January 31, 2006

"American Idol" -- Las Vegas.

42 minutes into it -- has anyone been good yet? Las Vegas is all about delusion, apparently.

"I came to realize my life in this audition," says Haggai Yedidya, who's wearing a shirt covered in American flags. He sings "God Bless the U.S.A." in a heavy accent -- and a terrible, out-of-key voice. Afterwards, he claims to have perfect pitch and slams the judges for failing to make eye contact.

"I'm conceited, and I am good at what I do," says Princess Brewer, who compares herself to Aretha Franklin. She's loud, but horrendous. "Stop it, stop it," chants Simon. "There were sweet moments in there," says Paula. "Those high notes were just... whoa!" says Randy.

"I am good. If they would just let me sing another dang song," says one unnamed crying fool.

They save Taylor Hicks for last. He's got prematurely gray hair. "A Change Is Gonna Come," one of the best songs ever. He sings with his hands clasped behind his back and his eyes closed. He does a second song, clapping and contorting almost like Joe Cocker. Simon says personality is important, which Paula takes as a cue to praise him for his nice personality, but that's the opposite of what Simon had in mind. [ADDED: He gets through, without Simon's vote.]

Oh, now they are reminding of the one good singer from the beginning. There was this tiny girl with the names of two cities: Mecca Madison. She sings "Hey Big Spender" -- a prostitute's song and gets through.

That's all for Las Vegas!


Icepick said...

The black woman who sang "Redneck Woman" wasn't bad. She'd make a good country singer. I was surprised at how dismissive Paula was of that contestant. SOMEthing was going on there that we didn't see, I suspect.

Dave said...

All roads lead to Mecca?

Your AI blogging is a useful tool. I have no interest in watching the show but it does seem to captivate a large segment of the population. Invariably, water cooler talk revolves around the topic. Thus you save me from looking like a fool at the water cooler.

Eli Blake said...


That borders on the big 'elephant in the middle of the room' that no one in America wants to talk about: race (and we think we've come so far, but we haven't.)

People have a lot of stereotypes. So if a black singer sings pop music, that is fine. If she sings hip hop or R&B or Motown or rap, then she is supposed to be better than white singers. On the other hand, a black woman singing country, people expect her to be bad at it, so they focus in on whatever she does wrong. People still think that blacks singing country is considered 'weird' unless its gospel (although I've heard some very good black country singers-- but they still face stereotypes.)

Now, Paula is a professional, but she isn't immune to the same stereotypes that pervade society.

Now, I am sure that someone will call me a racist for pointing out that these kinds of stereotypes exist, but they do, and as I think I referred to on one of Ann's message boards last night, one of the problems that conservatives have is that they aren't willing to discuss race or race relations practically at all-- I do visit quite a number of conservative blogs as well as my 'home base' of liberal blogs, and almost never see a post about race relations on conservative blogs (and when was the last time you saw a problem go away by ignoring it?)

OddD said...

Your observation about black country singers strikes me as astute. But it isn't right-wingers who would be critical of it, any more than they would about blacks voting Republican. The minoirty hegemony theory belongs to the left these days.

As for talking about it, Morgan Freeman's comment about Black History Month made the rounds not too long ago.


Yeah, talking about problems helps you work them out, but after you've hashed everything out, the whole discussion could be reduced to questions of what's gotten better and what's gotten worse. Otherwise you're just wallowing in it.

And, in fact, things have gotten better. A lot better (at least in CA). A friend of mine worked heavily in demographics for political campaigns for over 20 years. In that time, the readily identifiable "black precincts" have dropped from hundreds to a few dozen.

Basically, integration is happening. That's progress. And it happened without being discussed, without news coverage, and with a certain segment of the leadership becoming no less shrill.

Pete said...

Yay, American Idol blogging! Thanks, Ann.

Nice theory, eli blake, but it holds no water: one of the better contestants got through singing Cowboy Take Me Away and she was black. (A good strategy, pointed out by someone else: There'll eventually be a country night and that's where a lot of singers stumble. Might as well get it out of the way up front.)

No, Paula's point was that Redneck Woman had a simple melody and the implication was that it wasn't a good enough song. Sometimes it's just not a question of race.

Frank from Delavan said...

Saw an apt description of Lost Wages in a factoid

Over the years it's been tracked, there is a one-to-one correspondence between the number of households in Las Vegas and the number of Hotel Rooms. Each hotel room supports (directly or indirectly,) one family.

knox said...

I thought that Taylor Hicks guy was trying to look like Ray Charles when he sang that second song, which made me really uncomfortable....he looked like a total spaz even though he sounded great.

Ann Althouse said...

About that "Redneck Woman" woman. We heard Paula say that song has no range and is way too easy to sing. I assume they made her sing something else and it was bad. They should have let us see that, because we were left wondering what happened. But it probably just wasn't entertaining enough. I'll bet there are lots of singers they see who are about that good who don't get through, but we just never see them. In fact, many of the people who get through aren't shown in these early shows because it's not entertaining enough. This woman was singled out though, I think, because it was interesting for a black woman to sing "Redneck Woman." So the song choice worked as a gimmick, like a costume or a strange hairdo or something.

Mrs Whatsit said...

I've been enjoying AI lately, but not last night. It was just awful. There were too many bad singers, not enough good singers, and nobody in either category who was particularly touching or engaging. Plus, the bad singing was literally painful: we had to change the channel a few times to escape some of the worst ones. I hope it gets better tonight, or I may have to go back to my previous I-don't-watch-American-Idol status.

EnidV said...

The "Redneck Woman" woman - she was denied by the judges, but then when they showed the 11 people that made it through, she had a golden ticket. Anyone else notice that? What is up?

Lonesome Payne said...

So I get all preachy on its great reflecting of American hopes and vitality and then comes along the worst show ever. Nothing but humiliation almost. That'll teach me.

I think you just counted wrong, enidv.

I think they look for opportunities for each of the three to be the tie-breaker. Paula knew Simon would say yes. Might have been planned. That's my take. I think she showed enough voice strength and command of tone changes to merit going to Hollywood even if another song sucked.

Las Vegas may be too isolated to draw from an immediately adjacent large population pool. I think they just didn't have enough people. Plus maybe Las Vegas itself produces odd untalented shallow boring people? Just a thought.

wildaboutharrie said...

I think Paula knew Redneck would get through but saw this as an opportunity to say no and look like a hardliner.

Knox - he made me uncomfortable, too, but I liked that voice. I thought the spazziness was natural, till he mentioned Joe Cocker, and then it seemed like a pose. Still, I'm glad he made it.

I wish they had asked the little twins to sing something else, apart, just to see.

I liked that really shy seeming guy who couldn't really sing and didn't make it. I'm glad they were nice to him.

Was anyone else surprised that the Aretha wannabe was so bad? I just assumed, since she had so much moxie, that she'd be good. Holy cow.

Ryan looks really skinny this year. Simon needs a new hairdo - that eraserhead is getting old.

Only 11 made it! The producers probably cut too many decent singers to push through the "freaks".

Laura Reynolds said...

Only Paula turned down the "Redneck Woman" so she made it through from the audition.

Not a good show compared to others of the early variety, it perhaps time to move on with the program.