‘American Idol’ Banter: Failing rock and roll


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The insularity of the world of ‘American Idol’ would be fascinating, if it weren’t so bleakly disheartening.

Tonight’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame edition let the remaining contestants cherry-pick through half a century of pop music history, and what did we get?


Rocker David Cook opens the show with ‘Hungry Like the Wolf.’ How many hundred songs from the greatest artists in pop history would you have to fast forward through before you got to this vacuous Duran Duran hit?

Jason Castro may have bombed with his hapless performances, but at least he picked two songs worth singing -- Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr. Tambourine Man.’

David Archuleta reveled in his own private Utah teenage in discussing why he picked ‘Love Me Tender,’ sharing with his adoring audience that ‘I wasn’t that familiar with the song,’ so he surfed the websites to audition different versions before settling on an arrangement that conjured up not the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but the Empress of over-baked ‘80s R&B and pop, Whitney Houston.

Still, none of them came remotely close to Syesha Mercado’s blazing egocentrism in explaining her motivation for singing Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come.’

She proudly described the research she’d done, which revealed to her the song’s connection to the Civil Rights movement of the ‘60s

The song came out during ‘a pivotal time’ in 1965, and Cooke’s song was a fitting choice because this is a pivotal moment too -- in Mercado’s life now that she made ‘Idol’s’ Final 4.


Might she have even broadly hinted to some awareness of the historic point in American political history? Even without taking sides, she could have noted that the forthcoming presidential election will, for the first time, give voters the opportunity to elect an African American (like her) or a woman (like her)?

Of course not. That would imply the existence of matters other than who’s ‘pitchy’ or ‘utterly atrocious.’

Is it too much to ask that an ‘American Idol’ have the remotest interest in what it means to be an American circa May 2008?

Hey Simon, how about a new pejorative? ‘Stunningly clueless.’

--Randy Lewis