Not my idol
By Alun Thomas
The day after one the bodies of the three missing US soldiers in Iraq was found, the headline story on my AOL homepage on the internet was Jordin Sparks winning American Idol. If that doesn't say it all nothing does. A faceless female singer taking a massive shortcut to success through an even more faceless TV show is more worthy of the headline than a fallen soldier, Pfc Joseph Anzack Jr, missing for two weeks, killed by insurgents. What disgusts me more is I watched the American Idol finale, only because my wife was recording it. It gave me a first hand look at a show I had never watched up to that point, and one that instead deserves to be found dead in a river. The self congratulatory sickness of 'Idol', devoted to bland, unmemorable vocalists belting out tired cover versions makes you wonder where the real ones are. And where they are is dead and relegated to the sidebars.
I am often amused that twenty years since his 'Heartbeat' album Don Johnson is still ridiculed by the doyens of pop culture, who still get a chortle seeing the 'Miami Vice' hero's superb attempts at singing. Can someone honestly convince me that Idol runner up Blake has more credibility? If old Don was a contestant on Idol then the man's a winner hands down. For that matter so is Michael Bolton or even Bruce Willis. 'Idol' itself is a sham because winning ultimately means nothing. Every two bit contestant has a record deal now so what's the point? Chris Daughtry has sold millions of his self titled cd and he wasn't even runner up. So how did he lose? It's inevitable that vilified teen Sanjaya will be releasing his own cd soon as well as the lovable fat geek wearing glasses, even though both were tepid beyond comprehension.
Yet somehow Sanjaya was up there during the final, singing a cover of 'You Really Got Me', surely one of the most predictable and dull covers anyone could ever conceive of performing. What was worse was seeing Joe Perry next to him playing guitar. How much did they pay Perry to whore his services out to these pretenders? Having Bette Midler appear to sing 'Wind Beneath My wings' took the cake, as did Jerry Springer in tears in the audience. This was one of those atrocities I couldn't take my eyes off. The more it sickened me, the more I liked it. But by the time the winner was announced, and having to see close-ups of Paula Abdul in fake tears, the falsity of the event, and the wretched fact seventy four million hopeless Americans took the time to vote for the two finalists, I must confess anger slowly overtook me.
What happened to solo artists with real charisma? Individuality? Does the world need another R and B flavored diva with no personality? What is Jordin Sparks adding to the world of music? Much like the little kid who finished runner up? Why can't there be a male solo artist culled straight from 1981 inserted into the competition? One wearing a members only jacket, with a chain and a hairy chest, singing a distinctive kind of melodic AOR with a ton of keyboards, with a voice that has emotion and range. From what I saw and heard all the finalists this year had no creativity or power in their overall tone. It's just recycled images and cover songs that have no imagination.
It's senseless and never ending. The show 'Dancing With The Stars' isn't any better. The worst aspect is taking these ideas and running them into the ground year after year. Who in their right mind wants to watch John Ratzenburger dancing? Is this what it's come to? Ask Joe Perry. I came up with a world beating idea while watching the final of 'Dancing With The Stars' (recorded by wife). What about 'Fucking With The Stars', where a group of faded celebrities have live sex with notable porn stars and are given marks by an all star panel of porn legends? That would sell. But no, we get to see Green Day on stage covering John Lennon's 'Working Class Hero', something Lennon never was.
Somewhere there's a real solo artist paying dues in the most trying of circumstances who will never get the break these frauds have obtained. But the frauds are America's sweethearts. When people get out of bed in the morning they aren't interested in hearing about another young soldier killed serving the country who went missing when ambushed, with still two comrades missing. They want to gorge themselves on recyclable fodder like 'American Idol', because that's all they know. What isn't real. Anything to live through someone else. Joseph Anzack Jr achieved more at age 20 than Jordin Sparks will in a lifetime. He died fighting. Compare the two and their importance. All you can do is laugh.