Wednesday, February 06, 2008

She’s Makin’ Me Lose It

Song: She’s Makin’ Me Lose It
Artist: Blake Lewis
Album: Audio Day Dream

So I’m an American Idol watcher. Got into it towards the end of the first season and have pretty much (thanks to DVR) seen just about all of the subsequent seasons. While I do enjoy the show, the music that it has produced has done little for me, save a single or two. Actually… save for Kelly Clarkson really. But post-debut Kelly, isn’t that when we all started to pay attention? Well, The Idol is THE most popular show on television right now, by pretty much a mile, and it has really become a cultural phenomenon, changing the lives of many kids across the country. Some for better, some maybe for worse.

What is my fascination with American Idol the show despite not really caring about the careers that it creates? Well, given the way corporations have taken over America, show business is really the last way one can see the American dream come into fruition. And many of these kids that come to audition for Idol are pretty open to the fact that they want it to change their lives. As with the last several seasons, we are let into the audition process to see the good, the bad, and those grasping at fifteen minutes, despite how humiliating it all ends up. This season has been no different, with one contestant, after being denied entry to the next level, began to cry and say “But I don’t want to go to school!” Sad, but true.

So while I have been watching this new season, now three weeks of auditions, this process had grown a bit tedious to me. The show is really adept at building a story for an individual, even before they sing before the judges, and it’s hard not to be sucked into some of these stories. Since I’ve seen past seasons, I know that slugging through this tedious audition process can pay off when it gets to “Hollywood Week” and you can recognize and recall the hopefuls as they continue to try to move ahead. But this season, as last nights episode began, which I watched between Super Tuesday coverage, I realized I was getting a little over it. Well… that was until I had actually watched last nights Atlanta auditions.

Last night was a particularly rich episode for the auditions period, and thanks to crazy fans, I’m able to post clips. First, it’s still amazing to me but many just flat out awful people audition and then are shocked when they don’t make it. Is this actual delusion? Or do they really just want on TV for 30 seconds? Last night they did, as they usually do once and episode, get a bunch of the worst to sing one song and make a funny edited piece with it. These takes on Fergie’s “Glamorous” were particularly amusing…

Also last night was a what seemed way too long bio segment of someone that obviously doesn’t have a chance, Miss South Florida Fair’s Brooke Helvie. She’s sort of the typical empty-headed American hopeful that usually ends her time on the show in tears after being told she’s awful, or shouting expletives at the camera about the judges. Last night things went a bit unexpected, take a look…

I was pretty shocked in the end… but don’t think she really has a chance at the final twelve.

So why do I watch Idol again? Well… it’s to watch people like last seasons Blake Lewis. We saw him audition, get through Hollywood, and while not a KILLER singer, the kid seemed generally talented. Taking the songs he was given to sing and actually doing something with them, changing the arrangements himself, etc. I loved his cover of “Time of the Season” on the show… and even bought the studio version from iTunes. He emerged as a sort of Kid Maroon 5, with a beat boxing fixation that he never over-did.

Blake ended up being runner up, losing to seventeen year old Jordin Sparks. They both released their first albums at the end of last year and I actually took the time to listen to both. Jordin’s was pretty much as expected… the girl has a great voice that is not distinct at all, and sings teen-pop songs that don’t elevate beyond such. Even the Bloodshy and Avant productions are just so-so. It was pretty awful. But I found Blake’s to be relatively interesting… as I had hoped.

First, Mr. Lewis wrote or co-wrote every track on the record, which I believe only Chris Daughtry has done for an American Idol debut record. His artistic stamp is all over the record, which I found very refreshing. Is it great? No. It really is a Maroon 5-Lite type record, he shows his age a bit… but also shows he is really a talent to watch. He mixes a lot of 80’s influence, his beat-boxing, and his Morrissey-like vocals to positive effect. I’ve certainly listened to it more than I expected. There are some Erasure-sounding tracks on there, as well as Enrique-quality mid-tempo ballads. It’s all over the place, which is part of its charm, but also makes it a few stops before total recomendationville.

That said, it deserves a listen… especially if you like 80’s music and Maroon 5. “She’s Makin’ Me Lose It” is typical of the upbeat tracks, and I must convince I thought some of the slower tracks actually worked. The production is varied, and interesting.

Here is the first single “Break Anotha”

I can see why many loathe American Idol, and honestly don’t completely understand my fixation as most of the contestants annoy the heck out of me. But every once in a while watching someone rise from obscurity to TV’s most watched stage is a complete joy. Watching Chris Daughtry go from every-guy to rock God over his season was amazing. And while I think the music he makes is Creed-like crap, he was SUCH an engaging performer… but who cares what I think, he sold a TON of records. And last night I found the contestant I’m most interested in watching… Amanda Overmyer:

Damn… girl can sing. I guess I’m watching this season too.


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