'American Idol': Rock 'n' Roll Is Dead

Of the many silly ways that Fox and the show's producers have tried to shake up this season of American Idol, last night's was maybe the silliest. But we must press on, so let's do just that.

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Of the many silly ways that Fox and the show's producers have tried to shake up American Idol this season — flashy new judges, the ambush audition, the introduction of that weird Vegas week stretch — last night's was maybe the silliest. Or, I don't know, the most half-baked. The theme for the week was "Rock Songs/No Ballads," meaning everything was to be up-tempo and jazzy and exciting. I suppose they were trying to infuse a little pep and fun into this dreary but otherwise nondescript season, but it just came off kinda lame. Plus a couple of the songs were sorta ballads, weren't they? So that was kinda unfair and denuded the whole evening of meaning. I mean, that wasn't very hard to do, of course. This whole season is just... It's weak, you guys. It's deeply, deeply weak. But we must press on, so let's do just that.

The Good

I finally know who Amy Honeycomb is! Hm? What's that? Oh, it's Amber Holcomb? Well whatever, I was close. The point is, for weeks and weeks and weeks I've been scratching my head, saying "Wait, who is that? Has she been on this show before? Because I don't... You know what, I don't think she's been on this show before!" (I'm talking to myself, by myself. It's a grand old Idol life I'm living.) She really sneaked in there and sorta blended in with the crowd and I just never noticed her. But finally last night I figured out who Abby Hokum really is. She was one of the kinda-sorta-balladeers, singing "What About Love" by Heart with force and feeling. And while I suppose there's an argument to be made for that song being up-tempo and not a ballad, it's a pretty bad argument. I'm sure there's like a technical definition of ballad that "What About Love" doesn't exactly meet, but for the purposes of hearing things with our ear holes? Yeah, that's a freakin' ballad. I don't care how much electric guitar you throw in there, it's still a slow song about love. But, whatever. Rules were made to be broken, and Amity broke them well last night. She's got a nice voice, that Aster Hooksbone. And she's got looks and marketability. She could go places. Though, they'll have to do something about that name. I mean, Anger Hellgnome is just not going to work.

Angie Mills also did decently, but she also kinda sang a ballad! She sang that Effervescence or whatever song about wake me up inside. You know, the one that was super duper exciting back in, say, 2003 I think it was? God, that was a long time ago. Anyway, Angie sang it well enough, but is that really fair? Sure parts of that song go kinda fast, but she started that business at the piano and then did some slow walking around the stage. Doesn't sound like an up-tempo number to me! So, I think she's disqualified. It's not her fault, someone on the backend told her that she could do that song, but she can't. Not when every other idiot on the show (besides Ashleigh Humcum) was stuck singing bad Billy Joel songs. It's just not fair. You're out, Angie.

Of course Candice Glover was good. We're tired of hearing that, aren't we? She's good all the time. Boring. Though I am intrigued by one thing: What is the song the Mariah is waiting for her to sing?? Can anyone explain that remark to me?

The Bad

I have to say I was not very into Kree Harrison singing "Piece of My Heart." It was a little wan considering what a barn-burner that song can be. And Kree seemed perfect for it! I mean, that song should never be sung on American Idol ever again, by anyone, but if someone had to do it this year, it seemed like Kree was the one. And yet she kinda biffed it! It wasn't terrible, but considering how well she could have done it had she tried harder (or had this not been such a miserable season that someone as only marginally interesting as Kree could be labeled a standout), she gets placed in the bad category. Maybe that's not fair, but life isn't fair.

Every single one of the group numbers goes in here because Idol group numbers are almost always an unholy disaster. I feel like there have been maybe one or two over the years that were nice, Scotty and Lauren twangin' out some fool song comes to mind, but for the most part they need to shut the group numbers program down. Lay off the staff, sell the equipment, turn it into storage space. It was a risky, potentially lucrative program but it's not yielding the results we wanted. Time to move on.

Burnell sang Bon Jovi and it was just the height of ridiculous. I like Burnell fine, he's a little fuzzy around the edges, he needs some tightening up, but for the most part? Yeah, he's fine. But Burnell does not sing Bon Jovi. That is not something that Burnell does. Burnell sings "I'll Be There" in his sweet scratchy way until the end of time. That's what Burnell does. Burnell sings that song, and sings that song, and sings that song, until the seas have swallowed up the coasts and the atmosphere is so thin we can see the heavens clear in the sky, and then there's a rumble and a flash of final light and Burnell is still singing "I'll Be There" and then it all goes dark and quiet. That's what Burnell does. Burnell does not sing "You Give Love a Bad Name." Burnell doesn't even sing "I'll Be There for You," which is a Bon Jovi song! He just sings "I'll Be There," squealing and scratching it out while the whole world goes dim and cold. Come on, Idol. Let Burnell do what Burnell does.


I'm giving him his own category from now on, because woof. This guy, am I right? What a palooka. Or like a twink version of a palooka. He's just so silly and bad, isn't he? It was funny last night that the judges were not very negative about awful Lazaro because they clearly didn't want to upset the trembling wiggle-mass that is his fanbase, inciting them to worriedly vote for their beloved Lazaro. No, they were very staid and sorta ho-hum in their commentary, even praising him a little when he sang his Queen (heh) song. They were clearly hoping to lull his fans into a false sense of calm, and then Lazaro would be sent home and there would be some shred of justice still lingering in the tatters of this once-proud show. We'll see if it works tonight. God above I hope it does. Lord in murky heaven, please hear Ms. Mariah's prayers. Lazaro has got to go. Hey ho.

That duet with Angie Mills? When Lazaro once again boofed on the lyrics and then claimed to have never heard the song? It was "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"! You cannot exist in America as a person with all five senses intact and not at some point hear "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." I'm sorry, that's ridiculous. He has presumably watched American Idol before, right?? If Lazaro really hasn't heard all these songs he claims not to have heard, I'm really curious about what his home life is like. Because it sounds weird. Very, very weird. Like maybe he just sits on the carpet all day and listens, through big old chunky headphones, to one Janis Ian record over and over and over again. Lazaro learned exactly one truth at 17, and it's that Janis Ian made a record. That's what he learned. There must be something strange going on, because he seems oddly illiterate of broader American culture, specifically its music. But it could go beyond that! I mean, what movies has he never seen or heard of? Does he think Jurassic Park 3D is a brand-new movie? Does all this J.J. Abrams Star Wars talk strike him as strange, because why is everyone making such a big deal about a new franchise that no one's seen yet? How big is Lazaro's cultural blindspot, is what I'm wondering. There's only one way to find out, and that's to get to know Lazaro, and I don't know that I want to do that. He seems like kind of a diva. I doubt he's all that much fun. Though, speaking of personality, it was funny to watch the intro package about him and hear all the other contestants talking about how he wears such bright colors! And strikes such dramatic poses! I'll tell you one thing, the old Idol dance around the fact of someone's gayness has not gotten old. It is still sad and hilarious every time. Such interesting fashion choices! He's such a performer! Haha. We all know what you mean. We all do.

Oh, oops. I guess Janelle sang, too? She was fine. Sorry I forgot you, girl! But get used to the feeling. All of you. Because in seven weeks, it'll be like nothing happened at all. And, boy, I cannot wait.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.