Jorge Lopez

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Monthly Archives: August 2009

American Idol and the Judges

HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 06:  (L-R) Americian Idol pe...
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Those ubiquitous characters from American Idol make headlines again after it was announced that Simon Cowell had signed a lucrative deal to continue his stint as one of the few judges on the show that actually gives some kind of relevant input, aside from sometimes tired analogies.  The news report also mentioned that Kara DioGuardi is back and so is Randy Jackson based on the deal he signed which still has him under contract.  As for Paula Abdul…well practically the whole world knows about her since her decision not to continue was plastered all over the headlines quite prominently.

Despite the outcries saying that American Idol will no longer be worth watching due to her absence, I’ve always felt that Paula Abdul’s presence on the show was largely useless.  Sure she had a successful pop music career during the late 80s to early 90s but at the end of the day, her talents still lie with her skills as an accomplished dancer and choreographer.  Very rarely did she ever give any useful input aside from making contestants feel better just before receiving a tongue lashing from Simon Cowell.  The truth is the music business is rough and despite Mr. Cowell’s blunt remarks, he’s usually right and tells it like some music exec probably would to a budding pop star seeking their shot at fame.

Assuming that whoever ends up replacing Paula Abdul is actually someone who can sing themselves or has their own proven musical credentials to back it up, American Idol will likely be taken at least a little more seriously as a singing and popularity competition.  But now that they’re using people like Victoria Beckham and guest judge Katy Perry(!) as judges, it makes me wonder if the people behind the scenes of American Idol are just trying to stay relevant and get people to tune in next season since those oh so pivotal ratings dropped earlier this year and Ms. Abdul is no more.  Perhaps it may be time to drop the singing competition charade and accept American Idol as the show where the hijinks and choice of hair and attire prove better water cooler fodder than who sang what and how well.

The Politics of Pop Music

Recently Kelly Clarkson was in the news again for making comments regarding the release of “Already Gone”, the third single off of her All I Ever Wanted album.

By now most people are very well aware of the similarities between “Already Gone” and Beyonce’s “Halo” which isn’t that strange since both songs were written by Ryan Tedder.  Having listened to both songs myself and watching a few videos on YouTube where the songs are compared, both songs do sound very much alike as seen in this fascinating video mashup interpretation of sorts by Nick Pitera.

I’m aware that Kelly has developed a reputation for her outspokenness, at least if her comments regarding the release of her underwhelming “My December” album are anything to go by.  But are they really necessary?

If you’re a pop singer who has professional songwriters creating songs for you to put on your album, then you have very little room to complain when one of these pseudo song factories releases a product similar to a previous “model”.  If Kelly Clarkson doesn’t want her music sounding like someone else’s, perhaps she she should upgrade from co-writer to full fledged songwriter and take the do-it-yourself approach like some other female musicians have.

This mini fiasco is similar to when Paris Hilton and Haylie Duff had that small issue over a song called “Screwed”.  It was supposed to appear on Haylie Duff’s debut album but Paris recorded it and well, for better or worse Paris (the album) didn’t do much better than what Haylie Duff’s album would’ve done.

It’s true that Kelly already tried to handle things largely on her own and met with less than anticipated sales, although I wonder if that was partially due to the dark/somber material on My December or her decision to bite the hand that fed her and speak out against Clive Davis.  So whether or not it was her decision to go back to radio friendly pop music in order to spur sales, there’s no point in denouncing the people who are helping you to stay relevant and keeping you on the radio.

Ryan Tedder may have committed a slight pop faux pas by writing  two songs that share similarities but at the end of the day it’s still a song with its merits.  I enjoy “Already Gone” as much as I do “Halo” and they each conjure different messages and emotions.  Instead of complaining, Kelly Clarkson should embrace the fact that contemporary songwriters with proven hits (see: “Bleeding Love”) are willing to work with her and supply her with music that helps her pay the bills and stay on the radio.

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