The failed highschoolsification of American Idol

Anyone the slightest bit steeped in the shenaniganery of modern pop culture will probably be unable to stop shaking their head after reading my comments and bafflement upon beholding the riveting musical train wreck that is “American Idol” for the first time in my life over the last few weeks. I would like to say much of my incomplete viewing was done with the ostensible purpose of “blog research,” but that is pathetic and you all know it. The primary reason for my caving in to the futile entertainment of the hit Fox show largely veers closer to the standard arena of “Beta appeasement” on my part. Yes, because of a girl. But that is neither here nor there. The point is, I have watched more American Idol in the past couple of weeks than I ever thought myself capable of while in a sane condition. Do I take an avid interest in the show? Hell no. It’s all in good, cheesy fun: like the show. I haven’t vested myself deeply in the ongoing competition simply because I don’t care about the people. The music industry is largely annoying and overly-populated by uber-juveniles who have stumbled upon a measure of wealth and fame that leaves their public persona incredibly distasteful and unwatchable. That’s what i think of when I think American Idol. So I’ve watched some snippets of recent episodes and I’ve seen the bad, the mild, and the damned good.

As I said, I’m not vested in the outcome and I don’t much care who wins or loses. But I do have opinions, most of which aren’t very adamant.

Until yesterday’s episode. Contestant Pia Toscano was eliminated like the innocent bystander caught in the crossfire. That’s when I sadly realized American Idol was just the same ol’. The music industry is a raging popularity contest, a despicable Homecoming Queen contest, and it allows the underdeveloped female pack mentality to spring into action in a push/pull seesaw of reward and punish, especially when framed against the context of personal impressions superseding all ability and qualifications. This is what American Idol proved itself to be, to me, last night.

Now I don’t purport to be the ultimate judge of musical talent, much less that of the vocal variety. However, my gut instinct usually echoes the common consensus, and by all apparent reactions, Pia Toscano has an amazing voice…and last night’s reactions of dismay as she was booted from the show by the ever-discerning (sarcasm OFF) musical public which solely determines winners and losers on this show, was illuminating. Jennifer Lopez, the most discriminating and technically-minded vocal and musical inspector/scientist of the bunch, was speechless. This Pia chick, besides being incredibly hot, brunette and curvy, has a deep resounding voice, which my friend also pointed out is incredibly controlled and restrained, easily outshone much of the pack. Yet the pack continued and Pia was cast to the rubble. What happened? This seems to be the instinctive and shocked aftertaste gracing much audience.

Once again, I have created a shoddy short video for this blog. This one contrasts Pia’s performance against 3 of what I view as her poorest competitors, who incidentally are all somewhat attractive males who encompass the entire spectrum of male appeal. A little bit for all the women. And female appeal is what this show is all about. This Pia chick elicited a deep underlying sheath of hate and retribution from wide swaths of the American public. You can text or phone your vote in and much of this is obviously internet-centered and the old days of viral hate blooming in school hallways has now taken root in the vast hallways of cyberspace. Everything goes viral now and I guarantee you much of the femhate permeating the internet in respect to Pia was fueled by hordes of self-perpetuated word-of-mouth streams of replicated hate. Womanhood’s spite graciously spawns like DNA. The only people bothering to vote for this shit are women. Pia represented a remarkably helpless, apt target. She was ultra hot, ultra talented; she exudes that “wicked witch persona” which good wholesome Americana-type women detest (the ones who watch too much television). She is the anti-21st century girl.

She was doomed

Did Pia deserve to win?
Hell, who knows. Who can say.

However, Pia deserved to make the final cut considering her immediate competition.
But once again, the middling expectations of modern music are rendered obvious.

Some would claim, rightly so, that musical performers must ooze a vibe, a persona, that transcends musical talent. This is what dictates marketability. I agree. When it comes to pop music, musical mechanics are not as crucial. In pop music, you are a commodity and all that separates you from the washed-out music whore at the local Raddison Suite is the effect you imbue upon the audience. This effect is dictated by qualities not related to your talent. There is that underlying meta-quality performers have, their body language, movements, mannerisms, that distincly manipulate how we perceive them. Still, Pia’s “electricity” easily exceeded that of 2 of her lowliest competitors. In this video, only Paul McDonald, the shaggy-haired guy at the beginning, outdoes her in terms of showmanship, even though his voice grates on my nerves like a rusty nail across a chalkboard. The #2 & #3 guys (James Durbin & Casey Abrams, respectively) have all the appeal of lumps of coal (and talent to match). Sorry, but vibe and persona are obviously symbolic and empty in this competition. That was not sufficient criteria to eliminate Pia. There is a point where talent’s diminishing returns refuse to continue paying off…if you’re butt ugly or look like a sloth, but Pia hadn’t even come close to reaching that level.

Yet, she is now gone from this dumb show and the sluggards remain in her wake.

I’m not pissed that Pia is gone. I don’t care about Pia. I’m simply dismayed that the true nature of the music biz, television, and the high schoolification of pop culture has been sealed so shamelessly and unabashedly.