River Deep vs. American Idol

I enjoy watching American Idol once and while, though I miss Simon and Paula, who in some way embodied the meaning of the show – that the critic, who ultimately is us, is the star. Simon represented the jerk (amazingly enough, an eloquent jerk – I say this only after having been depressed by how wordless the other judges have been) who tells the truth. Paula was the nice person who endearingly couldn’t speak the truth. And they were ultimately one, as their flirting showed. You watched the show ultimately to hear what they’d say. The performers didn’t matter except as a pretext to criticize their singing. Not to enjoy Idol is odd – like not enjoying pop culture itself. But not to see the deep limitations of the show and what it means for American music is shallow. Right now, there are some very talented performers on (Jacob and Scotty, in particular). But it’s hard to see how the show is cultivating their true talent. What the show is doing is turning their talents into cash. Not that American music has been much to write home about for the past few decades!

Pia, who “slayed it,” was just voted off; she sang “River Deep, Mountain High” (not worth watching the whole thing):

She’s pretty and talented, sings well, has good stage presence, etc. But, apart from the show’s critical drama, deeply boring. For stark contrast, let’s look at Tina:

It’s hard to image anything sexier than that. What’s interesting to me is that somehow a show designed to please us is utterly incapable of giving us a singer or a song like that: utterly pleasing, sexy, and democratic.

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