Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Idol: The Woman Problem

After last week’s shocking (read: not shocking) display of anti-feminism, my sister made the suggestion that we start championing Idol contestants we hate so that perhaps the ones we like will stick around. Obviously this is a reasonable suggestion, since Pia’s performance of “River Deep, Mountain High” was my favorite of hers from the competition. So in order to help out my actual favorites, I now declare James, Scotty, and Jacob to be my favorites. So don’t get voted off, James, Scotty, or Jacob. No, really, guys, please oh please don’t make the show better by getting voted off.

After Wednesday's performance show, I was all ready to confidently declare Pia as the best of the week, and write an optimistic paragraph about her Idol chances. But we all know what happened on Thursday. The Voice actually gave us something up-tempo. And it was good. So to repay her for breaking out of her comfort zone and working it on a Tina Turner song, America decided to make Pia the fifth female (the fifth female without blond hair and blue eyes, I may add) in a row to get the boot. I don’t have to tell you what a fail this is. Yeah, the judges should shoulder some blame for giving everyone gold stars, no matter how they do, but don’t think you’re getting off that easy, collective American voting public. We’re all to blame for this unsettling display of lady-hating.

I do think there’s hope, though, and here’s why: last season’s So You Think You Can Dance. Yeah, we’re talking about two totally different shows, with Idol favoring personality and hit-making ability more than raw talent (usually), and SYTYCD placing insane athleticism and hard work at its center, but I think in both shows, we’re relying on a power-voting public that tends to enjoy cute boys more than strong, talented women. Last season, after a couple of shocking and a couple of not-so shocking eliminations, we ended up with two women and six men. It got even more bleak when one of the aforementioned women then had to leave the show because of injury, leaving Lauren Froderman as the lone female for the final four weeks of competition (if you didn't watch this season, the real entertainment was watching the choreographers try to figure out ways to have two guys dance together without offending the red states and Nigel Lithgow). It looked like a cute boy's season to lose. But in spite of the apparently anti-female odds, Lauren won the thing, snatching the title from presumed champion (and cute boy) Kent Boyd. It was a very interesting turn of events.

So how does this relate to Idol where it now stands? If Lauren Alaina has a breakout week, she could be Idol's Lauren Froderman. She's got the talent and the personality, she just needs to feel a song. "Candle in the Wind" was a step in the right direction, even if last week's "Natural Woman" was possibly the worst song choice for a young girl to sing on this show. She's probably got a couple more weeks of grace period from the voters, at which point we call this season a wash for women. I'd (amazingly!) love to see Haley beat the odds and become the first person to sit in the bottom three for three straight weeks and go on to win the thing, but I don't think it's going to happen. Feminists, don't abandon hope! (Unless another woman gets voted off this week, in which case, start preparing for X-Factor now.)

This week is soundtrack night, which has had it's spectrum of performances (including it's various Broadway manifestations) ranging from the best performance on Idol of all time (Fantasia's "Summertime" FTW) to legendary (Carly Smithson's "Superstar" and Kris Allen's "Falling Slowly") to kinda bad (Jason Castro's "Memory") to cringeworthy (Danny Gokey's "Endless Love") to full-on uncomfortable (Jon Peter Lewis "Jailhouse Rock". You're welcome). (That was fun.) In short, it's my favorite Idol theme week.

If an Idolestant ever sings one of the following songs, s/he will automatically gain Crystal Bowersox cred with me: "Long Ride Home" by Patty Griffin (Elizabethtown), "My Man" from Funny Girl, "Till There was You" from The Music Man, and "Man of Constant Sorrow" from O Brother, Where Art Thou (Scotty McCreery does not get a free pass, though, even if he sings this song).

If an Idolestant sings one of these songs, I will cringe, deduct 50 cool points, and envision a giant Vaudeville-style cane pulling them offstage mid-performance: "I Have Nothing" or "I Will Always Love You from The Bodyguard (everyone knows the Dolly Parton version is the superior version of the latter, anyway), "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" by Phil Collins (Against All Odds), "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith (Armageddon) (I'm looking at you, Lauren Alaina), "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion (Titanic) (that didn't need to be said, right?), "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" by Bryan Adams (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves). HURL.

Should be an interesting week.

One other thing to mention: I'm a Haley fan now. She makes awkward cool. Chew on that.


  1. YES. Haley fans unite. Our bottom three consists of Scotty, Stefano (for picking bad songs), and Paul McDonald.

    Love your list of songs that will make you hurl. Agree. Although it would be funny to see someone try to sing My Heart Will Go On.

    Crystal Bowersox losing to whatever-his-name was= tragedy.

  2. Haley is clearly the best remaining thing about this season. Poor Stefano. I think he's got Brooke White syndrome (e.g., emotional breakdown on TV that manifests itself in picking boring songs as painful acts of desperation). His days are, unfortunately, numbered. I like Paul, though! "Rocket Man" is running up play counts on my iPod.

    Which songs would make you hurl?

    The Bowersox Defeat of 2010 is still hard to talk about.