Entertainment behind the scenes
“American Idol” gets personal with top 13
Now that “American Idol” has eliminated the dross, it has 13 top contestants and the reality singing competition is in full swing.
What that means is the judges get more hyperbolic about how seriously everyone has to take the competition, and the video packages on the contestants get more personal, taking viewers into their homes and giving mini biographies on each one.
Tonight, viewers learned that blind contestant Scott MacIntyre has been that way since birth, and that his sister is also visually impaired. Lil Rounds was once forced out of her home by a tornado. Oil industry roughneck Michael Sarver was revealed to have grown up without a father. Jorge Nunez told the camera that since his grandfather died, his large family has drifted apart (even though all 40 of them still pack into the same house) and that his run on “Idol” has brought everyone together.
Because a lot of the competition on “Idol” revolves around contestants’ “likeability,” the video packages play an important part, especially if a singer has a sympathetic story.
On Tuesday’s show, “Idol” had the pop star wannabes each choose Michael Jackson songs to perform. The show’s theme was good timing for Jackson, 50, who announced his comeback on Thursday, pledging to play 10 dates in London this year after living the life of a recluse since his 2005 acquittal on charges of child abuse.
As far as the singing went, Anoop Desai became the first contestant to earn the unanimous ire of the judges with his version of “Beat It.” Even the panel’s easiest judge, Paula Abdul, took a shot at the contestant, who calls himself Anoop Dogg. “I think this song is untouchable and it belongs to the consummate artist, and anything else sounds karaoke,” Abdul said.
Simon Cowell went so far as to say that he regretted last week’s last-minute decision to keep Desai in the competition as the extra, 13th contestant.
Adam Lambert got the most praise with his version of Jackson’s 1991 song “Black or White.” Cowell said the performance was “in a totally different league” from the other singers. Randy Jackson told Lambert he could make a record immediately and “sail to the top of the charts.” Kara DioGuardi said she hoped Jackson himself was watching the performance.
With all the contestants revealing something about themselves, Cowell also revealed something about “Idol” in a frank exchange with Scott MacIntyre. When Cowell criticized MacIntyre’s choice of the song “Keep the Faith,” the contestant said he was trying to be artistic. That’s when Cowell lowered the boom.
“It’s fine being artistic, just not on this show,” Cowell said.
Now we know.
On Wednesday, two contestants will be eliminated. Who will lose out? And will it come down to the singing, or how much the video packages tug on viewers’ hearts?
Also, host Ryan Seacrest said that on Wednesday’s show a change to the show’s rules will be announced that Cowell said involves the judges in some way. “You’ve kind of changed the entire theme and concept of the show,” Seacrest said, without saying what the change was. What does “Idol” have in store? Will the judges get veto power? And why are the show’s producers tinkering with a ratings monster?