American Idol is one of those shows. I didn't watch the first season, but I watched the next few mostly because I was at home and didn't have all that much choice. Then a few years ago, I got out of it's grip. I have remained pretty blissfully ignorant of what went on in that world. Then I got married.
I watched every episode of The X Factor, which is Simon Cowell's reimagining and recapturing of what American Idol once was. And I did actually enjoy it. Quite a bit, actually. It really did seem to get back to what made American Idol fun. Now, of course, American Idol is back on the airwaves.
I've been made to watch this, too. And that's okay. I do enjoy music and competition. And, well, if you watch enough of anything, you'll start become an expert of sorts on it. Here's my take on things: American Idol is an awfully stale product with judges that, on the surface, should be interesting, but really aren't and don't add anything to do the show. So much of what happens with the judges either feels like them spouting meaningless words and leave me questioning whether they were really listening to what just happened or not. Or Randy Jackson trying his hardest to be Simon Cowell and be mean for the sake of creating drama, but it clearly hasn't been working.
That brings us to the man in the picture up there. That's Jimmy Iovine. He's been in the music industry for quite some time and worked with some people I greatly admire, including John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Petty. Or so his Wikipedia entry tells me. He's now in his second season as "Mentor in Residence" with Idol. Maybe this happened last year, too, I don't know, but this year, it seems they've really leaned on him to speak his mind and be the asshole of the group.
I don't necessarily agree with a ton of what he says,* but at least he's not just gushing praise or manufactured criticism like the other judges. Here's the rub: he's not a judge. Instead of sitting out at the little table and speaking with the contestants face-to-face, he spends the week working one-on-one with the contestants in side sessions and helps them develop their song for that week. On the night of the competition, he is piped in on a video screen to give his opinion, which is usually the most critical of the singers.
*This actually is a difference from Simon. I actually agree with the vast majority of what he has to say. He's just blunt about it.
Does Idol need somebody like that? Sure. But don't hide away from who you're talking bad about. If you want to have your opinion aired, at least have the balls to come out and tell it to the performer's face. If you can't handle that, then keep your mouth shut. Or at least off the camera.
And because this will probably be my last post on this subject, let me say that I'm definitely all for Heejun Han. He is a surprisingly good singer, but more than that, his demeanor and humor remind me of a good college buddy of mine, John Chuang. Who, incidentally, runs a blog of his own. It's over here. I'm sure the whole Asian thing doesn't hurt, either, but I do think I would think of Chuang regardless of Heejun's