Thursday, April 26, 2007

Idol Makes Me Mad: "Results" Show Recap

In six seasons of American Idol I am not sure I have ever been as annoyed as I was tonight. Considering all of the painful performances, shocking eliminations, and bloated results shows I have sat through, that is saying a lot.

In my recap of last night's show, I commended the producers for finding a way to integrate the charity efforts with the contestant's performances. Tonight, all of that was shot to hell.

Let me first say I am glad that a ton of money was raised for such good causes. As I said last night, Idol has given a lot of people a lot of pleasure, and I'm glad that so many wanted to give back by contributing to these very worthy charities.

Having said that, tonight's show was a big mess. There seemed to be no articulated focus -- we were, apparently calling to support Africa (there was hardly a mention of a specific nation, just "Africa" in general), literacy in Kentucky, Katrina relief in New Orleans, homelessness in Atlanta, food banks in Los Angeles, and more. It would be nice to think that $30 million could save the world, but dispersed among a dozen or so charities? Helpful, but hardly world-changing.

Then there was the way the various segments were produced. Many of the images and stories were, of course, devastating, and if they shined a light on causes for concern around the globe, then great. However, the segments were so manipulative, so self-congratulatory, and ultimately so patronizing to both the viewers and the subjects they were featuring that I almost vomited in my mouth on several occasions. I mean, forcing those kids to look into the camera and say "Thank you" before sending them back to their malaria ravaged villages? Filming AIDS-stricken children as they are on their way to the hospital to die? Randy Jackson forcing that poor kid to "go long" to catch a miniature nerf football? Just not right.

Then there were the performances, which, with only a couple of exceptions, were just plain bad. 90% of the stars that had been advertised for weeks appeared in unfunny pre-taped clips (some lasting less than 5 seconds) and the performers who did show up didn't look very inspired to be there, or were just plain bad (I'm talking about you, Il Divo). The Ben Stiller bit wasn't even a little bit humorous, and the "Staying Alive" video got old after about 12 seconds. And how about that Bono-penned song? I'm guessing he wrote that in the 15-minute car ride on the way to meet with the contestants.

And don't even get me started on that ridiculous Elvis/Celine duet. Embarrassing.

The highlight of the evening for me was the original Idol, Kelly Clarkson, who gave a spectacular, appropriately emotional performance of a Patty Griffin song, accompanied by noted guitarist Jeff Beck. While her choice of outfit was questionable, her vocals were absolutely magnificent. I just love that girl.

Josh Groban's performance with the African children's choir was also a highlight, particularly as the camera panned across the beaming faces of the children as they sang. I also enjoyed Annie Lennox' rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and Carrie Underwood's pre-taped performance of "I'll Stand By You."

But here's where I really start to get mad -- after making us sit through a well-intentioned but torturous two hours, they didn't even eliminate anybody! I saw this "shocking result" coming a mile away (basically from the moment Ryan announced that it would be the "most shocking results ever"), and, unfortunately, I had 120 minutes to get angrier and angrier about it. Yes, it would have seemed strange to send someone packing after the events of the evening, but this was an American Idol results show, people, and not eliminating someone tonight is going to impact the competition in very serious ways.

And while part of me says I should lighten up and accept that this was just a sacrifice for the good causes celebrated tonight, I can't help but be annoyed, as this is a competition that we, the viewers, are encouraged to take seriously. These kids careers are on the line, and people spent hours voting last night. Yes, the results will carry over to next week, but in combining two weeks worth of results, any number of outcomes can occur that will have been affected by this twist. Without knowing who would have been kicked off this week, or who would have been in danger, any number of things can happen next week -- in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Melinda or Blake gets the boot as a result.

I'm a little mad, can you tell?

Ultimately, I'll get over it, and next week I'll be back in the mindset of the competition, trying to figure out which two contestants will be sent packing. Until then, though, I'm gonna stew a bit. After two hours of manipulative, insulting torture tonight, I think I'm allowed.


Nick said...

Don't forget the RIDICULOUS Elvis/Celine duet.

I mean...seriously.

G said...

I kind of agree. So glad some money was raised (I gave some), but I couldn't watch several segments. The poor children looked like props in the Carrie Underwood performance. (Not her fault, of course). Paula hugging that crying girl in LA, then telling her she's not alone, and doesn't it feel good that she's not alone...then again, the judges and Seacrest aren't humanitarians. They're music industry muckitymucks. They're kind of d****d if they do go to Africa or N.O. or L.A. and embarrass themselves in front of the camera with the suffering children, and d****d if they don't. Even if there's a crassness or manipulation abou tthe whole thing...who cares...just give some money. That's what counts.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I thought the show was terrible. It seemed more about them patting themselves on the back for doing it. And aside from Kelly, I did not like any of it. Why did Carrie sing the song Gina sang this year? Is that the only song they could come up with? I love Carrie but that annoyed me. And I wonder how many millions of dollars in extra advertising they got from the expanded and hyped show- it didn't seem much like a sacrifice to them at all. They promised alot and delivered little. Most shocking results- what a joke! That wasn't shocking. I'm happy money was raised but I felt the whole thing so contrived and phony.

