This past week's show made me think "American Idol" should be renamed, "The Making of an Idol" . It appears that this organization may have a winner chosen, and it's not Taylor Hicks. Criticisms toward 19E and the "American Idol" show have been generated by the fans of Taylor Hicks over multiple venues by many fans. The complaints involve the appearance of bias and manipulation. The outcome of this season's show could possibly make or break the duration and popularity of this giant ratings hit.
We have had an interesting season on "Idol" with contestants of completely diverse talents and interesting back storylines. Not all of the contestants have been endowed with power pipes but the mix was obviously chosen to garner wide interest and make for compelling television, a necessary ingredient in a reality show format. Seemingly, though, on "Idol" this season, more of the characteristics that controversy was born of during the last couple of seasons are recurring. The possibility that "Idol" is fixed, I guess could exist, but the fixing seem to lie within the fact that what the judges have to say holds a generous amount of sway with the voting public.
There's no doubt that Katharing McPhee and Chris Daughtry are extremely talented and deserve every bit of their success. Elliott Yamin, not having the 'eye-candy' appeal of Katharine or Chris, will be probably eliminated before either of them, which is a shame. Elliott possesses one of the best voices in this show as well as possibly in previous seasons' shows. Paris, while being very talented, has not been able to generate a sufficiently manic fan base to carry her much further. I don't intend to take away anything from the work that they have put out to be remaining on this show.
The topics currently concerning me and the Taylor Hicks' fans is the appearance of unequal treatment on the show. Taylor receives criticisms for dancing too much, then he hears it for not staying true to himself, and not dancing. It has been a difficult road for Taylor to hoe to try to please the judges. The public finds Taylor Hicks appealing, so why are Simon's and Randy's comments virtually always extremely negative? Paula Abdul has on several occasions gotten so angry with Simon over Taylor that she's jumped up, or slapped him. Virtually every guest with the exception of Kenny Rogers have had good things to say about Taylor. Barry Manilow proclaimed Taylor as possessing "One of the great voices I've ever heard", Rod Stewart spoke of Taylor's charisma, and told him not to listen to Simon Cowell's negative comments. Music producer David Foster said, "Taylor has potentially the most charisma, and that is very, very important to being a star".
Regarding Chris Daughtry, he gets a laser light show for every appearance not to mention the stage smoke and guitar players, in fact his last performance he had two guitarists flanking him. He has also performed twice in the 'pimp spot', the last slot of the evening, Taylor has yet to be chosen for this prime spot. Granted Taylor did have a fiddle player accompaniment in a performance, but the camera angles were so strange, he was blocked from view in parts of the performance.
Katharine McPhee, this last week came out in a sexy dress cut down to highlight her 'girls' and slit up to, let's say, in one camera angle, she could have incurred an "American Idol" censor oval... but she was indeed in need of a pair of Spanx. BUt it is a competition, and she needs to pull out all stops... And let's not forget the apologies Simon and Randy lavished on her for being 'overly critical' as they put it regarding her Tuesday night performance. They were nicely contrite. It was touching.
Then there is the song choice issue. It's pretty much open knowledge now, that again this week Hicks was told the Monday prior to the show, he had to change his song choice. I had thought that prior to rehearsals the choices were approved. Word 'on the streets' is that Hicks was so brilliant in the rehearsals with his original choice that it was pulled lest he deliver another performance the likes of "Taking It To the Streets". He was told that his original selections would not be a song that Andrea Bocelli would have performed. I did not hear that they had to sing songs Bocelli would chose to sing. Hicks' first choice, "Try a Little Tenderness" would have been a great choice. In sticking to this type of criteria, I guess that Kenny Rodgers would sing "Walk the Line" by way of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers version that Chris was allowed to do.
The contestants need to be fairly treated. It would be possible to see this show taking a nosedive in future seasons if the overtly unfair and biased treatment of the contestants continues. If Katharine can get an on-air apology from the judges taking back their initial assessments over her performance, then Taylor should have received an apology from Simon about his offhanded, intended to be a joke drunk remark. Instead of Taylor being ripped over his "Just Once" performance and told, 'you look uptight tonight' then dismissed, it should have been pointed out he had been made to change his song the day before the show and the song wasn't his choice. So, if Simon and AI are trying to hold him down, with his voice, talent, and charisma, they won't be able to do so for long. America has heard him, and he has developed a huge and intense fanbase. I truly think that each of the remaining 5 deserves to be there. They have worked hard, and are a talented group. Lest you walk a way with the wrong impression, I do realize that this is just a reality TV show, and basically a game. But like any game, fairness is preferable, and changing rules to meet the desired outcome are not acceptable. On the flip side, eventhough this is a game, the stakes can be potentially high for the contestants and the winner. Their careers lie in a balance which depends largely on how they are portrayed in this talent show; the impressions that result from their time spent on the
Taylor will have a long-lasting career in music when it's over, I am confident of this. One phrase that comes to mind from the song, "Levon" that Hicks performed early this season, "Levon wears his war wounds like a crown". Essentially, Taylor Hicks is fighting a battle, a war if you will, against a formidable opponent in 19E and A.I. An opponent who really does Owe Hicks. Ratings this season are making records, due in large part to the enormous base of Soul Patrollers that watch and vote. A short while back on the A.I. fan forums they deleted almost 100,000 of the posts to Taylor's folder to make it look like the general folder had more posts than he; of course moderators tried to attribute that alteration to bad posts. Well they couldn't keep the Soul Patrol down, and within a week his fans had made up the difference and passed the the general information folder numbers total again. His posts are double the numbers of any other contestant. I'd think that A.I. would realized that somebody who generates this much interest would be a good business investment, and a highly marketable talent. What do I know? And to "American Idol", as I said in my title; Got Soul?
Simons's own words in an MSNBC interview a while back,"I have a horrible feeling that America is going to vote Taylor to win".
I for one, as I have proclaimed in the past, want to do whatever I can to provide Simon with that horrible feeling and help the man reach his goals.
Groove on Soulman.