Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This year I win!

I must admit, I'm really happy this year. I loved Kris pretty much as soon as I actually saw him perform, I have come to love Adam even though I don't always love his performances, and though I really loved Allison, too, I don't have that horrible rage of injustice I often get when we get down to this. I mean, can we say Katherine McPhee/Taylor Hicks or Diana DeGarmo? Give me a break. This year, I think both Idol possibles are talented and deserving, and I thoroughly enjoyed their performances last night.

When Adam sang "Mad World" I felt like he might have read this blog and taken my advice to heart. His version last night was less screamer and a lot more emotive than his last one, and I think that song is more evocative this way. I thought his version of "A Change Is Gonna Come" was magical, and his version of that Kara DioGuardi mess of a song was as good as it could be considering the material.

Kris performed two of my favorite songs ever...I loved Kris' original version of "Ain't No Sunshine," and I thought last night he was pretty much perfect with it. Really beautiful. And though the judges seemed to think he should have made some spectacle of "What's Goin' On," I thought his version was really nice...much like "Mad World," I think that song is better when you lay back and let it flow, which Kris did. And I thought it was hysterical that Kara flat out acknowledged her stupid song was in the wrong key for Kris - shows she didn't actually care whether or not he could sing it, because she wrote it for Adam. Which was made even funnier by Randy's comment that Kris' voice was a better fit for it. (As if anyone should sing that kind of dreck.)

I get that most people think that Kris has already won his version of the title simply by beating Danny, and that Adam is the only true candidate for AI winner. I get that everyone is positive that Adam is the "talent" here, that he's the performer and the superstar. But I really don't understand why pretty much every compliment to Kris has the tone of praise you give to some retarded kid who manages to correctly identify the square hole for the block in his hand.

This is not to detract from Adam. He is amazing and deserves all the success he gets. But flashy showmanship and the ability to "perform" isn't the only hallmark of talent. Adam has the better voice, he's a bigger stage presence and has a theatrical knack for nailing the emotions in a song. Kris, on the other hand, plays a bunch of instruments, has some pretty uncanny pitch even though his voice isn't perfect, and interprets a song with an innocent, raw emotion that is compelling. You can be talented and relevant and a huge international success with glamour and wardrobe and dry ice if you want to, but you can also be one WITHOUT being Cher.

People dismiss Kris as John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson or any number of singer-songwriter types who do acoustic guitar music heavy on lyrics and emotion. But why exactly is it a BAD thing to be like these guys? Must everyone be Celine Dion to be considered talented?

I LIKE John Mayer. (It took a mixed cd from CP with pretty much the entire contents of Mayer's first album to convert me, but I got over the whole bubblegum toes thing and learned to enjoy him.) It's a hot sunny day and I'm listening to a mix of Josh Rouse, Jack Johnson and Ryan Adams on my iPod. I'm singing along and even repeating some of the songs I like. None of these guys do elaborate stage shows, they don't have the most amazing voices and they can be pretty understated. But I like them. I buy their music. I think they're great artists.

If someone offered me free tickets to an Elton John concert, I would beg off and suggest they find someone else. I would, however, stand in line in the rain to sit in the second balcony to hear Bob Dylan.  I think Springsteen puts on a killer show, but Nebraska and Devils & Dust are my favorites of his albums. And while Led Zeppelin is unquestionably great, I think Robert Plant is pure genius when he's collaborating with Allison Krauss.

I guess what I'm saying is that there are lots of ways to be a great musician.  Kris and Adam each have their own charm. Either one of them deserves to win. They're very different, but they're both big "finds" for the music industry, and they both deserve successful careers. And I'm sick and tired of the Adam folks insinuating that it is some huge travesty of justice if their guy doesn't win.  

To use an overused analogy, some people like the Stones, some people prefer the Beatles, and while Keith Richards is a much more compelling train wreck than Paul McCartney, there's still room on the iPod for both. 

And, of course, some people like Josh Groban and Michael Buble, but there's no accounting for taste.

2 comments:

Blanche said...

well said MJ. I concur and agree that both are very talented, each in different ways. I think America got it right this year and I have to admit I enjoyed the finale. It didn't suck.

lakeviewer said...

There is no accounting for taste. I liked your comment on Cormac's blog, so I came over to check out the rest of your thoughts.

You talk about music as though you breathe it. I am right?