Why I like who I like

Each voting week on Idol is typically a painful reminder of my lack of success to get people to think like I do. Perhaps someday I’ll give up on this pointless narcissistic pursuit but since I’m still breathing I will carry on. It occurs to me that while I regularly rail against the choices of others, I’ve never really ever plainly laid out how it is I come about my Idolist favorites. So I thought such a manifesto would be fun for me and (self-indulgently) interesting to others. The five criteria are are quite objective. However, whether someone meets the criteria is quite subjective. With art, sometimes you just know it because you feel it. When I give examples, they are not definitive as in the only ones or best ones. They are hopefully familiar examples that are indicative of lots of people besides those I mentioned.
I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these categories, it’s just the way I think.

Unique vocal quality – good singers are a dime a dozen starting with your local junior high choir. What I’m looking for is someone who immediately stands out sounds in a “wow, I haven’t heard anybody quite like that before”. It can be pure vocal ability (Adam, Melinda, David A.). It can be tonal quality like Crystal and Lilly this year and Allison last year. It can be power like Kelly or Carrie.

Vocal artistry – Start with singing on key. That’s bigger for me than Simon’s forgetting the words. So I don’t care much about Lee’s decidedly nice vocal quality if he’s only going to be on key every other note, especially the important ones in the song.
Then, can you interpret a song in a way that does justice to the lyrics? Adam’s Mad World or Big Mike’s This Woman’s Work are good examples. Can you put your vocal own stamp on it without obliterating the original? Katelyn did a nice job with her Coldplay take as did Siobahn with Wicked Game and House of the Rising Sun. Or if you are going to obliterate it, do you have the talent (and guts) to pull it off in a way that the song sounds like it was yours in the first place – whether people like it or not? Andrew’s Straight Up; Adam’s Ring of Fire; and David Cook’s Hello are good examples.
Jermaine was a clear example of a great voice that over-sings and obliterates to no good effect; Katie has a great voice but she hasn’t done much other than sing the notes as written.

Performance artistry – Do you command – and even DEMAND (Adam) attention on the stage? Do you look at ease? Do you actually look like you know you are taking advantage of the opportunity to wow the audience? With their performance backgrounds, Syesha and Adam were the queen and king of this. Their dress, the lighting, the mood they created all matched. They weren’t just singing – they were giving a complete performance in one song. Katelyn did a nice job of this, too, when she sang The Scientist. Crystal, Katie and Big Mike all look very at ease on stage. So did Lilly and Todrick.

Appearance – This is by far the most subjective criteria. It involves who I find attractive (Alexis); who others find attractive (Casey, Kris Allen); and who others don’t find attractive which is the most bothersome. I know appearance affects marketability and I am OK with that. But when no-talents get votes just because they are deemed attractive, i.e. The Horrifyingly Bad Kristy Lee Cook, Let’s Leave NOTHING to the Imagination Haley Scarnato and I’m Going to Show More Skin Each Week Katherine McPhee, and talented singers get the boot because they are not deemed to be attractive – that makes me nuts. Mandisa is an award winning singer whose talents deserved way better than a 9th place finish, worse than any of the aforementioned ladies. And 7th place for Jennifer Hudson? Really?
In any case, my thoughts about appearance are a factor in how I see an Idolist.

Personality- Do you have a fun, out-sized personality (Kelly Pickler, Big Mike)? Do you dress in a stand out yet appealing way (Siobahn)? Basically, it’s a live singing competition so do you give people a reason to look at you or be interested in you – this can anything from Taylor’s Joe Cocker-esque dance moves to Carly Smithson’s tattoos to Adam’s make-up.

Straight Cash, Homey – This is my biggest criteria of all and where I often end up in the biggest disagreements with people, e.g. the Kris vs. Adam debate last year. I know ultimately Idol is a popularity contest and a distorted one at that, i.e. it’s encouraged to stuff the ballot box by casting multiple votes. But I don’t think of the winner as who gets the most text votes. I, like Simon, am looking for a star, someone who is going to move product in the stores, get people to turn on the TV after Idol, sell magazines with cover stories, and sell concert tickets.
Every week somebody sings I am thinking – “Does this person have star power?” I am looking for someone who, at some point, no longer needs to win to make it big – Daughty was that way, David A. and Adam, too; and I think I see Crystal as being there. Melinda Doolittle was maybe the best pure singer Idol has ever had but I never saw her as a star. On the other hand, Kellie Pickler isn’t much of a singer but you could tell she was going to be a star in a way the other pretty blondes (Kristy Lee Cook) weren’t going to be.
But what that also means is that I won’t know if my favorites have “won” (using my straight cash, homey criteria) until 5-6 months after a season ends. By this criteria, three Idol “losers” have come up sure fire winners: Jennifer Hudson, Daughtry and Adam.

So there they are – all the reasons for who I like and why I like them. Each week and across the weeks, I am jumbling each of these factors together to form my opinion. And the fact that people agree with me AND disagree with me each week is delicious fun!

Explore posts in the same categories: Mindless Rant or Intelligent Commentary

One Comment on “Why I like who I like”

  1. Karla Says:

    Jenny, you and Ray just sucked all the fun out of Idol for all of us Fs. A math formula? You've got to be kidding!


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