April 24, 2007

"American Idol" gives back.

So this is some sort of charity event, with sponsors donating 10¢ a call, but only up to 50 million calls, so they seem to be using this gimmick to stimulate a lot of extra calls that won't result in a donation at all. That bugs me. It's a good cause, but there really is no connection to the calls. You've just got corporate sponsors giving $5 million. Nice enough, but a lot of hype is achieved for the show and the sponsors, and people are duped into calling more, believing their phone calls are saving lives. It's a bit creepy.

It wasn't a very good show, as the singers had to act profound and sincere. There's nothing phonier that that. I sort of enjoyed Blake singing "Imagine." He showed some taste and restraint, and of course, I already like Blake and "Imagine."

I'm not going to write about all the contestants. I'm just watching the end, as they rave over Jordin Sparks bellowing "You Never Walk Alone." Ugh.

ADDED: In the comments, there a lot of anti-"Imagine" sentiment. It seems mostly about the "no religion too" bit. And I say I watch the show as a self-imposed blogging assignment, and people tell me not to do it if I don't enjoy it. But I enjoy blogging about it, and only write as much as I feel like, as this post shows.

But I feel like writing one more thing. There was all that material showing poor people, the ones that $5 million is supposed to save. We see Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell visiting desperately needy people somewhere in Africa, and then there's Simon saying things like "This is simply awful," which, you can't help thinking, is exactly what we hear him saying every week about mediocre singing. There's something so wrong about this. You can't help feeling that he's expressing how bad the experience is making him feel, since that's what he's doing all those times when he's saying "that was horrible" to a Idol contestant. Putting himself in this environment was for Simon the equivalent of the oft-cited singer's mistake: choosing the wrong song.


Synova said...


Please tell me there is more than one song by that name and that the other one doesn't induce the compulsion to either slit one's wrists or put one in the brain pan, *squish*.

Joe said...

Tonight was dreadful. The praise given was way out of whack of what I heard. Jordin Sparks performance was the worse, by far; she whined and was out of key.

(The only reason I watch this drek any more is because my wife and kids do.)

MadisonMan said...

(The only reason I watch this drek any more is because my wife and kids do.)

I'm glad my daughter stopped watching (She's into Grey's Anatomy now). I don't accidentally see garbage anymore.

Ann Althouse said...

I know it's bad. I watch it because it's my self-imposed blog assignment.

XWL said...


I may have to morph into dave trademark.

Joel Engel says it all (though like all bloggers I feel compelled to say more, anyway)

PatCA said...

It needs a dose of Hitchens full strength anti-sentimentality.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

You need not be a flagellant on our behalf. Blog what you love. Be true to yourself, Dawg.

I dislike Lennon's nihilistic anthem. For sheer inspiration, I much preferred the song Phil sang [from Garth Brooks] that said I'll confront evil and it won't conquer me.

blake said...

XWL, your "says it all" link confuses and infuriates me.

Lennon wrote an entire album worth of hippie anthems worse than "Imagine" on the album Some Time In New York City.

Amusingly, I've been reading about Wikipedia's liberal slant but I hadn't encountered it much until reading their entry on that album. This actually blames the previous two albums for its failure rather than its own radical politics and--worse, it's sanctimony.

Laura Reynolds said...

The entire theme, "inspirational songs", makes for some horrible choices, and sure enough it did. I liked Imagine 35 years ago but its not that great for me now.

Ann, I enjoy your AI posts but only when you are enjoying yourself. Other than Simon, I want to know what you think but its not been a good season so feel free to drop it and see how you feel next time.

Sloanasaurus said...

I have listened to Imagine, by John Lennon, a thousand times, but I never picked up on his bashing of religion until the show tonight. I wonder if it were written today he would throw in some global warming imagination for good measure.

Imagine there's no industry
all of us in unions too
No cars to drive or freedom
only emissions for the lefty few

Blah Blah Blah

Sloanasaurus - see more at the John Adams Blog.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Recalling the death of John Lennon, RLC wrote: "I got sick of the song 'Imagine,' especially as quoted by the very authorities it challenged. What I imagined was poor John Lennon being reduced to that one song, treacly and nihilistic at the same time."