Anonymous said...

Two words, lighten up

abdiel said...

You know what?

After tonight I have made a decision -- I will not watch the next season, if there is one.

These awful producers used the poor as a prop. They created a hype of the unfortunate to sell, sell, sell. And they duped the voters as well.

They did not reveal the results and they have blatantly skewed the voting for next week.

I didn't want to believe it, but this week's shows have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that American Idol has proved itself to be just another tool for the Faux agenda.

How pathetic. I guess I will watch until a real talent like Melinda is kicked off. I don't care to witness the all too overrated screeching of jordin as she takes her preordained title of AI.

After this week I am convinced that AI is nothing more than another industry con. What is shameful is that they used the poor as a prop. The few million that are contributed do not compare to the many more millions that the corporate sponsors have gained in PR.

This was the most cynical display I have ever witnessed -- screw the actual results, we have a product to sell.

I regret to say that I am one person who now actually seen the light -- many have criticized Idol as a gimmick. Now we know it's true.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with most of your comments - but I admit I enjoyed the Presley/Dion duet! It was refreshing to see the younger, talented Elvis performing. I often wonder what would have happened had he not died so young and stupidly . . . maybe he would even be mentoring today's "idols"!

I think what angered me most is that all the people making appeals earn millions of dollars a year and here they were imploring viewers, most of whom will be lucky to see that much in a lifetime, to make a contribution! (Did they get paid for last night too?) Ellen was the only one who said she mas making a contribution - $100,000 - probably the equivalent of my giving $10!

Kevin said...

I think the finale last year (which was so far above expectations) and the endless promotion of it really set this one up for failure -- it was uninspired, vacuous and stupid. At least, my expectations for the finale, are back to reality--it should be the usual 2 hour snooze fest.

Anonymous said...

If you didn't like Il Divo...that's just UNBELIEVABLE! They are a fabulous group of men who sing AMAZING!!!!!!!

Jessica said...

i liked Kelly's song and she sang it beautifully...but i actually prefered Carrie's "I'll Stand By You" i have purchased it on itunes and have listened to it over and over, i loved that performance (or video package)

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree. I thought all of the performances were good although the Il Divo one was a little bizarre. Kelly, Annie Lennox, and Josh Groban were highlights for me. I even though the Celine/Elvis duet wasn't too shabby. I also enjoyed the Ben Stiller and Jack Black moments very much. The Stayin' Alive video was funny b/c the stars weren't afraid to look dorky.

A live show jumping back and forth between venues is not an easy task, so I think they handled it the best they could. The segments of the various visits were compelling to me b/c they told great and touching stories. Personally, I like seeing how the AI people were touched especially Simon b/c you could tell he wasn't at ease with showing his emotions but he couldn't hide it.

Finally, I bet you couldn't find one of the final 6 who is upset that no one was eliminated. I'm not b/c it let the night end on a high note. Unlike season 2, they didn't identify the bottom vote getters. The votes didn't go to waste since they will still count and besides that they raised money.

In my opinion, people are over thinking the whole thing and losing sight of what this was all about....the people in need and helping them. Nothing the show did or did not do is harming us in any way. Everything the show did is going to help those people we saw who desperately need it. In short, we need to get over ourselves and our ideas of what should or should not have been done and remember that.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I thought it was the biggest fraud to hit TV in years. What a waste of time. It they want to hold a telethon hold one, don't give us this crap!!!!!!

Melanie said...

The "Idol" star who has been most heavily involved in charity and humanitarian work, and for the longest time, is Clay Aiken, who has been a UNICEF Ambassador to Darfur (Africa) as well as to various places in Asia since 2004. He is also one of the biggest commercial successes to come from the Idol stable. It's more than odd that not only was he left off their "star roster" for an event like this but his work for UNICEF -- which is highlighted in UNICEF's own write-up of Idol Gives Back -- was not even mentioned.
Several other former Idols, including the Idol winners Taylor Hicks, Fantasia and Ruben Studdard, have been doing as much for charity (e.g., New Orleans) as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, or more. They weren't invited to the big "charity" party either.

$30 million raised, with all those $ multi-billion corporations 'contributing', seems rather paltry and won't go a long way to helping the multitude of charities they supported. But the show will boost the public image of Kelly C, Carrie U, Simon's boys Il Divo, Josh Groban, etc. Not to mention the Idol franchise itself.
"Exploitive" is the word that comes to mind.

Oh, and I loved the Elvis 'resurrection' for its techno feats and for seeing The King do that song again. I don't think Celine D added anything to it.