Was it as odd for you as it was for me watching Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez judge a bunch of normal (and lame) every day people on a reality show last night during the opening episode of AMERICAN IDOL?
Both have had good and long careers in the music field in the case of Tyler, and movies and music in the case of J.Lo. So seeing them reduced to doing AI just didn’t seem right. And, yes, I used the word reduced. Make no mistake about it. You can sugar coat it, you can talk about how great of an experience it is or whatever, but this is not a high point for either in their career. I’d say the opposite in fact, it is probably a career low. And that’s saying something for Tyler given how much Aerosmith would whore itself out for pretty much anything.
Just seeing them talk to amateur singers and losers that only want attention or to get on TV just didn’t seem right. It was like if a dude off the street went up to J.Lo and started talking about her big ass and how much he would love to do various things to it. Or if some dude wanted to show Tyler how much he could belt out a note after the end of a gig in Hoboken.
The thing that worked about the original judges is that they were either already heavily invested and entrenched in the music arena – in the case of Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell – or definitely did have a career and were trying to resuscitate it – in the case of Paula Abdul. Now granted, Abdul had numerous hits and she had a very popular dance career before that so she was also an expert in the business.
But Jackson and Cowell, who may have been well known in the music industry, weren’t as familiar to the general public. They were unknowns and with Cowell’s British temper and honesty mixed with Jackson’s hip hop demeanor, it worked. Being unknowns worked. Being an aging singer trying to get a career back worked.
They weren’t rock stars. Tyler is indeed a rock star. He’s sold a gazillion albums. He’s toured the world 30 times. J.Lo has been in a ton of movies and made millions upon millions at the box office, she was on numerous lists as one of the hottest chicks on Earth and all that jazz. Now both are doing AMERICAN IDOL?
And you can almost tell they felt that way. You could see it despite the heavy editing. They were uncomfortable at times and just didn’t know how to react or if they should react or even thoughts of “what was I thinking…”
Despite the wholesale changes to judges – three of four judges did not return (Ellen Degeneres, Cowell and Kara Dioguardi) – and format changes that will happen later on, ratings were still down for the show, some 13 percent. Not surprisingly, Cowell, in my opinion, was the glue that kept the show going for as long as it did. He was often the only honest one of the bunch and definitely made it entertaining, but 13 percent is a pretty deep dip for the debut of the most popular show on TV.
As far as the auditions go, it was more of the same. Some really bad singers, some good, some we didn’t get to hear at all. Some sappy heartfelt stories about why they are auditioning, Ryan Seacrest acting like an idiot to some of the terrible singers. The same format that has been for the past 10 years.
Let’s face facts at this point. The show will never recapture the ratings it had at its peak. There’s no doubt about it. At this point, it is about containing the bleeding for as long as they can. Changing judges got the TV world buzzing but now that it is here, it is more awkward than anything seeing these icons in Hollywood and Billboard pandering to the common man and woman. Now they could grow into the role, however, Ellen just never really did. However, it seems as if the days of wholesale being honest about a performance is over and not having the honesty of Cowell there is really going to hurt the show in the long run. Thank goodness he’s back in the fall with his own singing competition THE X-FACTOR.
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