TV Bites With
by Neena Louise
As much as I hate to admit it, I found myself sucked into the
phenomenon that was American Idol - at first. The audition phase
was filled with delightfully dreadful performances of the tone-deaf and
denial-filled wannabes. The finalists were comprised of no-talents,
some-talents, and stars-in-the-making. Killer comments from resident
grouch Simon Cowell made the whole thing worth watching. At first.
That was until we were tortured with bad group numbers and even worse
"skits" as the competition progressed. The group numbers were
a very bad concept from the start: the participants have such diverse
styles, voices and personalities, that they made the worst singing group
I've ever heard. And I guess the skits were supposed to be cute, but the
participants are singers not actors and their obvious lack
of acting ability was painful to watch (though Nikki McKibbin surprised
me - the camera loves her, and she could actually develop into a
decent actress with minimal training). The second-to-last elimination
show - at 60 minutes long and essentially a rerun of the night before -
was a shameless ratings grab and complete waste of time. It only took 10
seconds to announce the final two contestants; we didn't need the 59
minutes, 50 seconds of utter crap that preceded the announcement.
The integrity of the voting process (and, consequently, the show) was
also compromised, leading to Idol's further decline. Rabid fans
with power-dialers and other computer-aided cheats flooded the phone
lines, leading to the outrageous elimination of mega-talent Tamyra Gray
(15 million people voted that week, but only 12 million people watched
the show). In this technological age, surely the producers could find a
way to keep the voting process pure - web voting, perhaps, though that
would also be too easy to cheat on. Or perhaps make the voting numbers
toll calls - say, 95¢ per call. I've always been against television
shows charging for votes, but since it is painfully obvious the public
has absolutely no qualms about cheating (in fact, they seem proud of
it), it could be a solution to keeping the voting pure.
Now that it is all over, and Kelly Clarkson's been given the
well-deserved title of American Idol, it's time to make some objective
Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman
These Kings of Dorkdom were the worst thing about the show. This pair of
knuckleheads would make great announcers for cheesy off-the-strip Vegas
acts or demonstrating cleaning products at the mall, but they didn't
belong on something like American Idol. Though slated to host the
sequel, let's hope the producers get a clue and we never have to see
After the hosts, this bunch of shrieking morons was the second-worst
thing about the show. It was so difficult to listen to and evaluate the
performances with all that screaming going on - especially when they
deemed every single performance (no matter how bad) worthy of the
racket. It didn't help that the Kings of Dorkdom kept encouraging them
to be louder and they didn't even have the most rudimentary manners to
shut their big fat yaps when others were trying to speak. I wish I could
have muted the audience and still heard everyone else.
I don't know why people seemed to hate him so much. He gave brutally
honest feedback and, really, if these young people want to make it in
the music business, they will have to grow mighty thick skins if they
want to survive. Cowell's comments weren't nearly as nasty as the
music-buying public's can be (if you read any of the message boards at
idolonfox.com you'll know what I mean); nor are they anywhere close
to what music reviewers' and critics' opinions can be. Though Cowell
started to develop into a caricature and became more annoying than
amusing in his trademark nastiness, he was still entertaining.
The Anti-Simon, Abdul's sugar-coated sickeningly sweet feedback wasn't
helping anyone, least of all the no-talents who thought they could be
stars. Even her mildly negative feedback came out sounding like praise.
Or maybe it actually was praise ... it was so hard to tell.
The most honest of the three, shameless name-dropper Jackson always gave
the truest feedback. If you listened, his comments to the performers
were as nasty as Cowell's - he was just more diplomatic in his delivery.
(in alphabetical order)
With such a wimpy voice (I've heard it compared to a chipmunk) and
apparent lack of personality, Christian could never be an
"idol". Though I don't think she deserved to be eliminated
when she was, it's a good thing she had a stress-related meltdown when
she did. The pressures of a show biz career are leaps and bounds greater
than that of a mere competition, and it's better she found out sooner
rather than later that she doesn't have the stones to handle it.
Clarkson has the look, the voice and that all important "X
Factor". And she's - dare I say it? - NICE. She was the
most-deserving of the final three and I'm relieved the public could
recognize talent when they saw it and dubbed her American Idol.
The criticisms I've heard about her are the outrageous "she's too
white to sing R&B" and she's "too fat". What kind of
racist, shallow nonsense is that?!?! So, if she's too white to
sing R&B, does that mean some people are too black to sing pop? And
how many people would kill to be such a "fat" size 6? Like a
clothing size has anything to do with singing talent. Puh-leeze.
Leap into the 21st century, people, and leave those narrow-minded
comments back in the 1900s where they belong.
A last-minute finalist after another was disqualified for being too old,
Day wowed the judges with his amazing vocal range. I predicted his
demise for one reason only: he's not very good looking. I suspect he was
ousted early on for just that reason. It's a shame that people are
actually that shallow.
