Thursday, May 03, 2007

American Idol Reveals A Racist America?

That's the line anyway, if a white guy wins. Ann Althouse thinks that three black women in the final means something:

But, traditionally, over all the seasons, we've seen white male singers stay on the show when superior black female singers have been voted off. That did not happen last night.
Well, one person has to win. If the winner isn't a black woman is America racist?

Once Sanjaya and Haley were out, the voting seemed to be an honest representation of talent. Since this is the first season I've watched, I think the results have been fair. I would have liked Phil to stay another week. I can't believe I just wrote that. He's truly grown on me. The other contestents seem heart-broken that he's gone, too.

Once you get into the top four, though, it starts to become a preference of style. That's why I think the race question is bogus. This is a competition for a pop singer. The winner won't be touring with the Three Tenors. So while Blake doesn't possess the most gifted voice, and still must deal with nerves, and needs to put more feeling into his performances, he is fun to watch. Give me a break! Gwen Stefani and Madonna have both had long careers and it's been all style over substance. At least Blake can carry a tune and he's innovative. Does it mean that America is racist is they pick Blake as the new Idol because the girls can sing better? I don't believe it.

The girls remaining are so incredibly different vocally and yet all have big voices.
  • Lakisha reminds me of Nell Carter. Don't laugh! Nell started on Broadway and had an incredible singing voice. Lakisha needs training on breath control and phrasing--that will help her with her pitch problems. As far as sheer power, Lakisha has tremendous potential. She really should get some operatic training.
  • Melinda Doolittle has true vocal versatility and the most control of her instrument of anyone on the show. The comparisons....she's Gladys Night and a little Aretha Franklin thrown in and a whole lot herself which is why I love her voice so much. It's unique. If Melinda has a weakness, it's that she doesn't look popish. I know, it doesn't sound fair. From the positive perspective, the no-necked troll Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks has a career. Or had one, until she thought someone cared about her political opinions. Jordin and Blake have the "look", while Melinda must try really hard to be hip. Her voice wins though. She's my favorite. (And, most of you probably don't know this, but I'm white.)
  • Jordin Sparks has the best stage name, doesn't she? She is fun and vibrant and her vitality comes through her music. She doesn't have the vocal maturity and control yet, though. So while Melinda could handle Bon Jovi week, Jordin kinda fell apart. True, it's not her style, but great singers can move between genres pretty effortlessly. That being said, this competition isn't all about voice which is why Blake is such a big contender. Jordin possesses stage presence in spades. She loves the stage and given the right handling, she will thrive there.
Overall, stage presence is a concern for Lakisha. She has not sold me yet that she loves being up there. Melinda and Jordin connect with the audience on a core level. They are singing and believing. Elvis sang and believed and you believed watching him. All the greats, even Bon Jovi, sing and believe and make the audience believers. Bon Jovi said, "This is my church." Well, when Jordin and Melinda are up there we're hearing the Word through their delivery.

I guess I feel that the race question is unfair. All the final contenders have their strengths and weaknesses. All could be great. In fact, I believe that the top four will have significant music careers. (They all seem better to me than that dopey dude who won last year.) For that matter, Phil and Gina Glockson will probably have winning careers as a result of the competition.

The Final Four on Idol are unique talents. Their skin color doesn't count as a talent. Their reproductive organs don't count as a talent (okay, well, Antonella's might). American Idol seems to be the best indication that Martin Luther King's dream is closer to reality than ever. But not if we keep bringing up race.


Chalmers said...

Check out Fantasia from a few years back. She was a no talent ass clown, but she won (she was African-American). There have been 5 winners in the US, two white women, one black woman, one black man and one white man. Of those 5, only 2 have been commercially successful, the two white women... Pretty diverse group of winners, talent is something altogether different...

Anonymous said...

Lakisha Jones has a gospel-trained voice, but she's much too careful. These kind of shows often tell black singers NOT TO GO might put off white ears. Peggi Blu was told that on Star Search, but once she was on, she ignored them and screamed the gospel to high heavens, and won.

Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson both "held back" until the night that Fantasia won and her singing was quite different that it had been during competition. The let loose with pure black gospel and poured out her heart. She's been doing that every since.

Lakisha seems reserved and hesitant to let loose. Melinda Doolittle is wonderful. She's a lot more adventurous than she was in the beginning and should win the competition.

Jordan Sparks is cute (wow, three black girls in the final!) but she needs more experience. I'd sentence her to five solid years in a black Baptist church.

Blake is okay, but not strong enough to be an American Idol. The best male singer was voted off last night, Phil.

Every season of American Idol ends up with people who sholdn't be in the top 12. A few of the better singers didn't get the vote and left early, like Jennifer Hudson (turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to her).

Chad Oneil said...

Found your blog by searching for "idol" blogs.

I don't think we need to worry about Blake winning. I did think he rocked out last week with the most exciting performance, but I believe Jordin and Melinda will be the final two. We shall see.

Jordin may be the youngest, but I'm sure producer's mouths are watering because they can mold her into a big star.

Good post.