings, voting by viewers became less instinctive at picking the next music superstar.

Taylor Hicks, American Idol, Season 5

Taylor Hicks

In other words, right about the time your grandma starting watching the show, we started getting winners like Taylor Hicks instead of Chris Daughtry. Oh, and I’m not blaming your grandma. ‘Cuz she’s awesome!

I’m blaming viewers? I’m a really saying this? Yep.

Have voters become extremely predictable, especially favoring guys over girls? I wrote about that last season Read it here — how around Top 12 Week we often see all-girl Bottom Threes. And right on schedule,  it happened again this year. Guys tend to find “supporters” quicker. And it’s clear that favoritism continues through the season.

Four out of the last five winners have been guys (Taylor Hicks, David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze). Interestingly, the lone female Idol winner of the last five years, Jordin Sparks, has sold the most albums of those five winners.

So there ya go. It’s the voting. It’s clear viewers of this show prefer the Kris Allens over the Adam Lamberts. I think that explains why Casey Abrams nearly departed before his time.

Most of all, I miss the days when an Idol winner was someone who could be a superstar. When it come to winners, gimme more Kelly Clarksons. More Carries. Fewer Lee DeWyzes.

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 02.02.10

Zig-a-zig-ah! With a second-helping of guest judge Posh Spice, American Idol returned to Denver last night for one of this season’s more satisfying audition episodes.

Maybe it was the change in the “menu” that tasted so good. After six audition shows with tons of freaks and horrible singers, last night Idol shined the spotlight on the Golden Tickets. Of the ten people featured, seven were sent to Hollywood. They are:

Mark Labriola – A self-proclaimed Jack Black lookalike who sang “Tempted” by Squeeze. I like him based on song-choice alone. Never heard anyone do that one on Idol. Sounds good, and we know he’s got a personality and self-depreciating sense of humor. Did I mention he admits he looks like Jack Black?

Kimberly Kerbow – A single mom and college student with a great smile who I think was wearing a wig. Judges wonder, too. A little distracting. And a little odd when she sings she’d buy Rogaine for Simon Cowell. But her sweet version of Ingrid Michaealson’s “The Way I Am” gets her an invitation to Hairywood Week, er, Hollywood Week.

Danelle Hayes – A karaoke host from Seattle. She delivers a raspy, bluesy rendition of Melissa Etheridge‘s “I’m The Only One” that sounds not unlike, um, Melissa Etheridge. Simon makes some observation about Danelle arriving on Idol‘s doorstep at a key moment in life before she’s about to be “broken” by the corporate world. Huh? Anyway, Danelle’s got something–as long as she remembers there’s a fine line between “raspy” and “yelling.”

Casey James – This guys got “ringer” written all over him. Good-looking guy with long hair in pony tail. Posh, aka Victoria Beckham, wants to see his hair down, and somehow that degenerates to Kara Dioguardi getting him to remove his shirt. Simon says the whole thing’s embarrassing and that his audition was “boring.” Randy Jackson says Casey needs to take some “personality pills,” but votes yes. Casey’s on his way to Hollywood, where all the ingredients are there for him to step up his game and “show” Simon that he was wrong. Possible storyline. We’ll see if it plays out that way.

Tori Kelly – A pretty 16-year old student who’s either “sunny” (Posh’s word) or “a human orange” (Simon’s). Posh points out that looks are “part of this,” presumably meaning success in the music world. Posh would be the expert in that. Simon was annoyed by Tori’s version of John Mayer‘s “Gravity.” My ears disagree.

Nicci Nix – I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on with this girl. She flew all the way from Italy. Is she from there? Like an Italian citizen auditioning for American Idol? Or an American who happened to be over there? I’m confused on this point. I’m guessing rich parents, either way. She spoke with a bit of a foreign accent. Not that you’d notice an accent. Hard to hear anything else than her cartoon, Jennifer Tilly speaking voice. She sings with deeper tones, auditioning with something by Girls Aloud. Here’s my feeling: this chick’s got something interesting vocally going on that’s very recordable. Get her into a studio and I got a feeling you could create some successful pop music.