He has a fairly good, clean voice, but absolutely zero personality. He
couldn't dance, couldn't seem to wring a facial expression out of his
frozen mug, and was, well, boring.
She has the look, the voice, and always seemed right at home on the
stage. Some have called her a Britney Spears or Whitney Houston wannabe,
but I don't understand that characterization at all. She doesn't depend
on sex appeal like Spears (because she has a LOT more talent and doesn't
have to), nor does she oversing everything like Houston. I'd buy
a Tamyra Gray CD in a second and the fact that she was eliminated
before Justin Guarini, speaks volumes on how tainted the voting process
Though careers have been made on less, Guarini seems to have more
personality than talent. He'd make a great lounge singer (since there is
something vaguely creepy and slimy about him), but I doubt there's
enough there for American Idol status (more like teen heart-throb of the
How many of us felt his panic when he forgot the words on the Big Band
night of the competition? I found it endearing. I'm sure others did as
well, and was probably the reason why he wasn't voted off that night,
considering that was his worst performance ever. He has a good voice,
good looks, and those dazzling pearly whites, but needs some help in the
moves department. That pigeon-like head bopping has to go.
Some have called her a "Cindi Lauper Wannabe", but I don't see
it that way. She is just too interesting and different to be in a
competition like American Idol. She has a voice that, while not
quite traditional singing, isn't horrible either and has a certain
"something" - just not the something screaming preteens want.
Combine it with the look and the stage presence, and she could make it
big in the business if she chooses her material wisely, though I think
she'd make a better actress than singer.
Ryan Starr (aka: Tiffany Montgomery)
With a voice like a tuba, she couldn't sing at all and danced like she
had to pee. The only reason she made it as far as she did was that she's
very attractive, knows it, and knows how to work it (who else in their
right mind would wear a crop-top and low-rider jeans to do construction
work?). She's the Britney Spears wannabe, but Spears has a LOT
more talent than Starr (which isn't saying much). With the porn-star
name change and increasingly abbreviated clothing, Ryan Starr could make
it big in adult films.
His sob stories about his deaf parents and weight loss couldn't hide the
fact that he just can't sing. I agree with judge Simon Cowell
wholeheartedly: Idol would have failed if Verraros had gone any
farther in the competition. I wouldn't call Verraros a loser, but I
wouldn't call him a singer, either. Perhaps he should write songs
Slated for January 2003
Will people watch the sequel? Probably, but if Fox is expecting the
ratings it got with American Idol's first installment, they will
be sorely disappointed. For one thing, it is too soon to air a sequel;
for another, there won't be the advantage of summer boredom to lure
viewers in. Fox will have to make it a more interesting, less silly,
less hype-filled show in order to get the ratings. So, to make American
Idol 2 an even better viewer-sucking show, I'd:
- Dump the Kings of Dorkdom (hosts Seacrest and Dunkleman).
Suggestions for hosts: Dick Clark, Carson Daly, Sean "P. Diddy"
- Fire judge Paula Abdul for all her non-judgmental judgments.
- Bring back contestant Tamika as a judge - she's even better than
Simon Cowell in the nastiness department and is infinitely more
- Insist the audience shut up or be ejected from the studio.
- Develop a way to keep the voting process pure (I heard some brag
about voting as much as 1,000 times for the performer of their
choice. If true, it explains a lot).
- On the "results" show, announce the winners without the
stupid, supposedly anticipatory (more like irritating) "right
after the break" teasers. Plus, the results show should be only
30 minutes long and devoid of the tortuous group numbers, stupid
skits and idiotic commentary from the host(s). Fill it instead with
insider information on what a music career is really like
from people who are already successful artists: the constant travel,
hours of studio time, being away from loved ones, being on stage,
etc. etc. I think that would be a lot more interesting than watching
insipid drivel about what the contestants did during the week. Like,
we care that they went shopping. Or rehearsed. Or got a haircut. Or
got their picture taken. Or went to a premiere/awards
American Idol, like so many other British imports, was a huge hit
in the American market. I suspect it was a ratings success because,
unlike other let's-make-a-star shows like Popstars and Making
the Band, it included the public in the selection process (a very
rare occurrence in the world of television). But I can't help but
wonder: why would anyone want to be an "idol"? Teen
idols generally have careers with very short lifespans and usually
plunge into the depths of obscurity when the teens that idolize them
grow up and become ashamed of their infatuations (observe: Shaun
Cassidy, Leif Garrett, New Kids on the Block, Hanson, etc., etc.). Let's
hope these idol wannabes are ready for that, and don't ruin their lives
when their popularity inevitably wanes.
would love to know what you think, sound off on the
boards and let us know what you think!