Against my better judgment (and sense of self respect), I found myself watching the first two days of American Idol. It’s a contagious disease. Actually, it’s not that bad until you get down to the last 10 or so contestants and the majority of them don’t have the look or attitude to make it in the music industry.
Which brings me to my point. It’s obviously Simon’s show. Of course it’s literally his, but he also commands the screen with his presence and opinions.
I’ve been watching Simon as he watches and listens to the contestants. He has such black or white opinions most of the time, and he seems to form most of his judgments within the first 2 seconds of the song. To form an opinion that quickly, he’s obviously trying to weed out as many people as possible who obviously don’t have the look of a star and probably couldn’t be prettied up to fake it.
Let’s face it – Simon Cowell is a superficial guy. Whether that’s his real personality or a character he plays for this show is beside the point. All I know of him is what he presents to the world on American Idol. Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson (I had to look his name up) are mostly window dressing. They’re Simon’s little assistants – they’re the Ed McMahon and Paul Shaffer of American Idol.
Anyway, my point about Simon is that I question his ability to judge musical talent. I question his ability to judge potential star power and presence. He’s probably nixed some top notch talent because they didn’t fit what is likely his Elton John ideal.
Here’s what I propose: If they decide to create another season of American Idol, they need to add some mystery into the mix. Let Ryan Seacrest select at least one professional singer per year and toss him or her into the mix as a sleeper. For the first guy, I would pick the lead singer of Our Lady Peace – Raine Maida (he may technically be a Canadian, but he’s a great singer from a great band who probably wouldn’t be a dead giveaway if he stood before the judges). Seacrest would keep it a secret from Simon and the other judges. He could tell us about the star outside the judging room while we wait to see the performance and hear the verdict. We could get classic comments and reactions from superstars after the performance and judges decision. Some famous singers would probably get pretty hacked off at Simon for being such an ass.
My guess is that Simon would probably tell some very successful singers that they don’t have what it takes to become the next American Idol, which of course is nothing compared to being the real success they already are.
The show would continue or increase its current popularity. People are obsessed with stars. Throw in a real star posing as an everyday person, show them before, during, and after their audition. Get the judges reaction after they’ve been told that they just critiqued a superstar. It’s brilliant.
Of course, you’d have to disguise many of the singers who aren’t a part of bands (Mariah Carey, Seal, Elton John, Josh Groban types) because they don’t blend in with a group of musicians. But take just about any lead singer of a band/group and I’d be willing to bet that he or she could get past all three judges unrecognized.
It’s a great idea, anyway. The only flaw is that after the judges are told that a star performed unnoticed, they’d be studying all the following performers to discern if each was a star. That would make it harder to maintain. The element of surprise is what would make it so cool. Maybe you bring five to ten different artists to the initial tryouts and video the whole thing and don’t announce anything to the judges until the last couple weeks of the season. That would be just one more thing to add to the end of season build-up.
Those are my thoughts. Some lead singers and artists I’d like to see sing in disguise are The Cranberries, Our Lady Peace, Evanescence, Weezer, Green Day, Pearl Jam (though Eddie Vedder is probably too old), Coldplay, Counting Crows (probably too old again), Natalie Merchant, Dido, Emiliana Torrini, The Fray, James Blunt, Sade, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and that chick from Mono.