"A long long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. And I knew if I had my chance that I could make those people dance, and maybe they'd be happy for awhile. But February made me shiver with every paper I'd deliver. Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn't take one more step. I can't remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride, but something touched me deep inside the day the music died."
- Don McleanIt's almost like hearing The Tonight Show or Saturday Night Live has been canceled.
American Idol, an American institution which for over a decade destroyed the competition, revolutionized television programming, and drew more viewers than every show on TV not named the Super Bowl, is going bye bye.
After the show began its free-fall during the disastrously manipulated 12th season, and subsequently crashed into the death spiral of irrelevance by this, its 14th and 2nd last season, the handwriting was on the wall.
Then, in an official statement by FOX this afternoon (Monday) it was announced to the surprise of no one that the old gray mare was being sent to the glue factory next year after its 15th and final season.
I have to admit a sense of sadness. I casually watched the show in its first 5 years, randomly catching occasional episodes and watching the finale, but in Season 6 for some reason I started becoming a super fan and religiously watched every episode.
Therefore, here is my personal Idol journey from AI 6 thru today, where I will highlight my favorite artists of each season.
I became infatuated with sexy Haley Scarnato, who had a pleasant enough voice and very hot legs. Unfortunately, she was beaten to death by cranky British judge Simon Cowell every single week without fail. I was outraged by these unjust attacks on my foxy babe, and for the first time I began to vote.
Alas, my Haley was eliminated 8th despite my best efforts. I was hoping she'd somehow sneak into the Top 5, but it was not meant to be. Fortunately, another girl named Haley would come along four seasons later with the chops to match her sexy legs, but I'll save that for later.
I was all about the Cookster from the get go. He was a revolutionary Idol. The first contestant to really transform songs, and used smoke and lighting to create a larger than life stage presence. He was a rock GOD, and I was all in for the dude bell to bell. Though I feared the uber-pimped Christ Child (David Archuletta) could cruise to victory, for what would be one of only two times in my Idol watching history.... MY fave won!!
Allison Irahita was my fave of AI8. She had a voice with the smokey, sultry textures of a 40 year old blues singer in the body of a 17 year old girl. She probably should have waited another year to audition, because she was a bit too young to handle the fame and craziness that comes with show business. She was bounced in 4th, but I was hoping she'd shock the world and sneak into the finale.
Mamasox. I absolutely LOVED her. This would become the first Idol artist I followed on twitter, and also the first I remained a huge fan of post-Idol. I have bought all her records, and consider her to have the most pristine voice of any Idol. She also proved to be a true road warrior and a BRILLIANT song writer of tremendous depth. When she unbelievably lost to Dewyze I almost smashed the TV.
Post-Idol, I've gained genuine respect for her dedication to her craft as a musician. Crystal came to the show not only talented, but street wise and worldly. After the show, she used those tools to become a prolific recording artist and tireless road warrior. She tours exhaustively all over the country (except SoFL, damn it), and became everything I had hoped she'd become when I watched her as a contestant.
I am proud to be a Village Idiot (the original nickname of her fan base), and will always be a devoted fan of Crystal Bowersox.
The Haley bug bit me again, but this time it was a MUCH deeper bite. I fell in love with Hot Haley Reinhart at her Oh Darlin' audition, and continued to love her all the way through the competition.
I also loved Pia Toscano's voice, and her incredible beauty, but sadly she was sent home WAY too early...which nearly caused me to destroy the TV set again. I've also found Pia post-Idol to be a beautiful woman inside and out and root for her success personally and professionally.
So, do you get the idea I may dig super hot women?
Anyway, there was no greater injustice than Haley not making the finale, and I think it may have led to the demise of the show. The producers and judges railroaded her out so the country twins could get to the finale. Man, did that piss me off. Yes, it was TV set smashing time yet again.
That said, Haley has me transfixed. As a contestant, I LOVED her sex appeal, and still do, but I love her incredible voice even more....especially when it comes to jazz. She is gifted with an almost unfair combination of smokey, sultry, smooth, silky, raspy, and about a thousand octave range that can blow minds. With all those gifts she can sing nearly anything, any genre, at the highest levels, but in jazz she has a natural instinct for improvisation that sets her apart from all others. She can texture and layer her vocals to massage the brain into a near euphoric state.
Haley came to the show still learning who she is as an artist. She's still on that journey finding herself, learning who she is, what she's best at, what will work for her the most, and how to navigate the business of the business. What I've observed as she's gotten a bit older, a bit more experienced in her music career, is that she's starting to find her path, her way, her calling. She is a bluesy jazz singer, and from her success with Postmodern Jukebox, her many performances with Grammy winning jazz man Irvin Mayfield Jr, and her tight relationship AI 10 finalist Casey Abrams, himself an accomplished jazz musician prolific in countless instruments, she is now on the path to something special.
I am a HUGE fan, an original Halien, and am rooting for her to become the very best she can be...which in her case is an incredibly high ceiling.
Phillip Phillips and nothing else. He kinda snuck up on me, too. I liked him, but wasn't crazy about him until the season wore on and I suddenly realized I had bought nearly all his iTunes music performances and none of the others.
Best of all, he WON!
Phillips, like Bowersox, is a very deep writer. He draws from heavy and philosophical thoughts on life, and his music often reflects that. Plus, he's also a truly dedicated musician and road warrior. His post-Idol success has been enormous, but right now he's stuck in the legal mud with 19 Entertainment, and until that's settled things will be much quieter for him.
At his heart, Phillips is an edgy rocker - darker and more haunting than casual fans realize (which I love), and less pop rocker or pop/folk anthem singer. His brilliant deeper cuts reflect this style. Expect his music moving forward to be in that vain. His artistic conviction and energized, jamming live performances reveal a truly authentic person and artist who always puts the music first.
He's called The New Boss for good reason. Can't wait for the next chapter to unfold.
I did not like this season at all, but my favorite was Candice. She hasn't found her way post-Idol, but she had some VERY strong jazz performances on the show that deserve recognition. Especially You've Changed, which is one of my all time Idol fave performances.While she won the crown that season, it meant little as the label bailed when the ratings tanked. She's been dabbling with hip-hop as of late, but I can't see that working for her. She should stay in the soul lane.
Jessica Meuse. Another beautiful girl with a wonderful voice who was unjustly hated like poison by the judges, especially Keith. She made it to 4th against all odds (no, she thankfully didn't sing that over-used dirge), and now post-Idol is a true musician dedicated to living life on the road. That means constantly gigging and pumping out self-penned original music (she just released "Done", her first single). I respect her commitment, and hope she carves out a nice niche for herself. Reminds me of Crystal Bowersox in music style and approach to life as an Americana fusion artist.
The season is still in motion, but Quentin gets the nod as my favorite. Has there ever been a more intense artist on the show? A strong vocalist who got into the staging and artistry, he caught a lot of shit from Harry for pitch - which was complete crap - and as a result got eliminated 6th. he deserved to be in the finale. Very interested to see what he does post-Idol. He has a theatrical way about him, too. I expect eclectic and authentic from whatever he does moving forward.
OK, going on 3 AM and I gotta work tomorrow.