Synova said...

"I liked Imagine 35 years ago but its not that great for me now."

It probably helps to be high and if you don't listen to the words. ;-)

The original at least *sounded* nice. The cover they've got on the radio these days is so dreadful that I can't imagine even substance abuse would help it.

Eli Blake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli Blake said...

My beef is this:

Charitable giving is wonderful, particularly if it is from the heart. But it seems as though some of these sponsors are beating their chest and shouting, 'look at how good we are,' with the purpose that either 1) they will make it back because of all that free positive advertising, or 2) people will give them a pass, thinking how 'good' they are when they do things like screw over their employees, destroy the environment or produce substandard junk.

Seriously, I remember when it was not so uncommon for charities to get large 'anonymous' donations. But today you almost never see them anymore.

Today, judging by for example PBS, corporate sponsors not only want to be recognized but they expect that those recognizing them will in effect give them a free commercial, and likely an exclusive commercial on a show which is supposed to be commercial free.

Kurt said...

I thought Blake made a very poor choice with "Imagine," not only because the song is very familiar, but also because I don't think its nihilistic vision will be a good sell to the American Idol viewing audience. Nevertheless, I think Blake will be safe, though he could end up in the bottom three again this week.

Lakisha also made a very poor song choice. She might be out this week.

Melinda chose a song I wasn't familiar with, but gave her usual polished performance. By contrast, Jordin's version of "You'll Never Walk Alone" was so over-the-top, it reinforced the different maturity levels of these two performers.

PM said...

I also like imagine (fine print: I've lived in davis and berkeley, CA for the last decade). But what is WRONG w/ AI this season? It's a train wreck.

I agree with joe - jordin was bad, the compliments were canned, overly effusive, to promote goodwill and enthusiasm I suppose. Since the singing isn't really doing it.

I think the corporate sponsors are actually getting a deal out of this - I doubt that they could get a 15 second spot for the pittance they'll have to pay to match calls at 10c apiece. This way they're on display for an hour. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable about the advertising biz than I can speak to this.

Ann - try blogging america's next top model or the pussycat dolls' show, that's entertainment. And plenty of comedic material.

Troy said...

I agree with Ruth....

Imagine BLOWS. It is the single most depressing song -- ever -- moreso because it's thought of as uplifting rather than the nihilistic Commie Manifesto lite that it is.

Moanique said...

Kurt said something like:

I thought Blake made a very poor choice with "Imagine," not only because the song is very familiar, but also because I don't think its nihilistic vision will be a good sell to the American Idol viewing audience.

That gives the American Idol audience an enormous amount of credit that I'm not sure they deserve.

LoafingOaf said...

Hmm. Amazing how upset Althouse's Christianist commenters get when someone sings a song millions of people have loved for decades that imagines a future with no religion. Yes, I like to imagine a world where people aren't blowing themselves and others up every single day because they are living for a next world. Yes, I like to imagine a world where people don't accept starving children under the notion that the suffering will be rewarded in a heaven. You can keep tossing out your labels, like "nihilistic," but it doesn't change the fact that the influence of religion is horrendous, as any browsing of the daily newspapers proves.

LoafingOaf said...

I've heard about 50 versions of "You'll Never Walk Alone" and I have to say that Jordin's was by far the worst. I'm gonna play the Smoking Popes' excellent version now to wash her out of my head.

I thought everyone pretty much stunk tonight. I'm not into inspirational songs. So...I guess virtually anyone can get the boot. Melinda is probably safe, but no one else. I hope Blake survives. I couldn't believe how they praised Phil, who was completely boring. Chris R was extra bad too. I hope one of those two is the goner.

XWL said...

The pablum about religion is only one of many terrible ideas encompassed in that horrid song.

