about me
be sure to visit my blog

Idol Worship

by Stephen Kelly

Since it’s inception in 2001, I’ve given American Idol a wide, if not chilly, berth. While not exactly falling into the range of my hate radar (the same I have zeroed in on Black Eyed Peas, George W. Bush, Rosie O’Donnell, Tom DeLay, Terrell Owens, most network sitcoms (particularly those starring Freddie Prinze, Jr.), Ben Affleck, Dick Cheney, the “Can you her me now?” guy, Paris Hilton, Black Eyed Peas, Alan Cumming, Katie Couric, Fergie, Dr. Phil, Ken Lay, Jennifer Aniston, Sammy Sosa, rappers with numbers for names, Black Eyed Peas and many, many others who I feel contribute nothing to society yet still hold some lofty perch in today’s culture, making millions in the process. I nonetheless looked down on American Idol the same way someone living in Pacific Heights may view living in Colma. It was way beneath me.

That’s because I can be the most pretentious of snobs when it comes to music. I like what I like (which is a lot) and I really don’t like what I don’t like. I hold music in very high regard; I can’t imagine life without it. I have followed it all of my life and I think I have a pretty big knowledge and appreciation for music, good or bad. And quite frankly, the singers of American Idol seemed so bland to me, so middle-of-the-road, so not the type of music I like.

So I’ve always had the opinion that shows like American Idol catered to a spoon-fed, Walmart-ized version of what America should be listening to, and so were partly responsible for the dumbing down of music, contributing mightily to the slow, ugly decline that music has been in since 1990. Which isn’t that hard to do. Give Americans the choice between crap and something good, and they’ll almost always go for the crap.

So what happened? Where did I turn that corner and realize what 30 million weekly viewers have realized for six years? That American Idol ROCKS! Yes, America, I’ve got Idol Fever! Sweet Jesus, I‘ve been Idolized!

There! I’ve said it! I’m out and proud! Now that I’ve got that off my chest I can now go about analyzing how I got here. Typical of the way that I operate, once I get into something I have to know everything about it. And since Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly, two magazines I subscribe to, both recently ran front-page tell-alls, I now know everything I need to know about American Idol.

What I found interesting is that insiders say that this is the most uniformly talented bunch the show has ever had. Whereas previous seasons had two or three really good singers tops, the rest were window dressing. The two finalists for most seasons were fairly predictable (who didn’t predict a Carrie Underwood/Bo Bice showdown in last season’s finale?), so the show was losing its sense of suspense.

But at this point it’s hard to predict who may win. They’re all so talented and personable, even Chris Dahtry, who on last night’s episode showed a touching sensitive side after weeks of predictable rockers. Here’s an interesting fact I learned about Chris: he got into music after hearing Live’s Throwing Copper.

I guess you have to admire someone who will actually admit that Live is his favorite group, but I always found them to be the most sanctimonious of bands. REM-lite, serious about being serious and deeply in love with their own seriousness, they’re charter members of my Pie-In-The-Face Club, an organization that exists in my mind in which a team of pie-wielding marauders travel the world, poised and ready to plant a banana crème pie right in the kisser of some of society’s most self-important, pompous celebrities.

If I ran the world, this organization would actually exist, so people like Michael Stipe, Maya Angelou, Val Kilmer, Dick Cheney (second list he’s been on), Dan Rather, Jewel, Tori Amos, Robert DeNiro, M. Night Shamylan, and many, many others would constantly be looking over their shoulders, waiting for the hearty “LIGHTEN UP!!” that would signal that a pie attack was imminent.

Ahhh. A guy can dream can’t he? Wait till you hear about some of the other organizations that would be a part of the Stephen Kelly Experience. But let’s not get sidetracked. It’s back to American Idol. Where were we? Ah, yes. This season’s contestants.

Who couldn’t fall in love with this season’s bunch? Is it any wonder that this is the most watched season yet? Snarly, studly Chris. Ditzy, kooky Kelly. Pin-up boy Ace. Taylor, who I still don’t get, and young Paris, dear Paris, who’s just as cute as a button. And, yes. Of course I’ve got the McPheever!

And Elliot, sorry about the Frankenstein cracks. I was only joking when I asked how you hid the bolts in your neck. That was mean and cruel of me, because you’ve really grown on me, my friend. With your aw-shucks smile and powerful pipes, I’m pulling for ya, big guy!

See how attached I’ve gotten to our American Idols? Tonight someone else has to go home (probably Ace) and at this point it’s going to be sad to see some of them go (I’m not sure if I’m going to miss Taylor when his time comes, which I’m guessing will be in two weeks, because he’s beginning to get on my nerves with his over-the-top performances that’s sure to someday wow them at weddings and bar mitzvahs).

But that decision is in your hands, America. Don’t blame Simon or Paula or Randy if Paris goes home tonight (although after last night’s powerhouse performance that’s highly unlikely. Again, put your money on Ace).

Speaking of Simon Cowell, one might think he needs to be chased down by the Pie-In-The-Face Club, because he can be pompous, rude and quite condescending, all traits can will earn you a pie in the puss. Quite the contrary. Simon Cowell is the world’s last honest man, not afraid to tell the absolute truth and never one to suffer assholes well. Which is probably why people hate him. He doesn’t delude people with visions of grandeur. He calls a spade a spade and he moves on, not wanting to waste any of his valuable time on subpar people.

And what’s so wrong about that?