Idolatry

I am curious if I am the only one who finds it mildly amusing that on American Idol, the contestants tend to have superior talent than the ‘guest singer’ celebrities they bring on for their results night.   You hear some of these established artists perform live and you think to yourself… “If the contestants sang that song like that, the judges would rip them a new one.”

For example, Alicia Keys just butchered her own songs.   Tsk tsk.    I wish the judges could comment.

It is unfortunate that in so many aspects of our society we have become complacent with mediocracy.   The people with real talent can only get exposure through exploit at the hands of things like Idol.   Yet we’ll auto-tune any good karaokee-performer into a mega-star.

I think the proof is in the pudding when they have one of their past contestants-who-made-it come perform.   Those ones actually sing well and you know you’ll get a good performance.   Just take Carrie Underwood’s performance tonight.

7 Replies to “Idolatry”

  1. Everyone has a bad day. I’ve heard her perform before and she’s always solid. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear she was fighting a cold or something. It wasn’t that bad of a performance, but you always have to keep in mind that live will be different from the studio album which is in a very controlled setting. I can think of many artists who are over rated (Taylor Swift anyone?) but Alicia Keys is not one of them. One less than perfect performance doesn’t change that. She isn’t autotuned (*cough* taylor swift *cough*) lol

    But yes, Carrie Underwood was great! I’m finding the only reason I watch this season of Idol at all is for Crystal. Mike is good, but beyond that I just don’t care. What sucks is after the show is over many will put out albums that the Idol folks fabricate and are so lame that it kills whatever career they could have had. Thankfully Kelly Clarkson slowly broke away from it and fought to find her own voice with her own songwriting. There were a few other good ones, beyond that I just don’t care. lol What I look for in music is real expression – personal truth, authenticity, passion. Idol says it wants that – for us to believe it – but then they overproduce the hell out of songs that the kids have no real say in recording. Just a bit of a pet peeve…

    Thankfully my wife is going to help change that problem. Not with Idol but the overproduction and losing the performance to the recording process. I can’t wait!

    1. Kind of my point though was that there is a bigger discrepancy in live-performance vs. recorded-in-a-studio performences for the non-Idol artists than there is for the Idol talent.

      The ones competing, they don’t get the ‘oh I had a cold, or whatever my excuse is for sounding crappier live than I do on the CD’ pass that artists like Alicia Keys seem too. (I’m only picking on her because she was the one who was performing… and there is a big difference in sound between that particular performance and the same songs on her albums. I actually do like her music and won’t be holding one bad night against her… this blog post notwithstanding) Unfortunately there are far too many artists these days that can’t sing well enough to make it on Idol yet still seem to be having a decent career.

      They, the Idol contestants, have to sound perfect week after week, and they get blasted by the judges if their voices don’t deliver. I’ve seen contestents suffering from colds or whatnot, or just from having over-extended their vocal cords in a previous performance (especially when they get the point they’re doing two songs a night). They get no allowance for these things affecting their performance.

      Then you get a non-idol artist on there who just can’t deliver, for whatever the reason, the same performance that comes from their album. Like Miss Keys’ performance.

      It certainly wasn’t good, either. 🙂 She flopped on both songs, New York was better, but still… Lets just say that the version I hear in my car over the radio is twice as good (if not more) than her live-performance on Idol. Having had it in my head for a week or so now, I can safely say it sounds better in there than it did over my TV.

      Maybe it was a cold, or maybe she just needs to warm up more before going on stage. (I could kind of sense she was struggling to hit the notes, and was aware she wasn’t hitting them). Regardless.. if you’re gonna preform on Idol, you best bring your A-game or stay home. 🙂

      (Given your endorsement of her previous performances… i’ll now have to wait and see the next time I hear her sing live.)

      Idol contestants, on the other-hand, tend to deliver a live-performance that is very near to the studio-fixed performance. This suggests to me that the Idol contestants tend to have better talent than the non-idol guest stars. Not that that is always the case, and that episode itself presented me some opportunity to hear from some established artists who sound very good live…. of course these are artists who have been around long enough to actually remember when putting out an album referred to vinyl.

      Idol-contestants do, I think, demonstrate a greater consistency in their performances, be they live or otherwise. I think there is just a tendancy in the younger, newer-to-the-biz (many of which don’t actually know firsthand what a compact-cassette is), artists to become too dependent on trickery to sound good, so that when you hear them live you scratch your head and wonder if that’s the real artist or a bad cover band.

      So older artists, and Idol-Contestants, we can generally expect will deliver a live-performance that is pretty on-par with how they sound on their album. Everyone else… well, don’t hold your breath. You stand to be as happy with the performance as you stand to be disappointed.

      Alicia, if you’re reading… didn’t quite do it for me on Idol, but you did get your song stuck on repeat in my head, so all in all… that can’t be bad. 🙂

      1. Are you watching the same show I am? lol Most of the people on idol this year are not very good at all. I think this is a very poor quality season and even on an off day Alicia performed better than most of those kids who were boring and have no idea what it means to perform. Most weeks I wish we could kick off 2 or 3 at once to just bypass the blahs. lol

        I think what’s going on is we’re so unused to live performance that we aren’t very forgiving of mistakes, or even artistic changes. Sometimes it’s the mistakes that create the magic of a performance. I’d rather have an artist that’s in the moment and giving their all with a few rough spots (not off pitch, just rough) than something safe, boring but with perfect pitch. That crap can be made with a computer and has no soul. In general I can forgive a mistake. I played music long enough to know how easy it is for them to happen anyway. Hell, I was taught in jazz camp that if I’m going to make a mistake, make it with conviction! Then no one knows if it was a mistake or an intentional change. lol

        Do you play music? I can’t remember if I knew or not.

  2. I’m definitely in the camp of people who have too high of expectations coming off the album. If you can’t sound nearly the same in person as you do on CD.. I’m disappointed.

    The risk you take, as an artist, in having your voice over-produced in the first place…

    1. I completely agree and understand. That’s what we want to do with music, my wife and I. Get back to good quality music, but still with that raw live quality that makes it so everyone who listens feels it. It’ll be a few years before she can really start on it, hopefully getting back in school in January. Once we (mostly she) gets going I look forward to sharing some good quality music with the Jedi community. 🙂

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