Haeley Vaughn – Her storyline is this: Haeley wants to be “the first black, female country star.” Well, my friend Rissi Palmer‘s already doing a pretty good job on that front. But this is an awesome storyline! Haeley sang Carrie Underwood‘s “Last Name,” and sang it well. Great smile, infectious attitude. Haeley’s going to Haeleywood!

Them is my thoughts. If you got some yourself, love to hear them. So leave a comment.

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 01.12.10

Seems to me, after this season, all American Idol winners will need to have an asterisk by their name. They didn’t have to face the judgment firing-squad of Simon Cowell.

The journey began last night to crown the last “real” American Idol, just one day after Simon announced that Season 9 would be his last.  The timing was not a coincidence. Might as well juice the ratings for this season (the first without Paula Abdul).

Last “real” American Idol? Okay, it might not be fair to dismiss future Kelly, Carrie and Krises like that. But there are big unknowns. What effect will Simon’s departure have on the show? Can it survive without him? Is American Idol the kind of franchise that will span the decades? Is it like the Tonight Show (56 years) or Saturday Night Live (35 years), able to continue and prosper even as it changes hosts and cast members? Or is this the beginning of the end for television’s number one show?

I have no doubt they’ll hire someone new and move forward without Simon next season. I have no idea how viewers will respond to that. But, hey, at least Idol’s not on NBC, whose current crop of execs have made a debacle out of the television institution that is the Tonight Show.

So, about last night. Auditions in Boston. Victoria Beckham guesting as “The Fourth Judge.” Beckham didn’t add much to the festivities, except to mix it up with Simon in a good ol’ fashioned duel of British accents. That’s probably why she got the call.

We know the formula for these audition shows. A whole lotta crazy and bad singing sandwiched between some talent and compelling back-stories. All of these were in play last night.

I’ve always said it’s hard to gauge too much from these auditions. After all, contestants come in with their best material, stuff they’ve practiced over-and-over. What separates the real talent is the ability to take on new material, rehearse it on a tight schedule, and sound great doing it. I defy anybody to re-watch last season’s auditions and declare, “Oh, yes! There’s the winner!” Only a few seconds of Kris Allen‘s audition aired, and none of his Hollywood Week solo performances made the cut.

But a here’s a few thoughts on some of the people who stuck out last night. Early on, 16-year old Maddy Curtis (Downs Syndrome brothers) nailed her audition, a mature-voiced version of Leonard Cohen‘s, “Hallelujah.” Unfortunately for Maddy, she wasn’t the best 16-year old female singer of the night. Enter Katie Stevens (with the Portugese grandmother) with the whole package–looks and personality, and unleashing a big voiced rendition of “At Last.”

Around the Idol water cooler this morning, people are probably mentioning “The Italian Dude,” Amadeo Diricco. Seems like a nice guy, great old-school Italian personality. Belted out some blues, brother. Fans of the show are going to like this guy. But I suspect there’s a wall. And if blues is his one trick, he gonna smack right into that wall. So here’s hoping he knows more than Muddy Waters songs.

Also notable were Tyler Grady (70s rocker looks, smooth vocals), Leah Laurenti (jazzy “Blue Skies”) and Justin Williams (NextGen Buble).

And finally, Ashley Rodriguez got major kudos from the judges. Great look, nice job on Alicia Keys‘, “If I Ain’t Got You.” Still, I wanted to hear more. So I did a search this morning. Turns out she’s got a bunch of stuff on YouTube. Search her stage name, “Ashley Makailah.” Here’s her version of a Sara Bareilles song called, “Gravity.” She’s the real deal. Definitely look for her to make the Top 12.

As always, I’m curious how you saw things. So lemme know your thoughts!

Greg Valentine
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