As far as the says it all link, don't know how that got screwed up. The piece I meant to link to is here, but for those averse to following links here's an excerpt,

And if there's nothing to kill or die for, then there's really nothing to live for, either--not equality, not liberty, not justice. It bears remembering that those young Englishmen who declared, in the 1930s, that they wouldn't fight for king and country did nothing for the cause of peace; quite the opposite. Lennon's own Oxford Pledge may warm the hearts of pacifists, but it's true music to a tyrant's ears.

Pacifism is great on paper, but as a national policy it's suicidal.

And I'll use the Sheryl Crow defense on my earlier mislink, it was meant as a joke (one that even I don't get quite yet, but given time I'm sure I'll figure out why linking to Steve Capus on Oprah was meant to be funny).

mrs whatsit said...

Ann, it might be better not to blog AI at all if you don't enjoy it -- though I certainly agree that it's been hard to take lately, with all the tiresome self-congratulation and boasting about the "Gives Back" show. I have to drive a long distance tonight, so I'll miss it. I'm not sorry.

LoafingOaf, I don't know how I failed to notice that religious people "accept" starving children. Of COURSE it's the atheists who organize all the food banks and mission hospitals and winter-coat giveaways, while the religious just sit around praying and twiddling their thumbs. What was I thinking? How could I have missed something so obvious??

Thomas Williams said...

Ah, thank goodness there's a place I can go for intelligent commenters who recognized Jordin's performance last night for the overwrought shriek-fest it was. The usual suspects -- EW's Michael Slezak, Television Without Pity's Jacob, etc. -- apparently loved it as much as the tone-deaf judges.

Paco Wové said...

E. Blake-

how do you know companies are not giving large anonymous donations?

(I doubt they are either, and I wouldn't expect them to. Imagine the shareholders meeting: "We gave 10 million away in charity last year... no, we can't tell you who we gave it to! It's a secret!")

Sloanasaurus said...

for decades that imagines a future with no religion. Yes, I like to imagine a world where people aren't blowing themselves and others up every single day because they are living for a next world. Yes, I like to imagine a world where people don't accept starving children under the notion that the suffering will be rewarded in a heaven

You make good points. However, the problem with your analysis is that the few examples of societies without religion - that of the Communists, the Nazis, North Korea, are far worse than societies with religion.

Moreover the societies that we hail has great ones in history such as the classical greeks, the renaissance, etc... were all societies steeped in religion.

Lennon knew about all of this. He knew the millions that died under godless societies. He didn't care. His message of peace was a sham (but he was a hell of an artist).

Sloanasaurus. Read more at John Adams Blog.

Matt said...

"Was it a millionaire who said imagine no possessions?"

-Elvis Costello, "The Other Side of Summer"

Just something to show that you can (and probably should) dismiss "Imagine" without being Christianist.

Christy said...

"Imagine" should appeal to the typical AI voters - the very young. Is it heard all that much these days?

I didn't watch, but I would be interested in which songs were considered particularly inspirational.

Troy said...

The song blows on any number of levels. It's philosophy lite, it's anti-religion, anti-democratic anti-believing in anything and it's embarrassingly naive for a man in his thirties.

Christianist?? It's Christian thank you very much. Not that you care (if you do I apologize). I'll give you the benefit of the doubt as not meaning it as a pejorative, but the "-ist" suffix carries baggage that the overwhelming majority of believers (true -- not nominal) do not carry.

PatCA said...

I thought only Phil and Melinda did well. As for Imagine, I've heard it so many times from so many shallow pacifists that I can't stand it any more--although Blake did as well as anyone could. At least he didn't flash the peace sign!

I for one have charity fatigue. If AI and George Clooney and Pitt want to spend their money to feed everyone, go to it, but don't shame me or other Americans into doing more, working together, ending poverty, bringing about change (insert favorite cliche here). No one mentions the repressive governments that steal the booty and fund terrorism or their own palaces and how we prop them up by showering them with our largesse and asking for nothing in return, thereby tragically guaranteeing that the next generation will also be called upon to rescue their unfortunate citizens.