I was fortunate to watch the American Idols Live concert a second time this summer, in St. Louis Aug. 29, and it was a surprise to me and a joy as well to see how much more all the Idols seem to be hitting their stride since I first saw them perform in Memphis July 26: http://www.adamofficial.com/reviews/memories-memphis-graceland-greets-starship-adam
Of course the practice has helped. Memphis was the 15th stop on their 52-city tour and a city in which they were beginning to show a few signs of weariness. St. Louis was their 39th show and it seemed by then they were in full recovery, Adam especially delivering to St. Louis all the high notes he had left behind in Memphis.
I’m an Adam fan through and through, and this is the first year I have watched an entire AI season. But I am glad to say I have a growing respect and sensitivity for the others who are also living their dream and giving their all on a grueling tour in front of thousands of people nearly every night, only to be discussed and dissed ad infinitum in the media, forums, blogs and tweets. Some of these discussions have raised commentary to an art form in 140 characters or less. Others remind me how far we have yet to evolve as human beings.
The idols may have escaped the weekly judging of Simon, Paula, Kara and Randy, but they left that frying pan only to land in a fire fueled by what for most of them is one harsh review after another in city after city, many times by writers who seem to have only a surface acquaintance with the show or even a disdain for it and their assignment. Those of us who are fans of the show or at least our favorite idol, can pretty much see right through their lack of research. Google search any of the cities on tour, click a link to any review or recap from that city and it’s likely you will find something very much like this:
(Disclaimer: the next paragraph is a general tongue-in-cheek mashup of other recaps. Oddly, the most unkind reviews are often by newspaper people who seem to be the most uninformed and unhappy about their assignment, a sad irony that they are also the ones who get free tickets or at least special access and backstage interviews, wheras the online forum recaps are often snarky or full of inside humor from following the idols’ every move.)
Adam Steals the Show.
Even though Christian Kris from the Heartland won, we know he really shouldn’t have because glam/gay Adam from freaky Hollywood is way better and he and his hair, makeup and outfit are what everyone has come to see. The first half of the show is boring. There’s Michael the Texan, Megan the beauty, Lil the little, Scott the blind guy and Anoop the smooth Tarheel, all of whom who try to entertain us while we remain mostly seated and snoozing. Then Matt the guy with the hat that plays the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis suddenly jars us awake in time to go refill our drink. The second half is better because that young redhead Allison can rock beyond her years and Danny in glasses has us all clutching our heartstrings over his sad but touching back story and use of salsa and mimicry of other certain idols to rise from tragedy. Then the Adam Bomb explodes on stage in emo or Elvis hair, has his way with the audience and the microphone as Baby or Woman and leaves in a blaze of glitter. Kris comes on next and tries to do as well but fails because after all he’s shorter and who can top Adam anyway? In the end it’s disco balls and na-na-na and let’s do it all again next year, same time, different idols.
(End of mashup. You get the idea.)
This one is typical and struck me as particularly cruel:
“Lambert wows Palace crowd …
“Lambert of course lost “Idol” to Kris Allen, and the injustice was personified when Allen took to the stage at the concert’s conclusion and gave an almost entirely charisma-free performance.
“There are “Guitar Hero” renditions of the Killers’ “All These Things I’ve Done” with more passion than Allen’s version had on Wednesday, and he did everything he could to rob “Hey Jude” of its splendor. Allen seems bland to begin with, but compared to Lambert, he’s almost nonexistent.” – Detroit News
I beg to differ. Kris’s set reaches its own heights in its own subdued way. This boy can rock, play guitar and look cute in plaid shirts and sneakers. And to me he has a quiet charisma as compelling as Adam’s. And in St. Louis, especially, Kris and all of the other Top Ten Idols, including and especially those performing in the first half, clearly had plenty of appreciative fans in the house cheering for them. Michael, Megan and Lil all seemed especially surprised to be so appreciated, and Matt even sent out this short video “Bubble Tweet”:
immattgiraud: Here is the NEW bubble tweet. We’re loving this crowd. They are amazing. My latest BubbleTweet –> http://bbltwt.com/89wpp
Twitter of course is fast becoming our primary news source as well as a collective Zeitgeist of thoughts thunk out loud — some clever, some funny or informative, others cruel, completely inaccurate or even disgusting. Some tweets arise simply from the heat of the moment, others reflect immaturity and a relative shelter of anonymity. They come from people who may be 12 or 50, telling the truth or simply teasing. As a whole I think most tweeters are actually kinder than professional reviewers, who I believe see kindness and decency as a professional bias. Whereas Twitter is all about bias. It’s a celebration of one’s opinion with no expectation of objectivity.
Here’s an example from the Aug. 29 tweets (mine among them) streaming from the concert floor in St. Louis to be copied and pasted across the Internet at large within seconds.
adam_hampton: Blind scott should fall off the stage for my entertainment.
bkshatswell: Im far too critical of the non-winning contestants and shud be punishd for my lack of kindness. #fb
lashes3699: its amazing how good these people are…you wouldnt know it by watching the show
jamieminchey: OMG OMG OMG MATT I LOVE U OMG MATT!
itsjuls: Something in the water here. First half really rocked! What did these guys do today? They all seem so stoked!
glitteronmyeyes: Insert obligatory what hurts the most joke here.
endofthisphase: everyone in my section just gave birth. and none of us are even pregnant.
The gist of all this is to consider how these idols, all 10 of them still new to the sheer scope of their exposure, have managed to carry on and improve despite all the grind and chatter and lack of sleep. I hope it’s because they have chosen to pay only selective attention. They have given us all a lesson in how to sail our ship so we reach our destination no matter which way the winds are blowing. Sometimes you have to tack.
I hope they are consoled and recharged by the audience, their paychecks and the fact the end of the tour is now in sight. Likewise, I hope they all will be able to live happy and successful if less hyped post-Idol lives.
I really do hope we will see them all again.