American Idolatry

If you consider “America” to mean twelve year old girls who can text message on a cell phone faster than you can type on a keyboard and who can hit a high C sharp when they wail like banshees, then American Idol is a fitting name for the show.

Such mindless, conformist, shallow teeny boppers are prone to idol worship and if it weren’t for 10 year old boys, pedophiles who like them a little old, and their immense spending power, no one would care what 12 year old girls think.

American Idol has not gone away any more than obnoxious 12 year old girls will go away, and as long as they possess the power to make the cheeze fest that was Titanic the #1 selling movie of all time and shows like High School Musical one of the highest rated, those of us who deplore just about everything regarding 12 year old girls will have to suffer the tyranny of their fiscal superiority.

But who am I kidding? American Idol isn’t designed to find the best singers or even those likely to be the most successful artists. It’s designed to be a popularity contest where “one man, one vote” is supplanted by obsessive tweens who get as many votes as they can muster between their land line, their cell phone, and online speed dialing websites. The rest of us just watch (and boy do a lot of people watch). It’s not a battle of talent between singers, it’s a battle of wills between the fans. Which singer can attract and invigorate the most compulsive and obsessive dialers?

Even worse, the game is not always about voting for the best, but gaming the vote to prevent your favorite weak contestant from getting voted off. And really, does anyone but 10-12 year olds actually vote? Isn’t it the place of the rest of us to just mock the show and the other viewers mercilessly?

On the most recent Idol, those girls who will be 50% older before they can vote for real kicked off the contestant who I thought has the best chance of a professional career, Michael Johns. The guy has the voice and the looks and the stage presence. His performance of Bohemian Rhapsody is by far the best performance this season, and perhaps the most impressive performance on the show ever given that it wasn’t on the main stage, didn’t have backup singers or the band to add weight.


Perhaps Johns fell in the Daughtry trap where people thought he was safe and their votes went to weaker singers like Jason Castro or David Cook whose string of strong performances was looking to break the pathetic worship of the over-rated David Archuleta. I imagine that he won’t have any trouble forming a band and putting out a platinum record, much like Chris Daughtry.

Who should have gone instead? Syesha Mercado isn’t a diva and that’s the niche she’s trying to conquer. Plus, all the hype surrounding the post-racial candidate this season hasn’t helped people of color advance on the show. The current line up is about as pasty as you can get. She’s often in the bottom and doesn’t have the goods to go further. I don’t think she’ll have a career.

Jason Castro is also a hack and a poser. Don’t confuse lack of dexterity with “making every song your own.” The kid is a one trick pony and he’s funny looking. And please, you can get a contact high from all the marijuana he must smoke just from watching the show. And this for a guy who sang both of my two favorite songs, Jeff Buckley’s cover of “Hallelujah” and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The comparisons are just so painful. See for yourself:


Israel’s version is one of the songs that I played for my Grandmother on her deathbed to ease her soul. Israel’s version is transcendent and beautiful. It’s also amazing in its s
ingular ability to distinguish itself against the iconic version sung by Judy Garland, itself a timeless masterpiece.

Jason Castro’s copy is a shadow of a shadow. Not even karaoke worthy. Had you never heard Israel’s version of “Somewhere” and Castro’s was your first taste, you might not gag. But Castro’s “Hallelujah” makes me cringe. Buckley, Cale, Wainwright could all sing the song well enough to be played, listened to, enjoyed. I don’t think Castro’s take on the song rises to that level. For that matter, Cohens’ version is hideous as well.


But why pick on Jason when Kristy Lee Cook and Syesha are slated to head home before him? Even better, why pick on Jason when justice and balance in the universe demands that David Archuleta be denounced and mocked for the gasping, over-extended, vocally paralyzed slave to his old man’s dream that he really is?

Archuleta doesn’t have the gift of a great voice. His talent is in his preparation, in the drive, or perhaps in allowing himself to be driven by his stage parents. Some people like this do succeed in the music business. They are named Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. If the Mickey Mouse club were still around, odds are Archuleta would have been one of the kids forced into the line up by his parent’s unwavering obsession to live vicariously through their kid, the exact same way Justin and Britney’s parents foisted them on us as soon as they could sputter some lyrics and gyrate their hips.

Archuleta’s paralysis was likely caused by overworking an organ that couldn’t take it. He’s hit his own ceiling physically and no matter how much more preparation you could shove fown his throat, nothing sweeter sounding is ever going to come back up. His parents have flown him to different continents to sing, camped outside Idol events since the first season to get their kid exposure and glean tips from those who made it, and groomed him into the falsely modest smiling little dolt he is today.

And those 10-12 year old girls I was telling you about have fallen all over themselves to eat it up.


GAG me with a spoon.

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.