Thursday, March 11, 2010

American Idol Judges Need to Step Up

I've been watching American Idol this season and it is actually my first time. I blame the Winter Olympics which caused a shutdown of other TV programs for two weeks. I can't help but think that some things are not being said by the judges that need to be said.

I want to use this post to take a look at the each of the judges.

Randy Jackson sometimes gives some pretty good insights but his issue is that that he often time over generalizes, particularly when it come's to giving criticisms. It just doesn't do it for me. I just don't feel it; or in the compliments--that was dope. However, he definitely knows music. He does feel it and typically knows what is dope. It would just be nice if he would clue the rest of the world into just why he thinks a performance is or is not dope.

Ellen Degeneres might be an entertainer, but on this show she mostly seems to parrot what ever Randy says about 80 percent of the time. The rest of the time she simply says she really liked her performance or says something that another judge has said on a previous I just don't think it was the right song. She needs to take a weekend and sit down with a voice coach and some tapes of contestants and listen to the voice coach tell her why something is good or bad. Then she needs to take another weekend to script a few dozen comments that she can whip out to fit the situation. It probably wouldn't hurt for that same same voice coach to be talking into an ear bud, telling her which comment to choose. 'OK, Ellen, go with comment 17b. Give a little pensive pause just before the end and finish with warm smile.'

It is a shame that Fox is trying to force feed Ellen to the AI audience. But it is sort of like going to Outback Steak House and ordering the tofu special. Or to quote Ellen, who was quoting Randy and/or Kara DioGuarde and/or Simon Cowell, I think is was the wrong song choice.

I have to say Kara DioGuarde seems to say some of the most relevant things and make the most spot on comments of the different judges. She probably has the best ear of the four judges. There are probably a couple of cases where she looks blindly past the flaws of some contestants because she like's their vibe.

Simon Cowell's approach often is to look at the big picture, which is his flaw, if that is indeed a flaw. Songs are made up of many individual parts. When this part or that part does not rise to the level of a top performance, that should not necessarily diminish entirely the times that it does. For Simon, he might go into things with preconceived notions about the artists, and when they don't measure up he is not afraid to rip them a new one.

Have you ever watched a sitcom with a man and a woman that the writers never allow to get together, because they know it will kill the show.

Maybe this is the issue with the AI judges. If they ever really did their jobs well, would people suddenly stop watching? Maybe Cowell, in his last season can step up his game a little bit and stop phoning this one in.

Overall, I think the judges could stand to give some more specific criticisms of the contestants. Of all the people out in TV land dreaming of being a famous singer one day, it sure would be useful if they could hear some practical things that they could apply to themselves.

About the contestants and their styles, let me just say, I have never really though about how many musicians use some sort of a modified vocal sound when they sing, either a falsetto or phony accent tint, a never ending reverb or singing through their nose, but it would not hurt to have the judges ask them to sing something without doing that once, and see if they actually can sing without these tricks of the trade.

Having said all of these things, I will say that I am entirely unqualified to make these comments, less so than even Ellen Degeneres.

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