I don't know why the judges of American Idol were so shocked when Pia was voted off. I'm not clear why Jennifer Lopez said, "What is going on here?!" or why Randy started rubbing his bald head in stupification. Steven's remark about passion is well taken but what did his quip-filled self expect? I love the three of them. I'm so relieved not to have to spend half the show dealing with the sophomoric biting remarks that used to permeate the competition. But these judges aren't giving the American public the benefit of their musical insights.
Steven consistently says everyone is BEAUTIFUL and tries for some clever turn of phrase giving me the impression that while the singers are performing he has a compendium of not so hip quotes on his lap. Steven you were so good during auditions! Jennifer is a loving, bright presence, but only talks about package, and connecting with people's hearts, oh yes and an occasional vibrato... Come on Jennifer you can get more technical than that! Randy tries to do a little picking at the performances but the other two judges are always shutting him up. Since when is speaking the truth bad? Dog, where is your bark? It was always civilized. Bring it back!
So, since I've been something of a musician my whole life, have perfect pitch, and am a lover of great music of all genres, let me just offer up a few soft comments the judges might have made to make it clear to the American audience that Pia's need to work on her stage presence was hardly the only offense up there in this week's competition. (Oh and I'm adding a few asides of my own.)
CASEY did a nice job, but the song he chose might have been more powerful. It wasn't a song designed to take an audience anywhere, and Casey didn't. He should be more careful. It was safe and didn't show off his chameleon like ability to make an old song sound exciting and new.
HALEY was powerful but it might have been noted that turning herself into Janis Joplin is not the point here. I think she's great but she needs to work on making it her own. She's got that guttural sound down but so what? She's jazzy and needs to play with that more.
JACOB is starting to get boring. Every song is sounding the same. He pours his heart and considerable talents into every number the same way. Also I didn't appreciate his comment to the audience. Not liking him means I can't look at my truth? I don't think so.
JAMES was good but he could have modulated the song more. Built it up slowly so that it was more exciting. He got down with it very late in the number. (Remember Adam Lambert's performance of Mad World?)
LAUREN sang well, but Randy was right. It wasn't the best performance of that song I've ever heard. She also was a bit off key in the beginning (pitchy I mean?). She managed it but the number requires real power which she does not yet possess. Something less demanding might have worked better.
PAUL'S interesting sound is not proving to be all that versatile. Not sure he can do much with it... but if he can he should. He was a tad pitchy himself. (Personally I think he's pulling the wool over our eyes. His awkward freaky walk and weird sound makes him seem cool, but underneath I think he's the proverbial Emperor in his undies.)
PIA has a gorgeous voice, but all three made the mistake of going at her performance -- and since they went at no one else, it stood out. I can't say I love her. If I close my eyes she doesn't have her own sound. But to kick her off is absurd. (I'm not sure who Pia is. Think Crystal Bowersox. If you were in a box, in a trunk, in a safe, under the sea, and you heard her sing you'd know it was her.)
SCOTTY did beautifully. Can't say much here.
STEFANO needs to find a sound that means something. If he can. He sang with heart, but again, he's not interesting. He's not investing his sound with anything I haven't heard before. (Honestly I think he sounds just a cut above a cruise crooner. I hate to sound like Simon, but he does. Couldn't someone have said to him, at the very least, they're not sure who he is?)
So that's it. Judges, please give us the benefit of your insights. Do it kindly. Don't make like Simon. And don't leave it all to Jimmy. Give audiences something to think about. That's why you are there. If you want to be cheerleaders, or someone told you to be cheerleaders than bring your pompoms to the table so we know you aren't really judges. If everyone sounds beautiful, if you're proud of everyone, what are you giving the audience to think about as they talk to friends or go with their moods which may not always be wise? And honestly after the contestants have performed don't you want to give them something to really gnaw on as they get ready for the following week?
Otherwise they are all in their undies. I never liked The Emperor's New Clothes. I was always so embarrassed for the Emperor. And that's how I'm beginning to feel when you speak to the contestants.
Stop it. Give them and your audience their pride by letting us all know some truths.
Follow Meg F. Schneider, MA, LCSW on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MegFSchneider