Category Archives: American Idol

American Idol XIV: Hollywood Part 3

I take it back.

Last week I said how good shortening each of these episodes to an hour was. That it forced the producers to cut down on the crap and focus on the good stuff. Our usual “singingless” episode was totally avoided. I was so proud.

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But just as you think idol’s taking a turn for the better, it takes a turn for the worse again. Tonight’s group numbers were awful. Even more damningly, the show warned us ahead that tonight would be awful. “The group numbers aren’t about singing, they’re about handling curveballs thrown at you,” the judges tell us. Oh really? Because some of the most memorable moments from Hollywood week are the group rounds, when three or four talented singers get together and produce great harmonies. That’s why, even though the build up to them has always been excruciating, they’re worth it for the pay off.

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American Idol XIV: Hollywood Part 2

We’ve been promised by the Idol scheduling gods that Hollywood will only take two weeks, effectively cutting it from eight hours to four. For those that have been watching Idol for years, we all know that the second night of Hollywood invariably is the worst–the run up to the Group Rounds. AKA, the episode where there is no singing.

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But with only one hour, and the Lines of Ten round–which usually takes up the bulk of Night One–only just begun at the end of last night’s episode, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work. Would the Lines of Ten mostly get skipped? (Nope, got a full 30 minutes!) Would we spend most of the precious time left with the usual pre-performance Group Drama (Don’t sleep! Rehearse past your limit and then wonder why your performance sucks!) and have an hour where no one sings?

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American Idol XIV: Hollywood Part 1

Idol’s Hollywood week has always been difficult to show on TV. Back in the very early days, when Nigel was all in on showing bad auditions and terrible human behavior, this pressure cooker segment where the show determined who would be able to handle the live shows and who couldn’t was like a random detour. Contestants we saw audition who would go on the make the 24 would basically disappear for two or three weeks while the show delivered trainwreck after trainwreck and cut them one by one. As the bad auditions declined in popularity, Hollywood adjusted. But there still wasn’t enough singing and virtually no camera footage of the really interesting stuff–that is, the criteria that puts one through to a live show that has nothing to do with singing.

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With the show now in its new “one hour two nights” format, the fear as these Hollywood episodes would only get worse. After all, there was never enough time to show the singing before this, how could a drastic reduction help? And yet, the forcing of the production to focus down turned out to be the best thing the show could do. All the superfluous crap seems to have disappeared down a memory hole. No creepy bus trips where the doomed riders cry and scream. No weird “lets watch a mini pandemic of flu in action” arcs. No long drawn out recaps of the auditions we just bloody watched last week, or extra time to focus on the judges being fabulous, not today, thank you kindly. Instead, we got right to the singing.

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American Idol XIV: San Francisco Part 2

This is how Idol ends…not with a bang, but with a teenager. Lots of teenagers. And for once, I can’t say “I wish they waited a few years.” Idol won’t be here in another few years, certainly not if it continues to lead off with the stuff that should have wound up on the cutting room floor like yesterday.

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Tonight was certainly better in terms of the number of decent contestants, but in another one hour episode, I found myself wondering why? Why are their two nights of one hour episodes, if there’s only enough material for one? Or enough for one 90 minute episode? A long time ago, when Idol was a massive ratings juggernaut, if there wasn’t enough material, the show simply shortened, instead of padded. You want to know one of the problems with Idol in their golden years? Padding.

This being the final night of auditions, let’s see the highlights of those who the show chose to highlight.

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American Idol XIV: San Francisco Part 1

So far this season, the best audition episode came in New York City, partly due to the fresh addition to the judging table of former contestant Adam Lambert. Though he is not at the table this week, the show continues its tour of “judges cities,” this time hitting the place where they discovered Adam back in 2009.

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Suffice to say, there were no Adams this time. This was close to being on par with Minneapolis. It was that bad.

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American Idol XIV: New Orleans

After decent hauls in both Keith Urban’s “home town” of Nashville, and the Best-In-Show episode of the auditions that happened in JLo’s home town of New York, I was rather hoping that Harry’s hometown of New Orleans would do him just as proud. This despite Harry’s comments at the TCA that “the New Orleans audition singers didn’t really sound like New Orleans.” I assumed that was just him bitching about kids these day, and the homogenization of pop music, instead of it having a regional flavor.

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Nope, turns out Harry was irritated at his home town because the talent didn’t show up in droves. His town was the only one have a single hour episode instead of a two-hour one. At least, unlike some one hour episodes, this was not a complete throwaway clogging up the schedule in a time the show should be streamlining. But there was the sense that it only ran an hour because otherwise it would have been embarrassing for Harry.

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American Idol XIV: Minneapolis

Once again, we have another one hour episode lead in to Empire that would have been better served being something other than an hour of Idol.

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It must be hard for those who have been involved with the show since 2002 to watch this happen. (Is there actually anyone left at this point?) If there are, they’ve got to be the ones fighting tooth and nail for a two-shows a week slot, because once, that was Idol calling card. Other shows ran once a week. Idol was so big, so popular that it ran multiple back to back episodes a week–sometimes as high as four episodes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday! Nothing could stop them.

Whoever it is who decided to drop the elimination episodes and put the live shows only once a week should have taken that choice and extended it to the entire season.

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