Too Good for Idol?





Not that it takes much, anyway, but nothing like a little insanely over the top hyperbole to animate my inner Simon Cowell. I was ready to hate everybody. Have we so easily forgotten Adam Lambert auditioning with Bohemian Rhapsody and Michael Jackson’s Rock With You[1]? Or a 15-year-old Paris Bennett singing Billie Holiday for the judges?

Recency bias, people! It’s why we can’t have nice things!

And then finally after an hour and fifty minutes . . . Alejandro. Whoa.


giphy (1)

OK, I can’t go greatest. But “spectacular talent?” Yes. “Awe-inspiring?” Yes. “Compelling?” Yes.

See how easy that is without the crazy superlatives?

LukeThis Alejandro guy is good. Gifted actually. Poor Luke Bryan looked so confused, as in, “what is freaking happening here?”, kind of confused. My daughter Cassandra – before she was virtually crying, “I want to listen to his album right now.” – said he sounds like a combination of John Mayer and John Legend. And my mean Mr. Simon Cowell heart went all a-flutter when Katy asked Alejandro who his inspirations were and he said, “Trent Reznor[2]. Chopin. And Bach. Dang. (The last one is an expression of appreciation and not a musician.)

Trent Reznor is actually a good frame for reference for Alejandro. Reznor’s creative genius and need for independence has never been able to be contained by the structure of the music business. As for Alejandro, I completely agree with My Daughter Cassandra’s declaration, “He’s too good for Idol.

He may self-destruct in the rigidity of Hollywood. He may not. He might not even be the most talented person we see IF the Idols self-hype contains even a fraction of truth. But Idol is a like game with a defined set of rules – expectations, really – and the person who wins is the one who’s “best” at playing within those expectations. A big part of the history of the show are talented “losers” like Jennifer Hudson, Melissa Doolittle, Crystal Bowersox, Adam Lambert, La’Porsha Renae and Todrick Hall who didn’t fit within those expectations. However, even compared to that list, Alejandro’s problem is that he is so far outside Idol’s norms, I fear that he won’t go far. It will be fascinating to see what happens.

Alright, enough on that. As to “normal” Idolists, only one other captured my Simon Cowell-like attention. Had it not been for Alejandro, Shayy Winn, the blind girl who sang Andra Day’s Rise Up, would have been my star of the night. No back story was necessary in terms of getting my attention. Her big, earnest voice was enough. 

Others that I noted mostly because they made for good TV:

  • Logan Johnson – the first audition of the night; sweet, pleasant voice.
  • Eddie Island – who wasn’t that good but he moved to Nashville because he was going to a Paramore concert there and decided to stay. I was so utterly enthralled by Hayley Williams the first time I saw Paramore, I’ve since gone out of my way to see them numerous times, so I’m sympathetic to him.
  • Karli Ryan – noteworthy because her mom auditioned for Idol. The show’s been around long enough that we’re on second-generation Idolists! I agree with the judges’ decision that she’s not quite ready for Hollywood but she should come back next year. There’s something there that just may need time to develop.
  • The Juan Pablo guy gave me PTSD flashbacks to The Bachelor. I’ll just leave that there for the people who understand that reference.
  • Ethan Payne’s duet with Luke was adorable. Ethan was just OK but he has a nice story living with Cystic Fibrosis.
  • The Kimberly and Bernie couple thing was so bad it was good television.

As always, these evaluations come with the usual disclaimer that audition performances are not indicative of future results. See you next week.


[1] The latter was not aired. Google it.

[2] Nine Inch Nails.

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