Recently, I have written a couple of articles about American Idol. In one, “American Idol, Johnny Depp, Bette Midler, Nina Simone and Diamanda Galas Put a Spell on You” (here), I began with a performance of “I Put a Spell on You” on American Idol to ramble through various covers of that grand song, and in “Lady Gaga and Edith Piaf Are Shocking on American Idol!” (here), I used a reference to Edith Piaf by Lady Gaga, in her role as an American Idol mentor, as an excuse to write about Piaf, one of my all-time musical favorites.
There were a few comments expressing surprise that I watch American Idol. Yep, I write articles about such performers as Zee Avi (here) and Johnny Cash (here), and I have a virtual cottage industry of churning out articles on the great French composer Olivier Messiaen (here, just for the most recent).
American Idol: the bad and the good
But, American Idol, the tacky white-bread, red-state karaoke ratings monster changed my life more profoundly than any other television program.
The only value of the judges and the host seems to be to demonstrate how to run a mouth without saying anything. The loss of Simon Cowell is lamentable, although he went over the top at times but nonetheless gave the warbling youngsters a much-needed reality check. I am not much of a fan of the singers themselves, and I realize every season that if I have favorites (Casey Abrams, this season), they will not win (with one exception).
What I do like about the show is the chance to hear the songs themselves, magnificent songs that just do not turn up much on television or radio. American Idol has never reached again the level to which Fantasia Barrino, my one favorite who won, took it with her performance of “Summertime” (listen).
Not only do I enjoy getting to hear these songs again, but also, I hope that the singers learn something from performing them and that the texting teenagers who weight so heavily on the voting might learn a little about music. I do not like the practice of the singers covering (singing) not the original song but a cover, such as the pretty-boy version of Leonard Cohen’s s & m tinged “Halelleujah.”
How American Idol changed my life
A few years ago, after missing an episode of American Idol, I searched on the Internet for some updates. I came upon a couple of articles (I do not remember the names of the authors), both on a site called Associated Content. I began reading some articles there, and when I lost my job a few months later, I realized I could stay home in the company of cats, parrot, and orchids, and write for Associated Content. laughing at the disappearance of the job market.
I have to credit American Idol with my discovery of Associated Content and my new job. Now, would you like to see the Mercedes I purchased with my AC earnings? So would I. On a good month, I can buy myself a small bottle of Kentucky’s not-quite-finest.
But, AC has given me an amazing network of contacts, in some cases, friends, too many to try to name here, and it has also given me a reason to research and write about subjects as diverse as dinosaurs (index article) and unicorns (index article), New York City (index article) and gnosticism (index article), as well as many, many topics that resulted in but a single article, such as beer (here) and the political uses of panties (here).
American Idol, for all your cheesiness, and I do not mean brie, I have to thank you. I have read and written, “met” wonderful people, shared their incredible personal experiences, and even had my parrot get interviewed (here) and have had suggestions that I share my bourbon with him, which will not happen until I can buy that Mercedes.
Tonight, I will not be really excited about watching two country kiddies learn the results, and judging from American Idol‘s record, I wonder if one of them will indeed become a “superstar.” I shall just hope that their experience with American Idol will turn out as well as mine has.