So, this is really kind of awkward. I mean, when you get invited by AT&T to experience in person an awesome musical spectacular that fourteen million people across America are watching from their couches, you kind of feel like the only thing to say is “Thank you!” and “That was amazing!”
But I can’t help myself. I’m an oversharer, and I haven’t missed an Idol finale since 2001. It’s pretty fair to say I’m an OG Idol fan. I mean, I was barely old enough to compete when I started watching the show from my New York apartment at 19 (the entry age was 18 way back then) and I’ve followed it through two states, four houses, a marriage, a baby, and right out the other side of the qualifying age range, with the oldest contestant now almost five years younger than me. (Not that I ever had designs on auditioning for American Idol, you do NOT want to hear this sing.) I’ve even seen a beloved high school classmate come thisclose to taking the crown herself. (#McPheever4EVA.) So it’s hard for me to squelch my opinions. Even when they’re not awesome. Even when I’m afraid it means I will never be invited back. (This was my second year attending the live finale — I also got to see Scotty McCreary take the title back in 2011.)
In fact, I’ve been such a loyal Idol fan, that I straight up refused to watch The Voice for its first two seasons. (Which I obviously regret now that I’ve finally tuned in because The Voice is freaking awesome. Hot damn I love me a good undiscovered singer.)
So it is with a heavy heart that I have to admit, I understand why Idol had a 34% viewer drop off for it’s season finale this year. My list of grievances are as follows:
While I’m never one to wish anyone out of a job, American Idol needs to fire its entire creative team because the production itself SUCKS. AI in person ROCKED IT OUT. It always does. I’ve been to two finales (yes, I am proud enough to mention that twice in this post) and a top four show in season three and each and every time the quality of singers and the stage presence of these kids who have little to no experience doing it has blown me away FAR MORE in person that it ever has at home. (Yes, even this past Finale — Janelle Arthur, who I have never been a fan of on TV convinced me she was a bonafide star. Holy Wow.) And Kree singing with Keith and Randy supporting her musically was a total highlight. And Candice just about got me to switch #team hashtags when she nearly sang the inimitable Jennifer Hudson clean off the stage. But when I watched those same performances on the big screens at the after party all I could think was “Holy Moses, who is directing this mess and why can’t they get their shit together?” American Idol, take my advice: Find out who directed the main stage at Coachella this year and hire them instead — they had my eyes drifting to the monitors instead of the stage all weekend with their stunning shots and brilliant cuts. And they never once pulled up a camera that was focused on someone’s feet in the audience. I mean, WTF American Idol?
My second grievance sits at the Judges table. (Although it was super emotional to be there for Randy’s last show after all these years. I kind of love the Big Dawg.) Keith Urban is by far the best of the bunch. Despite his 90s era K.D. Lang hair, I actually find him super sincere and his love of music shines through when he critiques the performances. I’ll even say the same thing about Mariah Carey. While I wish someone would strap her to a table and give her shock therapy until the word Darling is deleted from her vocabulary (and also she realizes she’s not twenty, what the hell is up with her latest video?) her talent is apparent and she and Keith actually gave quite a bit of solid, mentor-ly advice this season. Still, Keith can stay, but no amount of musical talent would make me want to put up with Mariah Carey for another minute, but more on that to come. Nikki Minaj is hilarious to watch in a train-wrecky way, and came across much more human than I ever expected but she really has no business on that panel. American Idol isn’t a fashion show and the contestants wardrobe was pretty much the only thing I ever heard her talk about.
Okay, NOW let’s talk about Mariah Carey. There is nothing relatable about that woman. And part of what makes The Voice so lovely is that the Judges are fun to watch. They may be superstars, but they’re also real people, and they let that show. Mariah Carey had three black-leather-clad makeup artists touching her up at each and every commercial break, despite not uttering a single word during the entire telecast. The only time she moved at all was when she pretended to go back stage for her performance, which was then abruptly aired only on the jumbo tron while the stage stood empty. Mimi remained backstage for another full performance for her fake reverse-back to costume, before re-emerging and sitting still for the rest of the night, which apparently required three to four additional hair and makeup touch ups. And the fact that she didn’t sing live? It just really got under my skin. Two years ago both J.Lo and Steven Tyler got on stage FOR REAL, and yes, in case your wonder, J.Lo was in the house for real again on Thursday night. I’ll cut Mariah a little slack and acknowledge that Keith Urban’s solo performance was also pre-taped, but he did get up on stage and play live with Kree and Randy, so I forgave him for it. Not Mariah. It’s lame to tell people that they’re watching one of the greatest voices of our time perform live when they’re simply not. Uncool, American Idol.
Still, I’ll be back for more next season. I’m interested to see if Old Faithful can put itself together. Maybe it’s time for an Idol Alum on the Judging Panel? I hear Reuben Studdard is available.
And now that I’ve examined every tooth in this gift horse’s mouth, I’ll end with a Thank You, American Idol. You really do put on one hell of a live show, and I had a great time.
AT&T was kind enough to provide me with complimentary tickets and party passes for the Season 12 Idol Finale. All opinions are my own.